Why “magic” is so rare on Tinder dates.

I didn’t get “that feeling.”

There wasn’t any magic.

We didn’t have a strong connection.

Raise your hand if you or someone you know has said this following a recent date?

I know, right?

And to be honest, it’s fair. I mean, who doesn’t want those things. But if there was a magical feeling we could place 100% confidence in that always led us to make the right choices about relationships, everyone would be happily married or ENMP (ethically non-monogamously paired).

Hate to break it to the poly folk, but people just work best in two’s.

Anyway, it’s human to want “that” feeling when meeting your future love interest. Because chemistry matters–and when the chemistry is right, you get it. I’d even argue that the “butterflies in your stomach feeling” is crucial to the health of long term relationships.

I know from experience.

But as I wrote in my last post, we shouldn’t expect that right away on a Tinder date (or Bumble, or Coffee Meets Bagel, or whatever).

I want to expand on why that is, because my guess is that in looking/expecting to have this feeling and not finding it, a lot of singles (women especially–and I say this simply because I think women are more likely to rely on intuition and emotional intelligence than men, but it’s probably true for many men too) are sabotaging relationships with people who might be a great fit.

Let’s start with what a “magical” dating experience might look like: you go into a coffee shop to get your special latte, just passing the time really, waiting to meet a friend. But then a tall drink of water accidentally bumps into you. He apologizes profusely for his clumsiness, but you say no worries. When you go to pick up your drink, he’s there to get his as well—and wouldn’t you know it: you two have the exact same order. He asks what you’re doing and you explain. Then on a whim, he asks if he can sit down with you while you wait for your friend as he’s just got a few minutes to kill. You go on to have an amazing conversation about how you’re both super into 80’s music, especially the Cure, and your favorite song is “The Love Cats”.


Ah, you adorable dorks.

Anyway, long story short, he asks for your number, suggesting you meet up for a drink sometime, and of course you give it to him: he’s cute, nice, and you have a lot in common. Plus he seems well put together and relatively successful.

Amazing. And when you least expected it, right?


You weren’t expecting it. It was a chance meeting. And there was never any pressure—just a short conversation in a crowded coffee shop that you knew would end once your friend showed up.

These circumstances are almost entirely absent on a Tinder date.

Let’s start with expectations.

For one, you have a pretty good idea of what the person looks like, but not a full appreciation, because as anyone who’s been cyber-dating long enough can tell you, the catfish are pretty good at looking good in their pics, but in real life they have whiskers—and/or a beer gut.

Am I right ladies?

So really, the other person can only meet your expectations physically, being that they look as good or maybe a little better than they do in their photos. The random stranger never has that pressure, and there’s never any gap—they just are who they are and look like what they look like.

Second, a Tinder date is explicitly not a chance meeting.

It’s a completely artificial set up. You each swiped right, chatted for awhile, and decided to meet. There’s pressure there, because the inference is that you’re looking for love, right? And yet, this is a person you know almost nothing about, a person you’re not connected to in anyway whatsoever other than an online app on your phone.

Now, I suppose the conditions of the date are still up to you—usually I just ask if she’d like to grab a coffee or a drink, something that’s not super long with a lot of pressure. Yes, I get that that’s lame, and something physical like a hike or a walk or something involving snow or water would be much more fun (you know, endorphins and all), but most girls aren’t going to agree to that with a man they only know through the internet, and I don’t blame them.

Which is why I go somewhere:

a) where there will be a lot of people around, that’s

b) public.

But it still hurts the game, am I right?

So anyway, a lot of the conditions for magic, that feeling, or a strong connection aren’t there on a Tinder date, due simply to the circumstances.

This is especially true for women because of a final condition, which is that most females go into these dates with their deflector shields up: is this guy going to try to sleep with me? Is he a clingy weirdo? Is he a pick-up artist or a fuckboi? Is he a rapist or murderer?


Let’s stop here for a bit of clarity.

Ladies, to be honest, most guys are just normal dudes looking for the same thing you are: a connection that leads to some kind of meaningful relationship.

But I get that a lot of men are pretty gross and/or don’t know how to talk to women, there are some true fucking weirdoes out there, and the fuckbois are both deceptive and hard to resist (let’s face it: if they weren’t at least somewhat successful, 90% of you wouldn’t say “no hook-ups” on your profile. Here’s a hint: stop only dating really, really good looking guys–or do, but know what you’re getting into. If a guy’s in his mid 30’s, really, really good looking, and has never been married–sweetheart, that’s cause he doesn’t want to be).

On the other hand, I totally get why you have your guard up. We all do. But again, here’s a circumstance specific to a Tinder date that kills the magic.

Because let’s face it ladies, with your guard up, most of your assumptions aren’t framing us in a positive way. You’re looking for flaws, reasons to walk away, rationalizations for why we fit into some box you want nothing to do with.

Like I don’t know, but I think he has the back hair of a Yeti.

What kind of person wears a jacket like that?

He had a fish-hook necklace. So immature. 

He kept licking his lips–is that normal? It seemed creepy.

So while what you want is for your intuition to tell you we’re the “special one”, your rational mind is actively scanning and searching for reasons we’re not (and so are your girlfriends).

On the flip side, the guy at the coffee shop or concert is working when your guard is down, or at least, not on high alert.

Which is another argument for meeting people in real life.

He was like, so different.

So what breaks through? What does seem magic?

Let’s just be honest: being really, really good looking. Oh sure, you can say it doesn’t matter, that you’re just as skeptical of Dr. Squarejaw Responsible Muscles as you are of Joe Schmoe… but that’s a lie and we all know it.

It’s the same for guys.

We don’t have our guard up like women do (mainly because most men don’t have to worry about being physically taken advantage of), but if there’s not a reasonable physical attraction, chances are there’s only going to be one date, no matter how nice or funny or interesting she is. And you know other the rule about men, right?

He’ll put up with a lot if she’s smokin’ hot.

Of course, these are generalizations—there are obviously all kinds of different people in the world, individual men and women are very different, and I haven’t even touched on what it’s like for the gay/trans community because I simply have no idea.

Boring, but bro’s gonna see where this goes.

But I think it’s fair to say the odds are stacked against “the magic” on a Tinder date. And unfortunately, some of that probably continues into the second and even third meeting.

Sure, you now know what the other person looks like and have developed some rapport and at least one shared experience, but now there’s the physical escalation: holding hands, the first kiss, maybe even some making out. And when’s the other shoe going to drop? Has he been divorced, does she have a kid, is he/she really, in fact, a crazy weirdo—cause crazy people get pretty damned good at covering that up in small doses (even though after awhile, it’s gonna come out).

Anyway, the main lesson for me in all this is to start meeting women in real life.

Because that’s where the magic is (I’ll leave that topic for the next blog, as well as ideas and tips on ways men and women can do just that–I’ll give you a hint dudes: stop being chickenshits).

But I’m not deleting my accounts just yet.

After all, it’s not impossible to meet someone on a dating app. Lots of people do. And I hope that simply being aware there are a lot of circumstances taking away from the chemistry on a Tinder date acts as a sort of inoculation against having unrealistic expectations in the first place.

The message here is that if you are going to partake in cyber-dating, give people more of a chance than you ordinarily would. Because you’re not going to feel that magical connection like you did with the hottie in college when he walked you home the first time you had too much Boones.

Instead, go in trying to figure out if they’re interested in the same things you are, share the same values, are stable and relatively well adjusted adults. It might not be the most exciting/sexy conversation, but that’s a better way to decide if you’re want to go out with them again than relying on a feeling that’s never going to come (unless they’re a super hottie). Then the next time, do something magical (read: physical and fun), and plan a third date in relatively quick succession. In that way, your relationship gains momentum and you figure out if you have chemistry with this person or not.

If after three dates you still feel nothing, cut the cord.

But maybe–just maybe–the person you would’ve cut after the first date because you “didn’t feel the magic”, ends up being the person you’ve always been looking for.

After all, don’t you want your +1?

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