My first foray into online dating was about 10 years ago when I was living and working in Atlanta. I met my boss’s girlfriend and he mentioned that he met her on Match.com. She was beautiful, and he was a catch too, complete silver fox. I had a major crush on him. I figured if two good-looking people could try online dating, then I guess it’s not just for dorky, socially awkward and unpleasant looking people. Online dating has a terrible stigma. The perception out there is that it’s primarily for people who can’t cut it interacting in mainstream ways. And then I meet my boss and his girlfriend, a real-life couple who are beautiful, smart and successful, and met online. I decided to give it a shot.
I signed up for Match.com and E-harmony at the same time. E-harmony has an intense registration process, they ask you millions of questions that I feel take away from the beauty of dating. It’s like Netflix. Netflix wants to tell you what to watch simply because you watched a particular movie. Yes, I watched Nights in Rodanthe but it doesn’t mean I want to watch every single movie just like that one. I also like Hold The Dark, two movies that are poles apart. That was my problem with E-harmony, they tried to turn dating into a science form, to predict exactly the types of people who would match but dating is messy and people are completely unpredictable. I didn’t last on E-harmony, seriously, it felt like a parent was telling me who to date and why. Match.com seemed more calmer, casual and easy. I don’t remember exactly what happened but I lost interest in Match.com as well, primarily because I had a weird on/off situationship going on with someone from my past.
Fast forward 8 years to my next attempt at online dating. I’d been back in Ghana for 4 years, and disillusioned and upset that eligible men weren’t littered in the streets. When I was in the US, I had this expectation that once I got back home, meeting a guy would be easy peasy. I had heard so many stories of people moving back home and getting hitched quickly. That didn’t happen to me, so I talked to a couple of friends who told me stories of people meeting credible partners online, through Tinder. At the mention of Tinder, I was like no effing way! Everyone knows Tinder is just an excuse for people to hook up. I was pretty skeptical, but a friend of mine and I decided to give it a try, but without any identifying pictures, just stock photos and quotes. I didn’t expect anyone to bite, I honestly had no pictures of myself on there, and yet I had matches and started conversations that moved to Whatsapp. Unfortunately and expectedly all of these matches wanted one thing! Some of them pretended for a little bit, acted interested in forming friendships and then bam, there’s some completely inappropriate and sordid comment, or worse off, kinky revelation, like ‘hey so I’ married but I really like you’. I quit Tinder after less than two months. It was just tedious and disappointing going through hundreds of photos and ending up exactly where I didn’t want to be, with guys looking to get laid. Too much work for that headache.
Then finally, July 2018, I was at my cousin’s and an old friend, Fiona, showed up, and along the line, she mentioned that she’s on Tinder. I was intrigued because Fiona’s also smart, beautiful and cool. So maybe Tinder really wasn’t just for nutcases. Maybe I should think about it. Then shortly after the conversation with Fi, I came across a Tinder article on the App Store ‘Swipe Right for True Love’ and that was it. I figured it was a sign. Plus the article said ‘True Love’, heck, they could have said ‘Swipe Right for Love’ but nope, it said ‘True Love’! I decided to get back onto Tinder and this time, eff it, I would use my actual picture to demonstrate that I’m serious. I culled my best pictures for Tinder, that’s because online dating is primarily superficial. You don’t have much to go on except pictures and brief statements. To make a decision to swipe right, you’re pulling on something entirely superficial and fleeting. I didn’t want to go in pretending it was anything less than looks-based.
I also decided to be very specific in my profile statement and make it clear that I am not looking for a hook up, only serious relationships. Who was I kidding? Tinder is Tinder. All the stories of people finding love on Tinder reminds me of the movie ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’. The movie kicks off with unreal stories of love, stories that one of the lead characters summarizes as ‘exceptions’. You know when you’ve been with your boyfriend for 8 years and he hasn’t proposed and someone tells you that they know of someone who was with their boyfriend for 12 years and they got married and have now been married for 20 years? Those kinds of stories? All exceptions. The rule is if you’ve been with your guy for that long and he hasn’t proposed, he’s not likely to. Tinder also thrives on exception stories, to get people to give it a shot even though it’s definitely not the right avenue for a serious relationship. Those who find life-long partners are truly the exceptions, because most people on there are looking to get laid, plain and simple.
I decided to ignore the tales of love and romance emanating from Tinder and I reached out to Fiona who planted the seed to begin with. I wanted to hear from someone real and tangible, and not a story based on people I don’t know. Check out Fiona’s story below!
“Ghana Tinder is an utter joke… and depending on perspective, that’s actually not such a bad thing.
Let me explain. Obviously, if your true intent was to find someone who looks suitable enough to want to get to know further, then Tinder is a cosmic joke of epic proportions. Ninety percent of the profiles are so bad I wouldn’t dream of swiping right. In all the time I’ve been on there, I have only physically met ONE person from Tinder. He was Nigerian, worked in pharma and would travel to Ghana every few weeks for work. And he was very nice; with the pleasant, non-threatening looks (and demeanor) of a teddy bear.
(Given my chronic mistrust of strangers, I guess that explains why he’s the only one that made it that far.)
We had a lovely dinner on his first trip over, and kept in touch to the point that on his second trip I offered to pick him up from the airport. At our next dinner outing, he was nice enough to tell me he wasn’t divorced divorced, just…separated divorced. *deep sigh*
As I said… a cosmic joke.
But here’s the good news! There is no single app that has given me more hours of pure entertainment than Tinder. It replaced both Angry Birds and Dumb Ways to Die on my phone, and I have zero regrets. After all, this game has higher stakes – the players are real!
I strongly suspect most people here don’t even realize it’s supposed to be a dating app, because nothing else would explain why someone would have pictures of his traditional engagement on his profile. Pictures from his kid’s birthday party. Pictures of items for sale. I’ve even seen real estate advertised via Tinder profile. And I laugh at every single one, while debating why Kofi thought a profile picture where I can see up into his flared nostrils was his best bet. Tinder is how I know some of my friends are in Ghana before they tell me. It’s how I know whose husband is a dirty dog who crops his “beloved” out of pictures. And it’s also how I know the ratio of ‘hot to not men’ sits at 1 in 30. But for all that and more, I will stay on Tinder till they kick me off.”
Dear God! I’ve never laughed so hard! Fiona and I have almost identical, comical, sad experiences of Tinder!
Before Tinder, Fiona had Angry Birds and Dumb Ways To Die for entertainment. My guilty pleasures are Pinterest, Houzz, Instagram and Apple News. And now Tinder is firmly no. 3, eclipsing Instagram by far. The aimless browsing and swiping is crazy addictive, not in a hopeful way, but in an entertaining, comic relief kind of way.
This week I have browsed through over 150 faces, and only swiped right on 4, and one of the right swipes was an accident. As I was typing up my thoughts for this blog in Apple Notes (it’s midnight and I can’t open up my pc), a Tinder message popped up. It’s as if the app could feel my discontent and disillusionment and decided to send a message my way. It simply said ‘Kay has sent you a message!’ I decided to let Kay’s message wait and then I remembered I’m actually blogging about Tinder so I might as well go check it out. Who the heck is Kay and when I did I swipe right on him?
Dang it, I’m back to my article. Kay is the accidental swipe right! Ugh Tinder with its fake outs. I also signed onto Bumble the same time as Tinder, but that’s worse because there’s basically no one on there and it’s boring as heck. My cousin in the US met her boyfriend on Bumble, that’s why I signed up. I do believe Tinder and Bumble in the US are also sex-oriented like Ghana Tinder and Bumble. The difference though, the reason why you hear more stories of great matches through online dating abroad is scale, no doubt about it. In order to find someone worth it, you need the numbers, you need millions of participants. That’s the only way to increase the chances of finding like-minded people. That’s because Fiona is right, the types of people on the Ghana Tinder is just ridiculous. Pictures of guys with their wives, fiancées, kids, gross body parts, and terrible photoshop attempts depicting fake situations. Then there’re the folks who are mildly known, you know, our local celebs, usually married, with their bold faces, and captions stating ‘looking for friends’ or ‘looking for serious relationships’. All you need to do is hop onto Facebook, type in their names, and viola, wives on display. Tinder gives them this false sense of anonymity because they can’t see the opposite sex that’s swiping through their pictures. So they assume they’re safe. Newsflash! You’re not! I see you, yeah, you.
My third attempt at online dating is a complete bust. It’s disappointing. I texted Fiona and said ‘so if online dating doesn’t work, what are we going to do?’ Her reply ‘Great question, I have NO answer’.
At this point, I’m pretty certain that my person has to come from an introduction or a direct set up. I have tried going out and socializing. There was a point in time, I would say yes to every invitation to go out, thinking, this might be it, this might be the day I meet him. Never happened.
So at this point, I’m going to sit back, relax and wait for one of you out there to introduce me to someone great! Thank you!
If you have online dating stories, feel free to share through the comments. I would love to hear from you. And to Fiona, yeah girl, we will be on Tinder swiping aimlessly till they shut us down!
References: App Store – Swipe Right for True Love
Fiona Asiedu – 2Pesewas Podcast