Apparently, the dating app Tinder has a ‘no matches’ bug. So say several people on Q&A websites such as Yahoo Answers and Blurt It, and forums such as Reddit and Android Central. They have all been swiping hundreds of people to the right on Tinder, but receiving no approvals in response. This, they have determined, is naturally because the app itself is faulty. It does not connect properly with your Facebook account; it doesn’t work on some versions of Android; you need to clear your cache and then tinker with a thousand settings to get it to work — the discussion threads go on for pages.
It is odd that an app that has become the global hub of casual dating should be so riddled with glitches. It is odder still that almost all the complaints about the ‘no matches’ bug seem to come from men. Women, in fact, tend to complain about being matched with so many men that they are suspicious of the app’s legitimacy.
Now, it could be that Tinder does have a few faults. It is, after all, run by men who were proud the word ‘Tinderslut’ had been added to urbandictionary.com. But, it is also exceedingly likely that the glitches men are complaining about have less to do with the app and more to do with them. In the online dating world, where men outnumber women by close to three to one, men, thus far protected by the perceived power a patriarchal society heaps upon them, are being forced to face an inconvenient possibility: perhaps they are just not that attractive.
A month ago, I wrote an article about online dating that sought to explore, among other things, how single Indian men, used to sitting in the corners of bars spending hours thinking about approaching a woman, were dealing with the freedom apps such as Tinder allowed them. Online dating, I wrote, was a way around facing rejection. You were not actually walking up to a woman and expressing your interest, but only secretly liking her, therefore avoiding the possibility of her saying no to you.
What I did not consider was that while men might be getting around facing initial rejection, they are opening themselves up to a far bigger one: a mass rejection that has them questioning how appealing they are not just to one woman but to womankind. This is probably why complaints on public forums about Tinder are usually accompanied by insecure proclamations such as “I am not that ugly” and desperate, misogynistic pleas such as “I have even tried liking heavy women and unattractive ones”.
After reading my article about online dating, a number of my friends began using Tinder. Some thanked me, but many became severely distressed at what they saw as an inexplicable paucity of matches. One blamed it first on the lack of pictures on his Facebook profile, then, after some Googling, on the ‘no matches’ bug. Several of them were convinced the girls on Tinder were bots, while one actually began blaming them for being snooty for not liking him. One installed an earlier version of Tinder and tried using a widget that would like all the girls in his area automatically, thereby “widening his pool”. It got to a stage at which I was getting messages from acquaintances asking if I had any interesting photographs of them, so they could put them on their profiles.
I felt sorry for them. Until, one day, at a bar, somoene at my table looked at two pleasant-looking but slightly overweight girls dancing vigorously and said, “Those fat chicks are a disgrace to mankind. The way they are dressed is obnoxious.” It was the kind of comment I had heard far too often.
That is when I fully understood the confusion and anxiety the men complaining about Tinder on the web feel. Men, in general, but particularly in India, have always judged women but never had to consider how attractive they are to the opposite sex. Most Indian women are forced to know, by their families, friends and the media, whether they are pretty or not by the time they hit puberty. Indian men, on the other hand, are sheltered from this truth and are cocooned by the promise of a dainty woman served to them on a platter, via an arranged marriage. This complete lack of awareness that Indian men seem to have of their own sex appeal is quite apparent from some profiles on Tinder. Vicky, who looks like he last brushed his teeth in the late 1920s, says he is on Tinder because he is “trying to be modest”. Samrat, who most of my women friends say has average looks, says he is “nothing if not extraordinary”.
I know several men who have been single through most of their twenties. By single, I do not mean the modern definition: sleeping with everyone instead of one person. I mean single in the old-fashioned way: alone. When I ask them why, all their reasons are external. None say anything about having not worked on themselves and their appeal to women. None realise that is something men need to do. Their chief reason is that there just aren’t enough places to meet women.
That is the problem online dating has caused the great Indian male — it has taken away his excuses. Men can no longer hide in the corners of bars; they are displayed on an app, and women can swipe them away because they don’t like their pictures. And, men simply aren’t ready to believe they are being rejected. They have come too far believing they are perfect to try to fix themselves. So, they try to fix the app.