Once upon a time, I had to explain to my dad what "a Tinder" was. "You have a Tinder?" he gasped over dinner. To which I replied, "Yes," unclear as to why he was looked to be on the edge of regurgitation. "Is that where people swipe to meet up for sex?" he asked in horror. Oh boy. No matter how hip you are to modern dating, Tinder definitely has a reputation. I've deleted the app because "no guys on Tinder want a relationship anyway."
My dad only had peripheral knowledge of the app, most likely obtained from an NPR podcast, but he wasn't wrong. Tinder is known for hookups, both in the way my dad uses the term "hook up" — as in, to "meet up" — and in the way the rest of us use it that means "touching bods." I explained to my dad that yes, it was possible to date someone from Tinder, but that no, his daughter was not a hookup monster.
Some people on the big T (Can we call it that? I kind of want to, it seems like something my dad would say) pretty explicitly list "looking for a good time" in their bios. By "good time," they don't mean long walks in the park together, so you can swipe accordingly from the get-go if long walks are your jam. I actually respect this bio transparency a lot.
Other big T users (let me have this?) are more cryptic. Maybe they want to get laid, but are ashamed of saying it outright. Or, perhaps they're legitimately not sure what they are looking for, and would like to take the first step of meeting you in person before committing to a relaysh. Also fair.
I spoke to dating expert Meredith Golden of SpoonmeetSpoon to find out the signs that a person on Tinder is actually looking for a relationship are. Here's what she shared:
1. They Plan An Actual Date
True, one could plan a romantic date... or seventeen and still just want to semi-date you, but not all the way have a relationship. (Yes, I am speaking from experience, and yes it was probably more than 17 dates. I was younger.) That said, if someone is taking initiative to make an actual planned meeting with you, they're probably interested in getting to know you as a whole person, not just a warm body.
The type of hanging out they suggest can be very... well, suggestive. "If someone is suggesting coming to your apartment with a bottle of wine for a first meet, a relationship isn’t the objective," explains Golden. True, first date drinks are pretty standard and could lead either to hooking up or actual conversation, but you can't predict that until you go.
2. They Want To Meet Up At A Normal Time
Again, schedules are busy and the caveat here is that first date drinks could end up being at 9:30 p.m. even if both parties are super interested in getting to know one another. On the other hand, "Asking to meet up after 10:00 doesn’t smell like the makings of a relationship," says Golden. An 11 p.m. weeknight match who messages "What are you up to right now?" sounds a little... eager. For sex. (To be clear.)
3. They Attempt To Make Meaningful Conversation
A match who is genuinely interested in finding out about your career, your hometown, or that trip to Peru you must have taken because your third profile picture is a selfie with a llama (the only appropriate selfie on a dating app) is probably not just looking for sexy times.
"If someone is making a meaningful effort to connect, communicate and spend time together, signs point to more than a fling," says Golden. "This is why it’s important to get off the app after ‘chatting’ and meet IRL." Again, there's no guarantee that you've matched with a relationship type, but don't assume just because they're on the Tindz that they're only in it for the booty.
But also know: Sometimes they are in it for the booty and the excellent company so that they can "pretend to be in a relationship," but not actually have one with you. (Yup, speaking from an experience that lasted wayyy too long. JK, I'm not mad.)
4. They Don't Make Sexual Innuendos
As soon as someone you haven't met in person gets sexy-flirty with you on a messaging platform, it's time to say "Goodnight, and good luck." At least, you should say that if you are looking for something more substantial. "If a suitor gets sexual on an app, delete," says Golden. "The intention has been highlighted."
So there you have it — the people on Tinder looking for sex are usually pretty overt about it. Your best bet with a nice match is to go on a date and see where it goes. People change their minds about what they are looking for all the time, so trust your gut to read that cute new match hitting you up with emojis, and have some fun. Because we often forget it but, dating should be fun, not a chore.
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.