(Photo by Juliana Reyes)
First date. Blind date. Tinder. Hour two. Booth at Dirty Frank’s. Why not?
We’ve started ordering pitchers of Kenzinger after the shyer dance of drinking your own beers, not knowing what the other wants, what they’re down for.
The conversation comes easy. We’re talking about Ben’s visit to a room that Foucault once masturbated in, and I’m laughing so hard I can’t talk, did he really just refer to Foucault’s skeet-stained sheets? Dan pitches in, helpfully: Yes: Skeet. Stained. Sheets. Emily is nodding her head, grinning, like, yeah, typical Foucault.
It’s only hour two but I have this thought. This is the best first date ever.
We’re on a double date. A double blind date. This is the Ben and Dan experience. Since February, the Swarthmore grads, one’s 26, the other, 27, a pair of brainy yet charming best friends, have been going on double dates with women they’ve met on Tinder. A friend of mine told me about this ruse of theirs: they created a double Tinder profile, complete with photos of them doing various activities like kayaking and seesawing and wearing leather jackets and hats, that encourages their matches to “prove they have at least one friend” and bring them on a double date.
“Why Tinder alone when you can Tinder with friends?” their profile reads.
I’m on the date for research, but maybe love, who knows?
As per Ben and Dan’s request, I brought along a fellow reporter friend, who agreed on the condition of anonymity. We’ll call her Emily. (As for the guys, one of them is a middle school teacher and fears being Googled by his students — they already have enough material to make fun of him for, he said, so we’ll go by first names here.)
Their little Tinder hack has been, in their own words, wildly successful.
When they used Tinder as single dudes, the way Tinder was created for, Ben said he got about 80 matches in a month. (This isn’t so much a comment on Ben. Guys have it harder on Tinder, like they do on most online dating platforms.) As a duo? Eighty matches in a day. More incoming messages than ever. More dates than they could schedule. Success.
But perhaps surprisingly, the magic of the whole thing isn’t really about the influx of dates. It’s about how easy and fun the dates are. In other words, it’s about how much these Tinder dates don’t suck. If you’ve ever been on a date from Tinder or OkCupid or Match, you know the drill. The dates are a crapshoot.
A lot of the time, they suck.
Ben, who’s about to start grad school for his Ph.D. in history, remembers getting on Tinder just after he moved to Philadelphia from Berlin in the fall. The handful of Tinder dates he went on just depressed him.
Why Tinder alone when you can Tinder with friends?
He tells us the story on our date: He would get to a Tinder date on a Friday night and he could just tell. It wasn’t going anywhere. But he’d stay for a few hours to be polite, to give the other person a chance, and then he’d walk home, salty that he had wasted a Friday night when he could’ve spent it with his friends.
So why not bring them along? Have your cake and eat it too, so to speak.
And just like that, dating became fun again. The double date formation dissolved the anxiety of first dates, of blind dates. You didn’t have to agonize over whether the other person liked you or would call you again because no sweat, you were just hanging out with your friend. There are other reasons it works, too, like having your wingman by your side and providing context to an otherwise context-less blind date — a date is way more likely to be successful if you can demonstrate that you surround yourself with good people.
This is the part where you say, duh, this exists. It’s called Grouper.
But here’s the thing: the reason Dan and Ben’s approach works is precisely because it’s not Grouper. It works because they co-opted Tinder to make it work for them.
This dating app was created with the mission of making dating easier. But making people feel less lonely was doing the opposite for them, so they subverted the rules and reclaimed it for themselves. It’s the same thinking behind the allure of Weird Twitter, of frexting. It’s this kind of “fuck you” to the guidelines of these technology platforms, which, with all their mass appeal, kind of make us feel like a cog in a machine. By hacking Tinder, by creating a doubles profile, Ben and Dan essentially reclaimed their individuality from a technology that subtly dehumanizes us.
Seriously, though. Believe in the power of a good date.
First date. Blind date. Tinder. Hour four. Same booth. It might be time to say good night.
I haven’t eaten dinner and we’re all sharing a packet of Technical.ly-branded trail mix, the only snack I’ve got in my pocket. When we decide to bid Dirty Frank’s farewell, it’s close to midnight and here comes the hard part.
The double date spell has worked on me. Which one of them do I want to see again?-30-
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