About three months ago, Juan Juarez swiped right.
On Sunday, Juarez and his boyfriend, Aaron Pirkkala, will be celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together.
Juarez, an 18-year-old UF chemical engineering freshman, said Tinder not only led to his first Valentine, but also to his first boyfriend.
“With gay relationships, it’s very hard to just get into a traditional relationship,” he said. “If anything, I feel more comfortable that it happened through Tinder.”
Tinder has facilitated more than 9 billion matches among 196 countries, according to its website.
Juarez found a match of his own, and his relationship defeats the stereotype that dating apps belong to a hook-up culture, he said.
“Memories are made out of the reality of it,” he said. “Sure, we didn’t meet by catching one another’s eye in the park or something romantic like that, but it’s the reality of it, and the reality is more romantic than anything.”
High school sweethearts Anthony Rychkov and Kemley Nieva said they can see through the stereotypes.
“It doesn’t discredit anything if you started on Tinder,” said Rychkov, an 18-year-old UF political science freshman. “But when you go to family and tell them you met on Tinder, it has a bad connotation, although it shouldn’t be that way.”
Nieva has at least two friends whose relationships started on Tinder.
“I think it really fits society’s hook-up phenomenon so far,” the 19-year-old said. “But I think that there is a chance that you can make a relationship out of it and even a friendship out of it.”
Gabriel Sandler, a 24-year-old UF doctoral student in nuclear engineering, said his brother met a woman on Tinder and recently became engaged to her.
“I don’t view it as different,” he said. “I just view it as a different way of doing the same thing.”
Sandler met Hannah Kaufman, a 21-year-old UF political science senior, on Tinder about two months ago. He had no problem telling his family, especially after his brother paved the way.
On Saturday night, Sandler and Kaufman will be spending their first Valentine’s Day together in St. Augustine, Florida.
Sandler said he doesn’t think much about meeting his girlfriend on Tinder — he’s just happy they’re together.
Juarez said he feels the same way about his boyfriend, and that nobody should feel badly about it.
“Be proud that you are able to have this relationship and this person that you met is for a reason,” Juarez said. “You are together for a reason, so don’t be ashamed of that.”