When you stop being single, you tend to miss out on two things: making new friends of the opposite sex and swiping your first impressions on Tinder. Which is why I decided to combine the two, in order to ask a very old question under modern circumstances: Can men and women be friends? More specifically, what happens when a girl with a boyfriend (me) genuinely asks a bunch of dudes on Tinder to be buds? My initial hypothesis was only that it would get weird.
Knowing many guys wouldn't look past my photo, I tried to convey my goals and boundaries in simple meme form.
Once I started messaging, it was clear that even my platonic game was off. Nervously rattling off bad jokes and outdated references, it was like I was having the worst type of flashbacks to being single.
Then I realized, it was because I was approaching it like I was single, swiping right almost exclusively on people I thought were attractive and then ruining it with my personality.
Reassessing my criteria for actually making friends, I altered my approach, first changing my age settings to 27 and up. My hope was that older guys would be more amendable to friendship and not instantly assume it came with benefits. I also started automatically swiping right on anyone who had a picture with a dog, because that is the company I typically keep. Results were mixed.
My strategy was simple, repeat my disclaimer about only wanting guy friends and casually mention having a boyfriend. Some dudes were so cool with this it was almost suspicious.
For a few of them, this was only because it made them comfortable enough to admit that they too were in relationships. The difference was that they didn't come here to make friends. They came here to cheat.
These type of interactions were gross enough to make me doubt the experiment all together, but I'm a serious journalist so I pressed on and learned a lot about how using an app steers communication.
Tinder guys love to accuse girls of being a bot as a means of flirtation, mostly in timelessly cheesy tone of "You're too good to be true." While gave me a momentary self-esteem boost, it was relatively useless for making friends.
To their credit, not every dude was creepy, aggressive or a combination. But no matter how nice they were about just being friends, it still felt like a trap. The people I'd probably be friends with on Tinder are the same people I could never be friends with while in a monogamous relationship because they're actually honest about what they're using the app for, not friendship. As much as I can't handle communication beyond this experiment, I can respect that.
The problem with making friends on Tinder is not that men and women can't be friends. It's not even that guys and girls on it are too thirsty. It's that there's no jumping off point to gauge shared interests before you start talking. The only shared interest is looking at pictures of each other. When you don't want to hook up under those circumstances, that makes you the weirdo and no one wants to be your friend.