Tinder, Bumble and hookups: Charlotte dating experts talk trends

I haven’t dated since 2008. Back then I was a junior in college and I used Facebook chat to set up a second date with my now wife. (I didn’t even have texting back then. Stone Age stuff, I’m telling you.)

Dating has changed a lot since then. I may only be 28, but I’m a dinosaur when it comes to dating in the digital world. I learned a lot more about it during the conversation we had this week on The Good News Is with Charlotte dating experts (they may not call themselves that, but I will) Ali Washburn and Lauren Levine, hosts of The Margarita Confessionals podcast.

Each week on The Margarita Confessionals (and right here on CharlotteFive with the Margarita Monday series) dives deep into the various issues surrounding dating — especially online dating — in Charlotte.

Margarita Confessionals

My co-host Sarah Crosland and I picked their brains about the Charlotte dating scene. Some of what we learned:

(1) Dating in Charlotte is definitely different than dating in other cities.

“Charlotte’s a really small town. It’s a city but it’s a small town,” Washburn said. “You run into people everywhere you go. So if you go on a bad date or a good date, or whatever happens on a date … you’re not going to get away from that person, you’re probably going to run into them at Sycamore.”

(2) Two rules for first dates.

– “I have a hard-and-fast drinks only on the first date rule,” Washburn said. “I don’t want to do dinner. … I just feel like that’s too much pressure for a first date. I want to be able to like jet if I’m not feeling it.”

– “You shouldn’t let someone pick you up on the first date,” Levine said. “Don’t get in anybody’s car on the first date. Meet them there.”

(3) Tinder is not just a hookup app.

Crosland is going to two Tinder weddings this year.

“I think that when Tinder first came out it was just like a hookup app and everybody was super judgy about Tinder,” Washburn said. “I think it’s really morphed. I mean, I know it’s morphed. It is not a hookup app anymore. … I have friends that have met friends on Tinder, too. It’s just a good way to meet people.”

(4) There’s not a stigma about online dating anymore.

“When I first became single and I told my 75-year-old aunt that I was on Tinder she was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re going to get murdered,'” Levine said. “And now she’s like ‘Oh, did you meet him on Tinder?’ Even she knows that it’s not just a scary hookup thing anymore. It’s just how people meet and have relationships.”

(5) The podcast was almost called “The Brunch Files.”

“We actually almost called it The Brunch Files, which I have written down,” Levine said. “But I’m glad we called it The Margarita Confessionals because all our events and everything, now we’re drinking margaritas and I prefer that over like eggs benedict.”

The Good News Is — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast with a similar mission to what we do here at C5: To get you CharlotteSmart, fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s hosted by Corey Inscoe and Sarah Crosland.

As always, you can find our episodes on SoundcloudiTunes and now Stitcher. You can follow us on Twitter @TheGoodNewsCLT, on Instagram @TheGoodNewsCLT, on Facebook and you can shoot us an email to

Photos: Remy Thurston; Courtney Schramm