I’m a serial Tinder user and, yet, it wasn’t until around August of 2020 when I began using its Passport function. Passport, for the uninitiated, is a premium feature available to Tinder Plus or Gold members which allows them to move their location to other locations—without physically being there. For a time in the early stages of the lockdown it was available for free; this not only was a great way to entertain people trapped inside, but also a genius ploy to make people download the app. While I may have been a longtime Tinder user, I wasn’t aware of the Passport feature until, of all things, I saw a TikTok extolling the virtues and better prospects in other countries compared to America.
So I decided to go travelling.
To date I have been to twenty-seven cities in six countries. I’ve revisited a few and have returned “home” more than once, but, by using Passport, I’ve discovered a wider availability of prospects and people than if I hadn’t. There are, of course, some pros and cons to using this feature, especially since it’s one that must be paid for, but whether that’s worth it in the end is up to each individual person depending on what they’re using Tinder for.
A wider range of possible matches. If, like me, you come from a population that can’t quite be called metropolitan, you’ll often find yourself scrolling through the same prospects over and over. By using Passport, you literally have the world at your fingertips and may find you’re more popular on the outside. If you have a certain “type” that you tend to gravitate toward and it’s rather lacking in your nearby area then other locales may be more abundant. I found that, even with a 100 mile radius setting and an additional global setting, I often ran out of matches near me and we didn’t seem to have too much in common. When I started using Passport, my matches increased, I found people all over who shared interests, and I also branched beyond my “type” because there were more possibilities.
The exchange of culture, language, or history. While I have stuck to mostly English-speaking countries in my travels, that doesn’t mean I don’t find profiles or people who don’t speak English. I’ve had a lot of fun translating bios into English or polishing what knowledge I do have of Italian, French, or Spanish. When I have matched with people in other countries, it’s been interesting to exchange knowledge and facts about where we’re from. Obviously, many have been interested in our elections or political climate, but I’ve also had in-depth conversations about systems of government, feminism, the patriarchy, food, and pop culture. It’s fun to see what kind of things crossover and what is different. Of course, in some areas—like New Zealand and Australia—I have a unique advantage. I’ve seen others who have used Tinder Passport as an opportunity to learn a language they’re unfamiliar with or gain knowledge.
Future destinations and sexy accents. Initially, the purpose of Passport was mostly for people to scope out places they’d be traveling and find dates ahead of time. I did the same with OkCupid in 2012 and had a great time dating in New Zealand. With many of us unable to cross borders, safely travel, or take vacations anytime soon, Passport is the closest we may get. That said, we can still use Tinder to scope out those future destinations, talk to the locals, learn where is the best place to eat or drink, and make those plans for when things are safe and wonderful again. For those who are able to have long distance dates, there’s nothing sexier than finding a match with a great accent and enjoying a good conversation.
Obviously, the distance. So many people when swiping through Tinder don’t really pay attention to where the person is. Then when the match is made they see and either immediately un-match or message and say some version of, “Why are you so far away?” It also limits your chances of ever meeting or moving beyond the talking stage because few people will want to take a chance on someone farther than a day away (or even a few hours). For the most part, you’ll either match and never hear from the person, or be stuck in a perpetual talking stage with little chance of anything happening. Even then, what do you want to happen?
The time differences will mess up your life. Unless you’re using Passport and matching with destinations in the same time zone as your physical location, there is a high chance for some kind of time difference. This only works out if your natural hours coincide with theirs; otherwise, if you’re at all invested in the conversation or person, your hours may begin to go a bit topsy turvy. I’ve had conversations with people in Greece who were ten hours ahead and people in Australia who were nineteen hours ahead. While I may already be nocturnal, staying up till sunrise to continue late night conversations too many days in a row is exhausting, not exciting. Some sacrifices are worth it, but only when there’s a reason to make them.
No “real” future prospects. Unless you’re trying to find true love in different locale and are planning on moving there, the chances of any long-lasting connection through a dating app are low. It is not only the distance, the numerous steps to gain a visa or citizenship, or the unknowable void of life after this pandemic. Creating a meaningful relationship on a dating app is hard enough. You have to make it past the talking phase and dating when it seems like everyone just wants to move onto the next match, the next possibility. So many people, including myself for the most part, are using Passport as a form of escape—they’re not really looking for love or a real connection. There is no plan to visit a place or meet a person, and that emptiness is like a black hole that sucks all possibility of hope inside. Sometimes, just sometimes, you can still be surprised—and the distance, time, and unknown doesn’t really matter anymore.
Tinder Passport makes the world your oyster. It expands your prospects to other cities and countries. It can expand your mind and your heart if you let it. There are pros and cons to any scenario, especially when it comes to dating apps or trying a premium feature, but ruling out the possibilities will only lessen your chances. And isn’t that really all we’re asking the universe for?