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Falling in Love Through Tinder Taught Me How to Date

I never intended to develop a serious relationship with someone I met on Tinder.


When he spoke, we had been lying quietly for some time, feeling the January sunlight coming in through the window and listening to each other’s breathing.

“Did you ever think it would come to this?”

I paused. “What do you mean?”

“When this first started. When we first got to know each other. Did you think we would end up together this way?”

I pressed my face into his arm to hide the goofy grin that lit up my face. “No. I didn't.”

falling in love through tinder dating
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  • Photo Credit: Priscilla du Preez / Unsplash

I never intended to develop a serious relationship with someone I met on Tinder. I wasn’t interested in using the app for casual hook-ups, either. I only wanted to learn how to date.

At the time, I was recently out of grad school and a three-year relationship. It was becoming clear to me that, for whatever reason, dating was not something I enjoyed. In the past 10 years, I’d had six serious relationships, but I’d barely been on any dates. While my sister and friends dated casually, my own path was littered with friendships-turned-serious-relationships.

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Whatever personality traits brought me easily into relationships prevented me from developing the skills needed to navigate dating. This became painfully clear in the wake of my break-up. When my closest friends moved out of state, it was like a wake-up call.

Holy shit, I realized. I don’t know how to meet people.

A couple weeks later, I succumbed to both my curiosity and my sense of helplessness and downloaded Tinder.

I still didn’t know what the starred blue frame meant when I went through the app one night and a profile caught my eye.

Hm, I thought, pulling up the bio. Felix.

I haven’t met a lot of people with names similar to mine, so that would have been enough alone to catch my attention. His profile picture was also a photo of two men wearing Sailor Moon costumes, and anyone brave enough to do that was definitely worth consideration.

I spent 15 minutes scrolling back and forth through his photos, thinking. We certainly shared interests, and the photos showed someone who enjoyed going out into the world to have a good time.

Despite my reservations, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if we matched–which we did, immediately. I was even more surprised when I got a message right away.

Falling in Love Through Tinder
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  • Photo Credit: Angela Franklin/Unsplash

First question, where’s your favorite spot to get tacos? I only have one spot and I’m getting sick of them :/

It was the first message I’d received from a man that contained something other than “hi” in the body. I smiled a little. It seemed like he read that novel of a bio I wrote.

Felix turned out to be as talkative as I was, and over chat I realized we had more in common than I’d expected. We both loved anime, and we both liked video games and comics. It wasn’t much effort to get him to talk, and conversation flowed naturally both ways.

It took a couple weeks of on-and-off messaging before I asked if we could be friends on Facebook — I was still terrified to meet people from dating sites because of my friends’ horror stories. We finally met in person just over a month after we’d met online.

The first time I met the man who would become my boyfriend in-person, it was at a dessert cafe in Old City called Happily Ever After. If you believe in omens, that seems like a good one. He was taller than I had expected, and although he had insisted to me that he didn’t read many books, when I walked in he had a well-read copy of a book about Ferdinand Marcos in his lap.

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Later, he told me he was nervous that I wouldn’t be as conversational in real life as I was online. He didn’t need to worry. We stayed at the cafe for four hours.

We got along so well, in fact, that I really didn’t pick up on the fact that he was still romantically interested in me—we were so comfortable together that I assumed he just saw me as a friend.

Over time our friendship grew, while I kept meeting up with people from Tinder for lunches and coffees and the occasional bar date.

Over the summer, I called my mom to tell her about a date I’d been on that went Not Abysmally. “Is this the guy you told me about when I saw you in May?” she asked.

“No,” I told her. “I think he just wants to be friends.”

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The sort of friends who meet every week to eat at the Hawaiian food truck at City Hall. And text each other every day. And take each other to nice birthday dinners at interesting, dimly-lit restaurants.

The night I officially fell for him, we were supposed to go to an outdoor roller rink. But as I walked to the subway, it started to pour, and we decided to go to dinner at a pub until the rain stopped. We wound up walking around the docks as twilight fell, driving to Chinatown for even more food, and making one last stop after midnight.

“Let’s go to the Art Museum.”

I stared at him. “It’s almost one in the morning.”

“Not to go in.” He grinned. “We can sit on the steps.”

I had my concerns about security guards, but when we got there and settled down to gaze out over the Ben Franklin Parkway, it was peacefully quiet.

That night, we talked about everything.

As I write this, I’m watching the back of Felix’s head while he plays Overwatch. We ate dinner together earlier, and we’d planned to play a game together, but I told him I had some work to finish first.

It’s the same as most of the other nights we spend hanging out together: dinner, watching TV, playing video games. The thought makes me smile kind of stupidly. Months ago, we sat on the Art Museum steps, talking about the past, the present, and the maybe-future. And our future is more than a maybe now.

When you first got an actual message from this guy on Tinder, I think to myself, did you think we would end up together this way?

No. And I’m very happy I was wrong.

falling in love through tinder taught me how to date
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  • Photo Credit: Tim Wright / Unsplash

People are usually pretty surprised when I say I met my boyfriend on Tinder, although most people laugh at the whole “I was interested because he was dressed like Sailor Moon” bit. We were very lucky to find each other, but there are things he did differently than other men, and maybe things I did differently than other women, which got us to this point. For anyone out there like me, who worries they ‘don’t know how to date,’ here are the strategies that I think helped make my own experience on the app so rewarding:

He had a bio. Not just one word, a sexual innuendo, or a snarky one-liner that told me nothing about him.

His personality filled his photos.

He was confident. The Sailor Moon cosplay story is one we tell basically all our friends. I liked that he was enough of an adult to have fun and tell people about it.

I wrote a bio that showed who I am, and probably more importantly, he actually read it. Honesty to strangers comes easily for me, and I regularly updated my profile to list the book I was currently reading. Felix told me later he would occasionally go look at my profile again to see if it changed.

Both of us tried to see what else we had in common. He asked me about tacos because my bio said I loved eating them; if I’d managed to message him first, I would have asked what con he was at in his cosplay, and what other shows he liked.

And, most important to me, he saw me as a person before he saw me as a date. We became friends first, and that made all the difference in the world.

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Featured photo: Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash; Additional photos: Priscilla du Preez / Unsplash; Angela Franklin / Unsplash