‘Hot or not’ app is addictive – but can it lead to romance?

Has it really come to this? I’m a grown woman, a 40-something professional, and here I am conducting my search for a life partner via an online game that resembles bingo or snap.

It even encourages me to approach dating flippantly, with its overly cheerful “It’s a Match!” message and its “Keep Playing” button.

What am I talking about? Well, if you’re in your 20s, you’ll get it in a shot. In fact, maybe you’re bored with it already and have moved on to something else. But among my 40-something friends, few have heard of Tinder – although rest assured I’m telling them to sign up.

That’s because the free app is taking the dating world by storm, if you believe the hype.

I came across Tinder a few months back but wrote it off as a hook-up service for people 20 years younger. But then my hairdresser assured me there were guys looking for relationships too so I picked up her phone – with her permission – and had a look around as she trimmed my locks.

Before I knew it, I was swiping left and right – again, with her permission – after making a split-second decision on a guy based solely on his looks.

Ridiculous, I thought, but of course I was hooked.

We all know people who met their partner on a bus or in a supermarket queue – so what’s wrong with meeting the man of your dreams because you accidentally swiped right not left?

A few days later, I was sat at home drying my new haircut with one hand and swiping to the left and right with the other – it’s called multitasking. The next weekend, a friend and I did some swiping on a packed train – instantly consigning men to the dustbin if they were bare-chested with a can of lager in hand and giving far too many guys the benefit of the doubt.

Initially, the “It’s a Match!” message gives you a confidence boost, which is why it’s addictive at first. So the 36-year-old with the cute smile likes me? Until you realise, that is, that he probably put as much thought into which way to swipe as you did, he’s playing it in a bar with a bunch of mates or he swiped the wrong way by accident.

Because all Tinder novices find themselves swiping left when they mean to swipe right – and vice versa. Oops – there goes the man of your dreams, gone forever because your finger slipped. Where’s the back button? There’s also no room for ambivalence, which is a killer for me – what about a maybe pile?

Now, I’m sure once the initial appeal wears off, we’ll become more discerning about who we say yes to and we won’t end up with endless matches or talking to people we’re pretty sure we’ll never meet. But perhaps we’ll also stop treating it as a game of bingo or snap and realise this could be the road to romance. Tinder, apparently, has led to 50 marriage proposals.

Yes, it’s based entirely on looks and is therefore incredibly superficial – you don’t get to hear a guy’s humour or enjoy the way he tries to sum himself up as you do on traditional dating sites.

But it’s also a lot more immediate and fast-moving than traditional sites, where, in my experience, it can take weeks if not months to meet face-to-face. I haven’t had a Tinder date yet – but I have a few lined up.

Tinder seems like the logical next step, suited to our busy lifestyles and our rather superficial, phone-crazy culture.

But it also drives home the rather random nature of love. We all know people who met their partner on a bus or in a supermarket queue – so what’s wrong with meeting the man of your dreams because you accidentally swiped right not left?

Whether we like it or not, apps like Tinder look set to take over. So the moral of the story is get some great pictures, start playing, swipe carefully and stay safe!

About the author

Katherine Baldwin is our Maybe No Baby Blogger. She is a writer, storyteller, coach and speaker. As a coach, Katherine specialises in helping professional women navigate the world of dating and relationships and fall in love. She also helps men and women follow their passion and transition into more wholehearted, fulfilling lives. Katherine is writing a book about her journey from 40 to 45, a period during which she came to terms with being 40, single and childless, overcame her fear of commitment and her perfectionism and learned to fall in love. You can find out more about her work at katherinebaldwin.com, read her blog at fromfortywithlove.com and follow her on Twitter @From40WithLove

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