Photos by the author
Ask anyone. Tinder is the app you use for hooking up. In polite company, people will say it's "just for fun" or they joined because they were bored, but my grandmother wouldn't know about this bit of zeitgeist if it were just some voyeuristic Hot or Not clone with a chat function. The success of the juggernaut app is in its ability to connect horny folks of all stripes for efficient, self-selecting, casual fun. It's such a notorious name in the romance-app game that niche market competitors tend to refer to themselves as "the Tinder of _____." So popular is the app that it's even started to tempt the chaste to join its ranks. After she told me—puzzlingly—that all of her Tinder-based relationships break apart too quickly, I got coffee with Cindy (fake name), a comedian in Southern California, who also happens to be a committed virgin, and asked her some questions about her swiping experience.
You're a virgin on Tinder. What's that like?
Cindy: It's hard for people to accept that there are virgins by choice. They think I can't just do it if I wanted to. I mean, I don't care or anything. It'd be a lot easier if it wasn't and things just ended up this way. But to have to make this effort is the hard part.
You haven't done anything sexual, right?
Yeah, I've made out with some guys. That's it. Oh, and someone grabbed my breast very briefly, and then I told him to stop. I haven't seen a penis, though.
Why, of all the dating sites and apps out there, did you choose Tinder, given that it's widely considered just a hook-up platform?
I knew that. I think I was just curious at first. I had just moved two hours away from my hometown and wanted to see what all the buzz was about. But I didn't like it. I didn't like myself for swiping just based on pictures, which are essentially illusions. If I meet them in person, I'm not going to expect them to look like that. They're probably less appealing. And my favorite DJ, Dillon Francis, uses this for trolling people. And they show how stupid all the girls are on it, so I wanted to get in on it and see if the guys were too. And I thought initially that I didn't want to meet anyone, so I thought what's the point of being myself? 'Cause they'd be like, "Hey, let's meet up" and I'd be like, "No, I'm too scared. Let's just talk." So I decided to use it for a little experiment where I'd try to get rejected as fast as I could, and then make it public.
Image courtesy of "Cindy"
What was your process?
My tactic was to make the guy as uncomfortable as possible. I'd ask them how much they think I weigh, if I could meet their parents, their financial history. Then I'd screencap it and post it to Instagram for the sake of comedy.
So was this entire endeavor just for material for your comedy or was there maybe 5 percent of you that thought, Man, this one guy was really cool and handled my bait well.
There definitely was that from time to time. Initially, yes, it was for the screenshots, and I never planned to meet them. And these shots did get me the most exposure I'd had at that point. I've since learned that it's not that original an idea. But inevitably I made the mistake of swiping right on people who just seemed interesting. I felt bad if they had a compliment for me, or an opening line that wasn't incredibly aggressive. So that happened. I did end up meeting up with people like that. I'm not that infallible.
Why is meeting someone you're attracted to and find interesting fallibility?
I just wasn't in a place where I should be meeting people. Like, I don't want to hook up with these people. I mean, it was crazy to find that not all men on Tinder are these horrible, horny monsters. But being the committed virgin that I am, I knew it would end up going to a place where we weren't both on the same page. For most of them at least.
Image courtesy of "Cindy"
When do you disclose your virginity to a potential suitor?
I guess date number two if they seem pretty serious. Not serious serious, but like interested in seeing me again. I always thought Tinder was I'd meet that person once. Like meet up and hopefully this doesn't work out and I'll never have to see them again. But, unfortunately, it's always worked out.
Why do you think you don't want it to work out?
Because I just shouldn't be dating. Virgin [thing] aside, I don't even know myself. Other than knowing that I'm going to be celibate, everything else is very uncertain. I'm just really immature right now. Maybe I'm just projecting that on myself. Also, I have conservative values, so I can't really say that I'm a feminist, but I'm a quasi-feminist, and I didn't like how I was depending on the guys for things. Like them paying for stuff. And even more, I didn't like that I sort of liked that treatment. I hated that I liked it. I know it's dumb.
Of the guys you saw, has anyone tried to push your boundaries at all?
Oh, yeah. The first guy for sure. The thing with each of the guys is that it takes a long time for them to believe me. They ask over and over if I'm serious, and don't seem to buy that I don't experiment. The first guy didn't pressure me, but I asked him point blank, "Are you sure you want to keep dating a virgin? I'll be a tease to you and frustrate you." His response was, "Yeah, we'll see what happens." He was very confident that I would be weak around him, that I would compromise myself around him.
When do you think you'd like to finally lose your virginity?
When I'm married. I'm serious. Ideally on my wedding night. I think I really do see sex as something I want to share only with someone I'm really, really committed to. I might be tempted to if I'm with someone I could see myself with long-term, but that hasn't happened yet.
Tell me about your longest relationship.
It was six months. But I was 15. I was way too young. And that was too much for me at once. Since then, just a few short spurts. It was tough because I was pretty scarred by that relationship. All he talked about was how sexually deprived he was. Like, 15 is an OK age to not be having sex, right? And he just didn't want anything else. If I'm going to be emotionally invested in it, the guy should be too. Basically, if I can't see myself having kids with you, there's no shot that I'm going to have sex with you.
You don't really know how weird this all sounds until you say it out loud to someone else.
So what is the main reason that causes these break-ups? Is it the lack of sex for them or you running away?
It's mostly me. It's always me. I do the whole "It's me, not you" thing and push away. It always feels like I'm hiding this part of me that's very insecure. This is getting very sad. Ugh.
Are you really sad?
Yeah. I am. I have SSRIs in my backpack right now. Don't feel bad for me. Please don't feel bad for me.
OK, then what is it you'd most want people to know about you?
I'm not a virgin by pressure. I'm really comfortable with not having a sex life. I've always been amazed by how much people respect it and don't judge me for it. But I think if you are making the choice to not have a sex life, being certain that you're doing the right thing is something to be proud of. I realize I'm lonely, but I knew going into it that it'd be difficult. And I'm not inhuman or asexual. My body does crave things. And I do the best I can to not tackle those urges myself. I just do something else until they go away. There's always something I should be doing that's more productive. I don't have a sense of what's normal, but I know I'm not normal.
So how will you be using Tinder going forward?
I feel like I'm done dating from Tinder, but I'm not deleting the app. I still want those screenshots. I'll probably just set the age range to over 35 so I'm not at all tempted to meet up with them. But I'm not as strong as I think I am. I'll probably relapse and find another guy I want to see.
Have you ever considered the possibility that you might come to know yourself better through companionship with another person?
Of course. I just get worried that they'd want to change me to suit their needs. To become what they want. But I don't love them enough to become what they want. I think you have to compromise a lot of yourself to be in a relationship, and I'm not ready to do that. I'd rather be alone than lose myself.
Since this coffee, Cindy has deleted, reinstalled, and re-deleted Tinder. She met up with one guy, and predictably, it didn't pan out into anything serious. She remains hopeful that once she gets her life more sorted, she'll be able to start a relationship with someone she's met in the real world.
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