Ladies, it’s rough out there. Believe me, I know.
I’ve gone from wondering last May if I could find love on Tinder to knowing affirmatively that I can’t and won’t, taking myself off of Tinder, joining Bumble – a “new and improved” Tinder knockoff that purports to put women in control – realizing after many months and dates that it’s in essence no better or different than Tinder (the main difference is the comparative lack of users), and finally on New Year’s Eve deleting my Bumble account too, determined not to drag all the dispiriting dating of 2015 into 2016.
But I’m not giving up. And I can use all of my experiences to help you avoid making the same mistakes I have when trying to navigate the sexual and romantic minefield that is swipe apps.
1. Move on when the guy doesn’t ask you out within the first few texts.
If he actually wants to meet you, he’ll ask you out quickly. That’s (supposedly) why he’s on the dating app anyway, right? Guys should ask if you want to have coffee or a drink within several texts. If he doesn’t ask you out and just keeps bantering back and forth, he’s using you to: A) distract him from his boredom; B) stroke his ego; C) jack off; D) all of the above.
2. Don’t do the work for him.
I thought I was smart because I’d come up with lines like “This conversation would be so much better over drinks,” or “I’m about to reach my textperation point,” or “I’m not looking for a textlationship.” The guys would all respond positively and usually LOL at my witty coinages. They’d say things like, “Great, me too!” In the beginning, I thought that perhaps the men needed encouragement to actually ask me out, and I did get the idea from several of them that they thought the woman wanted to text-chat enough to “feel safe” before agreeing to meet. But what I realized is that once you reach the point of having to tell the guy you’d rather be meeting than texting – a situation so common it required me to come up with words like “textperation” – it’s already time to disqualify him and move on. Even when a guy responded with a (semi) concrete plan to meet, like “How’s Wednesday?” he should have been eliminated from my queue. Which leads me to Tip #3.
3. A day is not a date.
When a witty, cute and semi-hilarious 30-something guy I’d been texting furiously with said, “How’s Wednesday?” I thought we had a date. Mind you, he only said this after I used my “This conversation would be even better over drinks” line as I’d already far exceeded my usual textperation point, but he was so funny and smart I let the texting go on too long and too frequently without his asking me out. After we agreed on Wednesday, which was almost a week away, he continued to text me funny selfies and little jokey banter for a couple days, but the closer it got to our supposed date day, the quieter he got. I didn’t hear from him at all Tuesday, and Wednesday came and went with no follow up. At least by this point I’d learned NOT to contact the guy with questions that should never be uttered by any self-respecting female, such as as “Are we still on for tonight?” or “When/where are we meeting?” If you have to ask, you aren’t. Needless to say, I never heard from this witty gent again. At which point I realized, a day is not a date. It’s only a date if he sets a time and specific location.
4. Don’t give second chances to men who blow it before the first date.
No matter how cute he looks, how funny he seems, or how interested in you he appears, when someone you haven’t even met yet blows it before the first date, there should not be a first date. A prime example is guys who ask for your number, text you the day you give it to them, then disappear for anywhere from several days to a couple of weeks, only to resurface with a text out of the blue asking how you’re doing and wanting to meet up. Even worse is when the guy is so disingenuous that he writes “Where’d you disappear to?” or the equivalent, when you both know that he’s the one who disappeared. No matter how interested in you he seems when he resurfaces, if he really were interested, he wouldn’t have asked for your number then dropped off the face of the earth before even nailing down a date with you.
This happened to me repeatedly, and a couple times I gave the guy a chance anyway. Wrong move. One such guy leaned over awkwardly to kiss me at the bar in the middle of a crowded restaurant on the Third Street Promenade in the daylight of a Sunday afternoon, so that I was shaking my head and saying, “No, no, no” as he came in for the kiss, a first even for me. He went on to try to convince me to let him come over and finish watching the football game on my couch while we cuddled. I declined, and later that night he sent me a text about how I’m all in my ego. If only I’d not responded after the first time this bottom feeder disappeared, I’d have saved myself from an experience I would have preferred to miss.
5. What men say at the end of the first date is meaningless.
In a less than two-week span, I went on three first dates that all appeared to go well and ended with the guy talking about the second date. I had early drinks with a cute, friendly, divorced investment banker who was the exact same age as me, lived in my area and seemed appropriate in every way. We spent two hours talking, and I didn’t even finish my second cocktail. At the end of the date, he walked me to my car, kissed me on the cheek, and said we should go see a movie and also go for a hike. “I’ll text you tomorrow,” he said. I never heard from him again. I hadn’t gotten drunk or fooled around with him too fast or done any of the things that I thought explained why guys didn’t call me again. And he had been the one to repeatedly mention a second date, the hike and the movie. There was no explanation for why he didn’t follow up, just as there was no explanation for why he felt compelled to talk about specific things he wanted to do together. The takeaway is, ladies, what guys say at the end of the first date means nothing. Nothing. Do not believe him when he says he’ll call/text/send a courier pigeon until your phone is lighting up or there’s a filthy bird at your door.
In 2016, when I go on a first date, my expectation will be that I will never hear from the guy again, no matter what he says at the end of the date or how many plans he suggests. Then if I do ever hear from him again, it will be a pleasant surprise, rather than yet another disappointment if I don’t. My goal this year is to date without expectations or attachment, so that I can enjoy the process more and feel disappointed less. Because if I feel like every guy I meet ends up being a lying loser, it’s going to be pretty hard to keep dating.
And I’m not giving up: I know my reliable, full-package man is out there somewhere.