News Thursday, December 15th Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: ILLUSTRATION BY ALAINA WIBBERLY

A Modern Romance: Using Tinder in the Sticks

News Thursday, December 15th

A Modern Romance: Using Tinder in the Sticks

“I did go on a date with a guy purely because he had an amazing dog,” - Michelle, 29, Hereford.

“He turned out to be a right Lawrence, so I ignored him but eventually he tracked down my work email address and sent me pictures of his dog.  That was weird.”

Tile and banner image: Alaina Wibberly

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We've been thinking and we reckon your opinion on dating apps - whether they make society romantic, kill real life connections, or are just a tool widening the net for dog-loving singles - will depend largely on your personal experience, age, and, if we're honest, 3G reception.

With that in mind, we decided to find out if swiping right in a rural county was all that different to finding a match in a big city.

What we found was that people use Tinder differently in the small, rural communities of Herefordshire. And that's not just the number of horse-riding pictures, or the banker-to-farmer ratio you might encounter.

We spoke to Herefordians - some current, some ex-pat - and asked for their best and worst moments on dating apps, and to find out if they think it’s easier swiping in South London or St Weonards.

And a friendly warning, some of these tales are NSFW.

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New Romantics

Ben, 23, from Hereford, now lives in London: “I matched with Mila from Putney on one dating app. She was a solid 8/9 out of 10 and we hit it off automatically.

“After a week or so we arranged to meet up for drinks. She stood me up, but sent a message saying she had been given a shedload of work to do for the Sunday. We continued to speak every day and I arranged to cook for her the following Saturday at 6pm.

“6pm came and went, 7.30pm came and went. I sent her the classic “Hey, you still coming?” text message (there are only so many times you can tidy the kitchen and comb your hair). Nothing. So I wrote it off, and went to Sainsbury’s for wine and chicken wings.

“The next day I took a screenshot of her profile and put it through a Google image search. Mila from Putney, who I’d been spilling my life story to, wasn’t Mila from Putney at all.

“The pictures were from a Californian Instagram model’s account. Mila from Putney was probably Colin from Brentford. “

George, 22, Hay-on-Wye:It was amazing that after a while of perfecting what to do and say, how easy it was to get a girl interested and inevitably sending me things her father wouldn’t be proud of.

“I used to wake up with my Snapchat full of nudes. One night I was Facetiming one of the girls I’d met, and we were having some fun. She’d propped up her phone, and while she was enjoying herself, her mum suddenly walked in behind her and asked what was going on. I got to watch the whole awkward conversation unfold.”

Jane, 28, from Hereford: “My friend, having gone home with a guy she’d met on Tinder for the first time, told him he could stay on the sofa, but that nothing was going to happen.

“She came downstairs with an armful of bedding to find him topless on the sofa. As she turns the ‘big light’ on she shrieks at something she’d just trodden on.

“First thinking it was a dead mouse, she takes a closer look and realises it’s a HUMAN EAR and starts screaming.

“After several minutes of panic, it becomes clear that it’s her date's fake ear which had come off as he tried to undress in the dark – and through sheer embarrassment and alcohol, he begins to cry.

“Feeling like a complete b---h, and not wanting to be the girl who wouldn’t sleep with the earless, crying guy, she has sympathy sex with him there and then.”

New Rules

“Skiing pictures are brilliant – could be absolutely anyone behind those goggles. ‘Cheeky chappies’ or anyone in a group of lads in a roped off area of a club with a bottle of Grey Goose, are a no-no too. Also, weirdly, anyone named Ian. They’re always a bit odd.”

“Every girl I message claims they don’t know why they are on there, and they’re not like that. And yet they all hook up after two dates.”

“Cost comes in to it. Take a girl out in Hereford and you can spend £50 and they’re impressed. Dinner and drinks in London will run you closer to £150, and that’s the norm.”

“You get ones looking for ‘something serious’ these days – but you do have to state that you’re not looking for hook-ups."

“There is very little that surprises me when it gets to the phone number stage. ‘Selfies’ are one thing, video content is another…”

On being a Tinder Tourist

Chantelle, 28, moved from Hereford to London last year: “I was on Tinder briefly but only as a boredom buster. And liked people messaging me to tell me how beautiful I was.”

“To stop me internet shopping I used to shop for men. But it was like TK Maxx – you have to sift through a lot of crap to find something half-decent. 

"I’m just too old-fashioned to use it to meet people. I just don’t believe in it. I can’t possibly like someone based on a picture and some awkward chat."

Jimmy, 25, Hereford: “To be completely honest, I had it for quite a while but other than swiping, I actually did very little on it – not being one to start a conversation. I really just used it to pass the time at work.”

David, 26, Kington: “To be honest when I was in Kington I didn’t meet any of my matches.

“The only local girls that Tinder picked up had history with the majority of the town and the surrounding area. And I just wasn’t into it.

“So I wacked up the distance setting to the max and was messaging girls from all over the place with no real intention of meeting any.”

On swiping in the sticks, compared to the city

Chantelle: “Down here, it’s totally a hook-up thing.

"If I was in Hereford, I’d be far too embarrassed to use it because you know everyone, and I think people would get the wrong impression.”

David, 29, Leominster: “Here, it’s 4 selfies and a horse-riding pic. When I’ve fired it up in cities, it’s 4 selfies and a snow-boarding pic.”

Rich, 22, moved to London from Hereford two years ago: “Dating in London is very different anyway. You can go up to someone in the street and not care if you get shut down at all, as chances are you’ll never see her again. The anonymity of it is exciting.”

James, 30, London, formerly of Hereford: “Girls have similar profiles, but in London they try to emphasize their jobs more – act more professionally if that makes sense.

“When I’ve come back, I’ve found it easier to hook up with Herefordshire girls using Tinder – in London you have to date more but that’s partly because of location. Three miles in Herefordshire is the equivalent of 100 tube rides.”

Jane: “I reckon it’s used differently down here. It’s actually really difficult meeting people in London – social time is really precious. When people go out out they tend to be catching up with people they haven’t seen for ages.

“In Hereford, you’d have the issue of everyone knowing each other on the app. You don’t get that here, apart from the odd familiar face once in a blue moon which you immediately screenshot and send to anyone else who might know them.”

Success stories?

Chantelle: “I have on friend who only used to use it to hook-up, But then I have another friend who’s been in a long-term relationship as a result of meeting on Tinder.”

Terry, 28, Hereford, now in London: "I met my girlfriend on Happn – and I’m happy to tell my mates how we met. We’ve been a couple over a year, and moved in together recently.”

Giselle, 29, Lugwardine: “Out of my friends, not many of them end up going on more than a couple of dates with the guys they’ve met on Tinder. But a friend of a friend has been with her boyfriend for four years, they moved in together. And that was Tinder.”

All names have been changed to maintain the privacy of those we spoke to. And because most of them were married (not really. But we did change their names).

Dating Apps 101

To much eye-rolling from a generation who need a little help working their Sky Plus, dating apps have fast become a mainstay in how young people meet. More than one in six recently-married couples met online.

But in case you’re out of the loop – or happily coupled – here’s a quick guide.

Tinder: This is Google. It’s Jaegerbombs. It’s Uber. It’s a brand so big that it’s become a verb. It’s responsible for the #SwipeRight generation, and possibly a rise in a super STD in the UK.

In short, people set a geographical radius using the location chip in their smartphone or tablet, the gender and age range they are looking for, and Tinder magically produces a deck of cards. Except instead of Kings and 7s, there are names, ages, a few pictures of the person performing a Duckface selfie or standing on a snowboard, and a one-line bio about ‘being sociable, outdoorsy’ and, a little weirdly, what height they are/are looking for.

Swipe left if you don’t like the look of them, or right if you do – if they’ve done the same it opens text conversation and mini Cupids will instantly flutter around your head.

Pros: it's quick, easy, everyone’s on it. Passes the time at the bustop. Cons: Superficial is the most frequent knock as you’re making snap decisions on how someone looks. Which is not at all what happens when you approach someone in a bar.

Happn: This app takes the use of the GPS chip a stage further. By tracking not just where you are, but where you’ve recently been, Happn only shows you the profiles of people you have ‘crossed paths with’. Treading a fine line between stalking, and what passes for genuine romance, it has proved wildly popular in places like London where it offers the opportunity to match you up with that skinny jean-wearing, book-reader you’ve been oogling on the tube but have never plucked up the courage to talk to.

Pros: There is the vague overtone of serendipity about Happn, and it feels slightly less mercenary than Tinder. It’s based on a sort of real-life connection. Cons: If you meet someone and it goes badly, you may have to change your bus route.

There are a huge number of dating apps on the market – Grindr, the original location-based app, which is for gay men and puts a strong emphasis on hook-ups, to JSwipe, which is for Jewish people looking for Jewish people, to Bumble, which flips the usual bar protocol in that conversations can only ever be started by the female. You get the gist.

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This feature was originally published in February.

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