Lately I’ve been on a “tinder binge”. Meaning that I’ve been using tinder as a platform to fuel a recently strengthened need for attention. Or in other words, I’ll sit and swipe through profiles until my eyes hurt.
I tend to do this whenever I feel extra lonely, for instance right after a breakup or a failed date. Tinder makes it that much easier because I don’t have to leave my home to reap the instant benefits of superficial validation. (*swipe, match, temporarily validated*)
The first time this ever happened was about a year and a half ago, after I broke up with my second serious boyfriend. At that point in my life I had only slept with him and one other guy. Within a week of that breakup, my number had doubled. Unfortunately both experiences felt fairly empty, assuming at the time that I thought they would help me move on. In retrospect their attention was just a distraction from the heartbreak I was feeling.
Another two weeks later I received a phone call from the same ex-boyfriend I had just broken up with. He called me from his missionary trip to the Dominican Republic asking for us to get back together. The main motivation for my saying no was the prospect of a date I had at the end of that week. I figured that if I played my cards right, I’d come out the other end with a romance even more epic than the one I had shared with my ex. I’d be moving on to the next stage of my love life: a college boyfriend. Which makes me question how often I pursue men for the sake of having a relationship, rather than a genuine connection. But the date flopped anyway, the guy having realized that I wasn’t such an easy lay. Evidently he thought I’d be because I was “all over” the guys at the party we’d met at. I called my ex back the next week, dreading the prospect of being alone again, but he had already changed his mind (or as he put it, had slept with someone else). Fair really, because I had my chance and declined it.
My second major binge took place about three months later, when I was dumped by a guy in my building. In this case, I made the problematic decision to keep sleeping with him post breakup in the hopes that there was still a chance for us. He treated me like his girlfriend during sex and like a regular person everywhere else. That eventually ended and once again, I casually slept with a series of people, none of which were good lays and all of which felt fairly empty.
Since that time last year I’ve been consistently sexually active but still single. I’ve ‘seen’ people, in the sense that I had hung out with and regularly slept with the same person. But I didn’t come close to dating anybody until this past January when I met a guy on tinder that I really liked. I eventually deleted the app for that reason. Ironically, the night that I matched with him was also a bit of a binge night. I was up way too late, high on multiple drugs, and as a result the horniest I’ve ever been. At 5 in the morning I had swiped right on 20 plus guys and one of them was him.
Which brings us to now, present binge. That relationship has been officially over for a few weeks and I’m spending a lot of time on tinder again. I think I’ve learned how to see past the terrible photos that men take of themselves because I’ve been finding a lot more guys attractive than I used to. It’s a matter of judging the kind of photos men take combined with a careful observance of their physical features. For instance, I tend to cringe at photos of men holding their dogs (it’s too obvious that you’re using your dog to get laid), most mirror/ gym selfies, and anything meme related.
Regardless, I’ve been going on tinder when I’m bored during the day and at night when I’m lonely. I changed my bio to say that I write about sex and have been getting a lot of messages asking if I need help with writing material, which I guess is exactly the kind of attention I was looking for when I changed it. The thing is I don’t actually need attention from men to be content with myself. Sometimes I’m just so afraid to be alone that I make a man’s presence the solution. Which I’ve been doing a lot lately. The danger in this is that I let the fear of being alone blur my sexual judgment. So when it’s 2 am and I’m that lonely, convenience becomes the most attractive thing about a guy. But let me preface that casual sex is not the cause of this problem. I’ve had unemotional sex enough times to know that while not always enjoyable, it can be perfectly healthy and fun. You just have to be careful who you do it with.
That being said, I think casual hookups become unhealthy when they don’t happen naturally, i.e. when sex is sought out to fill a void. I found myself doing this a few nights ago, trying to find someone to give me that attention, and landed on someone that I knew I would only ever sleep with once. The kind of guy your friend strongly encourages you not to sleep with. It was fine at first but it felt forced and half way through, I had this overwhelming awareness that our bodies were having sex without us. His eyes were closed the entire time and while I kept trying to catch his glance, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be looking at him. It became clear as we continued that we weren’t attracted to each other and were maybe even thinking about other people while it was happening. Afterwards when the regret started sinking in, I was sure that we had both been looking for a level of validation that we couldn’t give each-other. Which until the morning, made me feel intensely uncomfortable with myself.
While I’ve had sexual experiences that have made me upset in the past, I’ve never had one that made me this uncomfortable. So in a sense, I’m actually glad it happened. Up until this past week I had convinced myself that I could have sex with anybody and still get the same level of validation that I craved. Since that’s clearly not true, it’s more likely that the validation I’m missing is my own. Should I be able to reach a place where I’m content with myself again, I imagine sex would be a lot better. Because it wouldn’t be something I needed in my life so much as a compliment to the life I already have.