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Couples Who Met On Dating Apps Look Back On Their Very First Messages

Online dating: "It's only shitty until you find someone you click with."

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We rounded up three different New York City couples who first connected via dating apps and asked them to do one simple thing: Go back to where it all began.

ThinkStock / Sarah Karlan

Each couple agreed to go back and find the very first messages they sent to each other on whatever dating app they used — those suckers don't go away even if you delete the app. As if that wasn't possibly awkward enough, they also agreed to take a screenshot (to share the moment with the world) and sit down to answer the following prying questions.

How often did you both use dating apps before getting together?

Shannon: Sometimes. I was on it for like three months when I lived in Paris, and then a month or two when I moved to New York.

Jess: You used it more than me, I think. I had only met up with one person before I met up with you.

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Looking back now at your first messages, how do you feel?

Shannon: What's kind of funny about our messages is that we only exchanged a few of them... and they were pretty boring. They weren't anything crazy interesting.

Jess: I reached out first, which I normally don't do? But because I'm on an app and I can hide behind it, I think I'm a lot more outgoing. So, that helped me a lot. I said, "Hey, how's your Friday night going?"

Shannon: Great line.

Jess: See, that would not work in a bar!

Shannon: Wouldn't it?

Jess: I guess it would... it's all the same. When you saw that were you like, "Ugh, what a boring thing."

Shannon: It's better than like "Hey baby" or "You're so beautiful" — it's better than that.

Jess: Would you have messaged me first?

Shannon Probably! I don't even remember now. We matched, so probably.

Jess Did you usually message people first?

Shannon: It was like half-and-half.

Jess: Same for me. That's the nice thing about being a gay woman on Tinder, it's all very equal.

Shannon: We were night Tindering. I responded very quickly because I was clearly doing nothing but sitting in bed Tindering.

Jess: It's very funny to remember that I used to sit in bed and just swipe through people's profiles. Like... doing that in bed just hoping you're going to talk to somebody. It really is fun! It's like the excitement of flirting without having to touch anyone.

Shannon: You're touching people when you're flirting?

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At the time, did you ever think you would end up together?

Shannon: At the time I honestly wasn't super feeling it. I was like, Um, this isn't the type of person I would — I didn't think it was going to be a serious thing. Now I know you're a musician in Brooklyn and a great person... but the stereotype of shitty asshole, artsy Brooklyn types? It seems like you could have been that. And you asked me to hang out pretty quickly. I thought it was a little bit pushy.

Jess: Pushy!?

Shannon: You came on strong! I was so close to canceling, the whole thing could have gone up in flames. But I DIDN"T cancel! We met and you were not at all what I thought you were just from the app.

Jess: So you thought I was an asshole. I thought you were... I dunno, I thought you were smart and well-read and interesting. A little nerdy. I just assume people are nice unless they are complete shit-heads. I thought you were very nice, smart, and beautiful. I was like Yeah, let's sleep together. That's what I was looking for, to be honest. I wasn't looking to date.

Shannon: Why did you decide to date?

Jess: Because I liked you.

Shannon: Fair enough.

What was your first impression of each other and how has that changed?

Shannon: Your hair was very scraggly, you looked like you really could have been a shitty person — to be honest. But, when we met my first impression of you in person is that you were really cute and so friendly! You drank my beer by accident on our first date. I realized my original impression through Tinder was entirely inaccurate — in the best way possible.

Jess: While I thought you were beautiful and smart — and you were! Now that I think about it you were kinder than I thought you were going to be [laughs].

What do you tell people when they ask how you met?

Shannon: Tinder!

Jess: You used to not say that.

Shannon: Early on I felt weird about it. Especially older relatives who were like You're meeting strangers on the internet? Besides the "coming out to grandma" narrative, I tell people now we met on Tinder. I don't give a shit.

Jess: Even now — I feel like the narrative around online dating has changed so much. Even within a year it's become much more acceptable, when we met it was maybe more in the "weird" stage.

Shannon: With gay people, it's just so much harder for us to meet people in natural settings... so we were just using the tools at our disposal to find each other.

Jess: It almost felt too easy, like cheating. Look at all these pretty girls! And as an introvert it was great. I would have never spoken to you at a bar. And there is no way we would have met because our social circles are so different. There's a great randomness to it.

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What would you say to the online dating haters?

Shannon:There are real people who use online dating and people who would have never found each other without online dating. And it's a great thing to use to make new friends, like if you've just moved to a new city.

Jess: For queer women it's great to meet other women. Haters are probably thinking more about the straight experience because men are terrible. Straight men are terrible, especially online.

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How often did you both use dating apps before getting together?

Josh: All the time.

Julia: Once in a blue moon.

Looking back now at your first messages, how do you feel?

Julia: I messaged first and opened with "Do you miss London at all?", which I figured was a pretty safe way to start. We both studied abroad and bonded over our nostalgia for the city. The conversation just felt very easy, even though we were sending these semi-long paragraphs back and forth. I can't remember there ever being a point where I hovered over the keyboard and stressed out over what to say next.

Josh: It was something really innocuous, which made it easy for me to respond. After going on a lot of dates this year, I'd become pretty jaded. She seemed like a really cool person, but I accidentally dropped the conversation when I went to Montreal for a conference and forgot to reply. When we picked it up after I got back, the conversation flowed with GIFs and Broad City jokes. She was fun to talk to. We bonded over Amy Schumer, my primary love interest.

Julia: I think I actually searched "Amy Schumer" and "Broad City" on OkCupid and found his profile.

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At the time, did you ever think you would end up together?

Josh: I tried to go into it with a nonchalant mentality. Despite dating a lot, I tend to get really emotionally invested quickly after finding someone I like. Political leanings are my first pass filter. If it's not clear from text conversation that she leans left, I'm probably going to fade away. Julia was really funny and insightful. That kept me on the line, despite a Canadian hiatus.

Julia: The possibility crossed my mind, but I also know myself and getting close to someone means more than just having a well-flowing conversation about hedgehogs and European cities. For instance, I've pretty much only ever dated self-proclaimed liberals and feminists, but once we actually got to digging deeper and having more challenging conversations, I'd realize that we didn't really share the same values or think critically in the same way, and that dictates a huge part of my willingness to open up to someone — if they are constantly educating themselves and pushing themselves to grow.

What was your first impression of each other and how has that changed?

Josh: I was definitely excited to meet her. She was extremely funny in text and I'm very attracted to people in creative professions. My life is largely science and medicine, and someone who helps me get out of those spheres quickly piques my interest. We had that initial awkwardness in conversation which I took as a good sign. A common interest in TV paved the way for talking about racial and gender disparity. An hour in, I hoped for a second date.

Julia: He seemed very genuine from the beginning, so I felt comfortable way quicker than I usually do with strangers. It's hard to pinpoint exactly, but I just felt he was very open in this really refreshing way. I think we're both really made uncomfortable by small talk and, as a result, were willing to dive a little deeper and engage in topics that truly interest us.

Julia: Getting to know him has just been really fun. Our politics are pretty much aligned, and that's really important, but aside from me admiring his intelligence and sensitivity, I've also learned that we enjoy doing a plethora of things together, ranging from hiking to watching bad movies. We also share the same passion for food, which I believe truly binds two people together.

Josh: I think I discovered a lot more depth to her. I definitely expected it when we met, but it takes time to really appreciate someone.

What do you tell people when they ask how you met?

Julia: The truth! It's pretty easy considering like 70% of my friends met their significant others online as well. But also, who cares?

Josh: I'm honest. We're in the age of digital dating. If I want to meet someone in New York who isn't a medical student, dating apps are the best way.

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What would you say to the online dating haters?

Julia: I get it if you shame it as far as men being gross to women on Tinder. But culturally, I think perceptions of online dating are shifting and apps like OkCupid and Tinder are drawing in more than just shirtless bros or fedora enthusiasts. You're free to hate on it I guess, but at the end of the day, it's the people behind the process, not the process itself, that can be shameful.

Josh: Get on it. It's only shitty until you find someone you click with.

How often did you both use dating apps before getting together?

Chris: Semi-regularly.

Nina: I would say... all the time. I was all over Tinder and OkCupid regularly.

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Chris: This pretty much follows the script for how we handle our business now. Finding common ground in our love of classical music, breaking the ice with some goofy stuff, commenting on 19th century poetry. Yea, like every typical Tinder exchange.

Nina: I think that I felt good about this. I think I just really liked that you went to Juilliard. I knew that you would "get" me — another classical musician.

Chris: I just liked that you took all the effort out of it and messaged me first [laughs].

Nina: I'm good at that. I'm a go-getter.

At the time, did you think you would end up together?

Chris: Sure, why not!

Nina: I don't think I was thinking that far ahead. I definitely wanted to go on a date with you to feel you out. We had all this stuff in common but I didn't know how you were going to be. You could have been a weird pretentious jerk — but you're not.

Did you think you would end up with me?

Chris: I always entertained the prospect, I'm not just going to swipe right and message back-and-forth with someone if I don't think that there's even the most remote possibility of it happening.

What was your first impression of each other and how has that changed?

Chris: You were very quippy, very smart! I was pleasantly surprised by your background and I was definitely intrigued and had to find out more.

Nina: I liked you, for sure. I enjoyed that you used full sentences and punctuation. That's a very hot commodity in dating apps, I think. You didn't use emojis which I'm into when it comes to getting to know a person. You build your way up to emojis, you can't just start!

Chris: For me and emojis, it's all or nothing. Either nothing or a complete onslaught, deluge of emojis.

Nina: And I liked that you said you were learning French. I thought you sounded very ambitious. It's not often that older people start learning new languages on their own accord [laughing].

Chris: Older people? Let's be careful now.

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Chris: If my impression has changed at all, it's for the better. I know more about you, I know that you're a smart, quippy person — not just this bot that's talking to me.

Nina: Man, I don't know how my impression of you has changed. I guess about the same as you were from this. I think you have more of a propensity for being verbose. If you saw our text messages they are like this long [holds arms out]. There's a hint of that here, these are fairly long messages for a person that you don't know. I like that! I like that we have long conversations.

What do you tell people when they ask how you met?

Chris: TINDER! Loud and proud! I'm a success story and I want everybody to know.

Nina: I tell my peers Tinder. I have not told my parents — they don't know what Tinder is and I don't think I'm going to tell them until I'm older. I told them we met online, which is close enough? I'm not going to explain to my parents that I swiped right and that's how we met.

Chris: I told my parents that I met Nina "on the telephone." I think they got it.

Nina: Maybe one day I'll tell them, but everyone else I say Tinder because I feel like an anomaly. A success story. I think it makes us special.

What would you say to the online dating haters?

Nina: I think it's a really dated attitude to have about online dating. For people who live in big cities it gives a chance to meet someone who they might not run into otherwise. It's a great way to expand your circle of people and have experiences, even if you're not going to be in a long-term relationship, It's a great way to meet people who you wouldn't normally meet. I think everyone should give it a try if they're open to dating. How different is it to meeting someone in a bookstore or a bar? It's not that different.

Chris: I think the ends justify the means in this situation. I view these things as resources and tools in a world where people are also using these things — you have to go where the people are! I genuinely enjoy the dating process, I figure I can always learn something from somebody. It's a way to engage in a bigger pool, cast a wider net. For the people who still stigmatize these things: Fire it up! Get your thumb ready, swipe right, see what's going on. You could be a success story like us!