Dating apps and summer, in my opinion, have a lot in common: they can both heat up pretty quickly, both are best enjoyed for a short amount of time, and with the right people, anything feels possible. Although my dating apps produced one of my favorite pieces of quality content, I also genuinely use them to foster connections and don’t want to exclusively rule out the idea that I could potentially meet someone special on these “swipe right” platforms.
Because I worked at my local pool over my summer break, I was prone to daydreams about my perfect summer sweetie flinging himself into my life via the diving board.
However, that wasn’t the case… so instead, I let one of my good friends (who we will call Ben) dive into the DMs of my dating apps and find me a summer fling!
Initially, I wanted to give Ben a finite amount of time—one week—to match, message and mingle with my potential summer sweetheart. But as we both came to realize, this experiment was too fun to put a limit on and it became an ongoing, yet fun, fiasco.
I set four parameters for Ben for this summer-long experiment—
- He could not be explicitly rude because it would reflect poorly on me (being that it was still my dating profile that he was hijacking with my approval).
- He could not go through past messages because that felt too personal and I didn’t want to rekindle old flames, so to speak.
- He could not alter my pre-existing profile because I wanted it to be my personal reflection of myself and not one created for me by Ben.
- He could only use my apps when I also happened to be working with him and on break so he wasn’t granted full access to my phone password, photos, etc.
And because he was such a willing participant in this, he agreed to let me get something out of this experience as well: a chance to make a dating profile for him!
At first, Ben went through both Tinder and Bumble, but he immediately seemed to preference the experience and setup of Bumble better. Ben and I shared some good laughs as I taught him how to work the app. Seeing him get flustered by the “It’s a Match” screen and the vibration alert that I had gotten a message back was equal parts endearing, embarrassing (on my behalf) and all around entertaining for whatever staff members happened to also work with the dynamic dating app duo on those days.
The first couple swiping sessions were really sweet because when Ben found a match with someone who he thought had real potential for me, he almost shied away from messaging them for fear of messing it up. And although it went against the terms I had created, there were moments when I took his advice and sent the first line because I do really value his opinion. For the most part, Ben took glee at the prospect of finding my “future husband” or the “love of my life” and did try to set up dates. While his efforts were very spirited, I won’t completely deny that maybe some of the unanswered messages resulted in glaring grammatical errors. But it made it authentic so I won’t blame him entirely.
As the summer progressed, though, it diverged into silliness and Ben took his task less seriously (not like it began as a matter of life and death). The experiment became a less wholesome approach to being a matchmaker and it turned into a game that he played with my other male coworkers on who could find the most absurd profiles to get matched with me. I can’t really complain about that either because it provided for many laughs throughout the shifts.
One of the highlights was when Ben matched me with a brain surgeon named Brian. Honestly, his line to him was brilliant:
“Do you want to pick my Brian this Saturday night?”
The fact that he implemented his name and a joke about his future profession was admirable considering that was exactly the type of thing I would’ve messaged. Another one of the highlights was being matched with a guy donning an eye-patch; it was unconfirmed whether or not it was a pirate cosplay and to that, I say ARGH!
The experiment, besides being a fun dating role reversal, allowed him to have a glimpse into some of the dumb and oftentimes douche-y bios of the potential matches. Hearing him talk about how unappealing the crass pick-up lines were in some of the boys’ bios reinstated my opinion that Ben would be one of the good ones should he ever appear on a dating app (wink wink).
After I drew the Bumble hijacking to a close, it was time to make Ben’s profile. I explained the differences of Bumble and Tinder to him, and we mutually decided Bumble would be a better match (pun intended) for a budding dating app user like him.
I crafted his bio (which I sadly do not remember anymore), his general preferences and description of himself. I wasn’t allowed to choose photos, though, which I warned him would lead girls to believe he might be catfishing them… to not avail though, Ben chose not to heed my seasoned words of advice. I got to swiping and really enjoyed looking through the girl’s profiles (oftentimes with my other female coworkers for a jab back at Ben like he did with mine) and even roped another coworker into making Ben a Tinder. Our breaks from then on were consumed by running Ben’s dating accounts; it was a blast.
Because I was in charge of Bumble, I reminded Ben that even though I was a girl running his male profile, he would have to wait to get a response from the girls in order to talk. It was an interesting change of pace to write messages for girls that I would’ve liked to hear, and it was also fun for me to match Ben with old high school acquaintances and people we may or may not have worked together with in the past. I had a lot less success with matches and getting responses on Ben’s profile, though, so it was a lower yield of potential girlfriends or flings. In my defense, however, I was only given about two weeks to work my magic and couldn’t advise him on photos, so I don’t think it can be entirely blamed on me!
When the summer drew to a close, Ben and I both decided major things about our time on the apps:
- Ben decided that he was going to stop using them and focus more on school as he headed off to his freshman year of college.
- I, however, decided not to get off the apps.
For me, the apps have always been an interesting way to look at people in my area and simultaneously get content from them. Sure, I hold onto hope that maybe the apps could be a foundation for a really cool story about a future relationship, but that’s not what I need right now.
Before coming home for the summer, I hadn’t completely grasped just how much I would miss my second family and how much of my time would be, well, unspoken for when I wasn’t with them.
All summer long, day in and day out, I spent it working. The other parts of summer just felt lackluster when I wasn’t working away, which led me to search the apps for someone to occupy my time. I was also trying to recreate the love and happiness I experienced while with my friends at school through a romantic interest (which isn’t fair to them or myself). Needless to say, it flopped big-time.
And that’s when I realized: even though I conjured this idea out of boredom, it didn’t mean it also was the source of my unhappiness. I was happy all summer, even though it didn’t always seem like that. But also, in the times that I wasn’t feeling glass-half-full about myself, I concluded that finding someone or something to be the source of my happiness wouldn’t really fulfill me… I had to find it inside myself and have it radiate outwards. I no longer wanted nor needed to find someone to give all my attention and affection to because I, myself, am a very worthy recipient of all that, as well as all the other lovely souls in my life who I’m lucky to already love.
As for the dating apps, well, I don’t think I’ll stop fumbling my way through Bumble anytime soon, but it’s easy for me to say this now: the biggest match I made this summer was swiping right towards self-sufficiency and happiness within myself.