Dating would be so much simpler if everyone was open about what they really want. You would never apply for a job without knowing up front if it's full-time with benefits or just a freelance gig on the side — so why should you approach dating any differently? Today, I experimented with asking guys on Tinder if they want relationships or casual sex. I hoped it would help me avoid wasting time talking to people who didn't share my goals. So much of the stress and heartache that can come along with dating could be avoided if we were all honest with each other from the beginning.
Right now, I'm looking for something serious-ish. Cuffing season is almost here, and besides, I need someone strong to help me move an extremely heavy dining room table from one side of my apartment to the other. And while bantering back and forth can be fun, I don't want to invest lots of time in a dude who's only looking for a quick hookup.
I asked a dozen Tinder matches what they were really looking for. Some gave me honest answers right away, while others were pretty taken aback by my question. And honestly, that makes sense — it's a funny thing to ask someone right off the bat. Usually, it takes me about two months of hanging out IRL to work up the courage to bring up the conversation. But this experiment wound up working well for me, so I might start broaching the subject sooner.
Here's how it all went down.
I fired up my Tinder and got straight to work asking my matches what they're really looking for.
Shawn was game to talk. He said he doesn't like to "overthink anything or set expectations for anyone" because he "just likes to go w the flow." I feel like that's secretly code for, "I want to hook up with you without the pressure of labeling it," but he wouldn't cop to it.
Jacqukeem would not give me a straight answer.
No matter how hard I pushed him on the subject, the most definitive answer he gave me was, "It depends."
Look, I get that we literally matched 30 seconds earlier and we haven't had time to get to know each other. And based on the incessant way I badgered him about his emotional availability, I didn't exactly look like girlfriend material. I don't know what Jacqukeem is looking for on Tinder, but I have a theory that guys who won't give you a straight answer about what they're looking for fall into two main categories:
- They want a relationship, but they're afraid that uttering the R-word makes them look like a highly un-chill stage-five clinger.
- They only want sex, but they think you'll be turned off by that.
I wanted to press on and ask Jacqukeem what he thought about that, but I got the vibe that he wasn't interested in having a conversation about his feelings. So I moved on.
Way on the other end of the spectrum, Kanav had no problem telling me what he wanted: casual sex on October 30th.
And not just casual sex on October 30th, but specifically casual sex on October 30th in his hotel room on 33rd Street after buying me a drink.
The moral of the story: Confused about what a guy really wants? Try asking him directly.
Vijul opened with a line that I would very much like to steal for myself, and then explained that he simply wants to "release some steam and have fun."
I got the sense that he wasn't giving me the full story, so I followed up with a clarifying question, and boom. Got it. His real answer: "I'm out of a long relationship, so I think I'd take it slow. But if it happens, it happens."
I was a journalism major in college, and one of the most useful tips I learned in my reporting classes is that it's never enough to ask one question. You always get more information from asking smart follow-up questions. That holds true whether you're a journalist trying to press a source for a scoop or you're just a person catching feelings and trying to casually figure out if your date has them, too.
This guy beat me at my own game. Well done, Chibu, well done.
Anthony originally told me that he's new to New York and isn't really sure what he's looking for.
I went back to his profile for a closer look, and that's when I noticed his bio, which was (in its entirety):
Let's get down to business
I just want
(I added the asterisk for modesty purposes, but come on, use your imagination.)
And that was a real game-changer for me! So I had to ask him about it.
I have a hunch that Anthony is looking for something physical or casual instead of serious at the moment, but who knows. Moving on.
I loved that Kyle acknowledged right away that he has a go-to "canned bs response" for questions like these. It was so real. It makes me wonder — how many people have dated Kyle and asked him similar questions?
He wound up telling me he prefers to meet for drinks, see if there's chemistry, and "if so, either go on another date or f*ck like animals." I appreciated the honesty — but I also wondered if he was only being so straightforward with me because he knew I was asking for a blog post.
At first, Christian presented himself like a guy who simply likes to meet new people, but doesn't have much luck with Tinder.
Aaaand there we go. After a few questions, he got honest about what he's looking for: "Here's where it gets tricky," he wrote. "But hear me out. I have a gf... but we're open... so ideally something casual may be best suited... but I'm open to more."
I thought it was refreshing that Patrick told me right up front that he's looking for a relationship — though the way he prefaced it with, "Uhhh well tbh kinda hoping for" is more evidence that there's a stigma against guys owning the fact that they're looking for a relationship.
Anyway, Patrick's truth-telling turned into a cute game of Two Truths and a Lie, so that was cool.
Roger opened up to me right away, explaining that he's open to any kind of connection that means he doesn't have to sleep alone. "If that means I hook up with someone and we have a few good nights, great. If we end up in a relationship, that's cool too, but I'm not seeking that out."
I decided to test my theory about the stigma around stating you're looking for a relationship on Roger to see what he thought. He responded that he's in a transitional period of his life right now and needs "the freedom to figure out what I want my life to be like before I decide what sort of relationship I want to be in." Fair enough.
Roger then accused me of being "a bizarre psychology bot" or possibly "a college student using this to do a research paper on how and why people use dating apps," which is hilarious and also not that far from the truth. I fired back a few sassy messages about how I am definitely not a bot and how he hurt my not-bot feelings, but then it was time to move onto the next conversation.
Roman also revealed he was looking for a relationship, which surprised me. So many men are apparently looking to commit! Who knew? It got me thinking — maybe women assume that men are only looking for sex because we don't bother to actually ask.
Roman wrote, "Well most guys are looking just to hook up right?" So I decided to ask him about my theory.
He agreed that it's "better in the long run to state what your intentions are." Right on, Roman.
My conversation with Christopher started off with pure banter. I'm gonna be real with you guys — you can tell that I think he's cute by the number of times I nervously drop "haha" into this conversation.
Oh, and important: He subtly mentions that he's looking for something with substance.
"Hahaha." Oh, boy.
It was at this point that I toggled back to his profile and carefully looked through all of his pictures again. Yep, still cute.
I decided to be brave and send him my number. We're texting now — and thanks to my opening line, I already know that we're looking for the same thing.
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