Disclaimer: This post was written under the influence of a wine-soaked happy hour with a friend going through a break-up, end of the school year exhaustion, Hong Kong humidity permeating my already scrambled brain, and “Benny and the Jets” on repeat.
The facts: I am 34, single, never been married, no kids. I have great hair and am often told I smell like cake and have nice handwriting. I am smart, funny, really cuddly. I make good guacamole. And it’s been approximately four and a half years since I got to make out with and share life with someone I fancied myself in love with.
Well, no. It wasn’t fancy. I was in love. I was going to marry my best friend, and I could see my life stretching forwards in front of me; the wedding, the honeymoon, the kids, the goat slash rescue french bulldog farm we’d raise them on, the novels we’d write about it all. But it all fell apart and it’s okay. I went through a lot and worked hard to get back to a place where I could date again, trust myself again, believed the risk was worth it again.
And by that time, I was living in Brazil, where all men are more beautiful than me, so that wouldn’t do. Now I’m in Hong Kong, and it took more than a hot minute to settle into my new life in Asia and make friends and figure out my job and the bus route and how to just exist – everything is so dang hard when you are living in a new country and culture and language and so by the time I had things figured out enough to be bored enough to look around and say “hey wait – I wish I was sharing this with someone and wow I need a non-platonic hug” it had been a few months. What was a girl to do?
I joined Tinder.
Now to those of my readers who settled down with the love of their life before online dating really took off, have your “meet cute,” and now have a hard time understanding the need for internet platforms, and feel the need to judge or make a comment about this, or add a ‘helpful’ “Why don’t you try x y and z?!” I ask you to not do that. I say to that “no thanks at all.” I’m putting myself out there by saying that I’m doing this, and life is such these days that I think we need to do away with the stigma surrounding online dating. I’m a teacher – the only guys I meet regularly are dads or the ones I work with, and I’m never making the mistake of dating a coworker again (see “downward life spiral of 2008”). Life is busy, life is fast, life is now so much in our phones, that it just makes sense to at least try it. I need the option to find my future boyfriend while waiting in line to pee somewhere.
If you don’t know much about Tinder other than it’s reputation for being about hookups, let me enlighten you about some of its best features – it’s free. That’s the best featch. It’s connected to your Facebook, so you can see if you have mutual friends with potential mates (then, of course, you consider those mutuals and more wisely make your choice from there). It can connect to your Instagram, so you can see more photos and more personality. It can also connect to your Spotify, which isn’t unimportant. It’s endless – unlike Coffee meets Bagel, another horribly named dating app I dabbled in briefly, on Tinder you can swipe left (for no) or right (for yes) for all of eternity. CMB gives you something like five matches a day, which doesn’t provide nearly enough of the dopamine rush I require to continue playing along.
So I picked a few photos – and this was harder than I thought it would be. I didn’t want to have other people in the pic to blur out or to confuse guys. You certainly can’t post a pic with girls cuter than you, and girls generally always think their friends are prettier than them. Having traveled solo a bit, I have a few selfies of me in front of cool places, but not a ton. I managed to find five, but I had to dig. Then it was time to write the profile. This bit is important because the profile indicates that you aren’t on Tinder just to find someone within a mile radius to practice flirting with.
The profile is the make or break for me. I look at guys’ pics, and make a sort of snap judgment, but the profile seals the deal for me. And it’s also the place where conversation should start.
In full disclosure, mine says exactly this:
“Teacher. Ambitions of drinking beer in hammocks in foreign countries and getting paid to write about it.
Don’t miss the States but do miss the relaxed state of mind in Brasil where I lived the last 3 years . . . interested in trying new places in HK, beaches, guys who make me laugh. Huge fan of puns, sports, nature, late nights, languages, and happy hours. Scared of birds. Please don’t love birds. Other than that, everything is my favorite.
Write a profile. It’s not hard.”
So I posted it, I put it out there, and I waited.
For about a minute. I waited about a minute. Boys on Tinder are thirsty.
But the thing is – boys on Tinder are clueless. I eventually started taking screenshots of all the “potentials” that came my way. I couldn’t believe how little thought guys were putting into their profiles and photos. But the thing is – it obviously must work on someone. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it.
One finally made more than the average effort, and we shared some messaging laughs. He asked if we could meet for drinks, and with no hesitation, I said yes!
All the hesitation hit later when I was trying to makeup and dress-up for this blind date. I honestly didn’t know what to do. It had been so long since my first date I was sure it was all different now. And in a way, it was, since we’d established quite a bit via text message before even meeting.
And of course I stood in front of my closet, wet hair dripping, cell phone in one hand and glass of liquid courage in the other, texting all my friends that I had nothing to wear and therefore probably couldn’t go. My contacts didn’t want to go in, I sneezed the moment I applied my mascara, and my shoes were giving me a blister before I’d even made it down all six flights of stairs and into a cab.
I met some girlfriends for a pre-date drink, where one of them announced her engagement (yay!). I gave them both the name of the bar we were meeting at, in case I never made it home and they had to retrace steps, and we got so caught up in that happiness of engagements and the madness in first dates and also in the fact that I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go, that I arrived a casual 20 minutes late. Great start. Also a great start – he was way shorter and smaller than in his profile pic. Le hmm what now? I add the “le” because he was French.
Benjamin and I had fancy drinks for nearly four hours, and some very intelligent conversation, before my yawning grew less inconspicuous and we walked out to get me a cab. He had paid the bill, I offered my thanks, texted him again a thanks, and went home, fully proud of myself for having conquered the fear that I was undateable.
I could small talk! It might have almost been flirting?! I could make someone laugh! I could feel kinda pretty and sexy!
And then, not 24 hours later, a friend who is also using some online dating apps leaned over to show me her phone screen. “Um, isn’t this that Benjamin guy?”
And it was. The exact same picture in fact. Except on her app, his name was “Phillip” and he was three years younger than had been listed on Tinder, which he had admitted during our date was a year younger than he actually was.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. This was to be my introduction back into the world of dating? What the actual what. Luckily, although my friends had talked me into the idea of going on a second date if he indeed followed up and asked for one, he never did. But imagine if I had been into him and found that out?! What a scumbag.
Needless to say, it took a few more weeks to work up to agreeing on a date with someone else. Mike was a fellow teacher in HK, tall, handsome, super smart and kind in his messages. Being a girl, I had already calculated all the risks and advantages to such a match and was super excited. We met for a food adventure for some hole-in-the-wall Indian food. Which I, of course, had to plan for in advance by cross-referencing my known allergies, preferences, and what causes the worst breath. We had a great time, took public transportation back to the island together, and helped shut down a neighborhood bar. Sparks didn’t fly, but he was lovely.
We went for a second date, and he is so freaking smart. It was so hot to just listen to a really intelligent guy talk about things I didn’t know about, like the history of isolation and the feudal system in Japan, and not in a condescending way at all. Great conversation, but again, at the end, I felt more like giving a handshake goodbye rather than a hug, and we were kind of awkward and then . . . haven’t heard from him since. Pretty sure we will awkwardly run into each other going for the same avocado at the neighborhood market one of these days, as we live one street away.
Thus ends the tale of Tinder. I am tempted to keep it open for when I travel back to the States, just to see if anyone from high school is on it. Facebook told me the first guy I ever called ‘boyfriend’ and lied to my parents about hanging out with is now engaged, so. That’s just about everyone I dated now off the market. Maybe it’s just me over here, still single, wondering if anyone is up for this challenge that is me in a long-term kind of way.
Reminder: I make great guacamole and know one magic trick. So I got that goin for me. Keep me in mind, friends.
Enjoy this album of some tinder profile highlights . . .