Origin stories are important. The recent rush of superhero movies — all of which I refuse to watch with a ferocious, possibly misplaced passion — have shown that people are most curious about the start. Like Don Draper in Mad Men, we "only like the beginning of things". We live in a wild age.
When Harry Met Sally would have been a much different film had it occurred in the Tinder age: When Harry Matched With Sally, then went to a pub with Sally, had sex with Sally, and kept having sex with Sally until they had a mortgage together, repeat to fade, reports news.com.au.
This modern mentality is my main problem with Tinder, and why I have never used the app in order to increase my chances of meeting and falling in love with my perfect Sally. For me, it's about the origin story.
"We matched on Tinder" is a common tale these days, and is as boring and unromantic as an origin story can get. It has largely replaced meeting at a bar, or through friends, but at least those tired tales have nuances and details that involve colliding and then slowly or suddenly falling for someone in a real world setting. You know nothing about each other, then you know a little bit, then everything. That's romantic.
I have only ever been set up on a (somewhat) blind date once in my life — and fairly recently too. I went to the Portuguese Festival in Petersham, in Sydney's inner west, a tradition a dozen friends and I have kept up for close to a decade, based largely on the fact that two of them happen to live in an apartment overlooking the entire thing.
After a drink or six, I was bemoaning the fact that I wanted to properly fall in proper, proper love, not just sleep with girls I met and share an attraction with — but actually, factually fall in love.
My friend Jess sneakily took a photo of me (in shorts!), sent it to her single friend with a "wanna date this dude?" type text, and promptly set me up with someone else who shared the same archaic, romantic wish to avoid Tinder and the trail of one-night stands that being single in a big city offers up as love.
It didn't work, and fizzled out after a few dates. (In retrospect, the first warning sign this might not be true love was having to frantically message my friend Steph 10 minutes before the date to sheepishly ask how to pronounce her name, which I had only read in text message form; turns out it rhymes with Dave.)
Despite this, the idea of such a random set-up possibly turning into true blue love excited me. I felt alive. I felt like modern dating could work for me after all.
I considered jumping in and joining Tinder, thinking maybe I could spin an app set up mostly for one night stands and endless swipeable options (right?) into a romantic meet-cute worthy of, if not a Hollywood blockbuster, at least a straight-to-video movie.
In the end, I baulked for a few reasons. I didn't want to be judged based on my photogenic qualities first and foremost (this is my not my strong suit) nor did I want to write a profile that relied solely on my own assessment of myself, which, as numerous friends who have tried to drag me out of slumps over the years can tiredly attest to, is flawed and modest at best.
I also hated the idea of someone I knew IRL seeing me on Tinder, a situation I thought would be akin to spotting one of your school teachers at the shops on the weekend in civvies. I also hated the public declaration I was making by being on Tinder: that I was lonely and single and hoping to meet someone to sleep with or love or do something in between.
My main issue, however, was the sense of defeat I felt that Tinder represented — that I had given up on my meet-cute, on the chance collision that would spark my heart and see me fall madly in love. I hated that my origin story would be like so many others: "met on Tinder". Tinder is too stupid a word to have to repeat for the next half-century to aunts and co-workers and parents at my future kids' schools.
Maybe I was very wrong though, I quietly thought. I have friends who have met the loves of their lives on Tinder, and they seem extremely happy. I heard the origin story once, and then never again, as they quickly became couples who were in love, not Tinder dates.
Each time I met someone giddily in love from a chance Tinder meeting, I thought more about how I was probably wrong to dismiss this massive opportunity for love, but in the same thought also doubled down on the idea that I was right to avoid this minefield and wait for the exciting, romantic origin story of me and my true love to unfold.
As it happens, I met my true love in the thoroughly unromantic kitchen at my old workplace. I introduced myself to the new girl at work, she smiled and said something polite, and I fell in love. Instantly.
Sometimes, origin stories don't need to be complicated. Sometimes, they just happen, despite your best efforts to engineer them. Sometimes, the start doesn't matter at all. After all, the beginning of things is only the beginning of things.