The Date Book

Diary of a dating attempt.

ID-10041500Back at square one. I have actually never really thought about how brave those people are that put themselves out there, admitting they are on the look for someone special to add to their lives, admitting they don’t wanna be lonely or single, or both. I actually never wanted to put myself out there. But one day I did.

It was on the way back from a cottage weekend with friends for Easter, the sun was shining, something like spring seemed to be going on out there – as far as you can call it spring in Northern Finland –, and my hormones must have started awakening. And I realized, if I wanted to have an actual chance for an actual flirt, and not just the slight hope for something randomly happening at any point of the day between my way to work and my way to the gym and my way back home, I probably would need to actively do something about it.

That’s when I joined tinder, for the first time in my life, with a serious intention. Less serious than you might think now (my profile description read ‘spring is coming, so take your ski-masks off and start flirting!’), but more serious than occasionally whining about how I never meet anyone interesting. I had complained about tinder twice before – once without ever having used the platform, swearing I would never do such a desperate thing. And once half a year later, when I broke my own vows and did use tinder, for four full days, when I was stranded in a city alone, on some kind of exchange. At the age of 30. Even less fun than it sounds, I swear. And so was tinder, then. The first match I got was planning our next vacation together before I even knew his last name, and the rest just either didn’t bother writing, or wrote something clever like “how was your day?”, every day. Thus, our conversations were not very elaborated: if he copy-pastes, so can I; after all, my days did not differ so much from one another. I decided to focus on new real-life-acquaintances and de-installed the app again.

Let’s fast-forward to the day I did install it with the intention of… well, I actually had not really thought about that, either. Aren’t those just the worst people you can meet on a dating platform? The ones who are unsure about what they actually want, and just hang on there and see what’s happening? Those are the guys I would rigorously judge, and then write an angry blog entry about, like how they dare registering on a platform meant for dating, with no clear intentions, obviously just messing with girls’ heads…!

But that was it. I was yearning for some fling, some flirt, some adventure – or just some sexually-touched interaction for a change. I am the one always claiming that I am happy to be single – which I am, most of the time – but if someone special came along, I would of course not run away from him. Because that would be stupid. And I wouldn’t! No, my protection reaches far deeper, I don’t even give myself the opportunity to meet anyone special at all! When your life consists of your friends, work, hobbies, more hobbies, and parties (who wants to start something serious with someone met when clubbing? Right.), there’s not much space for meeting anyone, or letting anyone into your life. Which is why I would continuously develop brief but intense crushes on (emotionally or otherwise) unavailable people, followed by some slight drama for a day or two (“why does no one ever want me?”), just to be back to enjoying all my freedom and time for all my hobbies in my single life.

When I started swiping right that spring day in the car with my friends, happy about my decision to throw myself onto the dating market, and eager to meet all these eligible single guys out there through one convenient app, I had not foreseen all the trouble that would come along with it. Mainly brought onto me by myself.

I was on fire, I started matching right away, and swiped right so many times that after some hours, I ran out of likes. Yes, that does actually happen. I matched with a naked guy who obviously was there for one reason only – but I felt like going all in, letting the crazy out a bit. I matched with an acquaintance, after 5 minutes, and even though we have been facebook-friends since ages, we never actually really talked, though I always found him attractive. And now I could indicate that freely with a simple swipe! Old Friend and I arranged for a drink immediately. My first date after 5 minutes, how had I underestimated this tinder!

One odd thing I noticed was that almost every guy beyond 30 I matched with was a single dad. What have I done wrong in my life to not have this kind of baggage with me yet? I felt like being behind in the game called life. Although, had I not always been joking about how my time window must have closed, and I would now need to wait for the first round of divorcees? Well, there they were, the outcomes of this first round! On tinder! And the best: They already had kids, so I would not need to take care of it!

Odd things happen on tinder. That weird moment when you find the boyfriend of a colleague – a colleague you are not close enough with to mention this, but you know both of them from enough occasions to observe them with different eyes on the next BBQ party. Then you run into all your friends – it’s like joining a party a little later, and your friends are already there. And of course you match with them, because that’s just courtesy. But then you get all excited when you get the little notification flame, and it’s ‘just’ a message from them. And these ‘superlikes’ – what’s up with them? They seem to randomly self-manifest in the worst moments. You want to click on someone’s profile to see the rest of their pictures, but then you accidentally superlike them, and now they think you are madly in love with them. The weirdest thing though might be the awareness that now, no matter where you walk, people can recognize you from your tinder profile. They might look at you because they saw you putting yourself out there on a dating platform, hoping for someone to match with you. Or, in the worst case, they can be some of your matches – people just never look like on their pictures! And of course they recognize you if you put all your tattoos visible there, it’s like a stamp with your name on the forehead!

Maybe it was because I was in a giddy mood, or maybe it was the sunshine that day, but boy, did I have many matches and conversations! This was nothing compared to my first tinder experience, where I was admittedly a bit shy and froze as soon as they started talking to me. Now I was bold, and knew what I wanted (to flirt!) and I was ready! I had no problem with initiating a conversation, and when the guy didn’t answer in a day, I unmatched him again. Simple.

One guy did answer, but just with one word each time. Now you might say well, for a Finn, is that not kind of normal? Maybe so, but in order to get to know someone/get someone to meet you, you might wanna put a little bit more effort. Well, he didn’t, so after waiting a couple of more days with one-worded conversations, I also unmatched him.

There was one Hottie who matched with me and even re-matched after he “re-created his whole profile”, but he did not seem to want to meet me. Of course that got me even more hooked – my psychological analysis almost predicted for me to like him most. Being all unavailable and all. He also had a kid, of course.

Naked Guy started a conversation with me, straight to the point. He would need to go to his grandma’s Easter dinner, but then I could come and ride his d… Well. I felt flattered, or amused, but refused the offer. He tried for another two days with the most charming descriptions of how he found my picture online because he wanted to look into my eyes while masturbating, then he unmatched me. I guess this was the first time in his tinder career that it was him unmatching a girl, and not the other way round. I think I deserve some persistency-award.

I had one of the most interesting conversations with one guy, and then we never talked again. Neither him nor I re-started the conversation. Oddly enough, as we both agreed that this was a good talk indeed, and we should soon get back to it. But even thinking about it seems like too big of an effort, given that he doesn’t seem to be willing to catch up, either.

The bad thing about blind-dating is, while in real life you sense immediately whether or not you could find each other attractive, on a chat, you can be a whole different person. People who are cracking you up in chats might be the most boring persons in the world when you meet them for real. You don’t know how much time someone spends on writing a sentence, and something that might seem sharp and witty could have taken him half an hour plus google’s faithful support. Also, do you know this phenomenon when you’re reading a book, and in your head you see all the people and the beautiful scenery, but then someone comes and makes a movie out of it, and they just never seem to get it right? That’s the same with blind-dating. Reality just never seems to get it right.

The only way to prevent a huge disappointment is thus to meet as fast as possible. It can be for a quick walk, or for a coffee, for starters, it doesn’t need to be an entire date with dinner, a movie and putting out. Just a brief meeting to see if it’s any worth to continue chatting.

Mr Hottie said once that he would rather keep the illusions he has of the girls on tinder than being disappointed in real life, and after my first dates with some guys, I totally understood. It’s not that everyone is just so much worse in real life – they are just so much different. They could probably say the same about me. Through a chat, you only get a small piece of a puzzle of that whole person, and when you then try to fit it into the whole puzzle, it just gives a totally different picture.

Shy Guy for example, whom I met a couple of times, could use only half of the facial expressions he uses as emojis in his chats, and he would seem a vivid person. But Finnish awkwardness paired with his shyness and probably the fact that he is (like so many others there) an engineer made him a truly earnest person – and totally different from the chatty, witty, charming guy he was digitally. Which is why I met him so many times – at some point, the initial shyness must disappear, right? But it didn’t. And I couldn’t handle it anymore.

Which leads straight to the next inconvenience of dating I almost had forgotten about: How do you, in the nicest way possible, tell someone you don’t wanna be with them because of who they are? I slowly start understanding the much-used strategy of those douchebags, who suddenly never reply to your messages anymore, totally out of the blue (for you, at least). Nevertheless, as soon as I realized we wouldn’t get warm with each other, I plucked up courage and told him exactly that. And he told me exactly what I had been waiting for all along. That, after a while, he might have lost his shyness and would have been able to be “more charming” with someone (no, I totally did not tell him this was the reason, of course I used much nicer excuses!). Well, damn, too late. Or is it?

After a couple of days, however, swiping on tinder becomes way less exiting than in the beginnings. People seem to not only look the same, they also all have the same facial expressions. At this point, I have already met a couple of them, and I am dreading another small-talk-conversation about who we are and what we do in life, because honestly, this never leads to anything interesting, ever. Which is why I had liked Shy Guy, we had started right away with normal conversation, and only when we first met the topic of where I am actually from came up. Honestly, did anything interesting ever arise from a conversation about profession, age and origin? This is not a marketing-survey, it’s a dating platform!

Now all this exciting, tingling, adventurous swiping has become some dull reminder of having to define what I want, and communicating it straight from the start; empty, serious faces staring at me through a mirror with the typical selfie-phone-pose; and an occasional match here and there (way less than in the beginning, though) with no further contact unless I start it. And even then it might just die again right away. Additionally, every couple of times I open the app to use it when I am really bored or waiting for an appointment, and I feel like swiping a bit, or just need some attention, tinder announces to me the shattering, well-assumed but not admitted news “There’s no one new around you”. Well, I have noticed!

It has come so far that I want to return to my pre-tinder state of mind: Resigned, acknowledging that in this city, I would not find anyone anyways, that Finns and I don’t match, that the foreigners here are just looking for a quick adventure (while, unfortunately, never being adventurous enough for me), and anyways, I sleep way better alone. I hear my friend’s voice in my head telling me I should not waste so much time on stupid things like dating, because one day I will regret having wasted it. It is true, it is by far not the most important thing in life – but also, what makes us feel more alive than some butterflies in our bellies, some rainbows coming out of our butts, the tingle and excitement before a date with someone we like?

Having met Shy Guy a couple of times made me start thinking about my own intentions. What would I even want from a guy here? I am very sure about not wanting to stay here forever. On the other hand, I will definitely be here another 2 or 3 years. And in my reality, there’s always gonna be a way if there is a will. Ergo, if I find a suitable person to team up with, the same principle will (due to suitability) be valid for him. But wouldn’t it be selfish to start something with someone who has built his life here, and then announce in a couple of years that I will move to Canada? And also, what’s gonna happen with all the single dads – they have an extra geographical restriction. I hate having to consider these things, because planning too much in the long-term too early (especially before you have even met someone) is the beginning of the end. At the same time, it would feel unfair to let someone run into this mess (me) without giving at least a warning shot. How unromantic.

All these thoughts, combined with the steep fall after the initial peak of using tinder, make the dating app look just as dull as ever. And bring me back to square one. Here I am now, having had to reject one guy, probably having rejected more by just not picking up on their date suggestions again, which I had to refuse due to my overfilled schedule; and having been rejected myself not only by Naked Guy, but probably also by Mr Hottie, who, oddly enough, still answers every time I pick up the conversation again, but never initiates it, and still insists on not meeting anyone (yes, I know how this sounds), and by Old Friend, who probably was disappointed by the reality-adaption of me even though he had seen it once or twice before. (You see the difference here? I actually told Shy Guy the bad news, while I can only assume and read between the lines with all the others. But this is material for a new chapter that we could call “Why guys don’t even get very clear signals and girls need to interpret the ones that are merely alluded to”, in a later life).

Below the line, I have met new people, I have told the same things about myself so many times that I feel like a semi-important person now, I know so many semi-important things about almost-strangers by now that I am confusing them already (for a short while there, I was thinking about an excel sheet, but that would just kill the fun), I thought I would like someone about 4 or 5 times – which is just a normal weekly result in my teenage-crush-minted life – and had to change my opinion about that either due to them or due to myself, and above all, I am also frustrated now. Before, I was just missing flirty interaction, reassuring myself if I just put myself out there, I could experience some – now I know I can’t have it. Sure, tinder is not the only dating app, but more “serious” dating platforms just take even more time and effort, and all that for a simple flirt?

Back at square one. Let’s survive the spring, and in summer it will all be more relaxed again. And, anyways, who needs physical contact?

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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