Love me Tinder tales from the frontline of modern dating

Blind dates and set-ups may be things of the past, but are the dating apps that have replaced them any better? Three twentysomethings tell all

Modern love is digitised. Letters and unrequited love have been replaced with modern iterations (saucy pictures and ghosting). You do not go on blind dates, you go on dates with people whose best photos you deem, at best, attractive and, at worst, passable. No one asks each other out in person any more, probably.

There are merits and disadvantages to Tinder, Happn, Grindr, Bumble and the rest. They dismantle the high stakes normally associated with the terror of asking someone out, but in doing so they also cheapen the act. Post-Tinder, love feels disposable; people become something to consume. This is what love online looks like.

I asked the first guy out after exchanging three sentences

Libby, 27, customer services assistant

In January this year I downloaded Tinder, Bumble and Happn. It seemed like the only option to meet someone these days if you dont work with, or hang out with, men.

I asked the first guy out after exchanging approximately three sentences on Tinder. He announced he was emigrating the moment we met. I realised we were mismatched after approximately three minutes, anyway. He now lives in New York; I stayed in the country.

One evening I got chatting to someone: skip forward three hours and I had agreed to meet him in central London. I stumbled up the stairs at Oxford Circus, spotted his bad shoes and realised that I just wasnt Samantha from Sex and the City. I promptly ran across the road and down another entrance, and texted him to say: Im so sorry something has come up, I cant make it tonight. He sent me a lovely response that it was totally OK and we should go for a drink another night.

We did. He had just been diagnosed with ADHD and they were experimenting with his medication, which tended to wear off at the end of the day, so he didnt like to sit still for too long. But I really liked how weird he was and was totally thrilled when he texted me the next morning: That was fun, we should do it again some time. We did; three days later he hadnt texted me. A week later, I was drunk and I sent him a meme of Celine Dion letting go of Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic whispering, Jack, Ill never let go, Jack because his name was Jack and I thought I was hilarious.

The worst part of online dating is the first awkward face-to-face hello. Your preconception of the person you have been speaking to is always very oddly different to whoever it is you meet. And I also seem to make my mind up very quickly on how the night will go.

I once heard a story about a man who turns up to dates early and buys himself a drink, so that when the girl arrives, he can send her up to the bar to get a drink and do a runner if he thinks they arent up to his exacting standards. Thats almost a reason to give up.

One evening, I started speaking to a man really interesting, engaging, all very effortless and after three hours of constant messaging, we arranged a drink for the next day. He asked for my number taking messaging off Tinder is a big deal and then texted at 5pm to ask me where we should go. I texted back suggesting a bar, washed my hair and never heard back from him.

Many, many people agree to a drink and then never reply. Im almost not sure how to deal with any response to Do you want to discuss this over a drink? that isnt silence. One guy asked me which person I was in one of my profile pictures; he said my friend looked like a much hotter version of me. I replied, Oh, really? He said, Youre an angry woman, you would fall in love with me but also hate me a little bit. I bet you would slap me during sex. We went on two average dates.

I have never been on a Bumble date. It is rumoured the app has a hotter population of men. But it doesnt actually put the female in control: it simply means vain men can read and smugly ignore your overthought openers. Happn is trying to add the cute fate dimension to app dating, but it just means you find your flatmates boyfriend on it as he is upstairs and the location tracker lands you in a dubious situation. I deleted it on Valentines Day.

Illustration by Nishant Choksi

A friend of mine commented that no one hooks up with anyone on a night out any more. I reckon this is due to everyone prearranging their hook-ups on apps. Spontaneity can be overrated.

I recently went on a date with a guy I met at a friends wedding. He complimented me on my dress; a face-to-face compliment means so much more than something throwaway over an app. We went on a date once we were both back from the wedding and, frankly, it was less than average, but I definitely pinned a lot of hope on it because I had met him in real life.

Yes, dating apps can be funny and the stories are great, but if I do manage to marry a man, I would be disappointed if my husbands best man said, I still remember when he saw her profile on Tinder in his speech. It gives you a thick skin but it still has a stigma attached to it and Im envious of those who found love pre-apps.

One guy on Tinder had a great bio: fought a shark, lost an arm

Jack, 26, freelance copywriter

I started using Tinder as soon as I broke up with my ex of four years, in January this year. I always thought it sounded fun so didnt waste any time. I stayed away from Grindr as, very sadly, a man was murdered in a block of flats near my work on a Grindr date and it spooked me.

I am very much a Tinder man. I have only had one bad date on Tinder out of maybe 12. And even then it wasnt awful, the guy just thought his job in security was interesting when it wasnt, plus he was on his phone quite a bit. The others were all really nice but I only really felt a spark with a couple.

The weirdest date Ive ever been on was a guy whose house I turned up at a bit drunk, which wasnt really my finest hour, and when I went to the loo I found in the toilet bowl the passport and wallet of a guy he had just been making out with. We ended up dating for three months and really got on. It probably would have lasted longer but I think we were a bit of a personality clash.

Illustration by Nishant Choksi

There was another guy on Tinder with one arm who I matched with and he had a great bio. Not the best at juggling (fought a shark, lost an arm). I think he may have lost in it an actual shark attack.

Since being single I havent been asked out once in real life. But maybe thats because were all on Tinder now. I think its harder when youre gay because you can really fancy someone but it can be quite embarrassing to ask someone out, then they turn out to be straight. So Tinder is nice in that respect you can be sure the dudes you like are at least into dudes, even if theyre not into you.

The trick is to assume that the ugliest photo he sends is the truest representation. After all, we all try to present the most attractive profiles of ourselves. From experience, its also a good idea to avoid freelance models.

I think people are a bit more dismissive on Tinder dates than they would be if they were with a friend of a friend or someone they had met in a bar although seriously, does that ever happen? If there isnt a spark you dont feel any obligation to immediately say, I had a really nice time but I didnt think we quite clicked. Whereas you might if you thought you would see them again. Tinder becomes a numbers game; the more people you meet the more likely you think you are to find the one.

My date arrived 40 minutes late, clearly drop-down drunk

Katherine, 28, social worker

I used to meet girls in real life, but as Ive got older, and lesbian spaces in London have become fewer and, frankly, grottier, Ive found it more convenient to meet women online. Over the past few years, Ive dabbled with various dating apps. Ive tried OKCupid and Happn without much luck (theyre too alternative, or hetero). At points Ive paid for a Guardian Soulmates subscription, which admittedly attracts a higher calibre of lesbian, but the pool of women seeking women is a small one. Mostly, I use Tinder. I know no other app where its possible to make four dates for the coming week in under an hour it can be fun.

Online dating has delivered some very random and entertaining evenings. I have gone on dates that have led to flings and friendships, and that have introduced me to new parts of London, and places to go out. The highlight so far was definitely sharing a boozy evening with a pretty famous and rather attractive comedian. Thats one of the real, sincere joys of online dating it can open your world up to people who you would never ordinarily get the chance to meet, let alone snog. Unfortunately, I became a bit star-struck. She declined a second date and according to Twitter promptly got back together with her boyfriend. Nonetheless, I still feel secretly smug when I see her on television.

Illustration by Nishant Choksi

But obviously, online dating isnt all snogging celebrities, and there have been wasted and demoralising evenings along the way. One of my worst online dates took place shortly after the break-up of a relationship. I was feeling pretty down about being back on Tinder, and had to really force myself to get out there. Having been out of the dating game for some time, I had made a greater than usual effort getting ready, and had booked us a table at an expensive bar. My date arrived 40 minutes late and was clearly drop-down drunk. She started a bizarre, slurred argument with the waitress who had fairly given our table away, and I cut out of there, feeling despondent and very, very sober.

I had one relationship that lasted for a year. She introduced me to the east London lesbian scene when I first moved to London. She was a bit older than me. We met on Soulmates. We almost moved in together but I think I was probably a bit too young in the end. It ended, but amicably.

I havent really received any nasty messages, but I was once chatting to a girl for a few days who I think was probably a guy. This person wanted to talk about sex a lot, but went very quiet when it came to meeting up. Ive also ended up chatting to girls for days, only to discover that all theyre really looking for is a third person.

Despite some setbacks, online dating has generally delivered a pleasing source of distraction and periodic amusement. Nonetheless, I do wonder if having constant access to so many potential partners is such a good thing. Such opportunity seems to mean that there are fewer incentives to see what happens when you do meet someone you like, and to stick with it when it gets hard. I confess I have been guilty of thinking, Well, shes nice, but Camden is a bit far away, from time to time. I do have a few friends who have found lasting relationships online, so I suppose for the time being Ill keep on swiping and wait and see.

Read more: