Level four: Not making this date all about sex and getting him/her to respect you enough to go on a second date
Holy effing cow you actually want to see this person again. This is both incredible and terrifying; it’s the definitive Soda Popinski-equivalent level of this process, because you can actually catch a glimpse at Mike Tyson (i.e. the dating level). Your hopes arise, and you think you can beat it. Then out of nowhere you’re nailed by an uppercut, and subsequently laughed at as he/she takes another swig of “pop” -- which in both cases is booze, Soda Popinski was always drinking.
Here’s why: not making the first Tinder date, let alone the second, about sex is like when a sophomore is dating a graduating senior -- there’s this weird precedent set. Yes, we’re all hopefully more secure than we were when we succumbed to the whole “C’mon, it’s our last prom. We may never see each other again, don’t you want this to be special?” But that jilted logic has evolved. You still have to work to fight that elephant in the room that’s basically screaming, “Wait, we’re going to have sex, right? We met on Tinder for Pete’s sake!” It’s often wafting in the air throughout the entire date. And even if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s still just depressing. After being forced into meeting someone via an application, the universal setting defaults to “No Romance.”
Factor in that you’ll almost undoubtedly be having your first date at a bar -- because, New York -- and, naturally, the several drinks you’ll down to take that first-date edge off; before you know it, you get to the point where you may as well have slept with this person, given you made out all over the city. Silver lining here is, no matter where you land on the “to bone or not to bone” decision, you’ll still wonder if this person isn’t texting you because you did or didn’t do one of them. So, yeah, not really a silver lining as much as a silver bullet you want to aim towards your head.
Level five: The out-of-nowhere fade out
AKA the part of the game New Yorkers kick so much ass at, it’s a wonder we didn’t invent this method. Or did we? The obvious Punch-Out!!-level comparison here is Great Tiger, because this is some serious magician shit. Things are actually going well. You’ve been on a few dates, somehow overcame the sex elephant, and managed to not get knocked out yet. You are a solid player whose fighting skills are so masterful they’ve resulted in arriving at a very advanced level in this crapshoot of a game.
But like Great Tiger disappears just to reappear as if from nowhere only to punch you in the face, such is the case when a Tinder mate just goes stone-cold silent for no damn reason. Seriously, they can just drop off the map and you will have no idea why. Nothing happened. Literally, nothing. Your last correspondence could very well have been about a concert in Brooklyn you were planning to catch together next week. Then, just, crickets.
Neither I, the universe, nor Robert Stack have any answers for this because these are total Unsolved Mysteries. I can tell you that you should expect it to happen almost 100% of the time in New York City’s “it’s a Tinder-iffic life” saga.