Tinder, the popular dating app arguably responsible for the “dating apocalypse,” rolled out a feature last week allowing users to arrange group dates. Now users can set up a group with their friends via Tinder Social and let other nearby users know they’re single and ready to mingle.
I tried it out. What resulted was an unmitigated disaster.
It all started on Saturday when my housemate Brielle suggested we test out the app’s brand-new feature.
“Yo! Re-download your Tinder app so I can set up a group date with the three of us and a few other guys for tonight!” she barked at me up the stairs. A minute later, after conscripting another housemate into her scheme, she bounded into my room, pounced onto the bed, grabbed my phone, and started messing with the settings in the app.
“Quick! Stop what you’re doing! Hurry — we have to find men before our group expires!” she yelled into my ear after thrusting the phone back into my hands. I frantically swiped left and right, matching with and rejecting clusters of men as their profile photos flashed across my screen.
The next hour was total chaos in the house. The three of us took turns screaming at each other whenever one of us swiped right on an undesirable group, resulting in a match and sometimes an influx of messages we would never return.
Our different tastes in men influenced the app’s settings. As the youngest resident of the house, I was bringing down the average age of the guys we were matched with, which irritated my companions. My less-selective approach also irked them — admittedly, I was in this for the story at the end of the night. I wasn’t looking for Prince Charming.
The confusion I’m describing among the three of us is a problem the app needs to fix. There’s no way for a group to make an executive decision about who to select and reject. Any one of us could swipe right on a group of men the others didn’t like. What resulted was a mixed batch of matches, some of whom were better than others.
A flurry of messages flooded all three of our inboxes from men who wanted to know where we were headed for the evening. We settled on a beer garden in a fun part of Washington DC around 11 o’clock.
I Walked Into a Category 4 Textastrophe
Before meeting up with my gal pals that night, I stopped by a co-worker’s Christmas in July party (where I had too many Solo cups of sangria), followed by another gathering (where I had too much prosecco, which I washed down with a Bud Light). I was arguably a bit sloshed at this point in the evening, when my phone started buzzing like a bee hive with frantic messages from my housemates in a group text thread.
“911” Brielle’s text read.
“Bre these men are here and looking for us at the bar,” my other housemate chimed in via iMessage. “This is hell.”
“Bre we are ignoring them.”
“Get your ass here.”
“It’s the ones we don’t wanna hangout [with].”
“We are gonna text the others.”
A minute later, I received another message from Brielle in what I thought was the same group thread she had texted me from a minute earlier. I responded, asking her what was so bad about the guys they were avoiding at the bar.
This is what happened:
By the time I arrived at the bar a few minutes later, I had realized my mistake. What I thought was a group thread with my housemates turned out to actually be new, a separate group thread with our dates. I was walking into a category four “textastrophe.”
My compadres frantically waved me over and explained that two groups of men had shown up to meet us. The first group was bad news — one guy wore a pair of pants with stars printed all over them — and they both awkwardly lurked around, too afraid to approach either of my friends in a straightforward manner. This first group had spurred my roommates’ frantic “911” texts.
The second group — about whose physicality I had accidentally inquired just moments before — was an acceptable bunch. They were apparently standing a few yards away and awaiting my apology.
“Those are the guys!” they exclaimed in unison, pointing in the general direction of a sea of men. “Apologize quickly for asking if they were ugly!”
I tapped a tall, dark-haired 20-something on the arm. After introducing myself, I quickly added: “I’m so, so so sorry about that mixup earlier!”
The confused expressions on their faces told me I was talking to the wrong guys. The men I was supposed to approach were standing just behind me, laughing hysterically at my second mistake of the night.
These guys — Short Stuff, Blue Eyes, and Tim (not their real names) — seemed nice enough. Short Stuff smirked as I apologized profusely and seemed to enjoy prolonging my embarrassment, making statements like “Tell us what you’re sorry for” and “Tell us again and then we’ll forgive you.”
A minute later, the six of us were all joined up with drinks in hand. After brief introductions, we all paired up rather quickly. My date for the next 15 minutes was Tim, a lawyer who grew up in West Virginia. He was cute, polite, and a good conversationalist.
Somehow, The Night Got Worse
But the group date met an abrupt end after Short Stuff, the sadistic apology prolonger, told one of my housemates that despite being “super hot and all” she held “unattractive” political views. Anyone who’s dated in the District knows nothing will drive a wedge between two people on a date faster than a conversation about politics, and no amount of help from a dating app can fix that.
The next day, all the matches and messages in our Tinder Group disappeared within the app — along with any desire to try it again. After recapping the events from the night before with my housemates, we realized our recollections were clouded with confusion.
Which one of us had matched with the first group, whose member had donned star-spangled pants? Who matched with the second group? Did one of us tell them to meet us there? Was it a coincidence we were both at the same bar and at the same time? The answers weren’t clear.
A problem with Tinder Social is that you can’t tell which member of your own group is matching with members of another group. With all the various group chats within the app going on simultaneously, it’s easy to accidentally double-book yourself without realizing it. While the app isn’t entirely to blame for our hilariously awful experience, it is set up in a way that can easily get out of hand or become too confusing to keep track of what’s going on, or who is supposed to meet who, where, and at what time.
For a generation that’s known to be awful at logistics, Tinder Social isn’t helpful. For what it’s worth, however, we didn’t get stood up — which is something to be said for millennial men, who are as a group notoriously flaky.
While it ended up being more trouble than it’s worth (none of us found a guy we’d go out with on a second date), the shared experience of a date gone wrong was a memorable night that we can’t recall without laughing. As it turns out, bad dates are better when shared with friends.