It’s taken me too long to come around part II of the online dating experience – partly because I was busy doing some offline dating, partly because I was travelling and working, and partly because I am lazy. Finally, for the ones who like to sneak into my life (Patricia, this goes for you!) part two of this series.
As I explained in my previous post, I first joined Tinder for research (technical research) and then decided to give it a try for men research. Call me cold hearted.
For those who don’t know Tinder, it links to your facebook account to take your pictures, interests and friends. Then it shows you men around you (if that’s what you’re into), and you can swap right if you want to have a chance of talking with them, or left if you are not interested. It is like a massive bar with the nice feature of letting you talk to as many people as you want at the same time.
The first thing that felt weird was that choice, in Tinder, seems to be based mainly on the looks, which I guess comes in handy if what you are looking for is a ONS (One night stand – on Tinder lingo). The problem (my problem) is that, if I am looking for a ONS, I’d rather find him in a bar, and save myself the whole outfit decision making, commute and over-a-drink conversation. Meeting strangers with whom I have no intention of falling in love with seems easier with a drink on my hand and loud music to dance to.
This said, I don’t believe Tinder is for ONS only! I even know some people who have found the love of their lives on Tinder!
But Tinder got me thinking. Like crazy.
- He’s been online at 4am the night before. Hm.
- He has no interests or pictures or friends. Maybe he has a fake facebook profile picture because he has something to hide? Is he married? Does he like Nickelback?
- He has no bio. Not even a short, fun one. And probably neither a conversation.
- Oh damn. Who were you again and what were we talking about last time? Are you the guy who collected butterflies or…?
But who cares about my brain workflows. What you want is… gossip!! And gossip is what I’ll give you.
Someone, somewhere in the Tinder offices, knows the information I am about to share with you. They know which how many men I matched, how many men I spoke with. They probably have some kind of algorythm analysing the words we use, the presence of emoticons and whether there is a phone number exchange or not.
What you are about to read is the commented version of my data. A soulful analysis of my behaviour and what happened in the end. Eat that, big data.
With you: The Diary of a Tinder Girl.
George and I are a quiet match. He is cute and his profile says curiosity killed the cat. I checked it now, and he has added ‘ONS only’. I checked that out right now and ONS means one-night-stand. Maybe not my type, but at least he is honest.
Paul and I are a quiet match. He has no bio and just some funny pictures with friends and one of him playing around with turntables. Maybe a dj. One has to date a dj before leaving Berlin. Nah. Maybe not.
John and I are a quiet match. He has gorgeous dark eyes, a masculine jaw and eyebrows to die for. He also has long hair. His bio says it is ok to say hi and that one needs not be pretentious on Tinder. His also says he likes philosophy, literature, science, hanging out and watching cartoons. I may have found the ultimate buddy. But I am quiet and it looks like he’s too.
Ringo and I are a quiet match. What you suspected. All names in the list are made up. His bio says ‘love me Tinder, love me sweet’ and it makes me laugh so I swapped right. That and that he is holding a bird cage in his profile picture and has done some travel in Africa as I can tell from his Instagram feed after an exhaustive research. But still I don’t say a thing. Because that’s how I get dates.
Günter starts by asking about my weekend in german. Paranoid me freaks out because my German sucks and I don’t want to get into the conversation where I excuse myself for it and then confirm that YES, it’s been 3 and a half years in Germany I can’t still flirt in German (but I can in Italian, hey!) and how YES I guess I am just another Spanish in the Kreuzkölln Ghetto.
Another match. I say hi. Alex answers 25h later asking how I am in german. One smiley and a tongue out emoticon. I don’t let his emoticons trick me. I abandon.
Jirka’s profile picture is a very weird one with vintage pilot glasses like the ones above. He is all into climbing and computers and dancing and has a bio in english and a polish name. He also says he is looking for someone he can share his interests with and have a good laugh with, which makes the right swap easy. He also has long hair so this may be my teenage-self coming out. His first message asks about coffee sometime. I get excited and say I can’t right now but could do other time. He suggests a couple of days and I don’t feel very confident about it anymore, because HELLO BRAIN, so I don’t answer.
Three days later, on the first of the days he had suggested, Jirka writes a long message explaining he won’t have time today and asks to meet a night on the weekend or the week after. I do not answer. One day later it’s Friday night and he suggests we meet in a club. There is an exclamation mark. I do not answer. Was that a booty call?
I go back to Tinder because the research is interesting and I am not being any luckier with my offline dating life.
Ben is English and he also speaks German and Italian, he plays the ukelele and is cute. We have one common interest, a facebook group called ‘free flats in berlin’ but it does not help getting a conversation started. He does not speak, and I am quiet – so I remain quiet. What a pity. I have an ukelele at home we could have played together. Oh. That would have been a great opening line. Wanna come over and play my ukelele?
Next one. Swap. Swap.
Joao is in Berlin. He is portuguese and everybody knows portuguese men are fun to hang out with. And they have this sexy accent when they speak Spanish, and are carefree and make great coffee in the morning. He says he can cook, has lived in different cities for travel and works in tech. He could be the love of my life! We could have a nice conversation at least. OK, I admit it, he is also smoking hot.
So, guess what.
For the first time in history, I start a conversation.
‘Hi Joao, how are you?’.
Hold your applauses. None of you expect what came afterwards. He writes a whole Bible about how cool my pictures are and how interesting I look and how he’d love me to show him the city (wink, wink) because he is in Berlin for the Champions League final, but usually live in Sao Paulo or Los Angeles and asks if I’ve even been there.
I feel overwhelmed. This guy raises all the red alerts he had managed not to rise using his big shoulders and white teeth, and I don’t write him anymore.
20 days later
I go on Tinder again, because my offline dating keeps being weird and getting weirder.
Manu is Spanish and he has fun pictures and even a bio! We are a match, and he says hi. I say hola because apparently he didn’t realise my pictures in Sevilla or my bio saying that I am Spanish or my Spanish-spelled name, and we start a conversation.
After a couple of sentences asking about what brought us to Berlin and what we do here, it happens: I KNOW THIS GUY!!!
I interviewed him a couple of years ago for a blog and he sounded like a smart guy. He is also an IT nerd. It sounds like a safe date: meet for a drink, talk about Madrid, have some more drinks, have passionate sex sparkled with a lot of words in Spanish like pasión and edredón and listen to Extremoduro while we smoke Fortunas afterwards.
So I do it. I say yes to a date. We’ll meet tomorrow in a café I really like and he likes to, because it’s obvious that we’re made for each other and this is going to be fun while it lasts.
It turns out it lasts for too short.
The day of our date I am nervous at work. I go back home, have a shower, change my clothes, put on that makeup look that makes you look like you’re wearing no makeup, and go for it.
When I arrive in the bar I have a hard time recognising the guy. It’s cool at the beginning, then I slowly realise he’s not my type, we have little in common, I am not feeling any great with where things are going and he’s not really the kind of person I need in my life right now. The kind of realisations you can only make if you are sober and you meet a person in day light and in a place where the music is low enough to let you hear what the other person says. I feel proud of myself and slow my drinking. I elegantly look at my watch and make my leaving the stage as nice as I can.
That day I say goodbye to him promising I will send him my number to talk again. I smile, and wish him a great rest of the evening.
When I get home to go on with the rest of my evening I hear a ‘we need to talk’ that comes from inside my right ear. I sit with myself for some minutes and I ask myself a lot of questions. What do you want, Cristina? What are you looking for? A few hours later I realise I have no idea of what I want, but I have a pretty good idea of what I don’t want.
I don’t want to shop for love or sex. I want to go out and encounter them.
Meet strangers in parks and cafes and airports and listen to their stories and watch them move their hands to know who they are. Know that there is a connection going on when I find myself playing with my hair and smiling like I am the happiest person in the planet, and not because we have seven facebook groups in common.
I want our first conversation about music to happen while we listen to it.
My first impression about their look to come from looking them in the eye and not from a curated selection of profile pictures.
I want to know I like them because we just danced and the butterflies are moving to all the wrong places.
If it’s going to be sex I want it to be improvised. If it’s going to be love I want it to be accidental.
Good Cristina and Bad Cristina make peaces and decide online dating is not working and it’s time to stop avoiding offline dating.
A few days later, when I least expect it, the Universe behaves. Because believe it or not, if you really give up and let go, the Universe will be good to you. It has happened to me every-single-time.
This time the Universe surprises me while I am smoking in the part. It brings me a guy with terrific legs and the sweetest smile who’s as lost as I am. He asks me to point at nice restaurants in the map he is holding.
He likes food. He has an accent. It’s a match!
But that, kids, is another story.
Tinder has been on my phone until very recently, because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss John, George or Ringo in this post. Today Tinder is gone and believe it or not I have more dates now than I did before.
I am working on the wanting to stay / making them stay thing, but I have at least thirty more years to work that out – and no app will help me.
Many of you have not tried online dating because you feel intimidated, you don’t know how to start conversations or you struggle with finding a good profile picture. I hope my experience helps you understand what motivates some people to try online dating, trust that there are some normal folks out there (normal like me! if not normaler!) and maybe try it for yourself.
The love of your life, or at least the most passionate night of 2015, may be at a couple of thumb swipes away from you.