Monday, January 16, 2017

Tinder is the Night: Online Dating on Vanilla Sites

Occasionally “full-open” swingers who have experienced the challenges of finding a four-way connection with other couples consider the option of dating in the Vanilla world. For those who decide to use Tinder and/or some of its more demographically-targeted online dating cousins, here are some beginner’s pointers:

Setting Up Your Profile

Facebook Account: Most online dating apps require you to have one. Depending on how “out” you are about non-monogamy, you can either use your regular Facebook account or create a separate one purely for online dating. If you do use your regular Facebook account, be aware that online dating apps like Tinder will populate with pictures and data from this page. So, consider creating a separate online dating Facebook account, if you do not want your dating profile to list such details as your employer, college alma mater or to populate with your kids’ pictures.

***Pro Tip: if you do have a vanilla and an LS or online dating Facebook account, make sure each account “blocks” the other. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the awkward position of having your “underground” Facebook account send friend suggestions to all your friends from your vanilla Facebook account. To Disclose or Not to Disclose: Assuming you have the core swinger value of honesty, the reason for not emphasizing open marriage and “looking for lovers,”  however you phrase this -- “fwb,” “hookups,” “martini lunches”-- in your profile, is no doubt privacy. It is a distinct possibility that people you know, who are single and on the app, will see and recognize your pictures (unless you use misleading or inaccurate pictures, which I do NOT recommend). If you want to default to plausible deniability (“Somebody must have stolen these pictures”), then it is probably best not to say anything about your relationship status in your profile. However, assuming you do not want to mislead the people you engage online, I recommend getting the “reveal” out of the way early on in the chat cycle.

Difference in Male and Female Experience: Unless the male half of the couple is dating men, if he explicitly states that he is online purely to look for lovers; expect the female half of the couple to get a lot more “incoming” than the man. Although there are plenty of exceptions to this rule, the entire swinger community being one of them, on average there are far more men than women looking for NSA (no strings attached) sex. Not only that, men, on average, cast a far wider net than women when it comes to initiating contact with the opposite sex.

Add-ons: If you are an extremely good looking man, or an average-good looking woman, it can be worth your time to try add-ons. The only one I personally know about and use is Flame, which lets you know who likes you first on Tinder; thereby optimizing the time you spend on this app.

Settings: Usually allows you to pick age range, geographic distance, and whether you are looking for men, women or friends. Unfortunately, there are no other filters that would allow you to select for other qualities: on either of the apps I have tried - Tinder or Bumble.

Upscale or “Downscale” App: In my city, Tinder has the reputation of being the more downscale app and Bumble the more “upscale” app. I have found good matches -- and seen plenty of profiles that I had zero desire to contact -- on both apps. Bumble has fewer, on average, better looking people on it, people tend to post their education and their employer (or industry) and the pictures tend to be better quality. The greater number of better looking people and educated professionals would be the main reason to try Bumble. I see very little value-add in the fact that women have to initiate first contact on Bumble, or that a match expires within 24 hours, if the woman does not initiate contact. That just feels like a gimmick. Maybe this is because I am a swinger and I like it when men or women, I have liked, initiate contact with me. The problem with Bumble is that, while higher-quality, you may run out of options more quickly because it doesn’t have the volume of users Tinder does.

Profile: I would encourage you to write down a few things for two reasons. Not doing so says you really didn’t invest any time or thought into setting up your profile. Also, when you do jot down something for your profile, it gives the random stranger who wants to initiate a chat with you something, besides your picture, with which to establish a connection.

What to Expect

Radio Silence or Stalled Chat: Even though you may mutually like each other's pictures, be prepared for a lot of these matches to go nowhere, disappear or die on the vine. See above about people (especially men) who cast a wide net.

Uncomprehending Vanillas: As a woman, it came as a surprise to me how many single men and bi-women could not process the open-marriage, non-monogamy piece. Many male and female dating profiles explicitly state: “No Married Women,” “No Polyamorists,” “No Hook Ups.” The fact that people feel the need to intentionally deflect this “risk” makes you wonder how many non-monogamists there are out there. Unless you are tormented by the Imp of the Perverse, you will avoid all profiles that also state they are “Looking for The One” or state “Good Christian Values”...which leads me to my next point.

Religious Conflicts: As a woman you can conceivably compete with another woman. The entity you cannot compete with is JC, as in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Not all people announce their religious beliefs on their profile or in chat. This may lead to meeting them in person and hearing some of their interesting circular logic first hand. They are ok with fornication, but not “adultery,” or they need “28 dates” before they can have sex with you. For the swinger, this may be more like “28 minutes,” counting each minute as a “date.” Regardless, unless religious debate is a big turn on for you, the fact you are a swinger probably means you want to explore greener pastures.

Flakes: Self-explanatory. Some of these in the Swinger world too.

False Advertising on the Pictures: Since their ultimate objective is to meet you in person and to have sex with you, you have to wonder at this short-sighted strategy. Be careful about building up a fantasy in your head based on a great picture or two. Ask for more pictures and realize that pictures can be misleading. This is why I recommend meeting for the first time in a low-stakes place like a coffee shop, where you can make a quick getaway if you have been misled on their appearance and they have no other redeeming qualities. Even if they do, deception on the pictures is a nail in the coffin for most.

Interview with a Vampire: No matter how hot you are, there will still be those dates or thwarted dates where you will be attracted to the other person, they may be physically attracted to you, but it’s not going to work. This usually happens with narcissistic individuals who are looking for an “object” to add to their collection. This individual claims he has never polluted his sacred bodily fluids by having sex with a less than beautiful woman. Not only that, he's a veritable Don Juan Tenorio. He has never met a desirable woman he can't seduce. However...If you happen to possess any opinions or question theirs, this automatically disqualifies you from the role of passive admirer, who will listen to their anecdotes with rapt attention. If this wasn’t enough, your swinger status will make you far too experienced for them to “teach” you about sex. These people are looking for an ingenue à la the classic (and almost never watched by most people under the age of fifty) late seventies soft porn “Emmanuelle.”

Yours Truly has learned to stop telling people she is a writer. Tinder flirting is like a light-hearted butterfly. Show them your actual writing or blog and you may as well have shown them your dead butterfly collection...and your kill jar. No matter how much you try to reassure them, they may be terrified that they will wind up in “your collection,” which is ironic because they may have initiated the date with intention of “collecting” you. Most will run.

Cheaters: Most cheaters are actually are decent or pragmatic enough to announce their cheating one way or another in their profile. Like the religious zealots they will have their own justifications. Not really worth engaging that debate. You aren’t there to judge them, but simply adhere to your own moral code.

Too Close to Home, Work or Vanilla Life: Can be a surprise when you meet in person and learn that you are more closely connected with your online date than you realized. Can either be a turn-on or impractical, depending on the situation.

Reasons to Actually Try This

Convenience of Internet dating. Part of the vetting happens online. Nobody’s feelings have to get hurt. If you get bored of the small talk in chat or decide you don’t like them, unmatch and you’ll never interact with them again. If you are full-open swingers, who are comfortable playing at separate times and venues, this opens up a much broader world of possibilities. You can be as picky as you want and try as many different options as you want. Unlike the swinger world, where feelings are mostly off the table, you can find people in vanilla online dating, who are open to this.

Mostly online dating opens up a broader world of possibilities, even if very few pan out to be long-term or even repeat lovers. Not all people will be a physical match. Even if you don’t go into this looking to make friends or network, this can be an inadvertent side-benefit. If you live in a big city, the online vanilla dating world is a buffet, an opportunity to try out a lot of different options, in a low-stakes, fairly efficient way.

If you are a swinger couple who needs a four-way match and same-room play only, online dating is not for you. If you have been single for a large part of your life, online dating will not be as interesting for you, either. However, for the portion of the swinger community that has been in a long-term monogamous relationship and whose social life may have centered around family activities for the most recent part of their life, this is a way to experiment with different types of connections and interactions with people as well as get some of the dating experience you may have lacked (if you got married early) or simply miss.

***Pro Tip.  Safety for Women: While going to bed with a hot stranger you have never met before can be a turn on, it is also risky behavior. If you meet in a hotel, make sure you have drinks in the bar, where people can you see first. Before agreeing to this, it’s best to ask for a link to their real name and picture on a public domain like Linked In. Then, before going to the hotel room, make sure you have texted a picture either from the person’s online dating profile or public domain website, to your partner or a good friend. Then text them the name of the hotel and number of the room you are going to (or the street address of your date’s condo or house). Tell this person that you will get back to them in a specified amount of time, and if you don’t, they should come check on you. Tell your date that you have done this. Do NOT feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. If your date does not respect your right to ensure your own security, they are not worth the risk.

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