Shana Claudio left the bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for her third Tinder date of the day. She had already met a finance type for brunch that Sunday in October 2013 through the dating app (he was a bit superficial), and she found the second guy, whom she met for a drink, forgettable.
By now it was early evening, and Claudio, who works in corporate communications, was scheduled to go on a date at a nearby bar with a guy named Ken. He turned out to be Ken Andrews, a 33-year-old surgeon in his fourth year of medical residency at New York University, who thought Claudio was a “total knockout.”
After three hours of conversation, Andrews walked her home, giving her a quick kiss at her apartment doorstep. “No way was he coming upstairs and he didn’t try – that’s not why I was on Tinder,” said Claudio, now 33. They went out again, and they were engaged 10 months later. She is now Mrs. Andrews.
Yes, they swiped right and met the one – with hardly a cheap rendezvous in sight, even though Tinder, the ubiquitous mobile-dating app, has been written off by some observers as nothing more than a vehicle to promote quick and easy hookups.
In a 2015 article in Vanity Fair, Nancy Jo Sales argued that Tinder is responsible for a “dating apocalypse,” with several 20-something New York men admitting they use it to prowl for women to sleep with. They call their conquests “Tinderellas” and pride themselves on getting women into bed after a few texts.
The article set off a firestorm on the Twittersphere, with Tinder going on the defense – at one point tweeting out 30 responses in just a few minutes. Tinder acknowledged that some users just want to hook up, but said that a vast majority were looking for meaningful connections.
How it works
Tinder users can swipe right if they think someone is attractive, or swipe left if they don’t. And if the right-swiped person approves, then the duo has the ability to message, and perhaps get to know each other.
There’s no lengthy profile. On Tinder, users see nothing but a photo, a short tagline, someone’s profession and perhaps an alma mater. It’s why the app is sometimes called shallow: You’re pretty much judging someone on their picture alone.
But despite its critics, the app has catapulted to the top of the dating scene in places around the country, from Miami to Manhattan, thanks to its ease of use. You sign up, you swipe, you maybe land a date.
And what may surprise some cynics is that Tinder is also landing spouses for more than a few of its users, including a number who have been featured in the Vows section of The New York Times.
“Three years ago, Tinder was considered a hookup app,” said Julie Spira, an online and mobile dating coach based in Los Angeles, who advises her clients to go on three dating sites, including Tinder, if they’re serious about meeting someone. “Now people are joining Tinder because it’s efficient and easy to use, and everyone seems to be on it.”
Thanks to Tinder’s lowbrow reputation, some couples have lied to friends and family members about how they met. Shana Andrews admits that she and her husband told people they met at a bar when they first started dating. “We worried they wouldn’t take us as seriously,” she said.
Shedding the shame
Still, the app has become so popular that couples are shedding some of the shame associated with meeting on it. Many are proudly incorporating Tinder into their engagement or wedding ceremonies. A spokesman for Tinder said that the company has received wedding invitations via email and regular mail, and that Sean Rad, the chief executive, and other members of the Tinder team are often asked if they would like to attend.
One couple were engaged using Tinder messages. Rachael Honowitz, 35, lived in Manhattan for 12 years, working as an event planner for People magazine, before deciding to move to Los Angeles in 2014. She moved with the hope that men on the West Coast weren’t as noncommittal as the ones she met in New York.
I was embarrassed by how we met at first and didn’t tell people, but now I see it as my civic duty to let people know.
She met her husband, Jason Cosgrove, a digital media executive who was growing tired of the online dating scene, on Tinder six weeks later.
“I was probably chatting with 10 guys at the time,” said Honowitz, who now runs a company that prepares gift bags for award shows and celebrities. “I was even talking to one of his best friends, which was a bit awkward later.”
Cosgrove and Honowitz went out for sushi for their first date. They clicked. “You just know if it’s going to work after one date,” she said. “And it did.”
Cosgrove, 38, decided to propose using Tinder messages while sitting with Honowitz on a bench in Central Park during a trip to New York. When he ran into technical difficulties on Tinder (they couldn’t get their profiles to “match” in a different city), he sent his “Tinder message” via text, excerpted here: “Here we are. Back in the place where it all began – a little app inside your phone. But things have changed a bit since we first met here … I suppose after saying some sweet stuff to a girl on Tinder, it would be time to ask her out. … But I’ve got another question instead.”
Honowitz put the phone down; Cosgrove got down on one knee and proposed.
“I was embarrassed by how we met at first and didn’t tell people, but now I see it as my civic duty to let people know,” said Honowitz, who agreed to let Tinder post their love story on the “success stories” part of their website. “There’s no shame in meeting on Tinder. I’m a smart, educated girl from a great family. Jason is, too.”
”And we’re having a tinderbaby,” Cosgrove announced proudly.