What Happened When I Let My Married Best Friend Swipe My Hinge for a Week

married best friend swipes on dating apps, dating apps
My BFF Swiped My Hinge for a WeekZachary Scott - Getty Images

I’ve had atype” for the entirety of my dating career—and not because said type has led to fulfilling, drama-free relationships. Really, it’s the opposite; my personal philosophy that all red flags are green if he’s over six feet tall has admittedly led me down a rabbit hole of toxic men. (Which isn’t to say that all tall men are toxic. I’m sure some of you are nice.)

My track record includes all the canon events (see: the year-long situationship that was still in love with his ex; the one who refused to take me on real dates; and the younger guy with the emotional intelligence of a walnut), but after six years in the dating trenches, I recently realized it was time to wise up. Or at least that’s what my therapist told me after my most recent narcissistic ex.

Though I've learned from my mistakes (we’ll refer to my exes henceforth as “lessons”), trying something new is easier said than done when you’ve spent the better half of your twenties dating your way through the Equinox in NYC's Financial District. I knew I should start looking outside of my usual type, but it was one of my nearest and dearest—aka, my happily married bestie, Janie—who decided to take matters into her own hands after years of begging me to “do better.”

First, Janie Swiped for Me

Fed up with my propensity for assholes, Janie logged herself into my Hinge on her phone—all while cosplaying as me. It’s not that she wanted to lower my standards, but rather “expand them” to better match my personality and values, she said.

“You go for the kinds of guys who are basically everyone’s type on paper—tall, handsome, big job, alpha male,” Janie told me. “I want to take out those surface-level screeners.”

It helps that Janie met her own husband on Hinge, but that’s not the only thing that made her the right friend for the job. She’s one of my closest friends and a consistent confidant—someone who’s seen me through plenty of dating drama, without a judgmental bone in her body. For as long as she's witnessed my messy love life, she’s also helped me believe that I’m actually deserving of healthy, consistent love. Everyone needs a Janie.

And because she loves me (or so she says), she also had a bone or two to pick with my profile. Before delving into my potential suitors, she walked me through a few updates—adding a group shot here and a new convo-starting prompt there. She wanted both to “reflect my personality” while also providing an easy opening for responses.

Then, She Presented Her Picks

We both came to the table (read: bar top) a week later with some rules: I could veto two prospects, and she wouldn’t let me date another former/current tennis player (three wasn’t that many, I argued).

I found myself wailing “nooo” and begging the waiter for another round when Janie presented her picks. I seemed to forget that the whole point of this experiment wasn’t to go out with a carbon copy of my exes, it was to try something new and put myself out there in a way I haven’t before.

We poured over her selects and she even took me on a tour through their messages, so I didn’t feel like I was going into the dates completely clueless. And while I’ll admit it felt a little catfish-y that I wasn’t chatting with the men myself, her banter was inspiring. The girl’s got game.

After cycling through the choices—and exercising my right to veto twice—Janie settled on my first date. We’ll call him Mark. He was by no means unattractive, but a little more boy-ish looking than who I’d typically go for. He was shorter than my six-foot-plus exes, standing at five foot eight, and worked a sales job he hated (his words, not mine).

Date #1: Mark

When it was time for our date (drinks a week later), I was uncharacteristically nervous. While I’m a pretty avid dater—it is part of my job, after all—I hate wasting an hour on inconsequential small talk just for us to mutually ghost each other at the end of it.

Nevertheless, I bucked up and arrived two minutes late, just in time to watch him walk up to the bar while I was still safely hidden in the back of my Uber. When I finally made it out of the car, past the bouncer, and to the corner table where Mark was waiting, I found myself pleasantly surprised. He was cuter IRL, with tousled dirty blonde curls and a warm, disarming smile. I felt myself relax into the worn leather booth.

Once the obligatory “hellos” and “how are you’s” were out of the way, we ordered a round of beer. And just like that, I fell into my usual rhythm. The night sped on and I began to realize that we had a surprising amount in common and the banter flowed more effortlessly than I expected. We chatted about our neighboring midwest hometowns and gushed over our recent travels—he’d just gotten back from Japan, I was fresh off a week in Paris.

When he suggested we grab another round at a bar nearby, I happily obliged, and when he asked to kiss me across the table at our second location, I allowed it—and not just out of obligation. I wanted him to.

Ultimately, I didn’t fall head over heels for Mark (spoiler: it fizzled out after a few follow-up texts) but I was starting to realize the value in an open mind, and how much fun you can have on a date when you're open to trying something new.

Date #2: William

Confession: I’ve got a thing for emotionally unavailable men. (You can blame my own anxious-avoidant attachment style on that one.) As part of the experiment, Janie insisted I go out with someone who would test this bad habit.

“I want to find someone who’s nice, like really nice, and forward in a way that doesn’t feel love bomb-y,” she informed me, before declaring that she’d found the “perfect candidate,”—*William. He was two years older than me, average height, and a self-proclaimed nerd. The downside? We had seemingly nothing in common. He asked about “my dad” in my last Hinge photo (it was a picture of me with Roger Federer) and admitted to a dog allergy (I love my 80-pound black lab more than most humans). But hey, maybe opposites attract?

I found myself on a barstool at a swanky cocktail bar a few days later. After brushing up on his quick convo with Janie, in which he referred to me as the “best looking/prettiest girl on Hinge” on three occasions, I was admittedly trying not to get the ick before the date even started. While, for the sake of this story, I’d love to tell you how wrong I was about my initial perception, I wasn’t. We quite literally had nothing in common.

I spent a painfully long hour sipping my singular gin and tonic while he interrogated me with basic date questions: my job, my family, my hobbies. There was absolutely nothing wrong with him, it just felt like a cross examination instead of a legit date. I knew from the first five minutes that the banter and chemistry weren’t there—and while I’m starting to better differentiate between wants and needs in a relationship, those two are non-negotiable for me.

When the waiter stopped circled back, I politely declined and blamed a work deadline. I thanked William before we shared a semi-awkward hug, and the next day I sent him gentle, honest text letting him know I just didn’t feel that romantic spark. And while, sure, it’s never fun to go on an unfulfilling date (or reject someone after it), I was starting to realize that even a failed date could be a productive one. It was one hour on a random Tuesday that I would've probably just spent watching Vanderpump Rules anyways.

Date #3: Jake

While I’ve never intentionally sought them out, per se, my dating history includes quite a few guys who've been a year or two younger than me. They were fine, for the most part, but Janie wanted to see how I'd handle dating someone a little bit older. And considering how adamant my own mother has been about me raising my Hinge age limit to at least 30 (I'm 28), I was game, too.

Janie's final choice was Jake*—35 years old, five foot nine, and worked in venture capital. Unlike the others, who suggested casual weeknight drinks, he proposed coffee and a long walk on a Sunday. The prospect of this morning date—without my ritual pre-game drink and pump-up playlist—was equal parts refreshing and terrifying. Would we click without the inherent sexiness that comes with an evening rendezvous?

When I arrived in my best Sporty Spice ‘fit, he was waiting with two coffees in hand. He went in for a quick but casual hug after handing off my iced Americano and we started off on our stroll. I wasn’t sure if it was the low-stakes nature of the walk or just our easy chemistry, but we fell into rhythm. He seemed genuinely interested in my career and lit up when I talked about my accomplishments. We passed by my old neighborhood and I reminisced about my apartment as we swapped stories. In a blink, an hour went by and my Americano was down to melted ice. I had no fake plans or made-up deadlines, so when he proposed brunch, I was quick to agree.

We continued our conversation over omelets and more coffee, and I found myself reveling at his mature confidence—something I hadn’t really experienced before. Maybe my mom was right.

It was there that I realized something sorta monumental: I wasn’t succumbing to my usual dating default and stressing over whether he liked me, without any real consideration of how I felt about the situation. In fact, I hadn’t done that on any of my dates. Whether I was enjoying myself or not, I was tuning into whether I liked them.

By only dating my usual type, I’d been so clouded by attraction and fantasies that I never stopped to consider how I actually felt—until I started dating without expectations.

When Jake texted me the same day, like he said he would (crazy when they follow through on their word, eh?), I felt a twinge of excitement. A second date might not mean we’re going to run off into the sunset together, but it’s a step in the right direction—one I wouldn’t have taken if I’d stuck to my usual type.

The Takeaways

As I walked home from brunch, I wondered why I’d been closing myself off in the first place. Maybe I was going for the same type of guy for a reason, subconsciously dating men who reminded me of my ex (aka the Big Heartbreak Of My Twenties) in hopes they would choose me in a way that he ultimately didn’t. If, just maybe, I found a guy with even more ambition and success and looks, I would finally get the validation that I was so desperate to receive from him back then. I could finally prove him wrong, that I am worthy.

But through this experiment, I learned I’m never going to find that in another person. I have to find it in myself and stop seeking it in partners. While I might at times paint a superficial picture of my romantic history, the truth is, the relationships that actually mattered to me most didn’t make me happy because of the other person’s career aspirations or unwavering hairline. I cared about them because of their humor, our common interests, and the way they made me feel. What looks good “on paper” doesn’t necessarily translate to IRL chemistry. You’re not dating their Ivy League law degree or athletics career or [insert whatever your type might be].

These arbitrary standards have been playing a larger role in my dating life than I’d like to admit, but I’m starting to see them for what they really are: unimportant. And thanks to this experiment, I’m a lot more concerned about how someone treats me (with kindness!) and makes me feel (confident and secure!) than about any height requirement or resume builder. And I'm excited to see where this new mentality takes me next.

*Name has been changed.

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