J’aime Tinder! A Dating Experiment in Paris

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Photo: Shutterstock; Tinder

What I gather from professional Tinder-ellas like my sister — who met Mister Right through a Mister right-swipe — is that Tinder is a lot like Alcoholics Anonymous: Keep coming back; it works if you work it. So I brought this motto on a two-week work trip to Europe because (1) I am newly single, and (2) I love European men. The plan was, in between all the eating, partying, writing, and flying — I would attempt to Tinder myself to death (or, at least, to one real date).

Things didn’t pan out in London, where I had to swipe 70 times before finding anyone worth the hangover. And I won’t even tell you about Puglia, where 300 guys named Marco shared pictures of their mammas and their privates. (To be fair, I suspect this inventory was tourists from other parts; as Puglian men IRL are lovely and refined.) This leads me to Paris, where, from a massive bathtub at Hôtel du Petit Moulin in upper Marais, I unexpectedly entered the electric zoo that is Tinder in Paris. Oh mon Dieu: Tinder was on fire in Paree!

I am not exaggerating when I say I matched with (almost) every single guy I swiped. And I am not some online-supermodel-goddess; I am 36 and looking for something serious, and pretty clear about that in my self-description. And still!? This meant one of two things: Parisians were as romantic and love-hungry as we want them to be. OR, these French man-whores were swiping YES to everyone, insuring their chances of hooking up. Either way, they were in it to win it, and I, for one, adored the attention.  

The first guy I met face-to-face, Sebastian, had the tagline: “Happiness is only real when shared.” (Cheesy, but, come on, isn’t that why we’re all here?) He suggested we meet at La Favorite — a rip-off of Keith McNally’s Schiller’s (which I once dared to ask McNally about). Looks-wise, Sebastian was like a sexy chipmunk. He was an engineer, very nice, rather vanilla. He said all his French friends were on Tinder for one reason: "to meet unique people.” He emphasized the open-mindedness of the French, and how an app like Tinder complements their intrinsic desire to have a wide range of friends … and maybe — but not necessarily — lovers. Enlightening. We split the bill, and I went looking for steak frites alone.

The next day, I met Julián Medina, an earthy Orlando Bloom look-alike, at the hip, if passé, Derrière. Julian, who I assumed would be French, turned out to be a Colombian restaurant owner that had won a big contest that sent him around the world. He was such a soulful, beautiful person that I fell in love with him instantly — as a friend. Us two random, romantic wanderers never would have met if it weren’t for Tinder … and for that, I’m thankful. (Solo travelers, take note!)  

On my last day in Paris, an un-tucked, overworked French entrepreneur named Pierre sailed into my hotel lobby via Tinder. He was handsome and cool, and I didn’t at all regret opening the bottle of blanc de blanc that I’d been dragging around the world. Pierre had a daughter living in Belgium, and a business just taking off. There was no way our lives could or would ever mesh, but by all standards, it was a great date. I told him about all the Frenchies inviting me on bike rides along the Seine, and picnics in Jardin des Tuileries, and that despite the stereotype that the French are classy nymphos, I found Parisians to be devoted, in a pure and gracious way, to the old-fashioned art of dating.   

In the end, the Parisian Tindeur were outgoing, eager, and sweet. Before escaping to Europe, I experienced two weeks of Tinder in New York (so I am no expert), but it was much more laborious. Everyone (myself included) was so busy and distracted. The two guys I had dates with were terrific, but 20 maybes got lost along the way. According to my full-time-Tindering New York friends, the way it goes is this: You match, you exhibit how witty and busy you are, you Google each other, you Facebook each other, you tell your shrink/mother/ex about this maybe-whatever broke-and-broken prospect from Prospect Heights … and ultimately, you never, ever, ever meet up. Agh!  

All this info made the effortless, abundant encounters in Paris all the more precious. Tinder was an entirely positive experience in la Ville LumièrePierre, the French businessman, made me blush and kissed me good-bye; but not before, in that perfectly blunt French way, telling me to get over myself. He said French guys indeed swipe right to EVERYONE … but (hurrah) only engage with girls they’re into.  

I sort of suspected that, but whatever. I will always think love is alive in Paris … and not only at Derrière.