Bursting out of the dating time capsule

I'm single after 17 years. It's going to be OK. So let's get on with it.

I was married before I could legally go into a bar. And the internet's been good to me (I did have a friend in my early 20s who met his wife online, back when that was weird).

So I've got an OkCupid, a Match.com, and a Tinder. I don't exactly know what I want out of romantic life next, but I know I'm interested in dating and I need to meet people I don't work with or who aren't from my kids' swim club. It's been a few weeks in the online dating pool and I've learned that it's hell. Female friends advise me on photos where my intense eyes and bald head don't create a serial killer vibe. Male friends talk about the pure numbers game that's meeting someone in a bar or on OkCupid.

Stuff happens like interesting, beautiful people liking your profiles only to find out they are basically trolling the world of online dating. 

OkCupid sucks, and so does Match. You can literally waste tens of hours without making a single meaningful connection. It makes you understand the bar scene. 

Tinder is another animal, though. It's got a modern UI, profiles limited to 500 characters (apparently you can write right through that, as some do), and is populated automatically with your profile photos and first name from Facebook.

Yeah, Tinder marks another milestone in my bitter relationship with Facebook. I had to create a Facebook again to get a Tinder.

When you sign up for Tinder, it defaults to finding your preferred gender within a 50 mile radius. 

Everything I say next is backed up by two weeks of considered research.

Tinder is not a hookup app because the majority of women there don't want to hook up. That means it's a relationship-finder that cuts out all the detailed questioning and compatability algorithms in favor of a hot-or-not style swiping system - right for "liked," left for "nope" (a dramatic green or red stamp shows up on the person's cover photo as you swipe). Both genders are frequently posed with drugged tigers.

You can't talk to anyone unless you've both swiped right (although so many ladies put their Instagram handle in their profile - only if they are under 35ish, though - that you can use that to open up a more lasting social media connection). 

This sounds crazy superficial - but what it does is remove the huge time wasting element of the OkCupid ilk. You're only getting to know someone who's at least superficially attracted to you. And that makes all the difference. A couple of my female friends jumped on Tinder around the same time I did, and the straight male experience is dramatically different from that of a straight woman (I first heard of Tinder from a gay man but haven't got the full download on his experience). If you're a lady, basically any guy you swipe right has probably already swiped you right. So then you have to wade through a flood of matches and messages to find anyone who might actually be worth meeting - you definitely don't need to initiate chats, which seems par for the course in online dating. One woman I met on Tinder does "phone dates" first to further thin the herd.

Tinder has been good to me, though. Within one week, I went out with an amazing woman, twice. I met a few others who were really cool as well. I was able to chat with half of the women I swipe matched with - making OkCupid and my strategy of answering tons of questions and connecting with folks with high matches rates seem downright wasteful.

Then I reset my profile - because in the world of hot-or-not, that first impression is everything.

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