By Elaine Sine
Whenever the subject of my boyfriend and our long-distance relationship between the United States and France pops up in conversation, I’m usually met with an expression of shock and alarmed curiosity of how we met and how we’re maintaining a relationship. I’ve sometimes been embarrassed in expressing that we met through Tinder, but I proudly tell them that I’m glad I met him, even if it was in these circumstances. I understand people’s confusion and their persistent curiosity of how we do it, and despite how many people ask me this, I never really get tired of telling them about our success in maintaining commitment to each other. Thus, here is the beginning the journey I have named my “Tinderella Story.”
When I became a university student, I won’t lie and say that I didn’t have a rough start. I wasn’t confident in my ability to make new friends, join new clubs or just fit into college life in general. I was shy and didn’t know many people, but I wanted to have a new beginning where I could meet others who would motivate me to be who I wanted to be. I tried different avenues of achieving that. I joined RSOs and attended events, but my more unconventional method was making a Tinder profile.
In my naivety, I installed Tinder on my phone because I wanted to make friends (boy, was that a terribly false notion) and because I did want to find a relationship. Since online dating is popularized in our modern culture, I wanted to give it a try. I’ve always been awkward when it comes to approaching boys, so doing it online seemed like a safer and different way to find what I was looking for.
However, believe me – utilizing Tinder as a dating/friend-finding app was rough. If you can imagine, I got a lot of… risqué requests. Sometimes people wouldn’t send anything after their initial message; sometimes they wouldn’t stop sending messages after multiple days of me not responding. Through my collection of swipe-rights, I hadn’t found many opportunities for lasting relationships.
I had gone on several dates, and they were the rare collection of Tinder people that were respectful and nice, but I didn’t meet anyone I had much in common with and we never clicked. My expectations for the app slowly dwindled, and I was beginning to lose faith in the modern definition of dating. Tinder’s stigma reinforces the idea that its participants are just lazy and looking for a quick way to hook up. People have always criticized online dating and said it isn’t a successful way to find love, and I slowly began to believe them.
Then in November of last semester, I met Alexandre. His profile said nothing except that he was a French exchange student with a French flag emoji next to it. It peaked my interest. I’ve never talked to someone from France before! Because I was interested in studying abroad there in the future, I thought I could talk to him and ask him about the wonders of France. That, in addition to his warm smile, was what got me.
We matched, and soon we began talking. We talked for several days, sending blocks of text to each other through the faulty chat box that would rarely show our messages on time. But I would regularly check my messages, anticipating his, and always got excited when I finally saw his name pop up on the screen.
He told me his friend had made his Tinder profile for him and that he wasn’t really planning on using it much because his friend only wanted the profile to use Tinder Social. Therefore, we both didn’t have high expectations for Tinder. But the more he told me about his life, aspirations and adventures, the more I really wanted to meet him. We finally set up a date, and then another, and another. He told me he was only here for a semester, but that didn’t stop us because we finally found someone to cherish every moment with.
We spent almost every day together for two months before he left in late December. He met my family, celebrated Christmas and Christmas Eve with me, and when he left, we never ceased talking to each other and decided to do long distance.
I didn’t have much of a connection with the international community here, so I wouldn’t have met Alex if I didn’t give Tinder a shot. I found my Prince Charming in one of the most stigmatized ways possible, but I don’t care anymore because I had him, and that’s all that matters.
Dating has become a way to explore different avenues of meeting people. Before we were limited by expectations to meet someone in a “natural” way, and even with the advancement of technology, globalization and society as a whole, many people are restricted to a certain way of thinking to find love. Yes, people will be looking for different things in anything that that you do, not just in love. However, don’t let that stop you from persevering to find what you want. As long as you stay firm, you’ll discover what you’ve been looking for.
Forget the stigmas, because they might keep you from finding what you deserve.