Special Thanks to K.S. for editing suggestions for the ebook's Introduction
Appreciation for support for E.T. as a fellow writer and "cubicle-flipper"
This practical guide is a tutorial that will help you with online and in-real-life (IRL )Tinder interactions. Though you may feel like a fish-out-of-water, you'll still be okay.
I'm sharing personal anecdotes with personal identifying information of my dates changed to protect their identity. As a comedy writer, the joke will always be on me. In other words, I do not seek to disrespect any of my dates in the writing of this Tinder Guide.
My background, besides comedy writing is video script writing for educational reports as community tv producer and journalist. As you can imagine, a date is not an interview for an article. Just as it is not a barrage of questions as it would be for a job interview.
My backstory is so you can understand my strengths and limitations as your guide to this dating tool. I self-identify as a woman seeking a long-term male companion/teammate/lover. In addition, I am also divorced and in my late 30s. Education? College educated with graduate school degree. Economic status? Middle class. Relationship history? Interracial dating. Please understand that my most obvious limitation is that this tutorial is writing from a cis woman of color's perspective. My occupation as writer makes me unconventional as a 30-something.
Why do I refer to dating as a sport? I chose this analogy because a sport, even a game, has rules. There are off-sides. There is bad sportsmanship. There is a goal. There's a way to gain points. An athlete/competitor must train mentally for the sport as well as physically.You can suffer as a scholar-athlete by heeding advice from a bad coach. There are also competing philosophies and schools of thought within the sport. Simply, there is a status quo and expectation of behavior. Like a sport, dating is predictable.
As a social experiment? I also contributing my street smarts as a former case manager for at-risk youth (ages 17-22). After daily interactions as point-person negotiating the interests of grant reporter, probation officer and young person seeking gainful employment after juvenile detention I'm more convinced that despite best efforts life change still has a 30% wild card. Likewise, this tutorial is about making best choices with limited information. There is no way to have your desired outcome with 100% certainty.
Why? Because dating is interpersonal and it involves more than the goals of one. In other words, it is important to know that dating as a sport or social experiment needs to take into consideration the thoughts, feelings and wishes of others. Simply, respect another person's boundaries. Allow others to disagree and turn you down. The analogy worked for counseling youth who met with employers who chose to hire another candidate. Being cool-headed kept youth from "recidivism". Likewise accepting "no" from your date is a social experiment exercise that will improve your existing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Social Intelligence (SQ).
Disclosure: I'm also a #loveshouldnthurt #loveisrespect #sexualhumanrights #consent pro bono workshop leader for youth. I add this note because consent and respect is true for a lifetime.
Before I chose to focus on Tinder, I tried out eHarmony and Match.com. I did not pass the eHarmony screening. After completing the questionnaire, eHarmony's automated response is that there would be no matches for me. It could be because I am strong-willed and opinionated. eHarmony seeks answers from survey takers that have few responses that express "frequently" or "very strongly".
I purchased a subscription for Match.com and canceled within 72 hours. Why? Because the user interface didn't appeal to me #1 and #2 the results shown me were counter to my selection criteria. What did the user interface look like? Font size that looked size 8 instead of the usual 12, graphics that were circa 1999, and a search filter that sucked balls. What happened after I cancelled and considered the fee for a month a sunk cost? I continued to receive spam emails from Match.com showing me email alerts stuck in transit from those that were not my target. How far off from target? Their bios specifically named descriptors I marked as "deal-breakers" in my filter survey.
That leads me to Tinder. Yes, it's true that 1/3 of photos are headless torsos/gym selfies. It's also true that male profile holders who set their filter to meet cis woman show fishing photos. Why are so many profiles pics are group shots, in complete shadow or in shades? That I cannot answer. I'd suggest asking a pop psychologist or an anthropology scholar.
What else matters? Feelings, preferences, recreational budget and self-image count. But technology savvy matters quite a bit too! For example, did you know that Windows Phone users have a limited functionality to Tinder? I used an app made for my Nokia Windows smartphone called 6tin for this social experiment. The downside? First, it's difficult to scroll and add any text to your own profile bio. Next, the app is buggy two-thirds of the time. Example? It often freezes and does not allow the user to logout. This is an important complaint because "geolocate" continues to be active if you are not logged out. You can do a Google search to read about the personal safety risks associated with this.
This tutorial is not a substitute for professional input from a relationship therapist or a doctor of another kind. This is for entertainment purposes only and does not contain legal advice. The reader and user of any dating app assumes his/her/gender neutral liabilities and does not hold me responsible for any emotional injuries, physical harm, or financial setback.
Note: This guide is for entertainment purposes only and not a substitute for legal or medical advice.
As a cis woman and heterosexual I realize that I do not suffer the burden that society places on trans individuals. For instance when I update my Tinder biography and alert my current Tinder Matches via text, some have joked insensitively, "Oh you scared me! I though you were going to reveal that you are a transsexual. Phew!"
Please also do not judge cis men too harshly, in Tinderworld, transparency is the code of conduct even if it means disclosing details that you personally don't believe should matter in issues of love. Physical compatibility is a priority over tenderness in Tinderworld too. Just a caution.
Also our childhood was 80s fashion, shoulder-pads and Max Headroom. As a result we 30-somethings are a bit quirky with a lot to learn socially in the dating climate of 2015.
Cis men reciprocate by oftentimes disclosing their height when they perceive that others might consider certain heights to be "deal-breakers". Their words not mine.
Dating individuals with children
I am open to dating cis men with children from previous relationships. I am also open to the idea of become "aunt" rather than "stepmother" to his children if dating develops into a long-term relationship. Child custody and co-parenting, I respect, so I believe the health of children should be put first. You can decide if you'd like to date a person with children. Know that he will need to communicate with his ex for a lifetime for the good of their children.
Some cis men who have share custody of their children have not discussed his new decision to date with his ex though his dating affects the whole family unit. My suggestion is to avoid dating anyone who would keep you a secret from his children or co-parent partner.
As of the publication of this ebook, I have unmatched cis men with children who do not make proper arrangements for childcare. For instance, when my scheduled first date was on-the-fence about helping out his ex-wife with childcare when she was sick I asked him to cancel our date and tend to his first priority. He expressed that he was surprised by how understanding I seemed to be.
My interpretation was that his ex was responding unfavorably to her babies' daddy dating again and pushed for a last minute "emergency". Whether the emergency was real or fake, it showed that this man did not have the infrastructure to date yet. For instance, did the co-parents set aside money for babysitting? Was he using funds for childcare for his recreational dating? I chose what I chose because I wanted someone who was prepared to date and considered how to take care of his responsibilities before taking on a new relationship.
Consider "I'm bored" a red flag text when receiving Tinder-monitored texts. If you don't interpret this as innately insulting, consider this as immature for a 30-something. Suicidal ideation or spammed sexual requests are also "instant unmatch" and possible "block" situations to report to Tinder. Tinder-monitored texts allow for "unmatch", "block" and "report". You take unnecessary risks if you choose to communicate online outside of Tinder supervision. More information on that under the Texting chapter.
Remember that individuals are responsible for their own feelings and actions. You have human rights. You are also not a trained suicide or sex addict counselor. Leave therapy to the professionals and leave the conversation.
For those with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, a recent break-up or chronic health problems please consider an office visit with a medical professional as personal responsibility before and during dating. Take care of your own wellness first before seeking a new relationship. Equip yourself with safety plans, coping skills and doctor-prescribed daily medication so that your relationship with yourself is solid before you invite anyone else into your life.
Beware of those who fetishize your appearance. Use your intuition while in Tinder-monitored text conversations. The man who wouldn't move onto the next subject after pressing about my heritage that he mistakenly kept referencing a my nationality, I unmatched.
Also be sensitive to unrealistic ideas of dates if you are dating someone from another culture. Also it's okay to ask if they have been in past interracial relationships. I've dated interracially since age 16 and my first marriage was interracial. So I know the pros, cons and unique problems that come with that choice.
Tinder users have complained that there is a bias against Indian and Middle Eastern men. I cannot answer what is like for men of color from their perspective as I am a woman of color. I can contribute that my strategy for Tinder dating might not fit with social conventions of men who identify as being from this group and holding traditional beliefs conventional to the culture. I also cannot answer because I am unconventional in dress, grooming, and occupation as a women of color. My limitation is that I function using American English and I am not able to read Tinder profiles in languages other than English. In my Tinder experience, I have not had men who self-identify as Indian or Middle Eastern express interest in me.
Tinder is open to anyone who has a smartphone, Facebook account and data service. Unlike Match.com it relies on advertiser pop ups during Tinder-monitored texting rather than a paid subscription. This means anyone who can afford the aforementioned can use Tinder. This does not screen out or exclude any social-economic class. Also all the information on Tinder pictures or Tinder bios via Facebook or self-reported. In other words, none of this is verified. This does not screen out sex offenders, domestic violence perpetrators, or child sex traffickers. Some might open Tinder profiles for financial gain or recruiting for other purposes.
Education level and salary is also optional information. This is also self-reported and not verified. You have been warned.
As a responsible dater, it is reasonable to assume that everyone goes through hard economic times sometime in his/her life. However, you have saved carefully and work hard for your paycheck. Maybe you are supporting elderly parents, committed to a charity or saving up for a down payment on your second home. You are likely seeking someone equally responsible as a 30-something.
If the person mentions his bills or perpetual unemployment then these are red flags. Some are unscrupulous and seeking a patsy or "Money Honey". However, if it smells like a scammy/spammy trap of a conversation, you are probably right. Unmatch ASAP.