Pillbox

Advice for Awkward People

Dear Sarah,

Aren't dating apps supposed to make dating easier? In my personal experience, things have only gotten more complicated. Tinder is my first attempt to meet guys without actually meeting them.

It's nice to be able to keep someone at arm's length before you let them in. They only know as much about you as you want them to, so you can slowly unravel your story as you feel comfortable. You can stretch the truth, make yourself seem more interesting, more popular, or more easygoing. You could only choose to put on photos from high school before you gained 15 pounds. This is such a delightful arrangement — until you realize anyone could be guilty of this.

Once in a handful of guys, I'm interested. He seems like the kind of guy I could maybe one day consider getting into bed with. But breaking that wall of meeting in person is so scary. I never know what I'll find behind the curtain, behind the screen.

What if he has really long finger nails? What if he's tries to tell me he thinks Lord of the Rings is overrated? What if he's a catfish? What if he kidnaps me and sells me into human trafficking?!

How do I decide if a guy is worth the risk it takes to meet up with a Tinder Guy? Is there a rubric I can use?

Cautiously,
Tinder Has Incalculable Risks Surrounding The Youths

Dear THIRSTY.

Dating is such a mess, no matter what. And you're right, Tinder can be even scarier and messier because you never know what you're going to get.

To start with, it's best practice to just be yourself. Don't spill out your entire life story all at once, but be true to your personality and your history. That kind of genuineness can bring out the truth in others, too.

In order to avoid any unfortunate surprises, ask questions. If you actually want to make a rubric, write down specific questions in order to check up on your unforgivables, like pop culture proclivities, drug or alcohol habits, political or religious beliefs, or blatant misogyny. You don't have to feel bad being direct because he's just a perfect stranger who you'll probably never actually meet in real life. So what if he doesn't like it? You don't owe him anything.

If he happens to pass the initial test and he's still around, that's a pretty good sign.

The next evaluative criterion is time. How long can you hold a conversation for? How long does it take him to respond? Does he consistently message you past 11 p.m.? Does he want to meet up tonight, or does he ask you when you're free? These questions can help you tell if he's a skeevy perv who wants only want you for your lady bits, or if he's at least charming enough to trick you.

But as a foxy lady on Tinder, the world is truly yours. As long as you take appropriate safety measures, going on Tinder dates can be a fun weekend hobby.

If he's good enough to pass the initial tests, then he's probably a decent enough guy. He'll probably give you some say in where you go for the date. Pick somewhere you like! Preferably a very public place where someone would notice if something happened to you! He'll also probably offer to pay because that's what he thinks a gentleman should do, and he's damn right. So maybe he's boring and can't make conversation, at least you've got Fuku Tea.

Two more safety tips: go in with an exit strategy, and use location sharing. Before you leave, plan with one of your friends a code word that you can text them to signal that they should call with a fake emergency, like your roommate caught something on fire, or your family dog needs to be put down. Make sure you really sell it, and say "rain check?" as you gather your things, like you'll ever respond to his text again. If you have an iPhone, activate location sharing with another iPhone user, ideally your exit strategy friend. That way they can make sure you don't end up somewhere you haven't told them you'd be, and if you do, they know how to find you.

Protect yourself. Oh baby, it's a wild world!
Sarah