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Swipe right for "smart enough": Tinder's future add-ons will help you find your intellectual equal

Soon you'll be able to see where the faces you like work and went to school before you make a match


Erin Coulehan
November 19, 2015 10:00PM (UTC)

I find few things sexier than a sharp mind. Some of my favorite conversations center on the genius of Milan Kundera and Alice Munro, the complexities involved in mechanics and the different uses of language. By all accounts this is nerd speak, and difficult topics to use as conversation starters.

A girl walks into a bar and starts talking about neuroscience and history. Girl spends most of the night alone wondering where to find a meaningful conversation, a spark.

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The use of Tinder has been accused of having apocalyptic effects on dating, of encouraging infidelity, and of killing serendipity. It’s not news that it’s easier than ever to meet someone, hook up and continue going about your life.

I remember when I first learned about Tinder. February 2013, a blustery one in the East Village. My best friend’s cool guy roommate, Adam, explained the ease with which he was meeting “mad chicks.”

It took us a moment to grasp the concept of swiping through potential matches as mindlessly as we scroll through Pinterest. According to Adam, that was the point. The goal was to meet and hook up, not worry about potentially entangling relationships. This was about bullet points, not love stories.

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Initially, I think everyone’s goal -- including Tinder’s -- was to test the waters of new technology. Just how many fish in the sea are there? As a culture we were ravenous to consume as many matches as possible, tallying up lovers in a losing match. But too much of anything gets boring.

Now it seems we’re craving more — at least, Tinder CEO and co-founder Sean Rad is.

In an interview published yesterday with The Standard, Rad revealed that Tinder is in the process of developing an education and work place add-on that will help users identify their intellectual equals.

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This seems counterintuitive for a company that has prided itself on eliminating get-to-know-you b.s. How long until these new additions morph the company into something resembling OkCupid or any other traditional dating site?

According to Rad, we’re learning there’s more to hook ups than an easy swipe. He’s a perfect example.

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“I need an intellectual challenge,” he said in the interview before struggling to find the word for attraction to intelligence, and incorrectly (albeit hilariously) using the word “sodomy,” much to the chagrin of his VP of Communications and Branding at Tinder.

The word he was searching for was “sapiosexual,” which describes a person who finds intelligence to be the most sexually attractive feature in a partner.

The slip-up was a perfect microcosm for how difficult it can be to land the intellectual challenge of your dreams among the rampant availability of more lascivious options.

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The new add-ons are interesting departures in Tinder’s quest to continuously engage and titillate users. The company unveiled verified profiles in the summer, offering mere mortals the opportunity to swipe right on a celebrity or public figure. But I don’t think it’s caught on in the way many might hope.

By including education and work place add-ons, Tinder is effectively upping the ante of attraction. Sure, it was cool to hook up with as many matches as possible during the app’s infancy, but it’s created inflation. We’ve proven we can rack up and push away numerous hook ups, so now the new challenge is determining to quality of the hook up in terms of traits like education level that are typically used to assess potential partnership. It’s sexier to pursue a conquest that presents the possibility of a more thrilling and strategic hunt. We are animals, after all, and animals respond better to challenges than invitations.

In exploring the endless sea of potential sexual partners based on convenience and proximity, we've learned what’s out there. We’ve resisted relationships and connections in order to gather as much information as we can about prospects. In doing so, we’re learning what we do and don’t want. For Rad, who for all intents and purposes is the leader of Tinder, it’s an intellectual equal, and the romantic notion that there’s more out there than convenient and forgettable sex. It’s a hopeful view for someone who’s had such a stark influence on relationship behavior in the last three years, and you have to wonder how feasible it is -- the notion of a hopeless romantic in search of a stimulating conversation and a warm hand to hold. Romantic? Yes. Hopeless? Absolutely not.

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Tinder CEO Embarrasses Himself in Interview


Erin Coulehan

Erin Coulehan is a freelance journalist with work in Rolling Stone, Elle, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @miss_coulehan

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