Pour yourself a drink (preferably this Apple Cranberry Crush because it goes down easy), we are getting into it today.
Let’s talk about dating. I’ve been single for a year. The last time I was single I was 25. I’m not sure what happened but the game done changed.
When I was 25 and single, I visited some friends in Toronto. Two of my girlfriends and I were on our way to a Grouper, a now defunct dating app that used Facebook profiles and a concierge-style service to facilitate group outings – bringing together a group of three single women and three single guys – and I noticed them swiping endlessly through an array of headshots on their phones. I asked, “What’s that?” and responded simply, “Tinder.” Being from small-town Ottawa, my total confusion remained, “What’s that?” I asked again. Stunned by my ignorance, they explained the concept and encouraged me to download it.
The Grouper was a total bust and we were all miserably ill-suited to our group date companions. Tinder, on the other hand, proved slightly more fruitful. I was in Toronto for a few days, with time to kill. My first ever Tinder date was with a man who looked like Daniel Craig in his photos. Suavely sipping on a scotch neat in a three-piece suit at an elegant marble bar – my type, exactly.
He suggested we meet at the David’s Tea on Bloor in 20 minutes. It was the middle of the afternoon, I didn’t have anything better going on, I agreed. Upon meeting in the flesh, I was a bit confused. He didn’t look ANYTHING like his photos. He was proportioned like one of those inflatable tube men that flail with abandon in front of car dealerships.
As we walked with our tea, which we went Dutch on, I asked, “So, your photos look really professional, are you a model?” Trying to unwrap the mystery of the complete incongruity between his digital and IRL presentation. He responded coolly, “No, Toronto is just a really competitive dating market. My friend and I rented the party room in our condo, staged the photos and then Photoshopped them.” K. Cool.
While the date was a flop, I have preserved my penchant for limiting the digital courtship to a minimum and cutting to the chase. I find, when you spend too much time talking online and then FINALLY meet in person, it’s like when you read the book, and then go see the movie adaptation, and the main character seems horribly miscast.
In spite of that first failure, I persisted. Back in Ottawa, the pickings were slim and there was only a smattering of worldly folk or tourists on the app – you’d run out of potential matches within a matter of seconds. As time went on, the popularity of the app spread like wildfire (pun intended) and over the following 18 months I probably went on 50 first dates, and only 5 second dates.
Eventually, I met someone (through a different app) who would become my boyfriend for the next four years.
Back in the wild at 29 and now 30, I’ve been less enthusiastic with my reentry into the world of online dating. In early 2018, when I was first dipping my toe back into the waters, I had more men schedule dates only to cancel them an hour or two before the appointed time, than dates that actually came to fruition.
I know we’re all “busy” but few things rouse my ire like flakiness. I have shit to do – this blog doesn’t write itself, these drinks don’t mix themselves, and I have an amazing group of girlfriends whom I love to spend time with and I need to book time with at least two weeks in advance. I think the flakiness is a symptom of the nature of dating apps, they gamify dating so that every match or SuperLike or message gives you a small dose of serotonin that quickly becomes addictive, but entirely detached from the humanity of the person matching, liking or messaging.
Aside from the flakiness, there is a serious issue of scarcity. As any single woman in the National Capital Region will tell you, it is slim pickings. There seems to be an overabundance of beautiful, accomplished, shit-together women in this town and nowhere near an equal proportion of men.
The vast majority of Tinder/Bumble/OkCupid/Hinge profiles feature unsmiling, sunglass-sporting “entrepreneurs” holding up fish. All of which leads me to believe that they’re eyeless, toothless and jobless, but remarkably capable at noodling. Their claim to fame is playing Junior B hockey and having “sick flow” in high school, now they’re balding but still operate under the delusion that they’re God’s gift to women. As such, if you dare entreat any of these gems into a conversation you’re likely to get monosyllabic responses or, better yet, an invitation to “Netflix and chill.”
Of course, there are a handful of eligible bachelors out there – whether they’re looking for a relationship at 33+ is a whole other ball game. Feeling frustrated, I took a six-month hiatus from the apps. I did meet a couple of men in real life who were employed and enthusiastic… but also married, as it turned out. In fairness, I have met one or two people in person who were lovely, unmarried and eligible – sometimes it’s just a question of compatibility.
I can hear you heckling from here. Yes, I’m picky, but I’m exacting in all aspects of my life and I’m not about to lower the bar when I’m looking for a lifelong companion – seems like the kind of thing you shouldn’t compromise on.
Is online dating a necessary evil? Or is there a remote possibility of meeting someone compatible in real life? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll have my Tinderella story or maybe I’ll meet someone the old-fashioned way or maybe I’ll grow old alone and put all my energy into loving myself.