How a terrible Tinder date motivated me to apply to university | #tinder | #pof

Can Tinder be a force for good?Illustration by the Author

Has anything good ever come from Tinder?

It’s a fair question. I’ve received many things from Tinder in my time: numerous unsolicited dick pics, an uncomfortable date with a guy who had a fetish for candles being inserted in places best not mentioned, and a couple of less than desirable chat up lines (my name lends itself to “I like you a Lotte” with remarkable ease to the unimaginative mind).

Needless to say, one too many late-onset realisations of ”that’s-how-I-know-you” in my small hometown has led to numerous “red zones” – let’s just say that Pret, my favourite Japanese restaurant, and the Costa Coffee in town, are now all strictly out-of-bounds because of various unfortunate “swipes right” from years gone by.

While Tinder may have ruined my hometown for me, one fateful Tinder date in early 2019 changed my life in a way that was most unexpected.

I’d been talking to this guy on Tinder: tall, nerdy, and surprisingly arrogant. 19-year-old me thought he was “the dog’s bollocks”, little did I know our first date would turn out simply to be: bollocks.

At the time I was at Dance College and, at first, the prospect of dating someone who was flexible enough to get their leg behind their head seemed to appeal to my date. However, as the night wore on, and our empty beer bottles multiplied, his true feelings about my career choices became crystal clear. I began politely asking him about his life. “Do you work? Are you a student?” Boastfully he told me he went to either Cambridge or Oxford University – forgive me, my memory forgets which. For the sake of this article, let’s use the much-despised abbreviation: Oxbridge. Warning bells started to ring in my head upon hearing the obvious brag, but cautious to give him a second chance (see: single, single, single), I answered politely “I once vaguely thought about applying myself.” Note, when I say “vaguely thought”, I mean considered briefly in passing – I was just trying to make conversation. But this flippant comment well and truly set my date off on a tangent.

“No offence, darling,” he slurred in a way that implied he was readying himself to thoroughly offend me.

“But I don’t think someone like you – a dancer and a part-time waitress, has quite the –” At this point he leaned in closer, so I could smell the reek of booze and condescension on his rancid breath. “–Intellectual capacity”, he said, gently rapping his meaty knuckles on my forehead, “to get into Oxbridge. You do know you need As and A*s at A-level to even consider applying,” he generously reminded me.

I was fuming.

I didn’t know quite how to respond. So, I didn’t. After making an excuse to go to the bathroom, I paid our tab and left.

That night I opened UCAS. You see, what my putrid, Guinness-breathed companion hadn’t realised is that I’d done surprisingly well in my A-levels. And so, just to prove a point, I flipped a coin (heads for Oxford and tails for Cambridge), wrote my personal statement (“I really have always wanted to study English at University …“), and applied. I had no intention of going. I simply wanted to go through the application process, just to, on the off chance that I got through to the interview stage (unlikely), know that I’d proved centuries of terrible dates wrong.

Remarkably, I got in.

This really threw me for a loop.

“It frustrates me that only now, with a good university to my name, could I have gained the respect of my terrible Tinder date as an intellectual equal.”

But, I had a recurrent injury at Dance College and had somewhat lost my passion, so thought, why not? And here I am. Yet it frustrates me that only now, with a good university to my name, could I have gained the respect of my terrible Tinder date as an intellectual equal, not simply deemed a “flexible empty-headed waitress,” as he believed me to be.

Creative professions, such as dance and non-academic career paths, such as hospitality, were so easy for my date to diminish. A middle-class, judgemental teenager who frittered his student loan away, safe in the knowledge that he could always turn to “The Bank of Mum and Dad”, couldn’t comprehend a life out of the Russell Group University he so deserved to be a member of.

I may be a member of this university now, and have proved myself the academic equal of my terrible Tinder date, but the real question is, why wasn’t I valued by him in the first place? I don’t subscribe to the elitism and conceit that clouds the minds of – admittedly an increasingly small minority – some Oxbridge students.

But I do celebrate Tinder as, not only a dating agency, but something that got me into university. It turns out, I actually have always wanted to study English at university. So, download the app and, who knows, a terrible date might actually change your life for the better.

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