On the other hand, because of this same single parenthood—and the concomitant lack of contact with other grown-ups it so generously affords—I’ve become a virtual scholar of the Tinder profile, if only out of sheer curiosity during the twilight hour between dishes and bed. No, the little texts under the Tinder profiles are no great works of bedside literature, but they are at least as fascinating a peek into the male psyche as that Knausgaard book everyone keeps raving about, though it’s the only book on my nightstand that’s guaranteed to lull me to sleep when even sheep-counting fails. Plus, as one friend recently told me, swiping through Tinder profiles is like dating without the actual mess of having to date. Or something like that. (We’re all so messed up at this age. Seriously, just swipe left on all of us, and save yourself the pain and misery.)
So. What have I learned from studying the profiles of the single men of my generation? Pull up a chair, kids! I’m glad you asked.
Middle-aged dudes. Yes, over here, look at me, I’m talking to you, single men between the ages of 39 and 59! I know you are distractible, but Grasshoppers, I have so much to teach you beyond wax on, wax off, which you’re all perfectly capable of doing yourself. I’m talking about basic mistakes 97.5 percent of you are all making, give or take .5 of a percentage point. So, please, put down your GoPros and hear me out:
1) What’s with all the car photos? Do you live in your car? Do you think you look good in your car? Is it something about the way the light streaming through the back window halos your hair just so? Is there a monster blocking you from taking off your seatbelt and stepping out of your car to take a better environmental portrait? Just asking.
2) Actually, let’s talk about selfies in general: We—let’s not beat around our collective bushes, here, I’m talking about me and womankind—have never met a selfie we’ve actually liked. It doesn’t do anything for us, because we picture you staring into your screen, trying to get the best angle, and then that bubble of mystery you should be cultivating just pops into thin air. We’re going to assume either you have no friends to snap a quick portrait of your punim or that someone has chopped off all of your friends’ fingers. Which would be horrible, no doubt, but certainly good fodder for the conversation on the date you would have had with us, if only you’d left off the selfies.
3) Height: When you list your height, followed by a parenthetical that reads, “apparently this is important to some of you,” you are trying to have it both ways. Either state your height or leave it off. Most of us actually don’t care how tall you are, but we do care that you’re accusing us, right off the bat, of being shallow. We know we’re shallow. We’re swiping through photos of you on Tinder FFS.
4) Demands demands demands: Herewith is but a small sample of the conditions upon which you insist upon before ever having met us: “No drama,” “No gold-diggers,” “Be real,” “Be witty,” “No hook-ups,” “Hook-ups only,” “If you’re not chill, swipe left,” “Must like to travel,” “No cats,” “If you don’t like dogs, forget it,” “No kids,” “Must like kids,” “Girls, here’s a piece of advice: no duck faces, okay?” Most of us who are the least bit well shrunk will look at these lists of your conditions for intimacy and see the entirety of our relationship already playing out in our minds like a horror film we can’t unsee. After our duck faces, it’ll be our shoes. A lady’s shoe, you’ll tell us, should not have thick treads. Then it’ll be the way we eat spaghetti. Why can’t you use a fucking spoon, you’ll say, OK? It’s neater. Then before you know it you’re shouting at us, “Just stop breathing! I can’t stand the way you breathe!” How about starting with no demands or conditions up front? Maybe you can learn to like cats and kids. Maybe your “real” is someone else’s “witty.” We can’t possibly tell. We don’t know you. As for “No drama,” in what universe would love ever come into being without drama? Love is the lifeblood of drama. You might as well have written, “Sorry, incapable of love.” Next!
5) Tabula rasa: We get it. You’re busy. You don’t have time to write a few words about yourself. You’re handsome enough that the chicks should just dig you without knowing a thing about you other than the fact that you have piercing blue eyes. Well, guess what? We are shallow, but not that shallow. We need the words. If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain? That’s sexy. Cyrano de Bergerac? Double sexy. What you write has a profound effect upon whether we will take a very real risk of swiping right. Put more bluntly: We are women, and you are all potential stalkers and rapists. Have a nice day!
6) Bragging: When you write, “I am the CEO of a multinational company; I really never have to work another day in my life, but I work hard, and I play hard, and I like it that way!” or some such, I want you to think back to that kid in first grade—maybe it was you—who stood up during show-and-tell and said his turtle was the best turtle in the whole wide world, but we were all staring at that same turtle and thinking, whatever, it’s a fucking turtle.
7) Photos of your abs: Just no. OK? No.
8) Zen and the art of motorcycle, tiger, and cigar selfies: If your motorcycle, tiger or cigar is really a part of who you are—meaning you are a Chinese food deliveryman, a Hell’s Angel, a zookeeper, or Groucho Marx—then having a portrait of yourself on your ride or with a man-eating mammal or smoking a giant penis-shaped object makes sense. Everyone else? We see right through that compensation.
9) Sandals with shorts: It was a hot day in Dharamsala, we get it, but that look just does not scream sexy to us. We’re shallow. Remember? Put some pants on.
10) Your harem: Photos of you with your arm around five beautiful women does not tell us you are desirable. It tells us you are so desperate for us to see you as desirable, you’ve lost all sense of reason. If all those women love you so much, then what the hell are you doing on Tinder? Go date them.