Thu, Sep 22, 2016 - Page 13 News List

Help! I deleted Tinder a dozen times, but still downloaded it again

What one journalist learned about being an expat in Taiwan through Tinder swipes

By Dana Ter  /  Staff reporter

A screen grab of Dana’s Tinder profile last month.

Dana Ter, Taipei Times

“Hey, want to get a drink?”

Those were my ex’s first words to me. Two hours earlier, I had downloaded Tinder, the dating (read: hook-up) app, at the insistence of a friend after my second month-long “relationship” in Taiwan went to the dumps.

“Sure,” I replied.

We met for drinks at 1am. Chugging beers in a playground, I told him about how I’ve never tried online dating in my life. But being a 26-year-old expat in Taiwan at the time, it was sometimes difficult to relate to people. Most other expats were older than me and married. Also, I didn’t want to date a Taiwanese guy just to “practice Chinese” as plenty of friends had suggested — communication is important, to me at least. Tinder was a last ditch attempt.

I’m a writer, I said, because I like trying to make sense of things. He shared a story about the best piece of writing he had ever done for a school assignment. It was about a trash can named Drom who came to life at night and ate people’s garbage. The way he told it was cute and endearing.

A couple of days later, I deleted Tinder.

We dated for a few months, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. He was backpacking through Asia and I was establishing my career in Taiwan. When the summer was over, he moved back to Sweden to finish college.


I was late to jump on the Tinder bandwagon. It launched in 2012 when I was a graduate student in London. My classmates and I were still meeting people the old fashioned way — drunk and in bars. I moved back to New York the following year where most of my friends were already “tindering.”

Their stories of unsolicited pictures of genitals and pick-up lines like, “I have a hotel room, want to come over,” corroborated much of the negative coverage I had read online about the smartphone app: how it’s designed to fuel people’s need for instant gratification — swiping left (no) and right (yes) based on the other person’s appearance — and how this is exacerbating everything that’s wrong with my generation’s so-called hook-up culture.

It took three months after visiting my ex in Sweden and deciding that we didn’t want a long-distance relationship for me to accept my singlehood again.

I downloaded Tinder.

Fortunately, I did not receive any unwelcome dick pics. The responses I got were a little less generic.

“Are you Taiwanese? You don’t take big-eyed selfies and do cute poses.”

“Can I practice English with you?”

“Wow, you lived in 10 countries. Do you have a favorite?”

“I would love to paint you green and spank you like a disobedient avocado.”

I deleted Tinder. A month later, I downloaded it again.

I hung out with a diplomat I matched with who said he found it refreshing that I didn’t seem like many of the girls in Taiwan who were using the app.

“Why?” I asked.

My profile didn’t say that my hobbies were “going to coffee shops” and “hanging out with friends,” nor was I looking for a “language exchange partner.” Also, most of my pictures showed me doing water sports or swimming in waterfalls — basically, not fitting the pale and prim stereotype.

Another time, I went on what I thought was a couple of successful dates with an exchange student studying at National Taiwan University. That is until he rather tactfully pointed out why a relationship between us would never work out — I move around all the time.

That was it. I deleted Tinder.

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