Tinder Alex and the Legends of Local Dating App Folklore

Are we all just swiping on the same person over and over again?

tinder alex
Tinder Alex in his natural habitat: standing in front of a granite countertop in exactly this pose.
Instagram/Alex Hammerli

I know Alex. We all know Alex — we being the single women of New York on Tinder, that is.

Alex was one of the first people I matched with on the app when I first moved to New York in 2018. He is a now-27-year-old whose profile consists of a series of near-identical photos in which Alex stands in front of the same granite countertop in the same pose, wearing a different shirt in each shot.

Alex and I matched, exchanged the kind of sardonic back-and-forth I expected from a weird but well-crafted profile, and the next day he was gone. Such is the internet.

I had long since forgotten about Alex, and because I shortly thereafter ceased swiping on twenty-somethings, I never saw his profile again. But the Atlantic‘s Kaitlyn Tiffany remembered Alex, and when she tweeted out to “every single woman in New York” last week to ask us if we, too, had encountered “that guy on tinder who is standing in front of a huge granite kitchen island in all of his photos in the same position but different colored shirts,” it turned out many of us had, including one woman from Boston who said even she’d swiped on Alex during visits to New York.

Tiffany subsequently unpacked the Alex mystery in a recent Atlantic article, in which Alex himself (last name Hammerli) explains that he actually lifted the idea for his now-iconic profile from a series of 2014 Tumblr posts in which a man repeatedly posed in the same penthouse overlooking Central Park, striking the same pose every time and only changing his outfit. Hammerli told Tiffany he initially copied the idea simply to share his “amazing wardrobe” on Instagram. By 2017, the photos migrated to his Tinder profile for the same reason many of our Instagram photos end up on dating apps: because Instagram is for pretending to be hotter and cooler than you are, and people want to date hot, cool people.

The reason Hammerli is so ubiquitous on the app is not due solely to the easily recognizable nature of his profile, however. According to Tiffany, Hammerli reappears among Tinder swipers’ potential matches as often as he does because he regularly deletes and redownloads the app, cheating the system by throwing himself back into the dating pool.

Some other things we now know about Alex, thanks to Tiffany’s fearless investigation into the app’s low-key New York legend: he actually lives in Jersey City, not New York (which is why his kitchen is so sprawling), he uses Tinder exclusively for hookups, and — as multiple women who matched with him suggested — he’s also kind of a jerk.

“I’m very narcissistic,” he told Tiffany. “I own that.”

Should we all be giving a self-proclaimed “very narcissistic” man who is rude to women on dating apps more attention? Probably not. But here we are.

Meanwhile, it turns out there are actually other Alexes all over the country. From a Ben who keeps popping up on Bumble in LA to a “Tights Guy” in North Carolina, it seems every city has its minor dating app legends and mysteries.

When I first moved to New York, right around the time I first joined the secret sisterhood of women who have matched with Tinder Alex, I remember feeling fascinated by the seemingly limitless pool of potential dating app matches that were suddenly available. My new roommate and I, recent transplants from rural parts of New England where one could swipe through every available match in a single sitting, gushed about how we’d never run out of matches here. As it turns out, however, even in New York, we’re all still just swiping on the same people over and over again.

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