Dating In Singapore Through Dating Apps

“You’re such a Tinderella,” my date joked after I confessed that I’d been on another Tinder date just the day before.

“A what?” I replied.

It was the first time I’d heard the label, but it wouldn’t be the last.

For the uninitiated, a Tinderella refers to a girl who serially dates through dating apps. At my ‘peak’, I could have gone out with three different guys in a week.

How I started using Tinder

My time as a Tinderella began innocently enough. As I was alone and single overseas, I used Tinder to meet people and get recommendations for whichever European city I happened to be backpacking in at the time.

Through the app, I met other Singaporeans abroad who craved connection with someone from home, and other people who had interesting stories of how they’d ended up in that part of the world.

All in all, it was a positive experience and it helped me stave off the homesickness.

Because Tinder has a reputation for being a hookup app, some might feel these dates may seem too PG to be true. However, I simply made it a point to filter out the guys who wanted more than coffee before I met them face-to-face.

Not that I have any judgement if you use dating apps for sex—it just wasn’t my priority at the time.

Everyone knows everyone in Singapore

When I returned home, I realised the Tinder dating scene in Singapore was a different ball game altogether. I’d never used dating apps here because I was previously in a long-term relationship, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

The oft-said line “in Singapore, everyone knows everyone” certainly held its weight.

Whenever I went out with someone, we’d realise that we had so many mutual friends. It wasn’t uncommon for me to return from a date and immediately get a text saying, “How was the date with so-and-so?”

It became clear to me that when you’re seeing someone in Singapore, you’re also dating their entire kampung.

I then made it a point to leave a good impression on all my dates, even if I wasn’t planning on going out with them again.

At least if I ever bumped into them at a party, I wouldn’t have to deal with their whole friend group giving me the side-eye.

Learning to take rejection less personally

When you date guys as often as I do, ghosting (where somebody slowly lessens communication with no explanation) becomes common. People did it to me, and I sometimes did it to them.

Whenever I stopped talking to someone, the reason could have been as silly as the fact that they lived in Pasir Ris and I in Pioneer. Can’t blame a girl for not wanting to be in a ‘long-distance relationship’, can you?

On the flip side, I learnt not to take it personally when someone disappeared on me. They were under no obligation to tell me why they were no longer interested, and I probably would have gone mad if I harped on all the possible reasons.

Learning to say no to guys

Many guys on Tinder were straightforward. One guy started our conversation on the app by asking if I wanted to go on a staycation with him at Marina Bay Sands. Another said he wanted to put his face between my legs.

I’ve always had a problem with saying no to people in general, which often leads me to feign interest in someone even if there’s none. But since I was typing behind a screen, I’ve found the courage to say “thanks, but no thanks”.

So when the time came for me to turn down uncomfortable requests on dates in real life, because of the practice I had, I found I could do it far more easily. This saved me from doing things I didn’t want to, or ending up in places I didn’t wish to be.

Going on one last Tinder date

Eventually, being a Tinderella took its toll on me and I decided to go on one last date before calling it quits.

Perhaps the Tinder gods were trying to stop me from quitting, because the algorithms blessed me with the best date I had gone on in months.

Aside from the unbearable heat, the easygoing banter between my date and I took me back to those first Tinder dates I had in Europe.

We enjoyed similar music and I felt his curiosity and hunger for life matched mine. We went out twice more that week, and I met a couple of his friends in the process (see, what did I tell you about the kampung). They were as lovely as he was.

But when he told me he was fine with us dating even after I left Singapore for my postgraduate studies, I had to muster my courage yet again to say “no”.

Post-Tinder me knew that letting go came with future opportunities.

Pre-Tinder me would have gone along with that arrangement. I hadn’t dated enough to know what I needed in a relationship, and would naively have thought it would work out if I tried.

After all, our dates so far had been nothing but promising, and it’d have been nice to see where time took us. But time is something we did not have, as I was leaving in a couple of months and wasn’t keen on a long-distance thing.

We parted on good terms and my date handled it with more grace and kindness than I could’ve have asked for. The guy knows he can ask me for book recommendations if he ever wants them!

Thks Fr Th Mmrs, Tinder

My one-year run with Tinder ended on this bittersweet note, but the things I’ve learnt will probably stick with me for a long time to come.

This Tinderella has retired, but to all those still fighting the good fight, I wish you all the best.

You might have to kiss a few frogs first, but bae is out there, somewhere!