My Summer of Tinder Enlightenment
Summer is coming to an end, and here in France the past week has been all about la rentrée. Meaning: kids going back to school, parents going back to work, the rhythm of “normal” life is being reinstated.
To give you a resumé of my Summer: I have done a lot of work.
This may give you an image of me sitting behind my laptop all day, not being able to enjoy the sun and holiday vibes that this area just oozes out in Summertime. Let me reassure you, I have spent more hours in the sun than behind my computer.
At this point it’s probably also good to explain my definition of “work”, before I go into further detail.
To me, my work consists of learning life lessons.
When I say “learning life lessons” I mean in any way I can. Sitting still and meditating gets me a long way, but I also feel the need to test my own theories. If I mentally conclude something about life, does it work like that in practice? Or if I think I have learned something about myself — such as how I react in certain situations — does it always work out that way? Trial and error. For as long as I live.
Why? Well, if you’ve read more of my stuff, you may already know the answer: to grow, to have my Soul learn, and — through me — have the Source of us all (call it Universe, God, Consciousness, Spirit,…) grow and expand as well. WORK is how I make the world a more compassionate place. Through the learning of my life lessons and then passing those forward to whomever needs it — may they be clients, friends, family members, or… With regards to my coaching clients, that is the only moment where my work meets the societal norm, because I earn money with it.
Okay, now that’s clear, what DID I do? I went on Tinder (yup, THE app) dates. Quite a few of them.
You now understand why I prepared your mind(set) about what work means to me. Adding “work” and “Tinder dates” could also imply something else. Which it wasn’t, just to be clear.
Also, I am not trying to shock you.
My point is that we label many elements in our lives in such a way that they become limiting.
My Tinder experiences have taught me so much about love, relationships, and human interactions that I could write a book about it (and I just might). Because, in my view, I’ve turned Tinder into a magical experience. I’ve met the gentlest of men, I’ve been on dates that are movie worthy… We tend to judge these kind of app-induced-encounters badly, but all is not lost on account of my experiences. There are still amazing people to be discovered through a seemingly superficial application…for me, it’s a kind of magic.
It was still work, though. I had to find a way to surpass the initial superficiality of this application. To look beyond the sometimes crazy photos, with compassion, and realize someone actually made an effort to upload those. To see the lack of a description and guess this guy either couldn’t be bothered to add more to his one, already fuzzy, profile photo or felt shy to share more. To come across a description that includes a list of what the man in question does NOT want to attract, to feel constricted by it already, and also sense that he thinks he can control his attraction.
No judgment, I literally asked them.
My online conversations with these men often resulted in an exchange of why we were on Tinder in the first place. What we were looking for, and — if I felt brave enough to ask — what his experiences with other women were. The stories I’ve heard were amazing. Those I will not describe, of course, because they are not mine to share. In any case, they were mirrors for my own behavior. The ugly truths that I didn’t want to see, reminded me of past behaviors of my own. Recognizing that, instead of trying to bury it, helped me love and embrace myself more.
Again, I realize this may raise some questions with you, my dear reader. Is this the kind of behavior a life coach should display? Let alone write about? Wasn’t I just trying to get some manly attention? Couldn’t I have ended up at a date gone (really) bad?
Yes to all of that, and no too.
I’ve asked all those questions, and more, myself. I went through many moments of doubt and hesitation. And I regularly checked in with my gut feeling whether I still felt safe. Which sometimes led me to simply call off a date. Because, as one of my life lessons taught me: if it feels like a “no”, trying to rationalize a “yes” will only get me into trouble.
Like I said, we tend to limit ourselves by labeling the elements in our lives. Tinder has a different meaning for different people: some will use the app to find the love of their lives, some are looking for a one-night stand, some are looking for a several-night stand, some are looking for friendship (many, actually!), and some are against the whole thing. I can relate to all of these meanings, I’ve even held a grudge against Tinder for a while (like that’s gonna help), and I utilized the application while experiencing all of them. I consciously went through the whole scala of emotions, triggers, and realizations. They’ve put some of my forgotten behaviors and thoughts under a spot light. For the purposes of rediscovery, forgiveness, and letting go.
Knowing that Tinder brings out different things for every user, this is what I would like to pay forward to you: you get out of it, what you put into it.
Just like with everything else in life, however you perceive the application is exactly what it will end up being for you. So if you intend to find someone special through Tinder, please RELAX. They will show up on your screen as soon as you stop being frantic and give them room to appear — both figuratively and literally. If you are there for the fun of it, please PLAY. Explore your limits! Whilst being in check with your gut feeling at all times, though. Don’t rationalize a pretty face that doesn’t feel right. Swipe left because, trust me, there’ll always be another one…
If anything, these experiences show that being a life coach doesn’t make me a guru.
I have my stumbling blocks, triggers and pitfalls just like everyone else. Being a life coach does imply, however, that I utilize my own life lessons for the benefit of my clients. How can I help you if I have never been close to what you are going through? My own experiences make me a compassionate and empathic human being, and a better coach for it. Which is why I call these experiences my WORK.
There. For now, my work is done.
[The original version of this post can be found on Medium.com]