Why I'm Married and Still Tindering

illustration of married couple on tinder
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Marriage can be quite fantastic. I mean, if you like the other person well enough, and everyone behaves decently, marriage isn't too far off from the pubescent fantasy of that best pal you also get to have sex with.

However, marriage is also incurably boring. For proof of this, look no further than its designation: "the institution of marriage." When's the last time an "institution" has been anything spectacularly interesting?

Things that are boring need spicing up. And for that, my wife and I have turned to Tinder.

You unwed masses may be surprised to find out that a great number of your married friends enjoy roaming the aisles of the great virtual meat market. And that while you're shopping for love, romance, or Jackson Pollock sex, we are on the prowl for a different kind of fix.

The incurable fun of swiping left... and right

Of all the apps on my phone, Tinder is the most consistently diverting. When you remove the romantic stakes and strip away any personal investment, the app is an anthropological smorgasbord. It's choose-your-own-adventure reality TV. And, like reality TV, it's so much more fun, weird, and tantalizing together.

"A round of Tinder swipes, if done together, can enhance a couple's connection and create a shared experience of guaranteed laughter and some easy, fast-food-dating validation," says Amanda Luterman, a Montreal-based sex and relationship counselor.

Boris and Natasha can attest to that. Those are the names my wife and I created for our fake accounts when we grew tired of relying on our single friends leaving their cellphones on the table when they went to the bathroom for our fun. Natasha is a stately, vaguely Nordic-looking woman, who appears early in the Google Image results when you search "blonde professional model." But not too early. Boris looks like me with sunglasses, because... he is. Boris and I are very lazy men.

There's nothing the least bit wrong with having a virtual outlet for feelings of betrayal.

Swiping is the new best way to travel

Tinder travels fantastically. You can start scrolling through the locals as soon as your plane touches down. Before you're done taxiing, you'll have a cursory knowledge of who lives in the city you're visiting. If there's a better way to get a feel for the local populace, I haven't found it.

Shouldn't we married types get to cop a feel too?

Tindering keeps us dialed in

As the Bernie Sanders campaign will tell you, it's important to maintain a healthy connection with the young. Online dating is a seismic cultural phenomenon. Who wants to miss out on a phenomenon?

"My husband and I, and one of our daughters, have Tinder accounts," says Aenea, an Ontarian in her 50s. "They're for fun, and figuring out how online hookups work now. We know that we're doing it for fun, and hopefully the friends that we see on it are also doing it for a joke."

Boris and Natasha certainly know how online hookups work now, even though they've never consummated any themselves. It's not for lack of offers. My wife and I tend to get competitive on most fronts, and Boris and Natasha have become another outlet to try and one-up each other. Boris manages to hold his own just enough to give his creator a virtual polyamoristic ego boost every now and again.

Dating apps work like aphrodisiacs

While it wasn't our impetus for signing up, the potential for Tinder to arouse cannot be overlooked. Inevitably, there is already a name for pleasuring yourself while Tindering -- an act which would seem to rival the old "pat your head and rub your belly" test of manual dexterity.

The cuckolding fetish community, one imagines, could also find great utility from Tinder. Now the compulsion to see your spouse engage sexually with another person can be acted out on your phone screen. So too for the scorned spouses of the world. Rebuilding after infidelity can be one of most trying obstacles for a marriage, and the desire to "get even" can be difficult to overcome.

"I'm married, and a betrayed spouse," says Mal from Washington State. "Something about being on a dating profile and being able to browse through the singles and interested ads feels sickeningly appealing to me in my pained and weakened state."

Obviously there's nothing the least bit wrong with having a virtual outlet for feelings of betrayal, even if it's ultimately a panacea for much deeper issues. Fortunately, neither Boris nor Natasha has used Tinder as a vehicle for marital vengeance.

But that's only because Natasha hasn't walked in on Boris Tinderbating yet.

We Tinder because it's there

Of all the reasons, this one may most accurately summarize why married couples use Tinder. Sure, Tinder was created for single people. But then again, Facebook was created for misogynistic Harvard bros and vibrators were created to cure hysteria. These things evolve.

So my wife and I will continue to reap the myriad benefits Tinder offers to married folks. And if you see Boris or Natasha in your local meat market, feel free to swipe right and give us a much-appreciated ego boost. Especially Boris. Natasha is doing just fine.

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Jonathan Zimmerman is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, where he leads a tour of notable landmarks mentioned in Beastie Boys lyrics at all times inside his head.