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The true miracle of dating apps is that they have managed so successfully to chip away at that stuffy sense of propriety and taboo that used to cause many a moral dilemma with regards to non-traditional dating. Somehow or other, the conversation has managed to shift from, “Oh my god, you’re on Tinder” to “But everyone’s on Tinder, what’s wrong with you?” That said, dating apps are still more likely to yield mixed feelings rather than an overall positive experience. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.
So between the guys who have no conception of charm or manners and who go in straight for the “DTF?” (that means down to f***, for the uninformed), and girls who match with you for the ego trip rather than the conversation, here’s a small glimpse of my own best and worse experiences with the equivocal social apparatus that is a dating app.
1. The girl who was looking for someone who wasn’t me
The first girl I ever met on a dating app made me privy to the reality of how rare it is that anyone looks exactly like or better than they do in pictures. She wouldn’t stop talking about some guy she’d met a few times at a club. When I met her she was distracted, really confusing and wouldn’t stop trying to discuss her strategy for getting back at him for making her jealous by openly flirting with other girls in her presence when at Zouk.
At one point she seemed to experience a true moment of emotional helpless and I felt just a little bit sorry for her. My patience had also run out by then. I made sure that we went dutch at the end of the night.
Everyone has issues, I get it. People aren’t obliged to be interested in you. I get that too. But when two individuals agree to give up a portion of their time to be around each other, it’s bad manners to be that obliviously self-interested. Don’t forget, we’re not friends yet. I don’t need to be listening to your whiny, badly-rationalised baby problems.
Perhaps I didn’t know better at the time. Now I do: these girls are a “type”, everyone should learn to look out for them.
2. The girl who knew exactly what she wanted
She was really attractive, and I blame both this and my poor judgment for having gone as far as I did with her. What impressed me was how forward and how confident she was. She’d suggested, right off the bat, that she wanted to be my mistress. In other words, she proposed an understanding where I would buy her things and she would provide, well, company. Girls like these are few and far between. If you do meet them, run. Don’t even stay for the first course. Unless your daddy’s really rich and arrangements like these are right up your alley.
In any case, this experience taught me that it’s always handy to have an excuse ready. Plan it in advance so it’s convincing. Sometimes things start to get really strange really quickly even when you don’t want or expect them to.
1. The crash and burn
One of the great things about dating in your 20s is that chances are, you already have a sense of what turns you on (both physically and existentially) and what doesn’t. You sit down with someone and within 5 minutes you know if you’re going to enjoy yourself and whether the fact that she doesn’t really resemble the people she’s supposed to be in her pictures really matters or not. However, the problem is also that by now you’re so tired of the dating game that you tend to give too much too quickly in order to get to that state of emotional intimacy we miss the most.
About this girl: she was great. We hit it off right away. We talked about stuff. I mean, real stuff. She would drunk-call me at 2am to talk about her ridiculously difficult relationship with her Dad. That kinda thing. But the thrill of it all wore off. Really quickly. This isn’t how things usually work out with normal people (or so I’ve heard) but this was how it was with us. She just stopped texting one day and when she stopped picking up my calls I just moved on.
I guess that says something about the both of us and why nothing actually happened in the end. It was great while it lasted though, and I know at least that I came away with a different experience of life.
2. The unexpected best friend
Every once in a while, as is wont to happen, the stars align to nudge you just ever so slightly into an acquaintance with someone who seems to fit your own personality like the final piece in a jigsaw puzzle. In theory at least, we should have been perfect for each other.
Sometimes however, the attraction just doesn’t exist.
Someone once said, “When in doubt, just kiss the girl.” But I didn’t want to kiss the girl. All we did was sit in parks drinking canned beer until 4am talking about everything from Kafka and Coen brothers films to people who don’t pay you enough attention. That was it. And this is what it still is. Which in the grand scheme of Tinder, already counts as an experience that’s exceeded expectations.
If there’s anything you should notice from my list of best and worst experiences, it’s that none of them have led to long-term romantic relationships. Admittedly this wasn’t what dating apps were made for in the first place, though this does say something about us that we spend time indulging in it. While I’m not saying that we’re all lonely, socially awkward or too pre-occupied with objectifying the opposite gender, I am saying that perhaps there’s a deeper reason for why we use it, and that at the end of everything, it’s not the app’s fault that we sometimes end up with empty experiences.