To outsiders, there was nothing atypical about the way Haley and Antonio met and began dating.
When Haley, 21, took her new 29-year-old boyfriend to meet her parents, they talked about how they met while Antonio was on campus doing recruitment for his job. The two then communicated via cell phone for more than a month before going on a first date at P’cheen in Virginia Highlands. They hit it off instantly.
But Haley told her parents a lie. She didn’t meet her boyfriend on campus; they met on Tinder.
Although it was originally released in 2012, the phone application didn’t become popular amongst young adults until 2013. Many users may not have used a traditional dating website. Tinder pulls information from the user’s Facebook profile and allows them to match up with men, women or both, within up to a 100-mile radius of their location.
Users are able to add photos and a biography to their profile and they can see the Facebook interests and contacts they have in common with each potential match. The only other information provided is the user’s first name, age and their distance in reference to each potential match.
The app is set up like a simple game. If you see someone you like, swipe right. If you don’t like what you see, swipe left. If the users both swipe right on each other, Tinder will alert them and they will be able to privately message each other and communicate within the app or “keep playing” and search for other potential matches. The application can be used as a means of socializing, finding convenient hookups or—in cases like Haley and Antonio’s—finding a significant other.
Haley said she decided to download the app after reading comments and reviews online.
“I’m really into apps and technology, and I was reading reviews on it and I said, ‘let me see what this is,’ because there were crazy stories behind Tinder and how it grew really quickly within a year.”
Haley said things went smoothly from the beginning with Antonio. She said they did not have mutual Facebook friends and the only mutual Facebook interest they had was the Bible.
“We just hit it off right away. It was almost as if you text somebody after meeting them at a party or meeting them face to face. It was just normal, natural chemistry,” Haley said.
She told someone when she went on her first date with Antonio, just in case anything went wrong, but the night ended up going smoothly.
“It was more like getting to know each other outside of what we had already talked about. At that point it was a normal date,” she said.
Haley said she thinks taking a month to talk within the app is what helped her relationship.
“With Tinder, it can go really fast. I know a lot of people use it to hook up a lot, so I feel like if it was really quick then it would’ve just been a hook up thing instead of progression,” Haley said.
Haley’s first date with Antonio was actually her second date with someone she’d met on Tinder.
“He hadn’t gone on other dates with the app and I had. I went on one
other [date] and it was just terrible,” Haley said.
Haley didn’t initially take the app too seriously and she
continued to talk to other people prior to meeting Antonio in person.
She no longer uses the app, but she still has it on her phone.
Now she and her boyfriend don’t even mention the app that brought them together.
“We don’t talk about Tinder at all. It’s not even a thing anymore. We
don’t bring it up. That was our intro. That was our bar,” Haley said.
Haley said people usually don’t ask where she met her boyfriend, but she didn’t feel comfortable telling her parents the truth when they met Antonio for the first time.
“I made up a story because I was like they
won’t get it and they would just automatically go with the stigma.
They’ve seen too many news stories and negative reviews on it.”
She said if the relationship lasts then she will eventually tell her parents the truth.
“I think we’ll eventually tell them if it lasts like a year. Then it will just be funny. Right now it’s way too early,” Haley said.
Despite the fact that many Georgia State users can be found on Tinder, the ones contacted for this article all declined to speak about their use of the app. In fact, Haley only agreed to be interviewed if her and her boyfriend’s names could be changed.
Despite the fact that everything is going digital now, Haley said there is still a stigma attached to meeting someone online.
“I think that’s mostly because we favor interpersonal
communication. You’re supposed to meet people at the club or through
friends or you’re supposed to know them personally…the
Internet is always supposedly sketchy. I think it will go away as we use technology more and more.”