Online Dating and the Big City

Like the good academic that I am, I use my off time to travel to other cities and use their libraries for research and just a little change of colour. And of course, my dating apps travel with me.

While I left Southern Germany behind for Whitsun, Berlin was my city of choice (as always!). Truth be spoken, I usually restrict my dating app usage at my workplace, due to omnipresent students and the sheer monstrosity of dudes a-waiting. So I made some space on my phone and hello Tinder, Grindr, and PlanetRomeo – waiting for them dudzzz.

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What happened next, I would like to describe as the usual madness. Having gone from not using apps to using them in a big city like Berlin the matches were pouring in, messages, stamps, and all forms of expression of interest were shown. Being exposed to a myriad of different ways to contact someone and show interest can be very overwhelming and naturally, a lot of the matches and conversations tend to be generic and you very easily forget what you already said and what not. Let me give you a few examples.

There was this one guy on Grindr who messaged me. Since my profile text is in English („How’s your head?“) he keenly wrote to me in English soon enough revealing that he was Polish and has been living in Berlin for a couple of years now. His picture was – how could it not be? – a pic of his torso in front of a mirror: the usual casual bathroom-no-face-selfie. I wasn’t impressed. Nevertheless, he turned out to be quite the vigorous chatter, showering me in messages and questions. He was very inquisitive and interested in me and even showed me his face without further notice. He even stressed how avid he was about finding a true love on Grindr and not just a booty call (gurrl, please!). He wanted to meet the same evening but the busy bee that I am I had to put him off for now.
THAT he didn’t like. Very soon you could feel his interest turning into indifference having gotten a TEMPORAL mitten. I apologised for the inconvenience but he didn’t answer anymore. Methinks: well done, another one bites the dust.
Yet, no day went by when in the later evening hours he magically manifested on my Grindr feed asking me how I was doing and whether I wanted to get a drink with him. I explained that I would need to schedule something and spontaneity wouldn’t work for me since I already made lots of plans with friends. He was obviously pissed so I thought to myself: let’s give this one a test. I asked him quite bluntly if he just wanted some fun. That was not met with delight but rather anger towards my candour and how I could assume that on dating app. I was not into that kind of argument so I stopped replying. And look at that, almost a week later I got a message from him asking whether I wanted a blowjob or not. Make up your mind already!!!

Another curious thing that I came across was the usage of PlanetRomeo in Berlin. PlanetRomeo is now some kind of hybrid dating site meets dating app, more and more moving away from the old blue listing and clubs and adverts site to a more fresh mobile that presents guys location based. So a move away from all it’s elaborate features towards a more image-based search function. Choices!
As a matter of fact, the community in Berlin on PlanetRomeo got smaller or at least quieter. Most guys still have their profile from a pre-Grindr era but as it happens nobody really uses it anymore. Thousands of guys seem to be online all day but no one seems to answer or even read the messages sent on there. Back in the day, people used to joke that PlanetRomeo was the gay resident’s registration office. It kind of has become exactly that. A register of guys and nothing but a register. You can browse it but nothing ever happens.

Using Tinder showed its finest display in Berlin. As of usual in a city, profiles, and matches in abundance. But who do you actually talk to? Almost no one. As it happens, you start a generic conversation with a match that you kinda find cute but since it’ll take that person to respond – if they respond at all! – which makes you go on and tinder along in the meantime, making another 50 matches or so. I always find myself re-reading the chat history because I keep forgetting what I already asked, what we already talked about and what not. Really unique conversations almost never happen. Consequently, I did not meet anyone off Tinder. Two guys actually „survived“ and keep texting me but in a rather pointless way, asking almost every day „when will you be back?“ – as if it changed anything.

The most interesting thing that did actually happen was that one guy I saw on Grindr and exchanged like one or two generic messages with. Nothing out of the ordinary. But then I happen to meet him on campus by accident and started a conversation. He seemed bewildered by the fact that I would even do that without having planned a meeting before on Grindr. But that talk and the subsequent date we went on was the most REAL interaction I have had throughout my entire stay.

Let’s keep matching and see what’ll light the next fire!!
Cheers,

JS

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