At 18, chatting to a guy was usually as easy as showing up in a nightclub and having the guts to speak to people. We wore what we wanted, and we looked pretty good, even though we thought that we didn’t. Our flaws were glossed over by the exuberance of youth, and we had nothing to stop us doing what we wanted.
As a singleton at 30, you’d think that not much would have changed. We should, if anything, be more skilled in the art of conversation. We should have more confidence in ourselves, having had 12 years to mature.
Of course, the problem is that single mums don’t get out much any more. Life has got in the way. Working days mean that most night-times are a write-off. Working weeks mean that the first part of your weekend is spent trying to gather yourself. Home-ownership means that you need to squeeze housework into the mix. Parenting means that a little person is constantly in need of your attention. When I do get out, I’m too concerned about the fact that I look like a burst couch and still have a kangaroo-pouch for a belly to even speak to a guy.
The concept is good, albeit slightly superficial. Set your age and distance parameters to load up cards for “users” in your category. Swipe left until you see somebody who catches your eye, and then swipe right to indicate your approval. If they do the same for you, you can communicate. It’s like the busy bar, but modernised.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not claiming to be the perfect Tinderella. My pictures are mostly selfies. They even verge on having a very similar pose or expression because I don’t want to look like a minger in them.
These are just some of the observations that I’ve made as I journey as a single mummy on Tinder. It’s a strange wee Internet circus out there…
The Posse Poser
Tinder lets you upload six photographs of yourself to your profile. You’ll be amazed at just how many guys post six photographs of themselves amongst their friends. Now, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to date your “posse”. If I can’t tell which one you are, chances are I’m not going to swipe right.
My favourite Posse Poser was one who had no individual photos, but actually said in his biography that he hated girls in group photos because he couldn’t tell which one you were.
The Tough Mudder
Every. Single. Time. You scroll through the pictures, and there it is: the familiar black and orange branding, the headband, and the mud-covered face grinning to try to hide the fact that no, you are not enjoying this one tiny bit, but you need to pretend you are to look good on Tinder, where this photo will inevitably end up.
Tough Mudder is like National Service for single guys, it seems.
The Baggage Handler
I call these guys baggage handlers somewhat ironically, because of their complete inability to deal with anything that they would class as “baggage”. Mind you, if you’ve ever tried to take a bottle of spirits on holiday and found it smashed with your clothes smelling of gin for a fortnight, it might not be so ironic after all. You know the ones: their biography says that they are looking for someone with “no drama” and “no baggage”. Unfortunately, ex-husbands and children are classed as such. Nobody calls my child “baggage”, so that’ll be a swipe left from me. You have fun there, trying to find a drama-and-baggage-free 30-plus-something within 10km of you, because it doesn’t exist.
The Topless Tosser
Don’t do it, kids.
The Hound Dog
I don’t get to check my Tinder too often, to be honest. The Internet in my work disables any app deemed “fun”, so I’m restricted to home time message checks. The child is my main focus there, so I only really log on once in a while of an evening.
There’s always at least one clingy guy. You may fuel the fire by replying that one time but then you have seven, eight, nine or more messages in quick succession. I’m sorry, but a right swipe does not a commitment make.
Beware these guys. If they’re needy with simple messaging, think what dating them would be like: I’m talking about giving up every baby-free minute ever, single mamas. And as the lady in the meme says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Preach.
The Man With No Face
No photograph? Pleasure to meet you; send my regards to your wife.
“Not actually 33, I’m 46, don’t know why it says that.”
Yes you do. You’re trying to pull a young bird.
Just for the sake of clarity, if you lead with a lie it sets a fairly shaky foundation for a relationship guys.
I don’t know what the female competition is like in Tinderland, but judging by the response when I tell people my job, it can’t be very big on productive and worthwhile employment.
One of the classic lines I get a lot is “I wish you were my [insert career here]”.
“I wish you were my bank manager. I’d let you consolidate my debts any day.” Chortle.
“I wish you were my nurse. I’d get sick just to get your diagnosis.” Yep, you sound pretty sick to me.
“I wish you were my teacher. You could give me detention whenever you liked!” Pass me the shotgun.
What the guys who say this forget is that, in those situations, you’d still be clever and qualified and they’d still be poor/sick/stupid.
I’m also concerned that somehow, looking nice in a carefully-posed photograph suddenly makes me a better bank manager/nurse/teacher than if I was fugly. How churlish of me to think that I had to spend all that time at university, too, when all I really needed was a selfie stick and a bit of slap.
People who lead with a picture which is actually a meme, or a beautiful inspirational quote from a famous dead person, confuse me.
It’s pretty sad that you believe your entire character is summed up by a poorly-photoshopped quotation. It’s worse that you think it’s going to get you the girl.
I am happy to concede that lots of the men I meet on Tinder have children. That’s fine. I have one of them too. They’re brilliant. I like mine rather a lot. But I don’t put a photograph of him on a dating app. There are ways of telling me that you have kids without peddling their image in a show of cuteness.
For example, I have a picture of my highest high heels beside my little boy’s trainers. It’s already been commented on as being the cutest photograph someone has ever seen on Tinder, and it sends a clear signal to the aforementioned baggage handlers.
Honey Boo Boos
Tinder messaging will open your eyes to a whole new world of pet names. I’ve been everything: honey, darling, sweetness, babe. Sweetcheeks. Sweetiepie. Honeybunch. Baby. Boo.
I can just about live with babe. Just about. But baby? Seriously, which angle are you going for when you call me baby? What are you trying to imply?
And as for boo…BOO? For fuck’s sake, people.
Tinder has taught me a lot about the sort of men I may have once chatted up in a bar. Mostly, it’s taught me things that I dislike. It’s not beneath me to hunt you down and tell you just how off-putting some of these features are, you know. It’d be a relatively easy hunt, too: you’re somewhere within 10km of me, and thanks to your photos I know what your child and all of your friends look like. If I can’t find you on the basis of that information, I’ll just wait until the next Tough Mudder comes around.
One Single Mama x