personal topical

Notes on swiping right

I’ve decided to take a short break from the online dating world.

In hindsight, I can see that a relationship was not something I was actively looking for when I started swiping left right and centre. I was up for dating and figured if it happened it happened, but it was more about meeting new people and having someone to go out with at the weekends in the absence of my friends, who’ve all scattered across the country for university, travelling, work and the like.

Funnily enough there’s not many people on there up for friendship alone, who’d have thought it? I’m sure I’ll return when I’m ready to get back to dating for real, but for now I’ve traded in Tinder for bumble and other friendship apps. Friend hunting is much more fun anyway. It’s just like online dating except I don’t have to make an effort with my appearance, and sex is no longer an elephant in the room.

Despite the many faults you can raise with apps like Tinder, they’re a very convenient way to meet people. It’s been good for me socially to be able to meet strangers and talk to them off the bat. I’ve always been introverted and reserved so that kind of thing doesn’t come naturally to me. Surprisingly I’m not as socially incompetent as I thought. Even now I’m baffled as to how every date I’ve been on has been fairly decent. I suppose as long as you’re not completely socially incompetent the first meeting is always going to go well, it’s just a case of knowing whether you like them enough to see them again.

I have no bad date stories for you, only embarrassing follow up behaviour on my part. Let’s immediately get some apologies out in the open, as I figure I’m probably a few peoples’ most tragic tinder story. Plus they’ll never see this. J, I’m sorry for all the clingy weird texts. I think I was just excited because you were the first person I met and you weren’t absolutely horrible. I won’t be apologising for the memes, though. It’s not my fault you have no sense of humour. P, I’m sorry for (probably) making you feel bad about not wanting to be friends. In hindsight I can see pity is not a good foundation for friendship. A, I’m sorry for never texting you back. Your clever cheese puns were lost on me, and you deserve someone who appreciates them.

Phew, now I feel better!

BUT, BUT, BUT. I suspect I’m not the only user out there that would be better focusing on finding company elsewhere for the time being. At least I’m not bullshitting myself anymore. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for many of the people I encountered on Plenty of Fish. It really saddened me to see how many people put themselves down in their bios. ‘Not the best looking’, ‘pretty useless at this’ ‘not much to say’ and similar phrases were commonplace. I wanted to jump through their screens, give these people a hug and tell them they were excellent, sexy humans and not to be told otherwise by anyone. I couldn’t help but think they were trying to find someone to love them as a solution to them not loving themselves. Obviously everyone has their insecurities, but if you can’t be on your own side, then how can you expect others to be?

Oh look, I see we’re talking profile no-nos…

People who had literally nothing to say for themselves made me suspicious. I understand for most people selling themselves is difficult and they’d rather not do it. It’s the equivalent of sitting in a group of strangers and being asked to say three interesting things about yourself. You might be the coolest person ever, but in that moment everything runs blank. For apps where the bio is compulsory – if you can’t come up with just one line about yourself summarising your interests, intentions or personality, what does that say about you? That you’re totally cool and chill and don’t really need to be on a dating site uninteresting, or too self-conscious to be straight up about what your hobbies, likes and dislikes are. You don’t need to write a short novel, a couple of sentences or short paragraph will do.

Quit lying guys and dolls

There are plenty of people I’ve stumbled across on dating sites who I happen to know already; whether it be locally, from school or for some other inconsequential reason. So I know for a fact there are at least half a dozen big fat liars out there. I get that people embellish with warm lighting and flattering angles, everyone does that. But there’s a difference between claiming you’re 5.11 when you’re actually 5.10, and just straight up lying. Do you think people won’t notice when in real life your hair is actually blue, that you’re twenty years older than you claimed to be, or that you’re fifty pounds heavier than what your profile photo suggests? If you feel the need to lie because you’re unhappy with yourself then that’s something you need to work on, trying to get someone to love you isn’t going to solve that.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Here’s the thing: Online dating is superficial by nature. At first glance you don’t know anything about the people you’re scrolling through beyond their physical appearance. Your picture matters. It’s not difficult to get right: a few decent, flattering pictures showing your full face will be just fine. Let’s run through some sins for the benefit of everyone here: Shirtless pictures, blurry pictures, mirror selfies where your phone covers your face, twenty million identical gym selfies, heavily edited pictures and snapchat filters, selfies where half your face is cut off, any picture where you are unidentifiable, pictures of you in bed, pictures of you in your pyjamas. Stop all of it.

Sometimes I wondered whether online dating was worth the hassle.

It’s exhausting. I don’t really enjoy not knowing where I stand with someone. I don’t enjoy engaging with people that lie about what they want, or pussy foot around how they’re really feeling because they don’t have the decency to tell you directly. I don’t like wasting time texting someone for weeks, only to discover they’re really flaky and never planned on meeting you in person to begin with. I don’t enjoy meeting up with people that are self absorbed, or can’t hold a proper conversation. Its shit going home and realising you know everything about them but they know nothing about you. I don’t enjoy going on loads of great dates with someone, getting to the point where I quite like them and can see them becoming a part of my life, only for them to cut it off for no reason. It was good when it was good, but draining when it was bad.

Then there’s the impact it has on the way we seek relationships generally. In time presumably the most common romantic beginning will be: ah well, it all started when he super liked me of Tinder! Modern dating is weird. Without fail after every date I’ve been on, within a couple of hours I’ve been back on tinder aimlessly scrolling through new faces again. Even if it was a great date and I definitely wanted (and did) see them again. I don’t even know why, because I never saw more than one person at the same time, and would never do that anyway. I literally couldn’t imagine anything more exhausting. Maybe it was a defence mechanism applied to stop myself from getting attached too quickly, as it’s awkward to navigate the early stages of dating and know how the other person is feeling.

Maybe the endless supply of potential matches means that everyone is always looking for someone better. Someone funnier or smarter or prettier. That might be the case, but I guess we have to accept that we’re cutting off the opportunity to create decent memories with good people this way.

Then there’s rejection.

Rejection is good for you. It keeps you grounded. Nothing is more satisfying than witnessing a cocky twat being knocked down a peg. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck when it happens, though. There are so many forms of small rejection on the various dating sites that you soon learn none of it really means anything. Who cares if someone doesn’t respond to your message? There are 50 unread messages in your own inbox that you haven’t responded to, probably just because you can’t be bothered rather than any judgement you might have made about the people. The tiny gratification that comes from the approval of strangers wears off pretty much immediately. But when it comes to both receiving and navigating rejection when you’re dating for real, that sucks.

It seems strange to engage with someone near enough constantly for months, and then just cut them off for no reason. But there you go, it happens. It’s hard in those situations not to take it as something personal, and wonder what you did wrong to make them change their mind about you so suddenly. You end up replaying the times you spent with that person and torturing yourself over what you could have done differently.

Take comfort in the fact that this kind of thing happens to most people at some point. You just have accept that it isn’t always going to work out the way you think it will, but that’s not a reflection on you or your character. You’re very unlikely to find the perfect person first time around, and there are a whole bunch of reasons as to why somebody might feel they have to end it early on. You don’t know where other people are at in their own lives. It might not have been the right time for them, it might have become obvious you wanted different things, or they just simply weren’t feeling it anymore and didn’t see anything happening with you long term. All of this and more is completely fine. It sucks for you if you felt differently, but you can’t force people to be on the same page as you. You just have to accept it and move on. In time they will become nothing more than someone you went for a drink with once.

Again, stop lying lads and ladettes

One thing that will never be okay is being dishonest about what you want. It’s totally okay to be looking for a husband, a girlfriend, fun dates, friends with benefits, casual sex and everything in-between, but be up front about that from the start. It can be difficult if you’ve not really signed up with any intentions, but anyone that says they have no idea is just lying. My only bad experience stemmed from dishonesty, I met someone who told me they wanted dating. Three dates later, I got the truth out of them: they wanted no strings attached. I was pissed they’d wasted my time.

You get the people who haven’t committed to actually meeting anyone, and are really just dipping their toes in for the time being; and then there are those who won’t meet simply because they’re scared to. One thing you should understand is that you don’t owe anyone anything – don’t respond if you don’t want to, don’t meet again if you don’t want to.

Lower your expectations…no, you’re not low enough yet.

But then I remind myself not to take it too seriously. I mean, really. Let’s be realistic, you shouldn’t be on dating sites with any major expectations. The moment you start to have any expectations from it, is the moment it will go downhill. My expectations for my first ever date were so low that I was delighted when they turned up and they were totally normal and it went well! It’s a bad idea to meet people and be actively assessing them as future husband or wife material.

If you’re thinking about signing up; as a former dating site cynic I have to tell you it’s worth a go: at best you’ll find someone great, at worst you’ll go on some fun dates even if they don’t lead to anything, and bad dates which will become good stories! Understand it for what it is, and you will be fine: A simple means by which you meet someone new and see how it goes.

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