It’s not as liberating as you think it is.
I have to say that taking the advice of others who encouraged me to go on and cement myself in this phase was most definitely one of the worst decisions I could’ve made due to the aftereffects. I kind of wish I could sue everyone who was involved with that for emotional damages. If I could, I would certainly have a lot of money. The discussion of casual sex in college is so popular that it’s almost something we expect everyone to do thanks to hookup culture. I do sometimes think it can be a liberating experience for some people, for a small amount of time, but I really don’t think it should be a lifestyle for people as it’s always pushed to be when you’re in college. I don’t write this as a conservative person who’s never done anything, I write this as someone who went into this phase for too long and took it too far.
Tinder isn’t a relationship app, but it provides a sense of comfortability sometimes. If you’re reading this as a heterosexual woman, you’ve undoubtedly experienced using Tinder at least once and know the…range…of messages you’re bound to receive. I used Tinder more often than other dating apps because Hinge and Bumble were asking too much, and everyone who’s on one app is on the other anyway. I liked that on Tinder, I never had to message first. I liked having the validation of knowing I was desirable, but that validation would disappear at the end of the night.
It’s not good for you, mentally or physically. Sex-ed likely taught you about STD’s and STI’s, so I’m not going to go into that. From a mental health perspective, whether you think it’s happening or not, there’s an amount of sexual trauma that goes with engaging in a lot of casual sex. It alters your expectations for the people you date as you start to look at things when the rose-tinted glasses wear off. I think the most common feeling I had during this scene was wondering why I wasn’t good enough for anyone to think of me as anything other than a casual hookup. In retrospect, I think it’s because I didn’t think I was better and deserving of anything else either. I grew to hate physical contact with people (ironic, right?) because I didn’t want to handle the emotional repercussion that would come with trying to hold someone’s hand and them pulling it away. Every time you hookup with someone and then immediately take you off their matches, it’s a sting for good reason. Listen to that pain and stop giving that app a chance to do that to you again. After a while, it’s just another form of self-harm.
I thought for so long that what I was doing was great for my self-esteem and confidence levels. In retrospect, my confidence levels were at an all-time high, but it was baseless confidence. It was confidence centered on “I don’t give a fuck what anyone says about me, I do what I want.” It’s not a good mentality to have once you’ve done being an angsty teen and have lost your turn to be forgivably self-destructive. Eventually, you will stop using dating apps and leave hookup culture behind. Thinking about it later with an older brain doesn’t come with thoughts of “Wow, I was so cool,” it comes with “What was I thinking? Why did no one stop me? Why didn’t I stop myself?”
My college Tinder phase lasted longer than I care to admit, and as a result I feel a lot less secure in relationships and need constant reassurance I’m not going to be randomly tossed aside. That wasn’t a feeling I had when I was younger, but it’s a feeling I have now that I wish would just go away. Unfortunately, it’s hard to wash those thoughts away after years of conditioning yourself into believe you don’t deserve the most someone can give you.
I recall, one night, feeling so off about a date I was going on that I made a folder of things to do in event of my death. If I felt unsafe enough that I was making this folder, why did I still go on this date? It was because I got used to the routine of making a match, talking for half an hour, then going on to the date. The more often you find a date on tinder, the more dates you will go on. Ultimately, what ended this phase for me was having a particularly horrific “date.” I didn’t die, obviously, and it wasn’t with folder guy. It was with someone I trusted, and in some ways, I still feel guilty and wonder how much of it was my fault. I know it wasn’t but having an extended period of casual sex has made me doubt my own feelings regarding a traumatic situation that occurred to me.
Every time you go out on a Tinder date, or any date from a person you haven’t truly vetted, you expose yourself to the risk of something bad, and probably illegal, happening to you. Even if you’ve vetted someone well, you might still find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can expect more from your dates than what Tinder has conditioned you to look for, and that more must be something other than just “isn’t going to kill me.”
Safety and security should be given immense importance when considering the tenants of sex. Don’t loosen your stands with this if you find yourself growing more comfortable with traveling to unknown apartments. I don’t want to sound like a boogeyman, but the world is awful. Our greatest self-defense is knowing when it’s best to stay back and enjoy your own company.
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