It’s Complicated: Confessions of a Tinder Tourist
It was the early afternoon, and I was strolling around my neighborhood, coffee in hand, with Sam, a six-foot-three man who had an eagle tattooed across his muscular back. I hadn’t actually seen said tattoo in person, but I knew about it from his Tinder profile, which prominently featured a shirtless picture. I had swiped on Sam because he was hot, yes, but that was only part of my interest. More appealing to me was the fact that his profile also mentioned his unique job — a sex therapist who incorporated hands-on work. My vanilla self immediately needed to know: What was it like to help people sort out their intricate sexual problems without traditional constraints?
“I have lots of women coming to me who have problems orgasming,” he told me as we walked.
“Makes sense.” I said. “Do you touch the women?”
“I’m not a surrogate,” he said, referencing a type of sex worker that has intercourse with clients for therapeutic reasons. “There can be touching but no kissing. Mostly, it’s just talking.”
“What is the secret? What helps the women?”
“Emotionally letting go. Practicing that tends to help a lot,” he said.
I was enthralled. There was no spark as far as I could tell, but still, I didn’t want the conversation to end. As far as I was concerned, it was a pretty good date.
My Tinder tagline reads, “Curious about myself, the world, and you.” And I mean it: While I use the app for the typical reasons (love, lust), I’ve also come to think of swiping as my own form of anthropological research.
Who were all these fascinating characters shuffling across my iPhone screen? It seemed silly that I’d never find out just because we didn’t seem like a romantic fit.
When I told my friend Wilburn about my habit of going out with men because I wanted an hour to interview them about their lives, he laughed and told me, “You’re like a Tinder tourist.”
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