Before Tinder: A Date In The Life Of Someone Who Used Apps Too Early

by Sandy Reitman

As the resident lady in a large group of gay men, I know Grindr all too well. In fact, because one of my friends had a Blackberry back in 2010 and Grindr was only available on iPhone, I had an account on my phone for him.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Grindr is a hookup app for gay men, geolocating the nearest set of abs and nice ass to wherever you are in the world.

This was pre-Tinder and before any of the dating sites added location services. So, when Blendr, the straight version of Grindr, came out, I was game for a trial.

When I tell this story, no one ever remembers Blendr. I’m assuming I’m the only straight girl who ever actually used it based on the reactions when I mention the now seemingly obsolete app.

But, I had it, and I used it. And, here’s what happened.

I was living on the Lower East Side with a friend from college who was in her one -- and only -- single phase of life.

Unlike me, she was more of a relationship person, but she loved my single shenanigans. So she helped me setup my Blendr account, and we would troll the men nearby, joking about possibly meeting up with them.

I hadn’t been seeing anyone for a while and none of the usual dating sites were working, so I thought, “Hey, why not try it? It’s working for the gays!”

Since it’s geolocated and you can set your desired radius of hooking up, I kept it close to home. I met up with a guy -- let’s call him John* -- about three blocks away from me.

It was obvious neither of us had done this before and didn’t know the protocol. I go to his building, he buzzes me up, and soon enough, we’re in his apartment. His roommate is home, so it’s quite awkward.

Straight people weren’t used to this instantly-order-a-date mentality yet. Or, at least, I wasn’t. We had drinks and talked in his room for a while, and then I started getting a weird vibe.

Maybe he wasn’t that into me? Maybe this whole thing was just weird?

After a good makeout, I got the feeling that he might not be that into women and was probably on the wrong app. Maybe he was hoping for something different when I took off my clothes, but I wasn’t going to stay around to see.

I politely said goodbye and chalked it up to a funny story. Nice knowing you, John.

The next day, I called all my gay guy friends to tell them I’ve tested the Blendr waters.

It’s funny because even though they encouraged my joining of Blendr, they were shocked that I actually participated. I think they were just being protective since I’m a girl living in a man’s world.

Regardless, they loved it.

As for me, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Blendr. The worst thing about it was that this guy lives so close to me, so an awkward run-in was inevitable.

A few weeks later, we did run into each other, but we laughed about it and went on our way. But that wasn’t the end of my Blendr-ing.

Like I do with all dating apps, I keep them on my phone and use them like a game when I’m bored. If you need attention, it’s perfect. If you’re feeling down, a like or a match can go a long way.

Soon enough, I started talking to Pierre*, a hot French banker. How did I know he was hot? Well, that’s the thing about Grindr and Blendr -- you show off your assets.

Pierre showcased his beautiful face, his abs and his ability to wear a nice suit somewhere fancy in the world. He was a catch. But I was wary of trying Blendr again.

One night, after a few drinks with friends, I gathered the courage to meet Pierre IRL down on Wall Street.

Sure, I lived downtown, but I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been on Wall Street without counting the touristy things to do. It’s not a place I go, but I was going for Pierre.

I realized I was wearing orange pants and a peasant top. I don’t know why I opted for BoHo chic to meet a French banker late night on a Friday…

As soon as my taxi pulled up to the address Pierre gave me, I messaged him on Blendr to come down and get me from his lobby. He lived in a nice building with a doorman but still wanted to come get me.

He commented on my orange pants (I’m still unclear of whether it was in a complimentary way or not.). Whatever, those pants would be coming off shortly.

The elevator ride took what seemed like forever, and then we were walking toward his apartment.

It was a small but nice studio. It almost felt like a long-stay hotel room. We had a drink and talked for a little while. His English was fine, but not great. But, we both knew we weren’t really there to talk.

Soon enough, we were on his bed and getting down to business. The peasant top comes off, as does his white collared shirt. Then, the orange pants and his slacks. We were both on the same page about where we wanted this to go.

I’ve been with French men before, and they live up to their reputations of liking foreplay and wanting to get women off. He goes down on me until the job is done, and then we have the conversation about condoms.

He’s prepared and comes back with them and a bottle of lube. This guy is after it! We started having the hottest sex. We were both sweating, and he started tossing me around.

The whole thing lasted about an hour, after which I got dressed and went home. We exchanged numbers since the technology on the app wasn't the greatest. Blendr had played its role, and we were officially f*ck buddies.

Pierre never gave away too many details about himself, and I gathered that he was only in America temporarily, doing whatever foreign bankers do.

I saw him about four more times, and the sex got better each time. But he made it clear he wasn’t interested in anything more, hence finding someone on Blendr.

As most of these flings do, it faded, and it all became a great sexual story (that I’m now sharing with the Internet). And I successfully used Blendr.

Now, Blendr itself must not have been very successful since I slowly watched the number of men “near me” lessen and the app slowly stop working.

Luckily enough, Tinder came around to fill the void of geolocating sex, and I’ve been able to swipe left and right on all the new guys popping up in my various neighborhoods.

But, what was different about Blendr back in the day was there was no decision made on whether you liked a person or not -- it was simply your proximity.

After further investigation, I see Blendr has relaunched itself to follow the Tinder model of matching people. Seems as if the straights couldn't handle it in its original form.

My main takeaway from this experience is there are some things that are best left uncompromised: Grindr, French lovers and my stance on visiting Wall Street.

* Name has been changed