What It’s Like To Emotionally Connect With Someone From Tinder You’ve Never Actually Met

by Cosmo Luce

This time, I'm the one who needs some advice. I think I'll call this one: I went on Tinder for a hookup, and all I got were these stupid feelings.

Basically, I met this guy, and I think he likes me. And I might like him, too? Even though we still haven't gone on a date?

And I'm taking what I'm feeling to mean I've probably got to bail on this guy before we've even met.

On Sunday, I matched with him on Tinder because a) his first pic had dogs in it and b) his bio mentioned being flawed. One time, for research, I made an OkCupid account exclusively for men to message me about their wounds, as vulnerability is a subject that deeply interests me. Men who are willing to admit to their flaws is a weakness of mine.

That is, they were my weakness before I went on this kick of exclusively pursuing non-hetero dating. I was almost disappointed to have a connection with a cis man again, as dating other women and femmes felt so much more emotionally safe. But I'm currently living with my parents for the summer, and I haven't found the queer scene to be very robust.

Plus, living with your parents gets lonely. So lonely, in fact, that only a few days before, I had driven 45 minutes to make out with some random in the back of his car in a hospital parking garage because his mom had arrived at his apartment unannounced and wouldn't go.

Even though I talk about sex all the time on here, that's the most action I've gotten in months, and it left me feeling pretty empty inside.

Like most of you (I assume), I'm not on Tinder actively looking to fall in love. A few casual dates would be nice to pass the time, and while feelings are good, a committed relationship takes work and emotional investment that I don't have right now. Love is great, but it takes a lot out of you.

All of that being said, I definitely was not expecting to emotionally connect with anyone, especially since it's pretty difficult for me to feel like I'm having an authentic exchange with a stranger over the internet.

So I couldn't have been more surprised when this guy with the dogs (I'll call him Alex) stayed up until 2 a.m. talking to me.

Then, it happened the next night. And the night after that.

We've talked about all the important things: tarot and astrology, politics, my interest in angels, how much we distrust the government and the police (LOL, millennials), and childhood traumas. We've also had some pretty solid meme exchanges.

And OK, I admit it. Even though I want to be a cold, closed-off alien, who has feelings for nobody and only thinks of her own pleasure, on a few occasions (more than a few occasions) with this guy, I've had that finger-clenching sensation in my stomach that makes me think, "Oh no, I'm catching feelings again."

What confounds me most about all of this is that in order to have feelings for someone, I thought I had to know some more details about somebody: How much taller/shorter are they than me? Do they have a cute face in real life? Are they good at kissing? Do they have a nice voice, or do they sound like Mickey Mouse?

These questions remain a mystery to me, because despite talking consistently, Alex and I haven't met up. Part of this is because I am traveling for the weekend to figure out my living situation. I've been planning on moving to Brooklyn in August and, serendipitously, the same day I matched with Alex, somebody messaged me and invited me to sublet their room, firming up my tentative plans.

Another part of it is because I want to shut it all down. More than once I have considered ghosting, not because I don't have any feelings, but because I actually do.

See, feelings are scary. When you have them it means that you can get hurt. Sharing feelings is even more frightening than having them in the first place, because it creates a power dynamic that can easily be abused. If you get your heart tied up in someone, they can be reckless with it.

What I'm saying is: I've been burned really badly before, and I'm not looking for it to happen again.

I haven't ghosted, though, because I guess I am a bit curious about what might happen. Plus, even though this cautionary voice of anxiety is the loudest one in me, there's another voice, too. It's telling me that I am way over-thinking things.

That's not enough to stop me from over-thinking, though, as it's a great way to talk myself out of meeting up. I'm focusing on the "problems" in our non-relationship. For one thing, Alex does not appreciate this video of Vin Diesel singing alone to Rihanna while wearing ripped jeans, which is probably the most important thing in the world to me. If he doesn't care about the same things I do, where's the future?

He also doesn't think The Rock should be president, something I have been actively campaigning for since October 2016. My political beliefs are very important to me, and I require a future partner to share him.

This guy hasn't even listened to Frank Ocean since Channel Orange! There's no way that one can be resolved.

Obviously these are non-problems, but reminding me of our differences (however minuscule) makes it easier to talk myself out of catching feelings any further.

To be honest, I feel a bit like a monster writing this. All common sense would suggest that I should at least meet up with this guy since we did emotionally connect and (my three favorite subjects aside) have tons to talk about. He even offered to pay me to read his tarot for him, so if we hated each other in real life, I would still stand to benefit.

The thing is, I'm worried that if I see him, I will actually like him more than I already do. No matter the outcome, I am definitely moving and definitely don't want anything long distance — not even something casual.

First of all, nothing casual I do ever stays that way if it goes on for more than three weeks.  I'm assuming if we do like each other in person, it would. Have you heard about how entire portions of a woman's brain go missing during orgasm? That definitely happens to me. After three weeks, those parts stay gone.

From experience, I know long distance doesn't work for me. When I catch feelings I catch them hard, and I've never been in a relationship where I haven't rearranged my life for a person. I don't want to give up on New York, and I also don't want to have anything tethering me from immersing myself in that experience fully.

On top of that, the amount at which I am balking at having feelings for someone is kind of alarming. The last few times I fell in love, it was completely by accident, but I still allowed it to come -- even if the person was wrong for me. Although my heart had been bruised before, I welcomed new experiences and never wanted to prevent myself from feeling anything.

So does my current hesitation mean that a history of heartbreak has made me more cautious now?

This whole experience has made me realize something about relationships that have ended when me and my partner still loved each other deeply. I've never understood what it actually means to feel compelled to say, "It's not you, it's me." When I've gotten that line, I've felt no closure.

Is this what it's actually like to know you are emotionally unavailable?

Whenever I was on the opposite side, I thought that emotional availability could be negotiated. I didn't understand that somebody could have feelings, know that it was a bad time for them, and also be right. Sure, I would think to myself. They're not looking for a relationship now, but let's see what happens. When did I stop believing that I could wait and see?

My point is, I've never felt more like "It's not you, it's me," than I do now. That's the downside to emotionally connecting with someone on Tinder. While I've seen more than one profile from somebody who is on that app to find their best friend/soulmate/future spouse, Tinder is really made for people like me: people who are looking for a sexual spark without those messy feelings behind it.

When the feelings come first on Tinder, I don't know what to do with it. More weight is introduced into the equation than a one-night-stand. Caring makes it hard to have carefree sex, which is all I was after in the first place. Now, I don't even feel like getting any.

While there's more of a time lag in between my responses to his texts, I don't think he suspects that I'm getting cold feet. I've explained that I'm out of town, and we've set a date to connect in the flesh (no, not like that), but I haven't mentioned my plans to move. When we first started talking, that seemed silly to mention, but now that we've said more to each other, it seems like it's too late.

Meanwhile, here I sit in a state of inertia, wondering whether I should call it off now, or if my feelings will shift in the next week. The first scenario seems more likely, and I'm trying to figure out what I should say.

Maybe he'll read this and I won't have to?