When your Facebook wall has become 99% baby monthsaries and wedding videos, you know your single life has reached a pit stop. Most of my peers are now focused on raising children, so they rarely reply to my mass text, “Who’s out tonight?”
Being a 30-something single in Manila has its struggles, so when dating app Tinder finally reached mainstream status in the Philippines, I was curious. I enjoyed listening to the Tinder stories of my male friend, Guru*, who told me I should give it a try.
My first night on Tinder was filled with paranoia. I was walking in the mall while configuring my account, but like a cheating husband who doesn’t want his wife to see who he’s texting, I kept hiding my phone screen from potential onlookers. I didn’t want people to know I was Tindering!
“Oh, Tinder seems safe naman pala,” I told my tita self when I found out that you can only use the app when you log in with your Facebook account. You can also see the Instagram account and common Facebook friends of the person you swiped right for. Speaking of Facebook friends, I found Guru and swiped right for him immediately. He swiped back and I used him as my dummy to test Tinder’s features. He analyzed my account and gave me advice, such as “You need more than one photo” and “Say something on your bio page.”
I felt so shallow as I judged guys based solely on their looks. As the first hour of swiping went by, I rolled my eyes at guys who used the following as primary photos: baby pictures, Shih Tzus (Your dog is cute, but not you), selfies with celebs, photos of their likod and other body parts below the neck, pa-mysterious distant photos, pixelated photos of random models (I know it’s not you!), blurry photos, and overly airbrushed photos (Why are you using 360 makeup filters?!).
I also started having an extreme irritation for guys wearing shades. “Duh, everyone looks great in sunglasses! Do girls fall for this?” To prove my point, I clicked on the option to view the rest of the gallery so I could see how they really look like without shades. “I knew it!” I said, followed by a swipe left.
“Wala bang gwapo?” I said as I browsed through the guys within my radius. The Tinder gods must’ve heard my plea because the quality began improving. I finally found myself swiping right.
Learning from Guru
The next day I pestered Guru with my questions and observations. We learned from each other. When I told him that I get curious when a guy posts an intellectually funny photo or one-liner on his bio, he said, “Funny pictures work pala? Maybe I’ll add one.” When he said he can’t stand girls who sound so defensive and jaded in their bio, I deleted my one-paragraph rant about the universe and replaced it with a witty, bro-friendly one-liner.
And then I started getting matches! I finally let go of my inhibitions. I realized that getting a match was the easy part. It’s striking a conversation and maintaining the momentum that’s challenging. Most of my matches did not say anything at all, even if I started the chat. Some conversations made me yawn after five minutes. Other guys seemed like they simply wanted to increase their fanbase because they never say anything but always update their “moments” (like a FB wall) with gym selfies. The rest wanted purely hookups.
I also began seeing a lot of friends and acquaintances—some wearing shirtless photos. “You’ll never guess who I saw on Tinder!” I told Guru. “Do you swipe right for friends, just to be nice?” this naïve tita asked. “Only if I want to date them!” he replied. Noted.
Huli Ka, Balbon!
Aside from the surprise of seeing old friends and celebrities (former child stars, models, and… Wait, was that DJ Tony Toni?), I was appalled to see cheating friends on Tinder. I believe they were cheating because I know they’re married or in a relationship. In true Tita fashion, I even double-checked their FB profile to verify their status. I swiped right for these dudes, and as soon as they swipe back for me (they didn’t), I will give them a lecture.
One of them, an old college friend, did swipe back. “Hoy! Di ba may girlfriend ka?” I typed. “She broke up with me last year,” he replied. Oops. *Mark and I ended up chatting for hours. Then we started hanging out regularly. No, that doesn’t count as a Tinder date (right?).
Tinder Date #1
I chatted with one of my first few matches, *Andy, a half-American who’s six years younger than me. Unlike other Tinder convos that felt forced and contrived, ours was casual and friendly. We met up for coffee and talked for two hours—no expectations, awkwardness, or sexual proposals. “Thanks for not being a creep,” I joked after I told him he’s my first official Tinder date. “Be careful, because there are a lot of creeps out there,” he said.
True enough, one of my silent matches finally said something that night. He replied to my casual “Who wants pizza?” bio with, “Gustong-gusto [sic] ko nang matikman ang pizza mo.” Delete, delete!
As the weeks went by, my tita factor increased. I preferred clicking the heart button instead of swiping right, and the X button instead of swiping left. “You’re the only one I know who does that. Everyone swipes!” Guru said. I got so tired of throwing pickup lines, trying hard to impress my matches with witty dialogue, and tweaking my Tinder profile to look enticing.
But I enjoyed swapping stories with other Tindering friends. Our observations were similar: While Tinder does have classic douchebags, not everyone is bad. You just have to filter carefully. We also noticed that many Pinoys are still embarrassed to admit that they Tinder, while some give silly excuses for using it, like “I’m just using it for marketing,” “I’m just practicing my flirting and chatting skills there,” and my all-time favorite, “Oh, my girlfriend and I were just betting to see who gets more matches.”
I even went through Guru’s account to see how other girls present themselves. Guru and I came up with this game: Summarize the typical Tinder bio of girls. Our answer:
“I’m a sapiosexual wanderer trying to find her place in the universe. No hookups!”
As for the typical guy bio, it was hard to stereotype because I saw an equal mix of emo romantics (“I was broken once. Will you put the pieces back together?”) and douchebags (“Tinder is for hookups, so if you’re not here for that, just delete your account!”).
Tinder Profiles That Got Me LOL-ing
I noticed that instead of looking for dates, I enjoyed Tinder more like a TV sitcom. I screencapped the crazy lines and pent-up issues guys put on their bio. My favorites—unedited:
1. The Mathematician
“3 Things—My Circle is small, I’m Loyal to the end & Never Fuck me over! Give me 100% and you get 200% back. Give me 95% then you’re getting none back.”
2. The Artist
“My heart’s been broken but instead of just picking up the pieces, I’m here to look for those whose pieces I can make beautiful Mosaic with… What type of Mosaic Design, it’s up to you!”
3. The Religious
“Let me clear about my intentions… I am going to WORSHIP YOU and YOU… are going to FUCKING LOVE IT.”
4. The Name
“Also known as Jep-Jep. The name is so nice…you’d say it twice.”
5. The Juicer
“Give me a melon, I’ll give you a melon shake… Give me a lemon, I’ll make you a lemon juice.”
Tinder, Loving Care
After meeting a few guys from Tinder and hanging out with their circles, my social circle grew. I noticed that I checked my Tinder app less as the weeks went by.
I learned a few things from my short Tinder experience. You get what you want from it, as long as you set your own boundaries and filters. You’re not the only real human being who’s nervous and unsure about Tinder. You can’t force chemistry, so just be yourself and see how situations pan out. Choose how you present yourself. You don’t have to mimic what other users are doing. If you don’t like it, just leave.
Unlike other friends who have naughtier Tinder adventures and a few success stories, mine was more of a rom-com (99% com). I don’t plan to delete my Tinder app yet, but it’s been over two weeks since I last checked my matches. Now excuse me while I remove my glasses, stare into space, and stroke my shawl while pondering on life like a true Tita of Manila.
Calling all Titas At Heart! Life According To Tita is available in bookstores and newsstands for only P175!