Swipe right, swipe left, like, super like, bad chat up lines, creepy chat up lines, first date nerves, the knock back text.
The dating app is a strange and often bewildering beast. I have come to learn this over the past 6-ish months. Last year, after a few serious long-term relationships I found myself single for pretty much the first time in my 20’s. I’d heard tales of tinder, even one or two happy endings (minds out the gutter) that had come of it. I thought why not… ‘I’ll give this a go’ and at the recommendation of a friend at University, I downloaded a similar app called Bumble.
Now if you’re not familiar with this one, it’s an attempt to put the power back in the hands of the ladies as they have to send the first message should a match happen. Another feature is that once a match is made – us gals only have 24 hours to send a message before the match disappears unless you make an in app purchase (don’t worry, we’re not there yet). Between Uni work, a part-time job and spending time with people in the non virtual world, I found that a number of matches dropped off the radar into the ‘oh what could have been’ abyss.
Now judge me if you will but… I tended not to be massively creative with my opening lines. I went for the classics like ‘Hi Jack*, how are you?’ – I felt that recreating how I would actually speak to someone I had just met, was the most genuine approach to take. I was pleasantly surprised with how good looking a lot of the fellas on this app were and felt those little flutters of excitement when conversations took off despite my tentative & unoriginal openers. Then I was asked on a date. The realisation that I could actually meet this person in real life started to kick in and I felt more than a little nervous. This would be my first date via an app and my first FIRST date in over 3 years. Most of my previous relationships had always grown from friendships.
Anyway… we set a date and the time came closer. So I cancelled. Now, my reasons weren’t just the knots in my tummy and fear of total rejection. I was a busy gal and decided to prioritise my University work above my desire for a handsome man pal. However once our first big assignment was finished, an email fired around our class informing us that a free event for international students didn’t receive the turn out they expected. Perhaps they didn’t market the FREE WINE, BEER & PIZZA clearly enough because as quickly as the email came through, a bunch of my classmates and I were up there powering through the double pepperoni’s and knocking back the Cab Merlot with reckless abandon. Fuelled by almost an entire stuffed crust and numerous glasses of wine, I decided that tonight would be a great night to finally have my first date.
He was surprised by my last minute invite but turned out to be free and we met for the first time outside Edinburgh’s Christmas market. I arrived first and my dutch courage was starting to wain and the nerves began to kick in. I didn’t have too much time to mull those feelings over because after 5 minutes, my date arrived. With the exeption of a couple of instances, I usually know whether I fancy someone or not within the first 30 seconds of meeting them. I was excited to realise that on my very first dalliance with dating apps, I fancied the guy. We got hot boozy drinks, wandered round the market and settled down in the bar for some more drinks and chit chat. I was surprised by how easy I found it to chat away with an almost complete stranger ( then I remembered, that’s never really been a problem). The main difference here is that you are both trying to suss out if you like one another, how much and what can happen here? That’s one of the snags to dating this way: There is pressure right from the start.
So let’s skip ahead a little and those drinks in the Christmas market moved on to another bar, another bar and then finally a bar/club combo. As first dates go it was a solid one and a second was already in the books. A few more dates happened, things progressed and then a couple of weeks later I was met with silence. I was confused and tried not to feel too hurt but a short exchange of texts confirmed things. I’d been dumped.
Confidence knocked and ego bruised: I took a wee step back from the dating apps. Then a couple of unexpected messages came through via Bumble from guys I had spoken to right from the start. I explained I wasn’t too sure I was interested in dating but a little persuasion and an inner voice told me it was time to get back on the horse ( Again, minds out the gutter) In the end though, things didn’t work out.
I have met people who liked me but unfortunately I didn’t feel the same and what this way of dating has brought to my attention is that we all need to be a bit kinder to one another. Behind the carefully chosen pictures (although sometimes less so, I’m talking to you – guy who takes half naked selfies in bed) and occasional witty bio’s, are real human beings. Sometimes things don’t go the way you’d hoped, a sentiment applicable to every aspect of life. I’ve always tried to be as honest & fair as possible through out this process and it can be very easy not to be in the world of digital dating. As quickly as one date goes up in smoke, you can find another one rising like a pheonix from the ashes of the date where a guy wouldn’t let you get a word in or a guy who was kind of pissed off when he saw you also have red hair in real life.
The huge amount of choice makes people (including myself) lazy. At the first sign of something you might not like or just don’t feel sure about – you end it and continue the search for something bigger and better. It appears there’s always someone better looking/funnier/smarter a mere swipe away. If it’s a deep meaningul connection you are looking for, then this is most definitely not the approach to take. I don’t mean dating apps themselves, I mean the fickle and cold behaviour that can sometimes manifest through them.
I’ve learned a lot through out my little spell with dating apps and not just about other people but also about myself. The best piece of advice actually came from my wee Gran who said, “Stephanie you go into things with a big open heart, you always have, but you must remember that not everyone will do the same and be as genuine as you are.” She accompanied this with “Dinna fall fir their bullshit!” in her formidable dundonian accent.
I’m still not sure exactly what it is I’m looking for but I’m happy knowing that I won’t change for anyone. This is it.
So for anyone embarking on the mystyfying world of dating apps: Don’t fall into the trap. Be you, be kind & listen to my Granny.
*Jack is a fictional name and not the name of someone I actually dated… well I mean obviously there are people who are called Jack, it just so happens that I haven’t dated one. Come to think of it though I do know a lot of Jacks, it’s a common name and I’m surprised that I didn’t happen to have a screaming orgasm with one. ( minds out the gutter, I mean the cocktail.)