Want to avoid ending up alone? ‘Find someone whose crap you can tolerate’

Brianna Parkins: I cringe for all who've suffered through Wonderwall just for the shift

Brianna Parkins is not a fan of being serenaded by men with acoustic guitars.

When I tell a friend back home in Australia I am writing about dating apps, specifically Tinder, she ignores an easily Google-able time difference to call me at 3am screaming: "You can't do that, what are you going to call it? A Tinder Guide for Misanthropes?"

She is well aware that I tend to get ahead of myself on dating apps. Not in the optimistic practising-your-signature-with-your-high-school-boyfriend’s-last-name way. I’m not looking at profile pictures predicting which pub will become our local. I’m not even fantasising about whether there’ll be a free bar at our wedding or whose uncle will ruin the speeches. Instead, I’m looking at the lovely smiley men on Tinder and deciding whether or not I’ll be able to endure their particular brand of nonsense a few months down the line.

So my friend is wrong. I hereby present a “Tinder Guide for People Who Make Snap Presumptions About Other People”. Usually I like to make my questionable life choices in person but Tinder allows me to project all the ways things will go bad about a potential relationship from the comfort of my sitting room. Unfortunately, it only provides limited information about people and therefore only hints at the ways you’ll be let down in the future.

Will that bloke's impeccable facial symmetry be enough to stop me wondering when was the last time he washed his decades-old Penneys sheets with the weird stains? Does having a good job make up for the fact he can't replace the bloody toilet paper but is still capable of making a sad art installation of empty cardboard rolls on the cistern?


The answers to these questions can be found in various ways on dating apps:

The photos

Tinder is all about snap judgements on as little information as possible. That’s what makes the inclusion of photos handy. First to strike off is someone who’s put up multiple pictures of himself in a three-piece suit at the same event. It looks like a strange adult Holy Communion and makes me think he only wears a suit so rarely that he has to document it. Usually only weddings and court.

Photos give good warning into problematic hobbies. Nothing strikes fear into my heart like a man with an acoustic guitar. My life rule is when one appears at a party it’s time to leave. I’ve found myself multiple times in an uncomfortable position of being played at by some bastard trying to be romantic. I never know whether to make eye contact and I just want to remove myself from the situation as quickly as possible. Usually in the same way I’ve reacted to the creepy men who masturbate on public transport. I cringe in solidarity for all the girls out there who’ve ever suffered through a mangled version of Wonderwall just to get the shift. I’m aware this is an acutely an Australian response. We’re suspicious of the arts in general and any other display of romance that isn’t spray painting your missus’ name on an overpass.

We keep searching for that hypothetically rubbish new life partner

Even worse is the hint of a prospective partner being into outdoor activities, usually in the form of a beaming selfie on top of a mountain wearing a backpack. This man will tell you going on hikes is more fun than going to the pub. They’re not though.

The bios

This is the bit where you only have space for a sentence or two to convince strangers you’re worth riding. Personally, I don’t like to give people more chances to be turned off me than already necessary.

I’ve noticed a trend towards putting an invite to an event as a cold opener. One popular choice reads, “Looking for a plus one for the Maldives”. But in reality it’s more likely the only place he’s taking you to is a ‘restaurant’ where you have to grab your own can of coke out of the fridge.

“Looking for a plus one to a summer wedding” is also a popular one. No thanks mate, I don’t want to talk to my own extended family, never mind to your Auntie Assumpta about her mammogram. I’m also yet to see anyone look seductive doing Rock the Boat, but this may just be the one area of my life I remain open-minded about.

Then there’s the job description field. Lots of ‘entrepreneurs’ getting about. The term’s vagueness unsettles me. What do you do mate? It could be anything from a pyramid vitamin sales scheme to dealing drugs. Worst of all, he could own a gym. None of them end well.

The chat

You’ve decided they’re not bad and the feeling is mutual. Then it’s the boss-level round of misery. Having a chat. One guy opened with “Tell me something interesting about yourself!” Jesus Christ. I want to write “Actually, Killian, I like to smuggle heroin across borders in multiple body cavities.” I don’t. But I remain haunted by the decision.

Worse still are job-interview-style questions: “Describe yourself in three words?” F**k. Right. Off.

But the problem is we don’t. We keep searching for that hypothetically rubbish new life partner. Because to avoid ending up alone in life is about finding someone whose crap you can tolerate. Who admittedly has some good points but more importantly, endurable bad ones. I just like to be organised and know exactly how and when I’ll be disappointed. So when the acoustic guitar comes out I know how to politely decline.