In just a few days, men I’d never met had offered to date me, to degrade me, to make me come a dozen times, to take me to dinner, to take me to Paris, to make me couscous.
I’ve always felt like an average-looking woman, a solid 6 or maybe a 7 if I bother to wear mascara, but swiping through my matches and messages, I felt like a special species. Just not really hard-core stuff like coprophilia (pooping on each other).
It all felt the way romance was supposed to feel —playful and exciting and unserious. We had a pleasant exchange of texts, a couple of warm conversations with decent rapport.
At the same time, I could feel how exhausting the very same experience would be were I a single person looking for a committed life partner, a person with whom I wanted to live and own property and raise children. “Isn’t winking what you do when you’re not being explicit? After a day or two, he told me he was coming to Chicago for a friend’s wedding and asked if he could take me out for dinner.
My immediate reaction was repulsion, followed by a kind of morbid curiosity. In one aggrieved text he wrote, All year I work day and night trying to help people who have nothing. As for Pete, he was learning that married men on Tinder did not get quite the same level of positive feedback (or harassment) as married women.
I’d only encountered this level of male entitlement in other people’s personal essays. When I told him I didn’t think this would be possible, he grew angry and sullen, sent a stream of raging texts. When I come to the States for a holiday, all I want is to have fun and relax and enjoy a threesome with two beautiful, married women. Matches were harder to come by, and when Pete reiterated to the women he matched with that he was in fact married, they did not think it was fabulous or awesome.
For our birthdays, we bought each other things like electric blankets and warm wool socks and a Vitamix blender for making soup. Maybe there wasn’t much in the way of excitement, novelty, or fun.
Maybe we didn’t pine for each other or take off our pajamas for sex, but we still loved each other. “Nothing like this existed when we were single,” I said to Pete. The first step in the process was to set up our profiles, which we decided to do together.
My husband and I met at a party on a quiet street in a college town.
In the years since, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking and writing about marriage, and I’d begun to notice more and more women subverting, reimagining, or challenging received notions surrounding the institution, specifically when it came to monogamy.
More women were beginning to see opening their marriages as a legitimate and in many ways appealing option.
I wondered if Tinder, which brought the world of dating within finger-tap distance, was accelerating the shift? A few days later, I asked my husband if he’d mind if the two of us set up profiles and tried out the app. “Just texting and chatting.” After a decade and a half together, we weren’t in any acute crisis.
They wanted the things I used to want, and I in turn wanted what they had — freedom, excitement, interesting conversations that didn’t center on styles of child-rearing or real estate, the experience of moving through the world not exclusively as a wife or mother but as a sexual being, a full and complicated and multifaceted person, the experience of being wooed, wanted, admired, acknowledged, and seen.