Tinder on the Homefront

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As fun as it was swiping in croatia, it wasn’t a great way to set the tinder bar of expectations because swiping in l.a. is like swiping in hell.

When I returned to LA after ten exhilarating and liberating days in Croatia I was fearful of taking the next step. As my phone connected to the wifi in my apartment I realized that my Tinder profile was still active but instead of international hotties it revealed real life Los Angeles men. It freaked me out so much that I immediately deleted the account. I wasn’t ready to be exposed to this world yet. It was one thing to take on a persona abroad knowing there are little to no consequences for whatever happens because it’s highly likely I’ll never see that person again. I didn’t run the risk abroad of discovering coworkers, neighbors, friends, or friends’ brothers. It was a relatively safe zone.

But attempting this swiping concept in LA? That terrified me and triggered endless anxiety. What would dating be like as a thirty-something? What would hook ups be like? Will the opposite sex even find me sexually desirable in my old age? Will they notice the fine lines developing under my eyes, care that my boobs aren’t as perky as they were five years ago, be bothered by the sun spots appearing on my chest from those endless Santa Barbara beach days in college? How will they know how cool I am from five nondescript photos? How do I stand out in a sea of gorgeous, thin, basic women? I was exhausted just thinking about it. 

Conversely, I knew Earl wasn’t coming back. How many more days, weeks, months was I going to waste mourning the loss of such a selfish, unrighteous, cowardly worm? I wasn’t anxious to jump back into a relationship again but from what I heard, neither were the tens of thousands of other users on Tinder. After about a week of wavering on the idea I decided it was worth a try. I downloaded the app again, and made myself visible.  

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It immediately became apparent to me that every part of this was going to be a challenge. After a handful of matches I had more than a handful of questions: how do I decide who I want to talk to? Do I ever reach out first? At what point is it okay to give them your number? Is there a way to confirm the person on the other end is who he says he is, and isn’t going to murder or rape me? These are the questions I inundated Alyona with on a daily basis while I navigated this new world of dating apps. 

“Look at their profile, if you find them interesting and/or attractive say hi. If you don’t, just don’t respond.” 

“I never reach out first on Tinder, there are other apps for that (?!?!).” 

“If you are enjoying talking with someone and he asks then give him your number and meet him as soon as possible to determine if there’s a real connection. Otherwise there’s no point in wasting each other’s time. Remember, guys can be shy too. There’s no rule that says you can’t offer up your number before he asks for it if you’re enjoying the convo.” 

“There’s no real way to confirm, and they’ve even made a term called catfishing which is when the date who shows up is NOTHING like the one pictured in his profile. As far as the murder/rape, this is LA and you will always be around other people on your date. It’s very rare that you’ll encounter a Ted Bundy situation” 

With an arsenal of useful advice I felt confident enough to try it on my own. I struck up several conversations that first week and responded to guys I deemed worthy of some friendly banter. I’ll admit though, the entire process feels awkward to me. Talking to strangers I only know as a cropped, filtered photo that could have been taken four years ago about surface level topics like location and jobs? It was a chore, it was uncomfortable, and it hurt my self esteem. The dreadfulness I experienced as I tried my best to press on brought up another inner conflict I was having. Why do I feel pressure to date? 

I suppose the answer is obvious… I’m now in my thirties, and if I want to have kids someday the time to date is yesterday. However, I am a feminist at heart who believes in the strong independent woman. I don’t think that marriage is the symbol of eternal happiness. I feel fulfilled when I reflect on my twenties and recount the adventures of traveling both for work and for fun, the time spent with friends, living carefree and not under the demands and pressures of marriage. 

I was practically the guy in my first relationship and never sacrificed a part of myself for the relationship. If I had, it probably would have ended a lot sooner. The unique circumstances of my second long-term relationship also kept me from surrendering any parts of myself or my goals to the betterment of “us” but it did eat up a lot of time and leave me vulnerable, exposed, and wounded. Also I feel old now. Thanks, dickweed. 

So what do I do? I struggle with this question everyday. I’m lucky enough to have a job I love, friends all over the world, and a strong family foundation. Things could be worse and I realize that. I’m focusing on being the best version of myself and trying to remain open to the opposite sex… both on my dating apps and in my daily life. Who knows what the future holds but I know I can’t force it. Happy New Year. Here’s to new dating adventures in 2018, and hopefully some great sex.

Swiped Out