Tinder, Grindr, and Co.—Stories straight out of hell

A collection of real-life horror stories found on modern-day dating apps

Lea Krusemeyer (she/her) // Crew Writer
Freya Emery (she/her) // Illustrator
Andy Poystila (he/him) Illustrator
Angelica Blanch (she/her) Illustrator

It’s been the reality of the past two generations to have horror stories when it comes to online dating. Like no generation before, Generation Z, which includes anyone from 1997 to 2012, has immersed itself into online dating. With a variety of apps and websites available, anyone can find a potential date online. The most common apps used are Hinge and Tinder, meanwhile gay men frequent Grindr and lesbians use HER.

Horrible pickup lines seem to be a common theme, especially within the straight dating scene, Andreea M. spoke about a time someone messaged her, “What’s for dinner tonight?” followed by a “ME-N-U.” That is not just uncreative but also unromantic and really takes the magic out of dating. A trending sound on TikTok says, “What happened to: hello, how are you?” which is commonly used by people who are sharing their unhinged encounters on dating apps. Weird conversations and dates seem to be a common experience in our generation.

While a pickup line like the one that was used on Andreea might be cringy but overall not harmful, there are other people out there who cannot say the same. Jonas K. claimed that body shaming is a commonly used method on Grindr. Just by looking at the pictures provided on someone’s Grindr account, other men feel the need to comment on a person’s body in a hurtful way. “You would be really attractive if you just weren’t that fat,” was a text that Jonas got one day. Comments like that can trigger people into eating disorders or other mental health problems. Worse still, they are completely avoidable. If you do not find someone attractive, just ignore the person and move on to someone with a body to your liking.

In person dates can be just as bad if not worse. Stefano Z. for example, once unknowingly went on a date with a married man. After texting with a guy online for a while the two decided to meet up for dinner, Stefano arrived at the restaurant at the arranged time, and when his date did not show up 30 minutes after the set time, he decided to text. He got a very apologetic reply with a promise that he would be there as soon as possible and to Stefano’s surprise, his date did show up about 30 minutes after that. He even brought flowers, which made Stefano believe that the date was off to a good start, but when asked about why he was one hour late the date mentioned that it was his wedding anniversary with his wife and he had to celebrate with her first.

This just raised a forest of red flags, first of all, who plans this badly? If you have to cheat on your wife, at least choose a day that is not your anniversary. Secondly, rethink your marriage so cheating won’t be necessary in the future. Lastly, he was a deeply closeted man who saw Stefano as someone he could see for fun but he would never be willing to openly stand up for their relationship. This might be okay for some people, but it should have been made clear long before an in-person date was arranged. Stefano did not feel comfortable being the hidden side piece and left the restaurant after that conversation, this could have been avoided if his date was just honest about the situation he was in.

Lying can also be a common occurrence in online dating. Sofia T. was chatting with a girl she liked who claimed to be 25 years old, which was perfect as Sofia was 27, and two years was an acceptable age difference for them. However, when she showed up for the date, the other girl looked completely different from her pictures, and far younger. This is a system used frequently called “catfishing” and the exact reason behind it stays hidden. Sofia’s date turned out to be 20 years old, and uncomfortable with their age difference, she left the date.

Saving the worst for last, situations in which you are being taken to an unknown location on your date. That happened to Yannis B. who once went on a date in New York City and was picked up by a guy who offered to bring him to his place. His place turned out to be a lovely property in the suburbs of NYC which Yannis described as “a mix between a sex dungeon and a crack house, there was no light and no doors and people were doing drugs everywhere.” While Yannis was fortunate to be sober enough to leave and book an Uber home, not everyone might be that lucky.

When it comes to online dating, caution is necessary. Gen Z is smart when it comes to online behavior so most stories end up being fun anecdotes that can be shared at parties, but that might not always be the case. Be cautious and always trust your gut when it comes to navigating the online world.

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