And how dating, like most things, is mostly about showing up and wanting to be there.
Note: This draws from my personal experiences with a variety of romantic and dating approaches. It in no way is meant to be a comment on the dating preferences of others, or - more importantly - the qualities of the women I've seen, cared for, hurt, or been hurt by. Also: YMMV.
Why I date.
I date because I like being romantic with women. Romanticism allows for openness that doesn't usually exist elsewhere in life. It offers different joys, and different pains, and is, has been, and will (I hope) continue to be a net positive in my life. It allows me opportunities to learn about other people's hopes, dreams, and ways of communicating. It teaches me about my own strengths, weaknesses, and inabilities.
Having an endgame is not my game. Dating is not a chore; I date because I want to date. Showing up to a date wanting anything else but to be there, with this person- I find that highly disrespectful.
There are, as far as I can tell, two factors that determine whether I enjoy being on a date:
- Whether I want to be on the date.
- Whether my date wants to be on the date.
OkCupid encourages me to message, and presumably date, people who fall within the compatibility profile that I claim for myself. If I insist that I wouldn't date someone who smokes, OkCupid will lower the compatibility ranking of smokers. If I admit to owning a dog, OkCupid will match me with people who like dogs.
Sorting through matches on OkCupid is an exercise in establishing criteria for who I'm willing to see, and then exercising judgement based on that criteria. The thing is, I find my own criteria to be largely reactionary and arbitrary; I have a great deal of mistrust for my own prejudices. Moreover, I am not at all sure that the ideal relationship that I am presumably imagining even exists - and, assuming that it does, whether it would ultimately make me happy.
So I rank suitors on whether or not it seems that they want to go out with me, and I weight the result with the accuracy I believe they have in their assessment of my character. On OkCupid, I find a high portion of people to be deeply ambivalent about dating. I choose, insofar as I am able, not to date those people.
It's possible the same holds true for Tinder; I suspect that it likely applies across the general population. But because Tinder selects for mutual attraction, I find that interactions there tend to be a bit more enthusiastic. In addition, Tinder pays due homage to the arbitrarity of attraction. Despite whatever I might say in my OkCupid profile, it would be dishonest of me to enumerate why I am attracted to any one person. For that matter, I can't honestly say why I've fallen in love in the past - and I suspect that the same holds true for most of us. And yet OkCupid insists that I have some insight into what type of person I'll fall in love with next... I just don't believe them.
Call it what you will: Hot-or-Not; a vanity machine; strictly for hookups. I think Tinder is arbitrary, weird, and insightful. And I see no reason why it would be any less effective than anything else out there.