A Tinder tale: The all too familiar narrative of awkward online romance as an undergraduate on a small campus


As a newly liberated young gay experimenting with whoredom, the first thing I did after coming to the College of William and Mary was to get myself situated on all of the dating apps. Coming fresh off of a relationship, I figured what better way to get over a deep meaningful relationship than by going crazy?

Right? Wrong.

Let me recount a story for you — a legend perhaps — of the ghosts of Tinder past, and unlike our favorite holiday story, these ghosts don’t just disappear. Once upon a time, a twamp decided to sign up for Tinder. Said twamp runs into a Tinder Match they had been chatting with all week and proceeds to become an awkward wreck until they can sneak away from the situation. Un-match incoming. Yes, I am being completely serious: this did in fact happen to me at the elevators in Earl Gregg Swem Library during finals week.

The fact of the matter is that this college is extremely small. Everyone is at most two to three degrees of separation apart from each other. You will run into a Tinder Match in Swem. You will run into a Tinder Match in the bread lines in the mail room. You will run into a Tinder Match when you’re wearing an unflattering Disneyland sweatshirt on a 1 a.m. run to Wawa. You will probably even end up in classes with a Tinder Match in the future. Are you seeing the pattern?

For those of us with social anxiety who don’t say hi to every single person we know all the time, every time we see them, the extra layer of embarrassment of running into someone you met online can be a lot to deal with — I totally get it. But the best advice I can give you is to get over yourself.

Reality check: we all put our best face on for dating apps — but offline, keeping up a persona you set up for a dating profile is unsustainable at best but damaging to your psyche at worst.

No, you are not going to be a social pariah on the dating scene at the College just because you fumbled an in-person interaction once. I run into a Match that ghosted me at least once a week, and at this point I don’t care. However, one thing I have not done was seek an explanation through confrontation. It goes without saying that this type of confrontation is basically the best way to ensure that other people find out about the situation, which would be less than ideal.

Likewise, if you run into a Tinder Match and are confronted with a situation where they are the ones asking for an explanation, you are under no obligation to explain to them the circumstances behind why you are not seeing each other. Let me repeat: you do not owe anything to anybody.

Additionally, it has come to my attention that many of my friends, and I myself have been guilty of this, feel the need to fast-track their lives and enter relationships that they otherwise would not have entered — just for the sake of being in a relationship, because seemingly everyone else is in one.

The ubiquity of social media in our lives makes it seem like we are always missing out on dating or relationships. After all, why am I single when I see people I went to high school with getting married, though it’s not like I haven’t made an effort? Essentially, there’s no reason for you to rush the relationship process — slow down and enjoy your undergraduate years. Make friends with people first, and if relationships develop, then they will develop.

Gavin A. is a Flat Hat Behind Closed Doors columnist and he wants to remind you that you don’t have to thot around if you don’t want to.


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