The diagnosis is in: I have Tinder fingers.
I have to take a time-out until my thumbprints reappear after using the app too much. I have been advised to delete all the dating apps in my phone. For a complete and successful treatment of my carpal tunnel syndrome, it would be good to keep my legs shut for a while. In the words of the MD, “Swiper no swiping!”
It’s been a good two years of carefully-calibrated not-caring. The incessant and repetitive “which outfit, which underwear, what to do with my hair” routine. The social media stalking to figure out if he a.) has a girlfriend, b.) will be good company, and c.) will most likely not murder me. And let’s not forget the fantastic regular Brazilian wax necessary to make sure that they, uh, don’t get lost in the Amazon. My follicles have been numbed from the frequency of waxing anyway, I almost feel nothing anymore! Not just down there, but everywhere! Makes being ghosted easier.
I remember when I was in Taipei and I asked all my matches: “So is stinky tofu any good?” Surprisingly, the callous efficiency did yield: It lead to one of my favorite first dates, despite the fact that he hated cheese. Now that I think about it, I have dated some cool people through Tinder — a guy who chose to live a life of freedom on the road as a truck driver in Portugal, a guy from LA who sold knives on weekdays and directed Cannes-worthy short films by night, a Swiss architect who chose to live in Manila so he can help the world, a Bruneian consultant with beautiful, long, datu-worthy hair who called himself the Asian Jon Snow (and who gave the best massage ever).
And while those short-lived romances never lead to anything more, I wasn’t asking for anything more, right? I mean sure, one of my close friends found her current boyfriend of two years on Tinder. A schoolmate moved to LA with his current girlfriend whom he met on the same app. My editor, on Bumble for research, is happily in love with someone who, at the beginning, was not looking for anything serious like her. Even my own mother met my stepdad online (not on Tinder).
I remember my mom saying, “Online dating is a numbers game.” To be successful in online dating, you have to keep swiping.You have to keep replying to their messages, to always set up dates. To tirelessly go on dates until you get to the right guy. Thus the Tinder fingers.
But I think I missed the second half of her advice, when she said “You have to know what you want.” In other words, as my friend said, “I want to define what success means for me in terms of online dating, which is: Getting what I want.”
The thing is, I’m tired. I’m tired of meeting guys I like and realizing mid-way that maybe I do want something more. And I haven’t figured out just yet how to say that without scaring anyone away. I’m tired of being ghosted. I’m tired of the rigmarole.
But at least now I’m forcing myself to confront the question of what it is that I’m looking for when dating. What am I in it for? Just hooking up? Just friends with benefits? Am I in it for potentially something more?
I hate to admit it because I sound like a sap from Sex and the City, but here it is anyway: love. I’m looking for love. I want to connect with someone in a real way. I want to be able to ask for what I want, and to be able to freely express my adoration for someone. And to be honest, maybe I want it to be OK to not shave my legs all the time.
So, I’m going offline for a while. Let all my hair grow back as God intended it to be. Give myself the space to believe in myself again and in the people around me. Learn what it means to love, and to allow myself to be loved, not looking for it elsewhere, but in those who already love me.