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Every day new people are embarking on a hunt through an online smorgasbord of potential dates. We often hear of the pitfalls of talking to people online and somehow trying to establishing some common ground, using a mixture of bold chat up lines, heart eyes, and drip drop emojis. The majority of the time, these short-lived technological romances end in disappointment. However, every now and then, this chance meeting with the swipe of a thumb can make magic. I am one of those few who completely unexpectedly met the love of my life on Tinder. Yep, that’s right... Tinder.
It was December 2015, I was in my final year at university finishing up my Art degree. I had great friends, a loving family, I lived in a studio apartment on the sea, I partied on Thursday nights, and drew all day. Life on paper was wonderful and I felt trapped. I wasn’t enjoying my course and I was on the tail-end of a two-year relationship that was very difficult to leave. I needed to escape. My friends were travelling the world and were in Australia over the Christmas period, so I used my savings (and let’s face it… a chunk of my student loan) and I flew out to Australia to meet my friends in Brisbane. I had decided that I was going to say yes to everything and make the absolute most of these three weeks.
While they were away, my friends were using Tinder to meet new people and find fun places to go. We spent our evenings out on the balcony drinking "goon" out of coffee mugs, laughing at bios, and sending messages for each other. Honestly, I enjoyed the excitement of getting messages from a stranger, having a harmless flirt, and telling grungy surfer-looking boys I thought they were cute. I had my first Tinder date a week after arriving. We chain smoked, drank red wine on the deck, and talked about nothing all night. I laughed and I made friends with the neighbourhood possum. It was harmless fun and exactly what I needed. He dropped me back at the hostel, said goodbye, and we never spoke again. I was fine with that. I was in the most beautiful country, and really living my life, for what felt like the first time, and it was amazing.
A week later we flew to Sydney. We were lying on our grimy hostel bunk beds and I was swiping mindlessly through the faces. I matched with a 23-year-old Aussie guy with dark hair. He had a few pictures on his profile of him partying with friends. He was cute and he looked like fun. We did the whole small talk and the flirtatious conversation thing and we agreed to meet. The first time I saw him he picked me up on George Street, but had failed to mention he was going to be driving a big white work van... not exactly the most reassuring vehicle to meet someone for the first time in. (I made sure to snap a picture of the registration plate before I got in, that’s for sure!) It wasn’t one of those love at first sight situations—I don’t believe it ever is. We talked about music and movies and all the usual first "date" stuff as we drove. When we arrived at the house where he was staying he started to open up.
He explained that he had been with his childhood sweetheart for eight years prior in a very on again and off again relationship—and that they had just broken up a week before. He seemed lost, lonely, and helpless, drinking too much and running away from his problems. He shared a lot of details about his previous relationship—ways he’d hurt her and ways she’d hurt him. His honesty took me by surprise, especially for a first meeting, but I wasn’t put off or uncomfortable. I knew he needed someone to listen, so I did. I told him how I was there to get away and that I felt like my life was going too fast, in a direction I didn’t really want it to. He listened and nodded his head in all the right places. We stayed up until four AM talking, drinking, and smoking roll-up cigarettes. In the morning, we ate pizza for breakfast, listened to music, and read comic books he had ordered online.
Four days after we met I flew back home. We saw each other twice more during that time and he drove me to the airport on the evening of my flight. I cried in the car because I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to go with my friends and continue to experience all these new places, but mostly, I didn’t want to leave him behind and I didn’t want him to forget about me. We formed a bond in those four days neither of us was expecting to and certainly hadn’t planned for. It was somewhere in between my fifth drink on the night we met and walking towards my departure gate on the day I left that I realized I was in trouble. I was completely in love with him. We stayed in touch and decided that we would be "friends" until we had both figured out our lives out a little more. I finished my degree and told my parents I was going to fly back to Sydney in August to have my own adventure. I had felt something in those few days that I wasn’t going to let go of.
The months that followed were full of ups and downs, and slowly but surely, he became my best friend in the entire world—the person I could tell everything to with no judgement, and I for him. I continued to use Tinder during our time apart, but I was never invested. Tinder had done its job for me and brought me what I needed. Three and a half years later, we’ve lived together in Sydney, we’ve lived together in the UK, and we are about to enter into another temporary long-distance relationship while I organize my Australian Permanent Residency.
Tinder gets a bad reputation as being a mecca for people looking for only casual relationships and one-night stands that will never call again. But Tinder can also be a platform for you to meet so many people that you may have never crossed paths with. Try to be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for and be honest with those you meet. Be safe, make sure you tell someone where you’re going, and trust your instincts. God bless my parents for trusting me to make good choices and supporting my decision to run off to the other side of the world. God bless my friends for letting me tag along on their adventure. God bless Tinder for giving me the opportunity to meet that heartbroken Northern Beaches boy.