Navigating Tinder: Can It Really Lead To Something Real?

I never thought there was really a reason to have a Tinder. When it became popular I was in a relationship and it seemed to me like an easy (and kind of gross) way to find casual hookups. When you hear people talk about Tinder, there always seems to be this overhanging shroud of subtle shame or embarrassment. When I first found out that one of my friends had a Tinder she said to me, “I don’t really think anything will come of it, I just like to mess with people!” or something along those lines. I’m not sure if it was the look on my face that made her want to explain it away or something else entirely, but it caught my interest. Take a look at these things to expect when navigating Tinder.

First Impressions

As my freshman year of college went on and my relationship status changed, so did my relationship with Tinder. After complaining for weeks about how hard it was to meet guys, my friends and I sat down and decided to make Tinders. Picking out pictures and writing bios was a process and a science. We had fun for the next couple of weeks, swiping right and left and showing each other our finds. Sometimes one of us would get a message, have a conversation with a guy, but inevitably it would end when they asked to hang out. None of us were brave enough to actually meet these guys face-to-face, mostly because we already knew what they would want. If you’re on Tinder, people generally assume you’re DTF (down to f**k).

The Experience

Even while knowing this, and repeating the “it won’t lead to anything real” mantra in my head over and over, I couldn’t stop looking at every guy’s profile like he was a potential partner. I would watch my friends swipe at the speed of lightning, a quick judge of appearance all they needed. But I viewed every guy as a possibility, leading to my friends telling me that it was a problem. “This is Tinder. If he’s not hot swipe left. Why are you even messaging this guy?” one friend said to me. I remember claiming his bio was funny and that’d he’d been nice so far. I was struggling with the idea that no interaction from Tinder would ever lead somewhere, because if that was true then why was I even doing it? And that raised another important question: could anything real come from Tinder?

The Research

This seems a bit like an age-old question, online dating has been around for a while now. But Tinder is somehow different and is even more surface level than platforms like or Eharmony, because you can choose to know nothing more about the person than their age, first name and what they look like. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve swiped right on a guy whose name I couldn’t even pronounce just because he was cute. According to an article on, 37% of people report that a Tinder date actually led to an exclusive relationship. The article also reports when polled about why they joined the app, 48.3% of users joined because of its popularity, 8.9% joined to find a relationship and only 5.1% joined to find hookups. It may seem that while hooking up is part of Tinder’s appeal, it may not live up to its reputation completely. People start navigating Tinder not just to hook up.

See Also

Success Stories

Another article written by Sophia Kercher for The New York Times in April of last year discussed, specifically, a couple who met on Tinder and are now married and have a kid together. “Six months later, they bought a house together; a few months later, they were engaged. They have been married for two years now and have a 14-month-old.” writes Kercher. It may be possible to find love or a serious relationship on Tinder, but how common is it? Tinder’s in-house sociologist, Jessica Carbino, claims that more people than ever before are committing to relationships because of the app. Her findings show “…that Tinder users are more likely to be looking for a committed relationship than are offline daters.” Now, given that this info was collected by Tinder itself, it could be skewed with the goal of improving the app’s image. But even if it is accurate, it doesn’t quite explain why every Tinder conversation I have goes straight to sex. Some guys don’t even bother with pleasantries, while others use small talk as a guise for what they really want- but it always comes out soon enough. Navigating Tinder can lead to a lifelong of happiness.


Thinking back on Kercher and her story of success, I realized that six months isn’t a very long time to be together before making a joint purchase like a house. While their ages were never stated, the two individuals in the story must be closer to the 36 end of the age range Carbino’s research sites than the 18. Maybe the answer to my problems lie not in the character of Tinder as a platform, but the age of the people on the other side. Or maybe in both. I may not have found a definitive answer but I did find that it’s possible to find love on Tinder. What I’m asking, for now, is some research into college students specifically and the cross-section of what kind of relationships they want and how their use of Tinder is impacted by that. A last piece of advice from a fellow Tinder user: know what you want, know what you’re getting yourself into but don’t be afraid to let the moment take you places. This is college, after all, the one time in your life you can go a little crazy and no one will judge you for it! Keep on the lookout for those genuine connections, they’re not easy to find, and don’t completely rule out them even if you found them on Tinder. Keep an open mind when navigating Tinder, but don’t lower your standards either.

What do you think about navigating Tinder? Let us know in the comments.

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