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Dear Tinder: Thank You for Everything

An optimistic look at digital dating and the experiences it can spark for us.

I first downloaded Tinder in January 2014 while studying abroad in Berlin. I’ve been using the app on and off again ever since. While living in Germany, Tinder helped me meet local people outside of my American study abroad bubble. Through the app, I learned a lot about the city, about dating in different countries, and about myself.

There are endless ways Tinder can spark nightmares, but for me, Tinder has made a lot of magic. In the midst of the negative noise around online dating, I just want to say thank you to the app for the good — the humanity — it has in fact introduced into my life.

Dear Tinder,

Thank you for empowering me with choices — for giving me the space to be the first to start conversations as a lady and remember I am fearless.

Thank you for giving me the space to accept that I can also say no, and stop a conversation if I don’t desire it.

Thank you for helping me realize that I can match with a hot model when, in my head, I always thought a “hot” person could never be into me.

Thank you for being there when I travel, and allowing me to meaningfully connect to cities through its romantic individuals.

Thank you for being my culture guide. You provided a fantastic personal tour around Berlin through different individuals, taking me to the Berlinische Galerie one day and to Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus (German Barnes & Noble) the next. Thank you for giving each of these places a colorful meaning in my memory.

Thank you for showing me that dates don’t have to be so formal (at least in Berlin). I can split the check, and talk about weird things, like life, art, even good and bad previous dating experiences. Thank you for showing me that there can be no rules, and that a good date is simply about being flirtatiously, fantastically me with someone else.

Thank you for setting up my first kiss in my favorite Berlin bar, Bohnengold, as my hat fell into a crowd of sweaty people. It was surprisingly sloppy and I realized kissing is actually kind of gross, and there’s not much to it except for two people accepting a desire to be intimate and kind of gross with each other.

Thank you for teaching me how to make a cigarette from that tall, lanky Swedish guy in the leather jacket who hilariously called me a “sexy cat” (I had cat whiskers painted on my face in one of my profile photos). I’m still a little bitter for leaving one of my favorite bobby pins at his apartment.

Thank you for giving me a sense of culture in various cities just by studying different names. I wish I could’ve uncovered the stories behind Trevor and Eugene in NYC, Sébastien and Étienne in Montreal, James and Tristan in San Francisco, Andriy, Luca, and Anselmo in Italy, or Niklas, Marlon, and Yannick in Berlin.

Me in Rome, February 2016

Thank you for allowing me to take long walks in Italy with a violinist, and a journalist — and for allowing me to realize that romance is walking in the rain under one umbrella with a charming, listening, adorkable architecture student, and better yet, around Trevi Fountain. (I must say, I am still bitter about you allowing me to miss my flight the next morning and pay a $400 fee to take another plane, but I guess I can’t exactly blame you for that).

Thank you for introducing me to a kind designer in San Francisco to wander the DeYoung Museum with. I remember sitting across from him at Creations Dessert House, and asking him about what makes him happy. He talked about his sister and family, and started crying––it’s one of my favorite dates I’d ever been on. He is an honest thinker, open listener, great kisser, and now a faithful friend I can contact any time.

Thank you for introducing me to a kind policeman in Berlin, whom I otherwise never would’ve met. A face I had seen on a screen turned into a one-and-half-year long journey of a meaningful, long distance relationship that I will never forget. You introduced me to my first serious relationship that was unlike any romance film or story I’d ever seen in media. You sparked a peaceful love I hadn’t ever experienced until you introduced us. He became someone I cared for every single day for many days, and someone who would surprise me each day by caring for me back. You sparked the ups and downs of our love. You showed me long distance relationships are a thing I can do and can enjoy because it’s a lot about creatively communicating our thoughts and feelings with each other on a daily basis. Thank you for taking me to that new place of everyday love, for helping me understand sex in a not intimidating way through someone I trust, and for leading me to a journey of heartbreak and knowing the dark place of lost love, too.

Berlin 2015

By sparking this journey, you helped me realize that socially, we aren’t talking about romance very reflectively, so I started my email blog back in 2015, and wrote about my break up, which I am still very proud of. You expanded my knowledge of romance, which I am still exploring through love letters, missed connections, the love I have for my friends, for light, and so much more.

Thank you for potentially being the reason why I felt confident enough to ask a guy out for the first time while I was at a cafe in Montreal. (For the record, he was a barista at Olive + Gourmando in April 2017 and has a man bun. If you know him, give me a ring). I had never done this before, and never thought I ever could ask a stranger out! But I realized, it wasn’t so different from starting a conversation on Tinder. The only difference was the fact that it was happening in real-time while all the restaurant’s employees eavesdropped on the conversation, which only made me more determined to provide a great show for everyone watching.

Thank you for helping me realize, that there are lots of people out there I can learn from, and for allowing me to connect with these individuals.

Thank you for reminding me that closeness can be achieved over digital platforms when two dreamers truly want to connect.

Thank you for helping me understand that for me, dating is not about how many people I meet or kiss, but about the meaning and the story I can create with each individual.

Above all, I thank you for introducing me to all these humans that were once so real in my life, for allowing me to find other people who want to be vulnerable with me and share their stories with me and enrich my life with their love, if only for a moment or for years.

There are still a million ways you could improve, and right now, I am pretty frustrated with you in NYC, but I just want to say, thank you for all these revelations on love that I may have never realized if it weren’t for you. The stories you’ve introduced to me have became a part of my history, my today, and my tomorrow.

After a date with a man in NYC who turned out to be a mansplainer. But that’s ok, I got a good selfie out of it.
With love,
Erin

Erin is a writer, photographer, love letter magazine maker, creative social media manager, hopeful romantic, and an empathetic friend to all. She’d love to say hi.

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