My name wasn’t Ashley Carman anymore. It was . Yes, a guy I dated last summer saved me in his phone as a fishcake emoji. We met on Tinder and the first thing I messaged him was the fishcake. I thought it was cute or something. I don’t know — I didn’t expect it to become my identity. To be fair, I didn’t save his name in my phone until we had been hanging out for a month because I don’t save numbers unless I know a guy’s last name, or I intend to see him again. Did I mention I used a burner number when we first met?
I assume a lot of people are like me in this way. Online dating has created a strange predicament where daters know a person’s first name but often little else. If they want to connect off an app, they have to get a person’s number, but then, how do they save that number? A phone book can only store so many Jeremy’s and Tom’s before it becomes an absurdist critique of the rotating door that is dating in the 21st century.
Most relationships don’t last long enough to warrant saving a full name, but it’d be weird to find yourself in a serious relationship with someone whose last name is still a mystery. It’s entirely possible that you might never know someone’s full name, unless you’ve mastered internet sleuthing — or at least reverse image searching.
So with all this in my mind during a lonely subway commute, I decided to poll my friends and colleagues on how they save numbers.
There are five main methods:
Save immediately as "Joe Tinder" or "Becky Bumble"
This was by far the most common solution to number saving.
This method seemingly works for a while because most people are only talking to a few matches at once, and it’s likely they don’t share names with each other. But it gets confusing over time. You’re bound to end up with multiple Mike Tinders after three years of online dating. Good luck figuring out who’s who, or even trying to remember what they look like!
Save as a nickname, like "Bucket Hat" or "Becky Beyonce GIFs"
Nicknames, my second preferred method, make sense when you aren’t serious about someone or if you met IRL. It’s easier to remember someone by their defining characteristic than a generic name. I fully accept this! And it’s fine if someone did it to me. "Gadget Blogger" would be a fine nickname, right? Ha ha ha.
My friend Dami Lee says that in Korea, changing a partner’s saved name to a nickname is a big deal. Like, it has implications for the whole relationship and could maybe even cause a break-up? Message Dami for more info.
Never save a number
Other people polled say they don’t save numbers until they know they’re going to see the person again. Multiple women told me that if "they’re on the fence," then they don’t save. They recommend using area codes and old message threads as crutches for this method. This is a terrible idea for anyone who changes phones a lot.
Save first name only
The people who rely on only a first name said they often got confused between people, especially when someone texted after months of not talking. Like the no-save user, this method requires old message threads for success. It also risks you mistaking Jake from Tinder for Jake from your childhood.
Save full name when and if it’s ever acquired
I’m a big proponent of the full name. It keeps everything mix-up free, although yes, it’s a bit clinical. I don’t know how I typically find out full names. I think the people I date usually ask me, or I look them up online. I get why people don’t readily disclose their full names. Online search is an expansive tool that can provide a ton of information to a complete stranger. Maybe you don’t want someone you just met to read your old newspaper clippings from 2008.
If you’re set on finding that last name, though, apparently a pro tip is to look at their mail when you’re at their apartment. This is kind of intrusive but also maybe essential. What really qualifies as privacy infringement in 2016?
Okay, Tinder fam, we’re doing it. We’re navigating the online dating world. We’re going to be great, I promise. Now, how do you save numbers while dating? Is getting a last name the ultimate relationship milestone? Please enlighten me.