Tinder Lessons in South Florida.

Tinder is now a thing. A thing that most people I know are using. Some use it more out of sheer boredom, others because they’re legitimately looking for something, and many of us are just trying to figure out if it’s actually worth investing time in other than red lights and various other daily activities that require us to wait a few minutes. It turns out that it’s a very useful tool to meet other likeminded travelers with, especially when solo traveling. Many people on Tinder will write in their “bio” that they aren’t looking for casual sex, a relationship, or anything of the sort but more so that what they’re interested in is friendships or a shared interest in various hobbies, traveling being one of them. You can write how long you will be staying in that particular destination and what you’re interested in seeing or doing while you’re there. Using Tinder in this way has proven to be fun and effective, much more beyond the creepiness that sometimes comes along with the app itself. If you haven’t, Instagram the sites Tinder Nightmares or Feminist Tinder for some laughs and a bit of a shock realizing there are actually people like that out in the world, and most definitely out on the prowl… 

On the other side of Tinder is the realization that although many of us are casually swiping right or left without much as a second thought into how shallow that very activity is in itself. I have no shame in openly admitting that I go through stages where I do use Tinder pretty freely, and I also have no problem meeting up with people from Tinder, male or female, for various reasons. Whether it’s a potential relationship, a friend, a mutual love of a hobby, or something else that sparks my interest, Tinder is definitely on my radar.

I spent the last month in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and learned that Tindering in South Florida can be a very interesting experience, and I say “interesting” lightly. Florida people, in general, are a bit different and those of you that have spent any time here know exactly what I’m talking about, but more on that subject later.  I met about 5 people in the last month for various reasons but I’m going to focus on a certain circumstance and lesson involving one dude. For no particular reason let’s call him, Chad. Now, Chad and I realized that we shared a mutual love of scuba diving and started chatting for a few days before he decided to join my roommates and I at the beach one afternoon, we hit it off and ended up hanging out for the next 24 hours. It turns out he is also a private vegan chef that works on a private yacht. So ironic…! When he dropped me back at my crew house the following day he told me he wanted to cook me dinner at some point that week and I obviously said, yes. The following night he rang and I was hanging with my friends at Tap42 for the $5 Monday burger special, I invited him to come down and he said he would then called me back an hour later saying he’d temporarily lost his phone and how it was much too late for him to join… Flash forward a few days to our scheduled date and Chad ended up blowing me off to help his buddy fix the ignition switch on his car, which as bummed as I was, seemed like a legit excuse… again. The following night he promised to call with an apology and show up to the Reggae concert I was planning on attending, which… surprise, he never showed.

Now, I’ve always been a strong believer in “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” but for some reason I allowed this guy to throw all my rules out the window without realizing that he was too good to be true.

“Le *sigh*” I received an apology call the following day and was told that he would be busy all weekend but wanted to try to hang out on Monday, we then made plans Monday afternoon for dinner that evening. My roommates had decided again that they were going to go to the normal Monday night spot at Tap42 which is where Chad and I had decided to meet. While he was at the gym I hitched a ride with them and ordered us a table, they all ate and I held off assuming that my date was going to show up. I got a call about an hour in with a lame excuse about his buddies all going to a different bar because their friend was DJ’ing a set that evening. I should have seen this one coming… Sarah and I decided to go anyways because Fat Cats always has good music regardless, and drumroll please… guess who never showed?

Now typing this all out makes me realize how ridiculously not uncommon this is. For some reason Tinder has made so many options available to us that we constantly want to cancel or reschedule on the plans that we’ve already made. I’m guilty of this as well but have always tried my best to keep my plans and my integrity intact. But that’s how I am, I believe in navigating relationships in such a way where communication and honesty are always the best way. Unfortunately, in our fast paced world we would hate to miss out on, “the one” or any other various opportunity to connect with people, yet in that fight we are sacrificing the very connections we seek by being so quick to say yes or no without much as a second thought. It’s now as easy and simple as a shallow swipe to the left or right.

The following day I received a call to which I explained how I didn’t even care what the excuse was, how I don’t treat friends or family like that under any circumstance and that I deserved more respect. All I got was a line about how it just didn’t seem to be easy enough and a lot of other cheeky excuses including being blacked out with his buddies (what are you, 21 years old?), when all I wanted was this man to own up to being a human. I decided the following day after being stood up for the 5th time in 2 weeks that it was time to send Chad a text message that went as follows,

“You blew me off again last night. And don’t feed me some lines about how it should be easy, it is easy, Chad. If you make plans you honor them. Having integrity isn’t a quality I hope to find in a human, it’s a necessary part of being a good person. God I’m not usually wrong about people but I have been so wrong about you. It’s too bad. Good luck.”

A few hours later I got the call where he finally admitted he’d been seeing someone else and they’d really hit it off right after he saw me. Now, this doesn’t surprise me, nor does it offend or hurt me because he was finally being honest with me. It’s simple, treat the people you spend your time with respectfully. If you’re dating multiple people, that’s totally okay, but be open about it. Whatever you’re looking for in a relationship or even a casual hookup, communication is always your best friend. All I really wanted, was to have the person I was trying to spend time with and get to know to honor me in the same way I felt I was honoring him. I only had a limited time in Florida and he knew that, so I was all about keeping things casual because I wasn’t looking for anything more, but he obviously was and that’s okay. If we’d stop hiding behind how we think others are going to react, or trying to protect other’s hearts because we somehow feel that leading people on is going to hurt less than just being up front, we’d be much better off. Honor yourself and honor the people you are connecting with or intimate with, you owe it to them.

Chad is a 31 year old product of the fast paced society we live in, and we all are to some extent. If reading this makes you think about anything, I just ask that you stop blowing off plans and start making plans that you actually want to do, with friends or people that you want to spend time with- people that make you better and challenge you. Beyond our ability to always please people is the selfishness we’re taught to only look out for ourselves. Because of this we end up blowing people off because we are better at excuses and assume somehow they’ll hurt less. But who do we really hurt?

In the end, I was proud of Chad for owning up to his mistakes and admitting that he didn’t want to behave like that in the future. I wished him the best of luck and said goodbye.

It is that simple. We are all human beings trying to coordinate the dreams of ourselves and the people that we surround ourselves with, and that’s no easy task. Be honest, be a little bit selfish, and don’t go running around assuming everyone’s hearts are going to break. We’re making eachother weak when in fact when the wondering is all gone, I’d have to say that most of us, as humans, would rather know the truth and have it hurt for a bit, then to sit there and wonder. Wondering sucks and hearts are stronger than we think. Don’t forget your own strength.