I committed to Wellesley College with a resolve to take my dating life online. As a straightish first year, the school’s mostly female romantic landscape left me with few alternatives. So, encouraged by an overly supportive friend from my orientation group, I created my Tinder profile.
Julian caught my attention almost immediately. In every way possible, he met my expectations for a college sweetheart. He was 6’2, Irish, and his bio boasted the tagline, “Message me, and we can wait for Godot together.” Needless to say, I superliked him.
Our first conversation revealed a rabbit hole of shared interests. He adored theatre and philosophy and small, overpriced coffee shops. Over the course of a month, we messaged one another every day. When we finally decided to meet in person, I braced myself for love.
That didn’t happen, of course, though in every way it should have. Our first date at the Museum of Fine Arts remains one of my most memorable romantic encounters. He was even more attractive than his profile let on — dressed in a navy button-up, brogues and a peacoat adorned with a 1984 pin — and our conversation flowed from our introduction onward. We talked for hours, reveling in our mutual passions for absurdist theater, writing and art history. When I realized that I missed the Senate bus back to campus, he asked me to join him for dinner. Taking my hand in his, we wandered down Newbury Street until we found an outdoor restaurant with café lights and halfway melted candles.
Afterward, he walked me to Marlborough Market. There, waiting in the cold, he cupped my face with his hands and asked if he could kiss me. The kiss was soft and comfortable, and every ounce of me wanted to believe that this moment would turn into something everlasting.
We continued to text and call every day, but my interest tired when I realized that his commitment to existentialism surpassed his literary musings. After too many discussions on the meaning of life and love, his seemingly unending intellect began to bore me. That boredom begot my reproachful tendencies.
I soon realized that he was late for every date, no matter the traffic or time of day. He insisted on explaining Tom Stoppard’s genius to me, even though I had played Guildenstern in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” a year prior. I began to feel that our intellectual compatibility bred a kind of competitiveness that I would inevitably resent.
Just as I was deciding to cut things off with my match made in Tinder, I met Joseph. He was the antithesis of Julian. As a 5’8″ jock and football fanatic from Minnesota who would be graduating from Babson that year with a concentration in Accounting and Finance, Joseph epitomized everything that I did not want in a partner. Luckily for him, I did not know these things when we locked eyes at a party. My intoxicated-self, taken by his dark hair and broad shoulders, decided that I could not leave without talking to him. Eventually, I weaseled my way into a conversation with Joseph and his suitemate. I used my friend, another Wellesley student who was puking in their bathroom, as an excuse to spend the night. “She can’t get in an Uber,” I explained.
After Joseph and I guided her to an air mattress, we stayed up for most of the night talking about nothing in particular. He asked me about my favorite TV shows and bands. I begrudgingly asked him about football. When he found out that I was an English major, he laughed and said, “Oh. I don’t read.”
Despite all of the reasons not to pursue Joseph instead of Julian, I did. I fell in love with everything that a Tinder profile leaves out: an infectious, belly-rooted laugh; a willingness to bring me hot chocolate in bed with a pinch of cinnamon mixed in; the way he holds me in the shower as if I’ll melt down the drain if he doesn’t.
Had I encountered Joseph on a dating app, I would have swiped left. And, as much as I appreciated my time with Julian, that romantic venture did not belong offline. While I understand that Tinder, Bumble and other such sites can result in lifelong partnerships, their “swipe right, swipe left” interface breeds a culture of selectivity that could have, under different circumstances, cost me my best friend.
I am editing this article from Joseph’s apartment in Southie. His hand is on my knee, and his eyes are on the Timberwolves game. Earlier today he marveled at the fact that we have been dating for nearly two and a half years. He’s not what I expected or what I was looking for, but I’m so glad he’s mine.