Why do I keep coming back to dating apps?
Clearly, it’s not a world I’m going to have much success in. Even in America, online dating never worked out for me, and Japan is significantly worse for that. And yet, I still find myself trying at them, over and over and over and over and over.
I’ve probably uninstalled Tinder 6 times in the last 6 years. Deleted my account at least twice. But still, that lingering hope brings me back to swipe a bunch and invariably end up frustrated and angry.
Being queer and trans as a foreigner in Japan is tough. For four years, I also lived in RURAL Japan including all that. Dating apps were not kind to me, especially with all the added restrictions that Japanese apps bring. That trans part has gotten me outright banned off of random Japanese-language dating apps before even interacting with anyone, and a lot of them require you to upload a photo of your ID, which seems just ripe for abuse.
I REALLY want to go on a date, to meet new people and get to know them as friends and potential romantic partners. But I just don’t even know how to meet people for that to happen! Thus, not a single date since I came to Japan in 2018. Obviously, two years of that was kind of the fault of that microscopic menace, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt real bad anyway.
Setting your profile to the female side of things, and then NOT being interested in dudes… makes the world a much harder place than you’d expect, and you’re probably expecting some difficulty. The pool becomes so small from that alone that all the other factors are like, Gosh.
Most of America’s most popular dating apps do work in Japan. Some even have actual Japanese people on them. But they tend to be dominated by foreigners, and a certain kind of foreigner for sure. As in, not the kind who usually match with me unless they are nerdy trans girls who stop messaging me after 5 messages because they’re in Tokyo and I’m in Aomori.
The situation in Aomori was so desperate that I not only swiped right on every single profile without looking (otherwise I’d run out quickly), but I used like 6 different apps. I’m talking Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble, Lex, Hinge, some Japanese ones… Hell, I even used 9monster which is the gay guy app in Japan, and I’m not even into guys. My thought process was maybe I could make LGBT+ Japanese friends and find someone by entering friend groups… But instead I just got a lot of dick pics and some guy asking to fuck at literally 9 AM on a weekday. Sigh.
Anyway, I’m moved now, of course. I should be in a lot better position. But still no luck whatsoever on the apps I still try to use (not 9monster). Matches don’t spark, my intro messages never get replies, and nobody ever wants to talk about themselves enough for me to even know who they are.
I have long since ceased on the “always swipe right” tactic. For one, there’s enough people that I won’t literally run out of options in a day or two. For two, the new tactic on Tinder and a little on OKCupid is for straight guys to set their profiles to female and ????? into success? I guess? I found that out the hard way when a dude using a girlified Purikura picture to “fool” people messaged me asking me to go along with him on a scenic drive through the mountains… at 11 PM.
The tragic loss of that tactic means I have to spend more time actually looking at profiles and seeing the cool people I’ll almost certainly never match with, let alone meet. A double whammy of frustration.
I have no main thesis for this article. It’s just me hoping desperately that something will change, that I’ll find myself going on a fun date with someone really cool. Or just making Japanese friends, honestly. But I don’t actually know how to put that into action. Dating apps certainly aren’t working.
If I were a little less awkward in-person, maybe I could have a better shot. Or if I lived right in Tokyo or Osaka. Or if I was just into dudes. Alas, I am none of those things, and I’ll just have to brute force a social/dating life some other way.