It finally happened. You've gone one swipe too far. You've swiped yourself into a full-on romantic entanglement: a friend has appeared on your Tinder feed. A decision must be made. Do you swipe left for no and hurt their feelings, or right for yes and freak them out? What's the right thing to do when it comes to finding your friends on Tinder?
Tinderella is a relationships coach based in Melbourne. This has been published with permission.
Dating in 2014 is still a social minefield, fraught with embarrassing moments, awkward pauses and the endless pursuit of the opposite (or same) sex. Despite the assurances of Silicon Valley's desperate and dateless tech set, cramming the modern dating experience into a phone app like Tinder certainly won't help the situation.
Many people take the plunge into Tinder-land secure in the knowledge that they probably won't encounter any of their friends on the swipe-centric hookup app. But eventually, no matter how much distance you put between your social life and your Tinder life, you're going to find someone you know, and you need to be prepared for that moment.
So, what happens when you find friends when swiping? Stay calm, and follow these three simple rules.
Assess The Friendship
First of all, you need to know who you're dealing with.
You might have swiped onto the cute guy or girl who just started in the marketing department at work, someone you just met at a social function, or even one of your best friends. No matter the relationship, you need to understand that you'll have a different level of connection with every "friend" you happen upon.
If it's someone who you just started working with, whether it's in the same office or the same team, you need to understand that interoffice romances are fraught with danger. You have to mentally map the entire relationship in your head to see what the outcome will be at the other end. A passing fling with a co-worker could end in disaster, and make your workplace a hostile environment not just for you and the co-worker in question, but for everyone around you who has to deal with the sordid atmosphere you've plunged them into. Only pursue work friends on Tinder if you're sure it can last, or if you believe you're both mature enough not to let it affect your work life.
It's similar fare for friends outside of the office. If you happen upon them on Tinder, you have to be the bigger person and think of the implications on the broader friend circle before you swipe.
Hookups (and the almost inevitable break-ups that go along with them) can often be harder to deal with between friends: people pick sides following the break-up, and you could find yourself losing more than just a casual fling.
Remember, Tinder is an app primarily meant for random hookups, so shining that particular spotlight onto your relationships with existing friends could end with you falling flat on your face.
Scenarios to be extra careful of include going after friends' exes, and friends you work with or report to at work. Remember, ex-boyfriends are just off-limits to friends. That's like, the rules of feminism.
Don't Be Creepy
If you've assessed the relationship and decided that you'd like to proceed with swiping right (indicating you'd like a date, for those who've never Tindered before), you have to remember one of the next (and possibly most important) rules.
Under no circumstances are you allowed to be a creep.
Sure, you might have cute little in-jokes with the person you'd like to turn into more than just a friend -- and you might think it's appropriate to inject said in-jokes into your flirty banter -- but you're in uncharted waters now. You have to imagine that any existing references you leaned on when you were friends are now out the window.
Turning friends into dates (and eventually a boyfriend or girlfriend) is a messy process, that starts with the two of you being comfortable as friends and working your way up from there. Don't automatically assume that because you were good friends, you'll be good on a date with each other. That assurance -- whether it's held by a guy or a girl -- is really disconcerting for the opposite party.
Be cool, calm and collected. Before you type, just think to yourself: what would Cameron Diaz do? (Or what would George Clooney do, for you guys out there)
For the sake of every human being on Tinder: don't ever be a creep. That's a one-way ticket to getting blocked.
Plus, being a creep to a friend on Tinder could cost you not only a date, but also a good friend that now thinks you're disgusting.
Context, Context, Context
Let's revisit that whole "play it cool" thing from earlier. If there's one thing we read over and over again in celebrity interviews from men and women, it's that people like to be approached. Confidence is sexy, and being cool, calm and collected is even more so.
So, try this if you want to impress a friend on Tinder. If you've followed the steps above and decided that you're keen to pursue them for a date, swipe right to indicate you like them on Tinder, and then follow up on either Facebook, Twitter or with an email.
Don't ask them if they think you're hot, or if they want to accompany you to the bone zone (ugh) -- just ask them politely whether they'd like to come out for a drink, or to grab a bite to eat and talk. Telling your friend that you found them on Tinder is a great way to break the ice, and set the tone of the conversation towards something more romantic rather than a 'just friends' scenario.
Remember: always follow the rules when plumbing the depths of the dreaded friend zone on Tinder -- assess your relationships, watch for potential complications, don't be a creep, be cool, calm and collected and, most of all, be confident.