Disclaimer: The writer has used a pseudonym to protect their anonymity and no names have been mentioned.
Dating after a long-term relationship is going to be inevitably strange. All of a sudden everyone is aware of you as a potential sexual experience and you become aware of the endless possibilities of human interactions. After an abrupt and messy breakup I found myself in the same position as 50 million tinder users. I was apprehensive to join because of the horror stories we’ve all heard, but it felt like a millennial rite of passage. In the words of my mum’s best friend ‘you have to get under someone to get over someone’. Strange advice, but is there truth in it?
Tinder has some impressive statistics. With an average of 1 billion swipes and more than 26 million matches per day. I was aware of the staggering variety but nothing could quite prepare me for the reality. It was as though people were either vaguely interested or unsettlingly keen. I had a crash course in dating. At one point I was talking to eight guys simultaneously.
It was a confusing juggle and there was the awkward repeating of questions. I was told by one guy I met who, for a short time, was my ‘friend with benefits’, that you have to ‘sift through the s***t’. I went on a variety of dates and genuinely met some lovely people. I felt like Louis Theroux, but I was investigating my own dating life. At times I stood abstractly back from the dates and wondered whether I was playing a role.
The first guy I started to seriously talk to was a 23 year old who worked in a glasses shop and lived with his family and pet gerbil. He was obsessed with Marvel and one of the first tinder messages I received said ‘You can be my Hayley’. He was a manipulative womanizer. He said ‘I still love you’ after a couple of days of texting. One comment that struck me was ‘I have a one month rule’. This meant he wouldn’t have sex with someone until one month had passed. This was a suspiciously specific rule.
I was proven right as, a few texts later, I received the dreaded nude. His redeemable quality was that he looked like Jude Law and Russel Crowe’s love-child. We arranged to meet. I suggested a meal and I said my mum was in the house so we wouldn’t be able to go to mine. It became clear the ‘one month rule’ was a tool of persuasion.
I found it bizarre to lie about sexual intentions on a dating app primarily used for hook ups. Stranger still that we were both young and clearly interested in each other. The one month rule is a cliché—the kind of sexual ethics that might have impressed an older generation but certainly not me.
We never actually met, but I continue to receive semi-naked Snapchat videos asking if I’m free or otherwise declaring his boredom with the banner ‘bored’.
After this unsuccessful tinder match, I encountered what I have been reliably told by my friends is the ‘softboy’. He was a self-proclaimed edgy creative writing student who based his aesthetic on Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting. He wore hipster glasses and was two years younger than me. We had some interesting conversations and there were some flirty messages. We arranged to meet for cocktails. He told me he liked to keep a busy social schedule but I wasn’t prepared for quite how overlapped his plans were.
We met in the cocktail bar where he had been having drinks with his mum, her friend and a friend of his. I imagined they would be gone by the time I arrive. I was wrong. We went straight to the bar to order drinks as it seemed I had some catching up to do. It wasn’t until we sat down that things became weird.
Through the glass front I could see his mum and her friend in the smoking area. They were trashed. I found it funny, but he looked embarrassed. It wasn’t helped by his friend coming over to our table and pretending to bump into him (not knowing that I had already been told of the situation). He bought us both a margarita and I questioned who I was actually on a date with. Maybe we were both on a date with his friend? His mum came over and asked if we would like a drink. I said I wouldn’t mind a tequila shot.
I wouldn’t normally take shots so early in the evening but it became clear I was on a weird one. His mum and her friend left in a taxi after interrupting our date for the second time in an attempt to find their handbags. I was left with him and his friend. They were going clubbing and I was invited.
I don’t remember what we talked about but it wasn’t awkward. We bonded over the strangeness of the situation. When we got to the club loads of his friends were waiting outside. A guy with dreadlocks asked me if I was his tinder date. Our plan to say I was a friend from uni wasn’t going to work. One of his friends seemed very interested in meeting me. He hugged me and gave me a can of Stella.
We sat in the club and I realized I didn’t even feel slightly drunk. I ordered more drinks. He took me to a table away from his friends where we kissed. We emerged and bumped into more friends. The drum and bass music added to the atmosphere of excitement.
From there on is a blank void.
I realized I had taken pain-killers earlier in the evening and that they had been responsible for my inability to feel drunk. Apparently I collapsed in the club and we had to leave. I woke up confused in his bed. The dull memory of smoking a joint in his garden came back to me but I couldn’t be sure. He called me a ‘hot mess’ and jokingly promised he didn’t drug me. No…it appeared I had done that to myself.
Despite doing all the things you are supposed to avoid doing on a first date he still wanted to see me. The next few meet ups were more casual at his and I became his ‘fuck-buddy’. Then I got a message out of the blue saying he wanted to get serious with a girl and needed a ‘clean slate’.
It struck me that I was part of a dirty slate. I was the extra girl until he found someone to get serious with. I’m not one to stand between true love so I wished them a happy relationship. Feeling somewhat dejected I began my tinder search again. This time more aware of what was in store.