Sex, love, and other mysteries in the city your mother warned you about.

DO NOT USE TINDER. You will get pregnant and die. But if you're so compelled, then what better place to begin our column about sex than the place where people increasingly look for it: Their expensive, glowing phones.

Yep, the days of thirsty singles posting classified ads in inky rags ended for good in 1995 with the advent of That was 20 years ago! Online dating has gone from "ew gross" to "why not" to a total "must" in what feels like a blink. According to research in Aziz Anzari's Modern Romance, "[B]etween 2005 and 2012 more than one third of couples who got married in the United States met through an online dating site. Online dating was the single biggest way people met their spouses. Bigger than work, friends, and school combined."

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Marriage is an outmoded form of property exchange. I'm looking for a tertiary partner in a poly triad." Online dating is for you, too, my culturally queer friend! (See: 3nder)

But how to use this app we speak of? How to find fulfilling relationships and carnal pleasure amidst the icons, beeps, and notifications of your device?

Those endowed with thumbs will be happy to learn that using Tinder is easy. You just put them on the screen and swipe.


Yes, Tinder is simple to use, leading to its wild popularity and massive user pool. That's great for you, especially if you live in a modern metropolis like San Francisco. What are you waiting for? Dive in! There is no shallow end! No running!

For those just returning from a long stint off the grid: After you agree to privately link Tinder with your Facebook account, you'll be presented with a picture and brief self-description of another person in a set nearby range. Just swipe left on their image if you're "not interested in any kind of interaction whatsoever" or if you've been presented with a coworker or a dick pic. Alternatively, you can swipe right here if you're "interested in instant message chatting and seeing where that goes, if anywhere, no pressure, but a sexual connection would be nice and also at least some shared pizza as a baseline to make sure this isn't a total loss."

If you both swipe right "It's a Match!" But it's not over yet.

Now, before you do anything else, go back to your match's profile. Pour over their photos, make attempts to decipher their emoji-laden bio that would probably mystify a cryptographer, and, if it's your thing, meditate on the radical politics of self-representation. When you're ready — which is never for some — you must now say the wittiest thing you possibly can about one of the precious few items of information about your match that you've gleaned.

"Cool pic. Were you on a safari, or did you kill that elephant at the zoo?"

Okay, that's stupid, like everything you've come up with, you're stupid and single and will be forever. Like everyone else, just end up saying "heyyy" and hope for the best.

If you never hear from this person, you've been TOTALLY REJECTED, but silently and subtly in such a way as to protect an entire generation that can't handle it. Conveniently, this all works both ways. You don't have to say anything to someone you've decided you're not interested in, leaving the other party to imagine, just as you did, literally whatever self-serving bullshit they would like.

No response? Your match was eaten on safari, devastating, don't take it personally.

The best case scenario: You said something that couldn't help but be dumb because it was just a bunch of disembodied words, and your match forgives you because they think you're hot — they very well might, they swiped on your photo, didn't they? Wait, did they? Was it a mistake? Or was it their dumbass meddling friend at the bar? — and they engage you in shallow but thrilling conversation.

At this point, be light and breezy, reveal interesting personal information, and ask cool, intriguing questions. "Would you rather" queries are neither, in my experience. Oh, and be yourself — because you don't want to date somebody who isn't interested in the real you. Unless, of course, that real you is a toxic mess. In that case why pretend and end up putting someone else through your shit? Pause your search and focus on fostering a strong relationship with yourself and perhaps a therapist.

If there's some semblance of a spark between you and your match, you'll want to gain access to their precious 10-digit phone number. Using that to chat further, get together In Real Life (IRL), and ASAP. Be flexible in planning and try not to be to secretarial or force someone else to be. Why ASAP? You know, just to see just how radically divergent this living, breathing person with whom you've been presented is from their photos and and the mental projection you've made of them that, with more time, you'll only further embellish.

When you meet, silently acknowledge that this complex internal monologue is also all happening for your date! As you fondly remember that person you made up who is quickly receding from view, remind yourself that you do require love from a breathing person, not an image, and concentrate on whether you are, in fact, interested in this one. Unlike the persistent, intrusive converse question "Are they interested in me," you can actually maybe answer the former.

Oh man, this is a date, huh. Only God can help you here, and although if I were God I would spend time exclusively eavesdropping on Tinder first dates, I sincerely hope She is spending Her time more wisely.

So, wait, how was that date? Oh. Oh? That's okay! Just go back to the top and repeat this process literally thousands of times until total desensitization sets in. We'll talk next week.