Mediocre by Design

Have you ever had a day that just lets you down? That’s a very melodramatic way of opening what is actually a date review, but still.

I went on a Tinder date recently. The one that was rainchecked with the guy in “How to Get Ready for a Tinder Date.” Nothing about it was terrible, but nothing about it was particularly great either. And, it was a total waste of freshly done hair and lashes (a la James Joseph Salons and EyeStarr Boston*). I looked the most beautiful I ever would for this guy and he was late to a last minute date at South Street Diner.

He was an ER intern at some hospital in Boston, training to become a Psychologist. Or maybe a Psychiatrist, I’m not sure of the difference and he didn’t make it clear. Most of the date was spent picking over some tater tots, not touching, and feeling like I was talking to my therapist. I even made a joke as such. It was fine conversation; we talked about families, work, school, this date series, previous dates, and nothing in particular. He was as cute as his profile suggested, but not cute enough that I was actually attracted to him in any strong way (by the end of the date he had the sex appeal of, well, my therapist). He gave me a ride in his Jeep to the Emerson campus—where I was meeting my friend for Mamma Mia! and making sure I didn’t feel my overly-polite inclination to invite him up to my apartment if he dropped me off there. We kissed over the center console, poorly and out-of-sync. He texted me later that night to say he had a good time, and I guiltily ignored it. It was the better of my previous “meh” Tinder dates, but I wouldn’t call it “good.”

And, I think, herein lies the issue I have with online dating (or, probably, a set-up or a blind date too): you have no idea if you have chemistry until you’re stuck with a plate full of too-hot tater tots in front of you.

I’m over simplifying the current dating scene, yes. And I’m also romanticizing the dating scenes I wasn’t alive for (the ones that were just as terrible in different ways), of course. Moreso, I’m taking the blame off of myself for not being extroverted or old enough to hit on guys in bars, and not being strong-willed enough to not kiss a guy out of guilt.

But, pushing those all aside, with Tinder—or Bumble, or Coffee Meets Bagel, or the League, or any of the other ones that claim somehow they’ve fixed this problem—we’re still left showing up to restaurants with only a few sentences and pictures to go off of. We swipe for hours and the lure of infinite, easy, selection averages out our opinions. We end up choosing people we’re not attracted to, going on dates that are only pleasant because you both have a strong customer service background, and never speaking again (okay we are talking about Tinder, maybe you have mediocre sex and then never speak again).

I’m not one to lament over apps and technology ruining our lives; I am pro-social media and clock a ridiculous amount of screen time hours (which, I now have specific data for instead of just assuming the obvious. Thanks, Apple). Unfortunately, this is one I can’t let slide. Rare are the days of sideways glances at your gym guy, passing notes to your calculus class crush, slow-burn friends-to-relationship arrangements, or flirty chats over “Can I buy you a drink”s. Dating is instant now, so why would you put in the effort elsewhere?

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