Looking for love in London


I have never been a huge fan of dating apps. In fact, I had sworn off of them several months ago, after another relationship with someone I had met online had dramatically imploded.

Never again, I had thought. I am done with this nonsense.

But my friend and his boyfriend were determined to find me a date during my time in London, so — despite my objections that this was sure to be a failure — I downloaded Tinder one night as we waited in a long queue for a popular ramen place, and by the time we were seated in our corner booth, I was back in the game.

As we waited for our noodles to arrive, we contemplated my possible matches. We spent a few minutes carefully choosing who to swipe right on, before I switched over to a more reckless method of online dating: swiping right on everyone.

Since I was only in London for a few days, I figured that this would be the most efficient use of my time; I could sort through people and decide who I had a chance with once we matched. Of course, this strategy required that I actually match with people, something that didn’t happen that night, despite my liberal swiping.

The next morning, I used up all of my available matches, but still — nothing.

Desperate for the dopamine rush that comes with a Tinder notification, I adjusted my search settings; while I had originally asked Tinder to only show me women, I decided that it was time to expand my options. I told Tinder to show me everyone, and then threw my phone in my bag as we headed out into the city.

I kept my phone off throughout the morning, as we wandered under railway lines and through the weekend crowds that filled Borough Market. I snuck a quick peak at the app — no new matches — as we strolled through the halls of the Tate Modern, but resisted the urge to check again for the rest of the afternoon, until we reached the boardwalk at Canary Wharf.

Once we settled in on a bench and cracked open our cheap drinks, I opened up tinder and quickly used up all of my available swipes. To my surprise, this time I matched with a handful of people.

None of them, unfortunately, looked especially promising.

This was the downside of my reckless swiping strategy. Some people were hundreds of miles away, while others had poorly written bios that spanned a drastic range; on one end, you had bios that consisted of a single, non-descriptive word, while at the other end you had a rambling, incoherent monologue that was impossible to read.

Tinder in London, I thought, as we watched the sun set over the River Thames, is just as disappointing as Tinder in the United States.

When I woke up the next morning and glanced at my phone, the screen was filled with notifications that cheerfully proclaimed, “You’ve got a new match!” Perhaps there’s hope, I thought, as I curled up on my friends’ couch and watched the sunrise. Maybe one of these people will work out.

Once my friends were awake and coffee had been made, they joined me on the couch and huddled over my phone to evaluate my romantic prospects. There still wasn’t anyone that struck us as intriguing, but the options were better than they had been the previous night. It was time, we decided, to try and talk to people.

“Ask him to take you to Shrek’s Adventure,” my friend said, while his boyfriend recommended the strong opening line of, “Hey hottie.”

More terrible messages were proposed, but before long we dissolved into laughter and gave up. My friends lamented the state of online dating — why was this so hard? — as we headed out the door, on our way for another full day of walking through markets and museums.

We kept trying over the next couple of days; while most of our attempts were ridiculous, we made a few valiant efforts.

Despite this, nothing clicked, and I ended up leaving London without having gone on a single date. But did it really matter?

Sure, I hadn’t found a fairytale romance. But I had friends who cared about me enough to wade through the cesspools of online dating with me — and if that’s not true love, then what is?

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