Months into the pandemic, I found myself on a Friday night lounging in my work pajamas, binging a Netflix docuseries while scrolling on Tinder. I stumbled upon Tinder’s paid subscriptions and immediately thought, “Paying for dating apps… Nobody does that! …Right?”
I’m a Type A person with a long history of failed romantic endeavors. I’m assertive in my career and life aspirations. I have incredibly high standards for my friends and art. I even have a vetting system for my news sources. But I consistently settle for liars, cheaters, narcissists, and people who simply aren’t a good fit for me. I always assumed romantic apathy was just my nature, but it’s been instilled in me since birth. As a kid, I watched countless Disney movies from the early 2000s and waited for my Prince Charming to whisk me off my feet so we could ride into the sunset.
Romantic comedies reinforced the heteronormative narrative of proactive men pursuing women. Whenever I told my mother about my latest crush, she’d respond, “Let them chase you.” So I did. I waited for people to message me on dating apps. I avoided difficult conversations. And that passive approach to dating served me for many years.
My awkward courtship attempts completely changed once the pandemic hit. Meet-cutes were out of the question because eye flirting behind two face masks and a protective shield in the grocery store is neither cute nor sexy (I know because I’ve tried it). Still, I lived alone, worked from home, and craved both physical and emotional intimacy more than ever before.
I was tired of waiting for romance to fall into my lap. I wanted it, and I wanted it now. So in a fit of quarantine desperation and loneliness, I figured “Screw it, what do I have to lose?” and I purchased Tinder Gold, the paid upgraded model of the app.
Many of Tinder Gold’s perks (like no advertisements, more privacy features, and unlimited right swiping) can be enjoyed under Tinder’s entry-level subscription program, Tinder Plus. But for $5 more a month, Tinder Gold can make you feel like a Tinder God.
Tinder Gold provides a separate feed of curated Top Picks based on their algorithm catered to your taste. My suggested profiles of “Scholars” and “Creatives” are infinitely better than the deadbeats I’ve put up with in the past. It seemed too good to be true. Tinder’s selection was better than I could’ve wished for. I always feared that aspiring for complete satisfaction in my love life would only lead to disappointment. But Tinder Gold’s Top Picks showed me that not only could I raise my expectations, but that there were people out there who could actually meet them.
From there, I peeked through Tinder Gold’s “Likes You” feed which allows you to auto-match, reject, or browse through the profiles of people who’ve already swiped right on you. The same day I purchased Tinder Gold, I discovered that I had nearly 2,000 people who’d swiped right on me — which was an instant confidence boost.
All of my romantic scarcity fears were futile. I had so many options and even more choices to make. I had spent the majority of my dating life focused more on whether people liked me rather than deciding if I actually liked them. I didn’t know where to begin.
So I made a roster.
I keep all of my Tinder matches in a working three-page Excel spreadsheet titled “Rona Romances.” The spreadsheet features a series of baseline information: name, age, current location, hometown, height, occupation, frequency of non-autocorrect texting grammatical errors, and zodiac sign. I made a color-coding system to differentiate people I’ve only messaged within the app, people I’ve texted, people I’ve FaceTimed, and people I’ve met in person. But as I went on more and more dates, I felt like I couldn’t keep up.
Despite having seen multiple seasons of The Bachelorette, I never realized how confusing it is to get to know someone (and remember everything) when dating multiple people at the same time. So I started keeping notes from all of my dates: their embarrassing childhood stories their parents love to tell; their Spotify in Review; their favorite restaurants in town. Before my dating roster, I tended to “excuse sandwich” romantic red flags.
I’d think to myself, “Wow, he’s so charming! He’s not looking for anything serious right now, but he loves to cook!”
In writing notes, I found myself less likely to excuse red flags. Now, I refuse to waste energy convincing myself that someone is a good fit for me when they clearly are not. For the first time, I indulged my Type A personality in my love life, and I loved the sense of control and agency it gave me.
Is playing fantasy football with my romantic prospects the most civilized way to approach dating? No… but it’s healthier than my previous mindset.
I currently have over 8,600 likes waiting for my response, and I get hundreds of new prospects every hour. I can’t pretend that scarcity is the name of my dating game. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I don’t need to beg people to like me. But with great power comes great responsibility. As more options come my way, I’ve been forced to reflect on what I really want and stopped settling for less. When people ask whether I’m seeing anyone else, I’m transparent about the fact that I am.
I’m also more honest about my desired attributes in a romantic partner and making them known. I don’t know if I’ll find the love of my life on Tinder Gold, but it’s helped me find my confidence in dating. I’m no longer waiting to be chosen, I’m the chooser.
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