I had heard from women on Twitter, and from one of my offline friends, that Alex was rude in their DMs after they matched on Tinder. When I asked him about this, he said, “I’m very narcissistic. I own that.”
Hammerli works in digital marketing, though he would not say with what company. He uses Tinder exclusively for casual sex, a fact that he volunteered, along with an explanation of his views on long-term relationships: “Idiotic in a culture where we move on from shit so easily and upgrade iPhones every year.” When I asked whether he’s ever been in love, he responded: “lmao no.” Monogamy, he said, is “a fly-over state thing.”
Hammerli’s methods aren’t exactly harassment, but they do border on spam. They violate Tinder’s terms of service, and the company is supposedly cracking down on the account-reset hack that he so diligently employs. (Tinder did not respond to a request for comment about Hammerli’s account.)
He’s not the only one using this strategy. “I have hundreds of photos of this one guy Ben on LA’s Bumble scene,” one woman told me over Twitter, adding that he seems to have a new profile “literally” every day. She’s been seeing Ben’s photo—always accompanied by a new straight-from-the-box bio, such as “Looking for a partner in crime”—for at least a year, and says “MANY” other women have told her they’ve seen him too.
“Ian in NYC who claims to be a lawyer would show up for me and my roommate at least once a week,” another woman wrote. “It was so frequent that I began to think he was a bot account. So I matched with him out of curiosity once and he was real!” Another woman asked whether I had seen a guy named Craig, who was extremely muscular, was always standing in a swimming pool, and had given his age as 33 for “at least the past five years.” (I had not, because I will date only people who are my exact age or up to 18 months younger.) “I’ve run into him so many times, and so have several of my friends,” this woman told me. Guys like Craig, she hypothesized, “just think they’re being persistent and have no idea they are minor internet legends.”
Read: The rise of dating-app fatigue
These legends seem to be more common in large coastal cities, but smaller cities have them too—I heard from a woman in Des Moines, Iowa, who told me about a terrifying profile that had haunted her and her roommates (the bio was about how “girl’s [sic] are shallow”), as well as women from Durham, North Carolina, and Toronto who had recurring figures of their own (“Tights Guy,” a guy who was obsessed with pantyhose, and “New to the City,” a guy who was perpetually in need of navigation help, respectively).
There is something alarming about these persistent men: We live in a culture where persistence is often a euphemism for more dangerous types of male behavior. But there is also something fantastic about them: While the easiest mental response to dating apps is to conclude that everyone is the same, men like Tights Guy and Craig take up space in local cultures, and remind bored daters that people are specific and surprising. It’s odd, and somewhat thrilling, to feel so curious about someone who is only a pile of photos on an app. Hammerli’s stunt didn’t make me want to date him, but it did make me want to know everything about him.