“How did you guys meet?”

Ah, the dreaded question. When introducing my boyfriend to others, I typically offer two responses to this inquiry: the one shared with my family — a vague mention of meeting through a friend — and the real answer: Tinder. The prospect of confessing to my parents that I met this strange man off the internet is absolutely diabolical, but with friends I’m a lot more candid about my brief, yet successful, foray into dating apps.

Following a somewhat mortifying breakup in April 2021, I felt love was elusive. After losing a year and a half, I embraced all the classic post-breakup shenanigans: a gym membership, haircut, and a new lease on life. Three months of sculpting biceps and I finally decided that once again, I was ready for male attention! Well, mainly female attention, but unfortunately I was unsuccessful. I downloaded Tinder in July, just before starting university, hoping to land a date with a cute girl. Days passed, and it became clear that I wasn’t getting responses… 

I was terrified at the thought of being left on “seen” yet again, but I quickly understood why Tinder was a hub for ego boosts. Despite the occasional creep asking for unsavoury things, I engaged with a variety of men, all with differing interests. While generally pleasant, these conversations rarely ventured beyond Tinder. For weeks, I found myself stuck in repetitive, mindless conversations. 

Then came Zach. 

Now my boyfriend of two and a half years, there was once a time where Zach was simply a name and two cute, albeit outdated, photos on my phone. I’m not sure what initially drew me to him. His very brief and unassuming profile, mentioning piano and French as hobbies, piqued my interest. As a linguist and a pianist of fifteen years, it sounded promising. He’s hot and likes jazz? As long as he wasn’t a serial killer, I was happy. I swallowed my pride and attempted to make the first move in the form of a “ya like jazz?” gif from Bee Movie. Not my proudest moment, but obviously it worked. After a quick chat, he suggested continuing the conversation over a lunch date. 

Embarrassingly, I was already attached before meeting him. Despite his insistence on not spoiling our first date, we couldn’t resist texting each other. The anticipation proved too much, and on the day before our official first date, we met for the first time. 

We hit it off, spending the summer together before deciding to be in a relationship just before my departure to Oxford. Over the past two years, we’ve navigated between Oxford and London, and with my current year abroad in Italy, we’ve enjoyed romantic getaways to Italian hotspots.

Whenever I tell people that I met Zach over Tinder, they are usually shocked. “But he’s so nice! How did you find him on Tinder?” There’s an expectation that Tinder is solely for hookups. How has our nearly three-year relationship thrived from the shaky foundations of a dating app?

While I encountered many men who were only interested in sex, it is possible to find genuine connections. I wasn’t on Tinder for long before finding a satisfying match, so perhaps luck played a part. 

Embracing dating apps involved taking a leap of faith, it was nerve-racking knowing that I had very little information about Zach before I started dating him. Communicating my intentions early on was crucial; I made it clear that I was in search of a meaningful connection, not a casual fling. Establishing and maintaining these boundaries proved essential in steering my Tinder experience towards something satisfying and lasting. 

Despite the prevalent casual dating culture on Tinder, standing firm in my desires ultimately led to a connection that exceeded my expectations. So, my advice? Don’t let the app’s reputation dictate your journey — be clear about what you’re seeking, and you might just swipe your way into a fulfilling relationship.