Tales of Swiping Right — and Wrong

By Katie Sweeney

Illustrations by Iris Lei

Ask any single person in San Francisco, “Do you enjoy using dating apps?” and you’re bound to get a wide range of extremely opinionated answers on the spectrum between love and hate.

While apps like Bumble, Hinge and The League have helped some find love (an informal poll of my 500 Facebook friends resulted in 16 people who confessed to being in a relationship with someone they met on an app), most of the time, dating apps are not that enjoyable.

And yes, I’m speaking from experience.

Sure, the game-like quality of Tinder — swipe right if you like them and left if you don’t — can be fun, but using the app to find a meaningful and long-lasting relationship seems far-fetched. Plus, being judged solely on looks — which, face it or not, is what dating apps are about — feels very un-San Franciscan. We live in a city where you’re allowed to be whoever you want to be and inclusivity is championed, so forming an opinion on a possible partner based solely on appearance feels foreign. But over-thinking the dating apps leads nowhere — they aren’t meant to be thought-provoking. It’s the opposite really —the constant swiping is numbing and mindless. And that leads us back to the question at hand: What is it like to interact on the apps in modern-day SF?

Here, I’ve rounded up the good, the bad and the ugly:

“I finally connected with a guy named Gerard. We end up chatting for two weeks. He doesn’t ask me out, so I make the first move. Turns out he’s only on the app looking for new clients to join his new personal training fitness company.”

— Julia M.

“A girl I met on Bumble showed up to our first date blacked-out drunk. I was waiting for her outside the bar, and after introducing myself, she said she had to go to the bathroom. She turned, walked down a visible alley, and popped a squat in front of me. After that, I simply couldn’t respect her.”

— Andrew O.

“I went on a second Bumble date with this guy. He suggested dinner at Waxman’s, which had recently opened. At the start of the meal, he made a big show of ordering a bottle of wine and dictating the order of the courses. I was actually into it and enjoying the date, but in between the kale salad and the meatball, he suddenly stands up and says, ‘I’ve got to go. Goodbye.’ Before I knew what was happening, he leaves me alone at the table. The waiter apologized profusely and was worried that he had screwed up. At first, I pretended that the date was my boyfriend, but then I was so shocked and confused, I confessed to the waiter. He must have told the entire back of the house because everyone who worked there stopped by my table to give their two cents.”

— Melissa S.

“A guy I had been chatting with on Hinge asked if he could call me to set up a date. I was into the idea of chatting on the phone before meeting up and agree to a phone call during my lunch break at work. When he calls, he launches into a 15-minute tirade about how he was trying to decide if he should move back to New York or stay in San Francisco. He said he had lived here for 10 years and had no friends. That he was the founder of a company that had 20,000 employees, could those be considered his friends? He went on and on about when he was in between founding companies and couldn’t liquidate his assets quick enough and found himself homeless with not even a couch to sleep on. I have no clue what to say, so I politely suggest he seek help from a professional to discuss this sort of thing rather than a girl he had never met on a dating app. He jumps down my throat saying I was everything he hated about San Francisco and the last straw! I ended up saying, “kthanxbye” and hanging up as quickly as possible.”

— Elsie F.

“Ken was the first person I went on a date with in SF (my friends hate me for this luck). We met on Tinder. He had done more dating before that and even had a girlfriend before me who he met on Tinder, so he was very open to meeting online. As luck would have it, we only lived a few blocks from each other and had a bunch of mutual friends. At the end of our first date, I invited him to a gala that was happening the next night. He bought the last-minute ticket, and that was our second date. We haven’t stopped hanging out since then.”

— Christina W.

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