The last few years have been a blur for my personal life. I’ve been so focused on building my career that I forgot to make room for love and dating. You know, being vulnerable, emotional and all of that stuff that I find more terrifying than a supernatural thriller. Dating to me seems to have more unexpected twists than a M. Night Shyamalan movie. Add to this that the few times I dared to dip my pinkie toe in the deep end, I got a very sharp, quick burn, kind of like being shot by electricity, but not in the good way. More like when you stick a knife in a power socket.
Being a grown woman who stopped making excuses for her bad decisions years ago last week, I decided that maybe my reason for having blah dating/hanging out/whatever-it’s-called-these-days experiences was that I wasn’t getting out of my comfort zone. So, after excessive nagging from my mum and encouragement from my friends, I decided to give a dating app a try. On a girly weekend away a friend had suggested Happn, which she had used previously. Now, bear in mind that she only had negative experiences using the app, but I figured that since my real life explorations were pretty lack lustre, it couldn’t get any worse. My sister concurred on this fact.
Me being me, I did a lot of research. I played around for a few days with setting up a profile that said, “I’m so blasé about this that I set this profile up in 2 minutes”. After toying around with writing a suitable ‘About Me’, I decided to stick with the ambiguous language of the millennial – a singular emoji. The premise of Happn is “Why should we go on dating websites when we meet so many new people every day, in real life?” and focuses on the random strangers you cross paths with through your day. The app works off your location and you can say yay or nay to people you may have crossed paths with. If you send them a heart and they send you a heart too, then it’s a connection and you can chat. Truth be told, deep down inside I did not want to enable my location settings so the app wouldn’t work, but thanks to a friend who knows how I roll, my plan was foiled. Before we knew it we were scouring the app for potential suitors (who says that? Me apparently).
I’m a picky person at the best of times, so you best believe that I was cock blocking myself left, right and centre on this app. Some noteworthy reasons for not heart-ing someone included, “he’s too outdoorsy and will want me to do outdoorsy things”, “he looks like his body proportions make him look tall but he’ll actually be really short” and the good ol’, “he’s just too good looking, he looks like he’s after Kardashian-esque bombshells”. So, yeah a lot of book cover judging was going on here. As excelling at whatever I do is of utmost importance to me, I’d like to say that I became a professional book cover judge throughout this process. But, what else are you meant to do?
Aside from being my own worst enemy, I also found the app made me realise that men need someone to help them set up their profile. Heads up boys — photos with other women, looking blind drunk with a VB in hand, and the dreaded mirror selfie should be avoided at all costs. Which led me to ponder the 3 images I had strategically chosen for my own profile. Coincidentally the waitress serving us at a bar was there to help, as well as relay her stories of using the app. Again there were no great outcomes for her, (hhmm I see a pattern here), however she did help me choose a better profile image, as I’d previously gone for the face hiding, incognito look. Probably, not the cleverest way to put myself out there, but I was paranoid about people seeing me on the street and knowing that I was on the app. Fast forward to me walking down the street feeling like every man I walk past is looking at me funny and judging me for daring to date.
All of these self-induced issues created a whole bunch of anxiety. However, the deal breaking anxiety was caused by one Happn-er describing to me their perfect date. I was confused, not by his explanation but by my own reaction. In real life, I had recently been mystified by the inability of men to ask a woman out on a date. The reluctance to make such a teeny tiny commitment to spend a small period of time with another person was confounding to me. There had been lots of offers of ‘let’s hang out’, ‘WYD’ and a lot of sliding into my instagram DM’s, which I don’t take seriously, but a proper date? That was unheard of IRL. And here on this app were people who wanted to date, like actually go on a date. IRL. They were putting themselves out there fearlessly. I admired that. But I was also scared by that. It felt like moving too fast. Like hey buddy, I don’t even know you I can’t commit to a picnic watching the sunset with a bottle of wine as we play our favourite music. So I hastily deleted the app.
Ultimately I decided that I’m probably not one for insta-connections. I crave real, honest, organic connections and I believe that when the times right, I’ll be willing to open up to the right person. After all, dating should be fun and it should flow, not be as painful as giving birth.
With this experience in mind, I put together this SoundCloud playlist of some of my favourite songs that remind me how good being open to dating can be…or so I’ve heard.