Washington - I spend a lot of time on dating apps for work. I host a hit comedy show called Tinder Live that tours all over.
When I started the show four years ago, I was new to Tinder and looking for True Love. At the time, I kept hearing from my friends: "But do you really think you can find love on Tinder? Isn't it just a hookup app? Why are you expecting anything more than that?"
I would immediately get defensive.
I figured that if I existed and I wanted to find love on Tinder, there had to be at least one other person in my search vicinity who felt the same way. Even when I'd get discouraged or frustrated by guys who wouldn't message back - or guys who'd tell me several days in that they were here on vacation (wink, wink) - I'd tell myself maybe I was the exception to the rule, and this was my love story. I just had to be patient, and back onto the app I'd go.
In those four years since Tinder Live started, there has been a massive change in the dating app's image. In the past few months in particular, it seems as if every time a friend of mine tells me - "I just met someone really great, and we've been dating for a while now, and it's the best thing ever" - they follow up by saying they met on Tinder.
Given that I've been swiping all over the world on this app for years and have not yet met the love of my life, it's hard not to smirk and say, "Oh, yeah?" and then throw a chair at the wall.
But once I compose myself, I remember that these very stories are a gift designed to affirm what I've hoped all these years: That it is possible to find intensely sweet and true rom-com love on Tinder. Because all my friends are doing it. And contrary to lots of critics of dating apps, my friends' love stories are just as romantic as if they'd had real-life meet-cutes.
When I got the invitation to the wedding of friends who met on Tinder, it was even Tinder-themed - saying "It's a match" on the invites - and linking to a website where they told their How We Met story.
What used to be taboo, and maybe even laughable, was depicted beautifully by my friends. They talked about their decisions to swipe right; how he was late to the date and she was early; their awkward end-of-date hugs. It was moving. And more than that, it was possible: I could find love on Tinder. I know people who've found love on Tinder.
As we grow more dependent on technology, it's logical that we'll become more open to meeting people via the devices we use every day. That romantic optimism of "maybe someone meant for me is out there looking at the same thing I am" that many of us have carried around since childhood is ringing in our collective ears.
Nearly every show, I meet people who come to Tinder Live and tell me: "We actually met on Tinder, so this is so fun for us. It's like honoring how we met, even though it's kind of silly." I smile at their self-awareness about finding love on an app, and then immediately ask them their full stories: what they thought while they messaged; whether they overanalyzed; whether they thought something deeper was possible. And they mostly say the same thing: "I just really liked him/her, and we never stopped talking."
So let people scoff at online dating. It's fine to want a more classic meet-cute. But for the rest of us who want to believe in finding someone in the most seemingly impossible way (I've been on so many online dates, you guys, SO MANY), the way that has been lampooned by so many TV shows and late-night monologue jokes, we're not wrong to do so.
You can find your soul mate anywhere. However you find them doesn't really matter, so long as you do. And lately, everywhere I look, people are finding those lasting matches on dating apps. Which gives hope to us all.