Hello world! I'm Sarah, and this handsome guy next to me is my coworker Matt. While he's super single, I've been in a great relationship for a year now — yes, I'm bragging.
Matt figured I must know a thing or two about love and decided to let me takeover his Grindr for five days. Also, I'm just super curious about the app.
Matt: I thought that giving Sarah my Grindr would open up both our worlds: she'd get to see what that strange underbelly is like and she might chat some guys I normally wouldn't. The one thing I could count on was that there'd be some new messages in my Grindr history that weren't started by me going, "Hey there handsome :)" Oy.
Sarah: My knowledge of how Grindr works is as extensive as my actual real-life experience with peen — not a whole lot. It seems like the app has its own language, rules, and customs. I was especially curious because dating apps that queer women use are nothing like Grindr! Can you imagine if a girl just sent me a shot of her chest and was like, "Hey, looking for melons?" Women aren't usually that sexually forward, so it's a pretty foreign concept to me.
I'd heard about Grindr's “tribes” — if they’re anything like Hogwarts houses, I should be good to go.
Matt broke down the different groups and informed me I was probably a mix between a 'twink' and a hunk. I told Matt he was 'clean-cut' and I was on point.
Then I realized I had no clue what Matt was looking for, so I asked him: do you want hookups or a date?
A date it is! But first, we had to establish The Rules:
1. For five days, I must use Grindr and respond to all messages.
2. I must respond as Matt when engaging in conversation.
3. I must do my best imitation of what I think Matt would say.
4. Use provided photos of Matt when needed. (Yikes.)
5. Matt will not give me advice on how to respond, but will answer questions concerning the app.
6. Don't set Matt up for disaster. (Maybe a little bit.)
And so it began. Everyone has shirtless pics of their coworkers, yes?
Matt: Thank you, Sarah. I only feel comfortable publishing these screenshots because I have been near-naked on BuzzFeed before.
Day 1: In which I officially go behind enemy lines.
Sarah: Matt had equipped me with some photos of himself and set me loose. I was terrified. On the first day I was way too overwhelmed to message anyone or respond to anyone's message. I was already breaking the first rule. To make matters worse, the very first message that popped into my inbox was someone asking if I liked daddy dick. Do I? I hadn't ever really thought about it.
I scrambled, while having a massive coronary, to exit the message before the photo loaded. Thankfully, it wasn't a dick pic. I lived to see another day, but I did send Matt a screenshot and whined like a small child. I was already feeling uneasy about being on the app and the barrage of dudes asking me questions I didn't have answers for was overwhelming. Am I into experimenting with older? AM I?
Sheepishly, I barely touched the app for the rest of the day.
Matt: Despite Sir Daddy Dick's proposition, I'm not surprised by Sarah's trepidation because I was the same when I first started Grindr! It's a really strange place that takes some getting used to. Much of Grindr is just about the transaction and you have to be really active about it. You sort of have to throw all your preconceived notions about casual sex out the door. There's no longing stares across the bar or flirty winks at cafés. Just plain ol' "looking?"
Day Two: In which I start to get my hands dirty.
Sarah: I did respond to a few messages I had received overnight in my best "Matt Ortile" style. At one point I thought I had a pretty solid conversation going. My confidence at an all-time high, I sent a screenshot to Matt. He quickly informed me I was chatting away with a bot. Looking back, that makes sense, since whoever I was chatting with really wouldn't quit talking about his gym shorts.
I realized maybe I needed to have more of a tutorial. I had Matt sit down and explain a few things, like, "Why are people saying I'm a field researcher?"* I needed guidance and wasn't afraid to admit it.
Matt: *My bio on Grindr says, "oh, you know, doing field research." It's actually led to some cute convos. The way people open a chat is very telling, so if they riff on that bit of my bio, I can tell they might actually be down to talk or have a drink.
Day Three: In which I learn dating struggles are universal.
Sarah: Now that I know how to tell a real person from a bot and no longer feel weird about having a swath of naked man chest on my phone screen, I struggle to get an actual conversation going. Even if dudes are way more forward on Grindr, it's clearly a universal struggle to get past the "hey" stage of things. I find myself getting sort of insulted if conversations don't go anywhere, even though it isn't anything against me.
I try different tactics and see what works. Funny and coy? Aggressive and forward? Reminding myself that I'm THE Matt Ortile, not myself, boosts my confidence. Who cares what I say? There is no wrong answer — just get the people talking.
I changed Matt's profile picture to a classy B&W number hoping to get some more serious takers.
Matt: People often write "losing messages" on their profiles on Grindr, claiming that the app is dropping conversations which is why they may not reply to you. It's a fair disclaimer, but also a convenient one. "Sorry! Not gonna reply because you're not my type!" is a rough thing to say on any sex/dating app. And so we end up with radio silence: a universally acknowledged and polite-ish 'no thank you.'
Day Four: In which I learn that like most bad things, dick pics come in threes.
Sarah: I can remember it like it was yesterday, because it was today: sitting on the train and trying not to let the person next to me see my screen as I opened up a new message.
PRAISE, the dick pics finally happened. I was dreading the moment so much it was actually sort of a relief when they popped up. Is there a golden rule of threes when it comes to dick pics? I didn't respond to his offerings, but silently considered the confidence it must take to send a stranger a nude of yourself. Like... I could never? Good for you, sir. But also, no thanks.
Matt: The one thing I have to say about dick pics is that sometimes it's not even theirs. I was with a friend who once sent a dick pic to a guy over Grindr, but the dick in question wasn't his! He sent it just to appease the thirsty, he said. He thought it was harmless, but I'd feel pretty awful if I wound up getting a dick pic that was actually my own. If you learn one thing from this post, gang, let it be this: Trust no dick pic.
Day Five: In which I find true love for Matt.
Sarah: I finally was able to hold a conversation that lasted throughout an entire day. We chatted about work, weekend plans, and outside hobbies. He was the total package. I felt a pang of guilt about not ~ really ~ being Matt, but I was also excited that I had actually gotten though to someone.
At the end of the work week I had procured one date for Matt and viewed exactly six dick pics with my own eyes. I felt reborn.
Matt: I'm glad Sarah got to play around as a decent-looking Filipino boy on Grindr for a bit, although it turns out we didn't see eye-to-eye with her pick and I never met up with the chosen one ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Sorry, no wedding bells this time.
Once, a guy on the app asked "what's your background?" When Sarah asked me if I was fully Pinoy, then told the guy, the guy replied, "That's hot." -1 for a possible fetish, +1 for being well-intentioned? It's just a weird world out there that's still worth exploring if you've got a 30 minutes to kill. But otherwise, I don't terribly miss Grindr. I'll stick to Twitter for now.
Sarah: Grindr is a lot about dicks, but if you dig past them there's real heart there. I feel like if I was a gay dude I would absolutely use it, if not for date-hunting then for at least for entertainment? It also made me feel silly for stressing out so much back when I was single and using dating apps. Why wait for the other person to message you? Who cares what you say? "The One" might be passing you by if you don't reach out.
I would say to any queer women out there hustling that dating app life: Take a page out of Grindr's book and be a little more aggressive and don't be afraid to go big! LIFE IS FRAGILE AND FLEETING, SEND NUDES.
No, maybe don't do that. But you should put yourself out there, because you just never know. And Grindr Guys? Maybe at least strike up a conversation before you send the dick pic — it's just good manners.