See below for a corrected version of the Vanity Fairarticle “The Dating Apocalypse” updated to reflect that people aren’t actually having more sex than ever before, they’re just continuing to lie about how much sex they’re having.
It’s a balmy night in Manhattan, and at a sports bar in the financial district, everyone is lying about how much sex they get from Tinder. The tables are filled with young women and men who’ve been chasing money and deals on Wall Street all day. Everyone is drinking, peering into their screens, and swiping on the faces of strangers that they definitely won’t have sex with but will probably pretend they did.
At a booth in the back, three handsome 20-something guys are having beers. They’ve been Tindering all night. Max, a tall blond, sips his beer. “I talk to a hundred girls a day on Twitter, and I pick the best one and we have sex,” Max lies. “Oh yeah, with Tinder, I can sleep with like, eight girls a week. And we’re talking hot, quality girls,” lies Max’s friend Dave.
Their friend John lies and says that he’s slept with five girls in the last eight days that he met on Tinder. He’s not creative enough to come up with names for these women, but Max and Dave, John’s roommates in a shiny Manhattan high-rise apartment building, are a little quicker. “Yeah, Johnny here slept with a Russian chick, and a Puerto Rican chick, and a chick named Amber who was totally smoking.” Tinder makes it more believable than ever before that these young men might have actually met such a diverse group of women, making it almost too easy for them to pretend that they have a lot of great sex.
People have lied about how much sex they have for millennia, but Tinder is changing the game. Hookup culture has collided with dating apps, and now anecdotal stories about sex actually sound plausible. “I sit in my apartment and watch a lot of Netflix,” said Gary, 25. “When I used to tell my coworkers that I banged a fine chick over the weekend, they’d say things like ‘Shut up Gary, you know you spent your weekend on your fat ass watching Netflix. Where would you have even met a woman?’ But now with Tinder, I say I messaged some hot little number to come over and watch Netflix with me, and then we totally boned, and my coworkers are like, ‘Oh OK. Cool, man.’”
But how do women feel about this paradigm shift in dating culture? Some women, like Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic, see the new lying about hooking up culture as a boon. “The lying about hooking up culture used to be the sole domain of gross dudes. But now women can have the freedom and confidence to pretend they’ve had a lot of sex without as many judgements.” But others lament the way that men have to take even less initiative in treating women well. Amy, a yoga instructor from Brooklyn, complained, “Sure, it’s great that I can lie about having sex now whenever I want, but when I want to actually have sex? It’s harder to get a guy to fuck me. I mean, why would they take the time to romance an actual woman when they can just tell their friends that they did? And if I pretend to have a lot of sex? Guys are intimidated. It’s a complete double-standard.”
I asked a few young men to talk honestly about how Tinder affects their feelings. Brian, a handsome 20-something graphic designer, opened up. “Yeah, I guess if I’m being honest with myself, Tinder makes lying about sex feel kind of hollow. It’s almost too easy, you know? It’s hard to admit, but I do sometimes get scared that I’ll never meet that special girl where I lie to my friends about the fact that we have a relationship over a long period of time. Now it’s just lie, lie, lie boom. Lying about 15 girls in one month — where’s the romance in that?”
The rise of lying about hook up culture brought on by Tinder is tragic in a way. Sure, in a perfect world, we’d all lie about having sex with whoever we want and nobody would mind or be judged or get sent to a workplace sexual harassment seminar. But what about jealousy, and sexism, not to mention the still-flickering chance that somebody might actually get to have sex with another human being? Is that asking too much? With Tinder, it just might be.