Tindering my way across Australia

This is part of a series of posts about my trip to Australia from December 18, 2015 – January 23, 2016.

While ordering drinks at a bar along the Yarra River during my first night in Australia, I was approached by a man. No this isn’t a scary story (thank God) – more of a fairy tale in fact! Said man told me I was stunning – that he loved my glasses, my general style and complimented my smile. He seemed pretty sober too! After 24+ hours of travel, a half day and now a night on the town (and an honest assessment of my looks) – this was a pretty lovely compliment. We proceeded to discuss the joys of travelling – some of the places we’d been and others we dreamed of travelling to – and a round of shots later we each went back to our friends. No inappropriate comments, pushing drinks or anything remotely creepy, immature or aggressive – just friendly (and OK, highly complimentary). As a woman navigating the millennial dating scene this was quite refreshing.

I was out with a (male) friend of a friend who was kind enough to take a stranger out on the town, and already I was impressed by the chivalry of Australian men.

I stayed with two girlfriends in Melbourne, and as we discussed the local dating scene, they encouraged me to download Tinder, because…why not? I figured I could use Tinder as part of a social experiment – a way to connect with locals and gain insight into Australia’s culture and approach to dating and romance.

I found that Tindering across Australia in 2015/2016 is what Tindering in Toronto was in 2014 (what a difference a year can make) – people were interesting and attractive, and the young men using the app would actually converse and ask you out on a date (not just send bland ‘hey’ messages or suggest sex as an introduction). I also received a steady stream of “Super Likes” in Melbourne (which is a special ‘like’ you can use only once a day, for anyone not in the Tinder know); this gave me a hearty ego boost. Side note: Melbourne is like a male model convention. It’s a bit uncanny actually; the city seems to hold a high concentration of very attractive young men.

I had interesting Tinder conversations across Australia, and I unashamedly used the app to solicit restaurant recommendations and any other local tips/advice my matches wanted to share (this was how I found out where to party on New Years’ Eve in Alice Springs). I didn’t actually meet up with anyone from Tinder during the trip as I preferred to hang with friends I’d met in real life or in many cases, our schedules just weren’t aligning.

The Outback yielded the most interesting Tinder profiles, and certainly profile photos, in all of my travels around Oz: men with hunting rifles and dead wild boars, men in cowboy hats in front of cattle fences, a few hugged kangaroos, others held up dead snakes. I had to widen my age range quite significantly given the low population of the Outback, and let me tell you, there are 19-year-olds in towns like Katherine, Northern Territory who have some serious game.

Tindering in Sydney was a little bit more like the Toronto scene I exited – less effort exhibited in conversations – and interestingly far fewer “Super Likes” were received compared to Melbourne. I guess Melbournians just like Canadian girls of Trinidadian heritage!

Overall, my Australian Tinder experience was far more positive than my Toronto experience (I deleted the app months earlier in Toronto, not willing to put up with the either inappropriate and offensive messages or the glut of low-effort conversation starters (“hey”)). And while I did still get a few messages of the “hey” variety in Oz, far more were friendly and thoughtful and I found that people were genuinely willing to share their favourite bars and food joints with a tourist passing through. All of the Australian men I met were polite, helpful and respectful. I mean, this could have been because they knew I was a tourist and I was only Tindering in Australia for five weeks (versus living in Toronto and using the app on-and-off over the past couple of years) – but I will hold onto the warm glow that Australia is simply a magical land of attractive gentlemen.

To end this story, I will tell you about my last night in Australia. I was waiting for a bus with a girlfriend after a night of barhopping in Newtown, Sydney and we were approached by a man. Again – this isn’t a scary story! The man (around my age) told me that he liked my glasses, thought I was beautiful and said I had a “Colgate smile,” before going on his way. I was sweating buckets, my hair had frizzed out, and I certainly didn’t feel particularly attractive, but I appreciated the compliment – it reminded me of my first night in magical Oz. Also, my glasses were worth every penny!

This trip was a great confidence booster in many ways; I was apprehensive about travelling alone but I gained confidence in myself as a capable solo traveller, and I made many wonderful friends along the  way. I also came away from the trip feeling far more secure and assured of my inner and yes, outer beauty, as well. I learned a lot about myself during five weeks in Australia – and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Tinder was a contributing factor to a life lesson or two.

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