I think the first date that comes from a dating app can go one of two ways; be really great and boost you about dating and dating apps in general or so bad it makes you question if you even want to bother. I think a lot rides on that first date, especially if like me you have never gone on a date that’s come from online only interaction. My first date was over 4 months ago and I had no idea then how much I would end up liking him or what a rollercoaster of emotions I would go on all because of my first dating app date.
When it came to starting to date on apps, I had a fool-proof plan. A strategic way of swiping if you will to make sure that I didn’t end up in any kind of serious relationship too soon. I didn’t think I was ready and I certainly wasn’t sure if it was something I even wanted. As I said before I didn’t want just hook ups as I’m not that kinda gal, but I also didn’t want to dive head first into a proper relationship. There are several ways to ensure you do this. Use Tinder. On the whole most people are on there for something more casual. Be clear in your profile. Lots of the apps allow you to specify what you are looking for. But my plan extended further than that. I made a concerted effort to swipe for people I most likely couldn’t see myself dating long term, that way they would be no danger of me falling for someone and straight into a relationship. I mean I picked people who were considerably younger than me (though I do on the whole prefer a younger guy), guys whose situations weren’t open to serious relationships and just guys who I thought “Well I wouldn’t take him home to my mum”. Was this a good plan, probably not and I can tell you now, the plan failed miserably and in fact came around and bit me square on the arse.
On a whim I downloaded Plenty of Fish to mix it up and see if there were any different guys from the same old faces all over my Bumble and Tinder. I mean don’t get me started on what a depressing place of depravity and awfulness Plenty Of Fish actually is, more on that another time I’m sure, but into my inbox pops a message from a guy. He was cute and pretty local which is always a plus. This guy had been press ganged into joining the app and so far, was not a fan, so much so that after 20 minutes had decided to delete his account. However, after a brief chat, he had asked for my number to be able to keep talking.
Now I’m a big believer in fate. You’ll learn that about me. That’s why I can be so straightforward and level headed about certain things because I truly believe things happen for a reason and despite the way this story ends (yes spoiler alert) I still genuinely believe that it wasn’t coincidence that we happened to be both be on that app at the same time and that we were meant to meet. Even bad stuff that happens shapes you as a person and so everything that happens, is meant to be I believe.
This guy was in a position of uncertainty in his life, possibly moving away and most girls would have run a mile, but not me. To be honest it sounded perfect to me. I too was in a place of uncertainty in my life. Still in the marital home but hoping to move, mid divorce and not looking for anything serious so the fact this guy might move meant there would be no way he’d want a relationship and neither would I.
We arranged a date and it was to be my first, the first time I would meet someone in real life from a dating app. I’ll be honest I was shitting myself. Oh my god so many thoughts running through my mind in the run up to it. Will he turn up? Will he look like his photos? Will he think I look like my photos? What if it is just awful and soul destroyingly bad? Honestly, I was messaging my friend Lucy constantly in the run up that day and I also must confess to knocking back a very strong drink before I got the train into town.
The pressure of this first date is massive, I think. I’ve talked about this build up before in my last post "Why I'm Terrified of Modern Dating", that increased expectation that comes from only having photos and messages to create a picture of someone and how this can come with an element of disappointment when you finally meet them.
The date was still to this day the most random night out I have ever had. I mean it was great but it went from quiet drink in a pub to essentially a massive night out involving several pubs and bars, copious cocktails and rum and cokes, even he admits he got pretty drunk and thought I’d never be interested after the way he acted. But my nerves were gone and we got on so well. Conversation flowed and chemistry sparked.
But the high of a great night out was soon swapped with a low. Eagle eyed Instagram followers of mine might remember back in March me saying I’d had a date only to then say the next day I’d been pied off. Well this was him. And this is how began the roller-coaster story of me and him and why it has taken me so long to write about it because it literally changed fortnightly, even my family and friends couldn’t keep up!!
His uncertain situation meant he pushed me away but then would change his mind and reappear. We had date two. I say date two, we actually spent a whole weekend together. Dates are supposed to progress gradually but my god we crammed everything into that weekend, drinks in the pub, breakfast, films, walks on the beach with the dog, going out for coffee, Chinese, more films and yes of course sex. By the end of the weekend, feelings had massively developed for this guy that I wasn’t supposed to like. The connection between us was intense. Something I know he feels too. I’ve never known anything like it and it is that extraordinary pull that kept bringing us back together and why despite his efforts to keep finishing it, he kept coming back and I kept letting him.
The hard thing is when you end up really liking the first person you date is, you question if it’s real? Do I just like them because they are the first person to have shown me any affection? Is it because I just don’t want to have to go back on the apps? All of these things occur to you and make you question your feelings. I know people who have ended up with the first person they chatted to on an app and it does happen, but how often does it truly work?
He decided to leave for good and cut all contact and I was devastated. I struggled to pick myself back up but tried to be positive in the knowledge that it had proved three things to me;
- I was likable. I was so unsure that anyone would even like me again after my break up so I had to be happy that someone liked me, and liked me enough to stay all weekend twice.
- I wasn’t capable of just a fling. I’d thought I could do the casual thing with no feelings involved but clearly, I was wrong.
- I wanted a relationship.
But over the next few weeks he would reappear and we would be pulled back together again. I would try and persuade him to start something proper between us and he would pull away. Of course there’s many more intricacies to the story and the situation but in essence what I wanted he wasn’t capable of giving both emotionally and practically and yet every time I Iet him in and let myself believe it might work out and every time ended up upset when he would leave and I would get the “I think you’re great but …..” message.
I put myself in an impossible situation and one I’m not 100% I’m out of to be honest. When you’re in the midst of it, it’s hard to be clear headed. I remember years ago I was in such an unhealthy relationship with a guy who would disappear for days on end, constantly break up with me and move out and it was only years later I could look back and see how destructive it was to me and my well being. And yet I put up with it for the rare moments of wonderfulness between us. I’m not saying this is anything as bad as that as he hasn’t done any of this through malice or to be cruel, its just a difficult situation. But I do know this situation has impacted negatively on me. Caused me tears, anxiety and stress and I just don’t think it should be like this. The beginnings of relationship should be exciting and fun, but you can’t help who you like right?
This last time when the pushing me away message came, I realised I couldn’t do it anymore. I like him so much, and I think a connection like ours is rare and doesn't happen that often but I don’t want that anxious feeling in my chest anymore, I want excited butterflies not upset nerves. In the past I’d replace him with another dating app date, make myself feel better by having attention from someone else. In between the “Take care & goodbye” texts from him I had other dates and met other people, but right now I think I want to be on my own. Focus on everything I’ve got going on with my house move, the doggies and my work.
So, my heart is a little bruised, but I’m proud that I opened it up to someone and that I let myself be vulnerable. I’ve always been someone who is open and honest with their feelings and I will try my best to always be that way.
Was it not right? Or was it just not right, right now? I don’t know and I guess only time will tell but at least I’ve got that first dating app date (and a few more) out of the way and I’m so much clearer about what I’m looking for in life and in love.