what my 2 days on tinder did for me

Finding the guts to do this thing that scared me, and to be seen as me—not the broken half from a pair—was incredibly uplifting.

arlier this year my husband and I separated.

We all—my now ex-husband, my friends, my family, and I—immediately began the Tinder jokes once the news of our split was out. Here we were, two millennials, single and totally disjointed from the dating world as it looks today. It was hard not to poke at our inevitable futures.

After weeks of joking and a little physical force from my sister, I finally downloaded the app to see what my prospects looked like. Then this happened.

I had to swipe left on my ex-husband.

(This is also what I’d like to title my future BuzzFeed story on the incident because I think it could be a real winner for all of us.)

What the frick. So, after literally yelling at my phone and a whole 3½ minutes of being on Tinder, I deactivated my account and deleted the app.

Then I went to Vegas for a client’s conference. It felt like the one and only time that I could ever give this newfangled dating technology a fair shot without the risk of ex-husband trauma. So, I reactivated my account and dove in.

I feel at this point of the story I should offer up some important points.

  • I was TERRIFIED of anyone even so much as finding out that I was single, let alone publicly announcing my desire to make a connection with someone on an app. I actually thought I was going to die when I made my profile live. (Spoiler: I didn’t.)
  • I was not actually looking for someone to date in Las Vegas. That would be ridiculous, and while I am a ridiculous person, that would be a bit much even for me. I also wasn’t looking for someone to sleep with, but the feminist in me believes that even if I was, that’s my prerogative, folks.  What I was looking for was the answer to a burning question, "What can Tinder do for me?"

So, back to me in Vegas scrolling profiles of 25–35-year-old men while drinking $14 vodka sodas in a bar by myself. (Jealous, yet?)

It was here that I discovered the unexpected. Once I got into it, I walked away from my experiment with what I feel like were some solid, positive, life-enhancing takeaways.

Here’s what my 2 days on Tinder did for me:

It boosted my confidence in a time where I was feeling pretty freaking low.

Getting divorced makes you feel like the biggest failure on the planet. You lose your sense of worth in every facet of life.

In the months during and after our separation, I felt my voice get smaller and smaller at home, among friends and family, and the worst for me, at work. I felt like I couldn’t tell my clients about my situation because surely they’d think, “this girl can’t manage her relationship, how can we trust her to support our business?”

I felt like everyone immediately lost sight of me as me, and only saw a broken woman, shrinking from stress. I felt like their heads swarmed with questions about what was going on and every ounce of available room in their brains was filled with shit I didn’t want to talk about or think about each and every time they saw me.

Finding the guts to do this thing that scared me, and to be seen as me—not the broken half from a pair—was incredibly uplifting.

It made me think about who I want to be as a person.

It feels silly to say, but Tinder helped me rediscover my own identity. It made me realize that whether I’m just sticking myself out there on an app for people to judge based on my looks or I’m negotiating with a potential new partner for work—I still have an identity that is mine and only mine.

I bring my own unique story, passions, quirks, warts, and all to the table, and some sorry sucker out there will dig that, some future client will relate to that. My people are out there in the world and I am not alone.

With this, I also realized if I feel compelled to say that I live a life filled with travel and food and exploration, I better keep living life that way. I only have this one life to live and I think every human should live the life their Tinder profile says they live.

It made me feel desirable.

This one’s simple. Most every woman on the planet spends their time thinking about what they’d like to change about their bodies and not thinking about the fact that someone is into them just the way they are.

Even if it’s just some frat dude at a bachelor party looking to get some in Vegas, getting matched with me, I don’t care. It made me feel like, “Okay. The nunnery does not have to be the next stop, Jess.”

And I legitimately, deeply, so badly needed that.

It made me smile when I really needed to freaking smile.

Not to sound like a drugstore coffee mug, but smiling is such a great gift in life.

Turning a shit situation around can be as simple as finding a video that makes you chuckle, a cookie that tastes like absolute heaven, or a beautiful hunk of a man who swiped right on you who you’re certain is entirely out of your league.

To the men of Las Vegas, thank you, thank you, a million times thank you.

And last but not least...

It made me feel like everything was going to be alright.

I didn’t know that I was going to be alright.

I didn’t know that I was going to figure out the financial stuff and learn to kill the spiders and find a way to remember to get my oil changed and ever feel beautiful or loved or whole again. I just didn’t have an ounce of confidence that this thing that was happening to me wasn’t going to kill me and my spirit forever.

Now, thanks to Tinder, I know.

Moral of the story: If you're getting back in the game, feeling low and maybe a little curious about what the wonderful (and weird) world of online dating has to offer you, you should go for it. Even if all you take from it is a couple of smiles and a renewed sense of hope for your singlehood.