“Back in my day people met in person and went on dates” declared an aunt recently, this was seconded by my mother and agreed upon by my grandmother. “Back in my day people did the same thing, but times have changed” was my response.
I have always maintained that I am NOT a dating app kind of girl. Putting myself out there on what I felt was the equivalent of a virtual meat market, wasn’t in any way appealing. Having been single for almost 3 years, I gave in to peer pressure and decided to give dating apps a try. I set myself a target of 3 months and I tried no less than 7 different apps, and boy was it an eye opener!
Over the years it has become apparent that I possess a quality that attracts people and makes them feel comfortable confiding in me. Whether it is a random man on the train telling me in graphic detail, in front of my children, about how he was raped by a bad man. Or a woman (who stopped me on the footpath between my car and a friends home) to discuss with me the difficulties she was experiencing with her husband in relation to their upcoming retirement – her family was in Ireland, his family was in Canada and they were arguing over where to live when they retired. When I got into my friends home she asked who had I been talking to out there and I said “I have no idea, just some woman walking her dog” and she exclaimed “But you were out there for ages! I heard all about her family from here!” to which I replied “I know. It happens all the time. This is why I avoid public transport!”.
Because of this quality, dating wasn’t much fun for me as I seemed to attract men (and women for that matter) who had things that they needed to get off their chests. They seem to feel like I was someone they could be honest and open with (which I am, but perhaps not before I know their name). So I would be out at a club and I would hear sob stories about exes, or family dramas of varying kinds. Being a genuinely kind person and a good listener who is very empathetic, the men were left feeling quite close to me whilst I would be wanting to go and enjoy my night with my friends. Being young and unsure how to handle my own emotions, let alone someone elses, I didn’t want to hurt these poor guys and I had a lot of trouble easing myself away from some of the more persistent ones. I often recruited one of my guy friends to pretend to be my date to show the guy that I was unavailable to them.
I have never been one of those gals who needed a guy, I have always been quite happy on my own. Which I guess is why the idea of speed dating, dating sites & dating apps have never appealed to me. But I decided to be open minded and give them a go. The thing I discovered was that dating apps were a lot easier, less intimidating and safer than meeting people in real life. It might be completely different than how it was done my first time around, but it is certainly an effective way of shortlisting potential dates. However, it can seem fairly impersonal and almost like a job interview sometimes. Me being me though, I “met” some real doozies! Here are the most memorable characters from my short stint at Dating Apps (no doubt most people have encountered at least one of these types of people in their own foray in dating):
Puppy Love A very nice looking man wrote to me on one dating app. He was the first guy I clicked with and thought it was a stroke of luck that I had found a sweet, kind, affectionate (emojis), complimentary and supportive man straight off the bat. He didn’t rush me into meeting him or venturing outside my comfort zone. We chatted, flirted and got to know each other a little. I was looking forward to meeting him and seeing if our easy companionship would extend beyond the virtual. That is of course until the conversation turned sexual… He started making enquiries into what I liked in the bedroom. This was a bit alarming as that is most definitely not the way things were done back in my day! I managed to steer the conversation back into less intimate waters. But within days it took a sexual turn once more. This time he asked questions about how adventurous I was in the bedroom, specifically if I was interested in threesomes to which I responded in the negative. To my relief he was happy with my response as he revealed his ex broke up with him because he wouldn’t agree to a two man threesome. I thought this was fairly reasonable and I could understand his refusal, as well as his interest in persuing the topic with me. But, the story didn’t end there! He disclosed that he agreed to a two woman threesome but when he refused to consent to a two man threesome they compromised using his dog. I was confused by this and sought clarification. To my shock, horror and disgust this man went on to tell me that the compromise was that she would engage in sexual acts with his dog and he would watch. I didn’t know what to say! So I asked if that was something he was into and would want me to do. TO WHICH HE REPLIED YES!!!!!!!!!!!! Completely and utterly freaked out I declined and swiftly ended all communication with him. I couldn’t believe it! I felt dirty and violated and so very relieved that I had never met him in real life! To this day I cannot look at that breed of dog without heaving. In fact, for the next month I swiped left on any man who had a photo of himself cuddling with a dog on the couch or in bed (so many sleeping man/dog pics!!!!!) – I have always been opposed to sharing a bed with dogs, but this guy made me take that to a whole new level!
Flashdance This man was quite persistent. I won’t go into too much detail as this one makes me so sick that I don’t want to spend more time thinking about it than I have to. This man knew me years ago and was “so surprised” to see me on dating apps and really wanted to meet up with me. When I didn’t respond he then tried to friend me on Facebook and send me messages on messenger. I had discovered a few years beforehand that this man had been imprisoned for repetitive public indecency and child abuse charges. He was labelled a “serial pest” as he was well known for stalking and flashing young girls in public places. Being a mother, this man’s behaviour makes me sick and once again, so very glad that I didn’t encounter him in real life.
Perfect Gentleman This man seemed like the perfect match for me! He was interested in what he called “casual dating”, which he defined as exclusive dating between two people without all the drama of a full on relationship. This sounded perfect for me, considering the lack of stress free fun in my life these days/years. He gushed about how gorgeous I looked in my profile photos, how much he wanted to meet me and take me on a date in the city – he described my ideal fantasy date! Even though he was coming on too strong for my liking, I gave him the benefit of the doubt because I know that I can be overly picky. We spent the whole night chatting online and I giggled A LOT as we had a similar sense of humour. We had so much in common, similar interests and he seemed genuinely interested in me – and not once did he get sexual or inappropriate, flirtatious yes, but he never crossed that line. He talked about how he has always been the nice, good guy and now that he is separated he just wanted to enjoy being with someone without all the pressure. The next morning I was greeted by a lovely message and he asked me to go on a date with him that night. I regrettably declined as it was a school night and I had the kiddies at home. He offered to meet me at his place for lunch. Not having met this man before I was not prepared to go to his home straight off the bat. He offered to meet me at my place with a bottle of wine after the kids had gone to bed so we could have a couple of glasses of wine on my balcony and plan our next date. I told him I would think about it and let him know. He then confessed that he had a fantasy of meeting a woman and getting a blowjob straight away. I told him that I doubt that I would be comfortable with that on a first date. So he seemed to swing between wanting to delay our meeting until I would be comfortable, and speeding up the meeting until lunch time that day. Further discussion revealed that the greeting headjob was non-negotiable so I declined and wished him well. I did some FB snooping and found that his status was still “married”, and that some of the things he talked to me about were actually interests of his wife’s! I deduced that he had read my profile and simply fabricated his responses to match mine. I was left feeling used and foolish. Once again, glad I didn’t waste my time and makeup meeting that guy in person.
FWB This guy intrigued me. He wanted to start things off as Friends With Benefits, with a view to becoming more as things progressed. We spent a lot of time writing to each other, learning about each other, and making each other laugh. We met and got along really well, we drank coffee, laughed and talked until he regrettably had to go back to work, he delayed his departure for over half an hour as we were enjoying each others company so much. We continued to chat online as I supported him during his exams and he supported me and made me laugh on my bad days. We were certainly becoming friends, but he seemed more interested in sexting than any kind of human contact. Over 2 months we met once, chatted online a lot and made plans to meet on two separate occassions but he was a no show both times. Once he burned himself at work, so that was a reasonable excuse not to keep the date, the second time he had failed his exam and wasn’t feeling like being around people. Neither time did he attempt to reschedule the dates. After the second failed attempt at meeting I didn’t hear from him again – he didn’t hear from me either. So I chalked that one up to experience and moved on. FWB was never something I felt would be in my wheelhouse, but a FWB without the benefits was confusing and weird. Being a female with a post baby body that is less toned than I would like, I began to feel insecure about my body and wondered if that was the reason that the benefits part of our FWB trial didn’t really eventuate. But at the end of the day, if any man is going to be deterred based on my looks then I don’t want to know them either.
There were several men who contacted me during the 3 months I was online and some of them were like those men in the bars when I was younger, wanting someone to listen to their sad stories and help them feel better. One man persisted over 6 weeks writing to me. We have similar interests and even spoke on the phone (great voice, articulate and honest). He lives a really long way away but said he would be willing to fly to see me on weekends (that felt nice that someone would be willing to go to all that trouble just to spend time with me). But after becoming friends on Facebook there has been radio silence on his end. I am deducing that it is the online equivalent of being stood up on a blind date, you know the scenario where the person walks into the restaurant and sees their date then leaves because they aren’t interested in them.
Some of them were looking for a woman who was not me, but when I tried to let them down easy and tell them that based on their profile I wasn’t the woman for them, they would get upset and argue with me. One man’s profile stated “A woman who enjoys 4WD’ing and camping is a must!”, I don’t want to go camping. I would rather go to a resort or an AirBNB somewhere than go camping. When I kindly explained this to the man he got offended and said “well some men can’t afford to do those things, but money is all that matters to some women!”. Offended by the insinuation that I was only interested in what a man can buy me, I responded that it wasn’t a money thing it was simply that if I was going away somewhere I would rather be indoors than in a tent, similarly I would rather go for a picnic beside a waterfall or walk on the beach than go 4WD’ing and reiterated based on our interests that we wouldn’t be compatible. His response was “Whatever. It’s your loss.”. Judging by his responses to me I don’t think it was a loss for either of us; I was very glad that I didn’t have to turn this guy down in the flesh.
I left my 3 month dating app trial with relief a few days before my deadline after my encounter with the aforementioned Perfect Gentleman, after him I knew that I was done. It was seriously exhausting & unkind on my self-esteem swiping through all those faces, being ignored by men I was interested in, letting men down easy when I wasn’t interested in them, comforting the ones who just wanted a little human kindness, explaining why I wasn’t interested in FWB and conversing with men only to find out that it was all a farce.
It was also a lot of fun! For a few weeks my bestie and I spent at least an hour every night on the phone giggling over the funny profiles we saw, sending each other screenshots of profiles and squealing “Oh My God!” whenever a penis would flash up on the screen! Yes, some men actually use pictures of their penises as their profile picture! It was hilarious and admittedly very immature! There were also really creepy looking profile pictures, or ones that would make us laugh out loud as the hijinks captured on film (so to speak). It made me feel like a teenager again giggling with my bestie as literally hundreds of men expressed interest in meeting me over those three months; over 120 men wanted to meet me in the first 7 days on the first app! My bestie and I had an absolute ball sending each other recommendations and sharing some of the things that men wrote on their profiles. Things like “I want to brush your hair” or, my personal favourite (which I thought was super duper cute!) “My Grandma’s knitting circle think I am handsome” ❤ ❤ ❤
Would I try dating apps again? Maybe, but probably not. I have never been the kind of person who needed a man, and I don’t need one now. I thought it would be great to find someone nice to have fun, go on dates and enjoy my kid free time with, but I am still not the kind of person who needs to actively seek that person out. I think it is more likely that I will just continue to work on becoming my best self and living my life happily with my kids, family and friends whilst vicariously enjoying the romantic lives of my besties who are having much greater success as this whole online dating caper than I did xoxo