Approaching semesters online at UC Berkeley has been no easy feat. Whether the struggle was learning how to cope with a constant barrage of hyperlinks or figuring out if the cute guy in your Zoom class noticed your new haircut, the last year has been one unexpected and tumultuous ride. With that said, in an admirable effort to stay sane, students have been forced to turn to one of the 21st century’s greatest and most controversial innovations: the dating app.
In the last few months, the number of fellow students I’ve encountered who have begun utilizing apps such as Tinder or Bumble has doubled, tripled and quadrupled since quarantine first began last March. Desperate to regain a semblance of the college experience, members of the campus community have resorted to relegating their romantic interactions to the internet. (If our classes can be remote, why not our amorous endeavors?)
With all that said, the bigger question emerges: How does one properly online-date? What’s the decorum, and what are the expectations that come with a swipe right? While my experiences with online dating have been admittedly restricted due to my own pre-standing relationship, plenty of my friends have made the plunge, and I believe that their stories echo both words of encouragement and tales of warning to those of us who remain unaware.
One UC Berkeley freshman I encountered relayed the story of her first match. Attracted to who she thought was a GSI, the girl decided to reach out and was soon asked if she was interested in “blowing off some steam.” Her answer was a resounding “no,” and half an hour later, she found out he was a graduate student researcher. Needless to say, it was an unmatch.
During a separate conversation, a UC Berkeley sophomore told me the story of her dating app find. She’d had a pleasant conversation with him about salmon larb from The Golden Bear cafe and was actually planning to go on a date when she ran into a friend in the elevator. Evidently, that friend had just hooked up with the same guy and was taken aback by his long list of kinks as well as the massive hickey on her neck. Sadly, the scheduled meetup ended up being canceled, and the two parted ways.
In one memorable instance, a UC Berkeley sophomore divulged her experience with a Tinder hookup. According to her, the whole night was fine, and nothing was really out of the ordinary until he was about to finish. All of a sudden, the guy leaped off of her and began doing his business over the trash can, citing his distaste for messes. The same girl soon decided to take a break from online dating.
One eager UC Berkeley junior’s dating app story began relatively well. They had taken a walk around campus and had shared dinner and a conversation. After returning home, he waited to hear back from his date, and the guy never messaged. Finally, after getting sick of waiting, he texted first. Two days later, the boy replied and said he’d let him know if he was ever free again and thanked him for the free ramen.
Still, despite the occasional missed connection or awkward encounter, online dating can be a blessing. Another UC Berkeley freshman recounted having only downloaded Bumble to get to know people and make friends. She ended up chatting with an art student who goes to school in the city. Pleasantly surprised by how interesting and sweet her match was, she pursued it further and has since met with the girl several times. Her advice for people who are unsure about online dating is to enter with an open mind.
Whether your experiences with dating apps have been good, bad, weird or nonexistent, the general consensus is that you’ll never know if you don’t try. College is the time to experiment and put yourself out there. Even if all you’re aiming for is a casual talk with one new person, I guarantee there’s someone else looking for the same thing, and the same is true if what you’re looking for is a steamy night in the sheets. Like most things in life, the situation is what you make of it.
Still, some advice? The guys on Bumble are hotter.