Would You Catch Me If I Fall?

I consider Tinder to be a pretty important hobby of mine, and like most hobbies it takes up a significant portion of my time. Some people would hear that and think that was weird, but is it really stranger than getting a group of bros together and pretending that you’re general managers of a group of athletes? Or re-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix for the eleventh time? No. I am networking in a mostly-unusual way, and my personality is such that I shine in potentially awkward social environments.

I go on so many dates and meet so many people that actually feeling a connection to someone is a big deal for me. My friends assume I love ’em and leave ’em (and I guess I kind of do… a second date from me is a rarity but so is a kiss goodnight). That’s why seeing me completely twitterpated over Catch was such a big deal. For two weeks and the first four dates I swooned and sighed over my tall, charming, handsome, successful, well-endowed paramour and my coworkers didn’t know how to handle it. I went on other dates, of course, but when I’d smile after not-so-covertly checking my phone, they always knew I’d heard from Catch.

Then the messages just… petered off. I’d initiate conversations and he wouldn’t get back to me for a few hours. Then days. Then we’d meet up at my insistence and everything would be wonderful again. Then more silence.

It got to the point where I was checking Tinder to see if he’d been on his phone since I last texted him, and I’d get nauseous if he had. I’m not that girl. I am too old and too self-respecting to doubt myself livejournal-style.

So I erased all of my Tinder information, including my matches and profile and started again, sans Catch. I should have called him on his behaviour the second it started making me feel insecure, but I kept hanging on… because maybe I didn’t want to know if he didn’t want me. Maybe his work schedule was THAT crazy.

Everyone would ask “So, how’s Catch?” and sometimes I’d save face and relay the latest tiny tidbit of info he’d released, but most often I’d admit that I had no real idea; that he was being uncommunicative and that I hoped it was any number of excuses I’d given him in my head. Still, the pull of this perfect-on-paper paramour kept me texting him.

I don’t know why I felt so confident yesterday, but I sent him a wall-of-text explaining how inconsiderate he is being.

“So it’s become pretty clear over the past few weeks that between your work schedule or your social habits or how you feel about me (or any combination thereof) that you’re not as into this as I am. That’s cool. But I would have appreciated a bit of effort or communication about it… because I gnawed at me a little that you never initiated conversations or hangouts or even bothered to respond to texts. ESPECIALLY when you seemed pretty into me while we hung out.”

He responded right away. Because that had always been an option for him:
“Hey you! Ok, I’m not even going to try to defend myself here… I think I’ve just plain handled this poorly and I apologize. I don’t think I realised I was being shitty, and I honestly didn’t do it consciously, but I should have been more upfront about where I was at.”

“You were honest about not looking for a relationship because you recently got out of one. That’s not what I asked of you though.”

“Yeah, I know… But despite that I think I still backed away pretty hard when it felt like you were really into it… I don’t think I’m really cut out for dating again… and DEFINITELY not for casual sex… and so instead of being upfront I was just a coward about the whole thing and figured you wouldn’t care… Cuz I’m clearly an idiot.”

Spare me the self-flagellation, Catch. You wanted to ignore something until it went away and it’s not working out very well for you. The people in my life ALWAYS do this; the “I acknowledge my obviously shitty behaviour, point to a personality flaw upon which I can hang everything, and call myself an idiot before doing absolutely nothing to change my behaviour” thing. The men in my family PRACTICALLY INVENTED that crap.

“So where does that leave us?” I asked, all but acknowledging that I would likely never see him again short of a tragic accident downtown.

“Well all of my being busy talk was 100% the truth, so that’s not going to change. I still think you’re awesome and ridiculous and fun, so I’d be happy if we could still hang out sometimes and text whenever. Is that feasible do you think?”

Step two in the “let ‘er down easy” playbook: the compliments bookended by “my behaviour is unlikely to change.” Joke’s on him, though, because I AM awesome and ridiculous and fun.

“I’d really like that,” I responded, because what else can I say? “But only if you actually mean it and become proactive about it.” I want you but I won’t chase you.

“I can’t guarantee improved proactivity right now… But I can attempt to make strides in that direction… Work has just really been putting the screws to me.”

What’s that Bart Simpson line again? “I can’t promise to try, but I’ll try to try.”

As disappointed as I was, his response was exactly what I had expected. I felt relieved, not only because I’d read the situation accurately but because I had an answer. It was about me, but it was way more about him. It’s not quite as devastating as the Allie X song after which he was named led me to believe, because I don’t really think he was malicious in his intentions.

But goddamn, why is he on Tinder if he has neither time to text people back basic “I confirm that I’ve read this” replies nor the emotional space to deal with meeting people? Nonsense. All of it.

Mon Grand Slack

I don’t get out of my city very often. I have a job that forces me to work weekends and I don’t get paid vacation time, so the cost of a weekend trip is often more than it’s worth.

But I said “to heck with it!” and let a friend whisk me away to Montreal for a few days for the basketball game (I ADORE basketball). I also thought it would be a good opportunity to try Tinder in a new environment – somewhere where I’d meet people with zero mutual friends; where I might get to play the tourist; where I’d get to flex my atrophied Francophone muscles.

I woke up on Saturday morning and told my friend “I want to go for brunch! Do you think I can make a Tinder brunch date happen within half an hour?”

She laughed. She’s heard all my best Tinder stories and assured me that if anyone could, it would be me.

I swiped right at anyone attractive, with text under their photos and who’d been online in the past ten minutes. I had ten matches within five minutes, but based on conversation I wasn’t especially excited by any of them. Then I saw him.

Lanky as fuck, with floppy light brown hair and enormous blue eyes. Pouty swollen Lana del Rey lips and a bio in French with the line “Parce que prendre des bières/cafés avec des inconnus c’est souvent amusant! … Also pretty decent English with classic Québec accent!” I read that to mean that he looks at Tinder as an adventure to take with strangers.

I showed my friend his picture after I swiped and matched and said “I want this one!” When Tinder is involved, I very frequently get what I want.

“Cuuute! But he looks like Catch.” She said. I shrugged. I have a type.

I sent the first message, in French, inviting him out to brunch. No preamble.

He accepted, with the caveat that he’d never met anyone on Tinder before. I promised I’d be gentle. He told me to meet him at his favourite brunch spot near the Mont Royal metro station. I hopped on the subway, a little giddy.

When I showed up, I looked around and asked the waitress in French if he’d already been seated. She brought me to him and he was even cuter in person. 6’3 with a cyclist’s physique and a pink t-shirt under a grey h&m hoodie… the same Chucks as mine but twice the size.

I said, in French, “Welcome to your first tinder date!”
He blushed, and asked me to keep it down.
I said “Oh, sorry. Oh man isn’t it cool catching up with each other for the first time since we were in jail together?”
He laughed, and I could tell he was super nervous.

We ordered, and I asked questions about his life. Between the two languages we could understand each other perfectly. We talked about travelling and math and consent and music and family. When we realised that we we’d finished our meals, we ran in the rain to a microbrewery and drank samples of every beer that they had to offer so that we could talk more.

He taught me some Quebecois curse words (all of them religious) and said that there weren’t a lot of gendered slurs. He identifies as a feminist (swoon!) and we got to talk about the power behind the word “cunt,” which was really enlightening coming from someone whose first language doesn’t have an equivalent.

We talked about online dating and how he doesn’t get many matches. I didn’t believe it, and he said “I’m not everyone’s type.” I told him he was mine. “Ahhh,” he nodded, “T’aimes les Grands Slacks.”

He explained that Grand Slack is the Joual term for a tall lanky dude. He kept gesturing to his own physique as I touched my knee to his.

He slipped his hand onto my thigh and said “You know… I don’t live far from here…”

“Oh, Grand Slack,” I said suavely, “I have a hotel room.”

His eyes flashed like goddamned sapphires as he dropped a handful of cash on the table and guided me to the bus stop. I sent a quick “clear the room please!” text to my friend and we were on our way.

As we sat down, he kissed me. Just a small stolen bisou, but it had been just long enough since I’ve had any kind of PDA that I melted into the royal blue seats.

As we walked (holding hands) from the bus stop, he sighed and admitted he didn’t have condoms. I said “It’s a good thing I’m not going to fuck you, then.” He admitted he only had an hour and as half before he was due to eat family dinner in the suburbs. I told him that just making out doesn’t take that long.

I don’t remember much about the elevator ride up to the 8th floor (I hate elevators, so it’s easier than making out in the stairwell), but I remember opening our suite’s door and throwing him onto my bed.

We kissed gently at first and I started undressing him. I asked him to be cautious of my fresh tattoo and he was very gentle; as it’s a French phrase, he joked that he’d proof-read it for me. I couldn’t keep my mouth off of his near-flawless skin, and I kissed him up and down his lean, firm torso pausing only to ask him in French about a few scars (a cycling accident in Vietnam).

When I finally saw him fully naked I kicked myself for not running to a pharmacy beforehand. We made complete messes of each other and I asked him to teach me different sexy phrases in French.

He showered quickly after we were finished and ran off to the suburbs. I have him on Facebook, but it was a beautiful novel encounter with a beautiful novel man. I invited him to chat me up if he’s ever in Toronto (I hope he does) but even if I never see him again I will look at this like the the most linguistically educational travel hookup I’ve ever had.

Grand Slack may rank with Gunner and Catch for my favourite first Tinder date, and that’s pretty great.

Irish Toast

When I meet someone off Tinder, it usually happens one of two ways: either we decide to meet up within two days of chatting (see: Catch, BTSK and a few others), or we text forever and meet several months later when we finally have the time (Magic Mike, Gunner and many more).

Irish Toast was the latter. His profile earned a swipe to the right in part due to his dark floppy hair and that he had different facial hair in every picture, but also that his profile bragged about his fobby Dublin accent and his ability to impersonate Lumpy Space Princess.

Discussions turned to politics and Pokemon and we added each other to Facebook before he deleted his Tinder profile. I kinda forgot about him (Oops!) until he invited me to go bike-riding with him. We met up on a Sunday after my morning shift and set off west on the waterfront path.

Oh my gosh, was he funny. And charming. And geeky. He wore a subtle Pokemon t-shirt and I, knowing we’d be cycling, wore a tiny tank top. We reached our destination fairly quickly and exchanged funny, geeky stories for hours. He’s an actor, so I got to share my on-stage and on-screen experiences.

He briefly mentioned that he was moving back to Ireland, but not how soon. He has a girl there, but it’s all pretty new. As in sometime between when he added me on facebook and that day. I counted out the chances of a second date and was only a little disappointed.

When we parted ways, he just cycled off. No goodbye hug or handshake or even “Thanks for the laugh.” RUDE.

“What, no goodbye hug?” I sent him a facebook message that afternoon.
“Hugs?! While cycling? Not that I wouldn’t but in my sunburnt sweaty self/but my lack of hugs doesn’t represent a lack of positive vibes,I had a stellar time.”

Welp. We stayed in touch and sent each other pictures of our blistering sunburns (why didn’t THE IRISH GUY remind me to reapply sunscreen?! Honestly).

I invited him to my birthday karaoke and he showed up, but I was pretty far gone and between BTSK, 007 and a few peripheral others I had my card pretty full.

I texted him a few days later to thank him for showing up and he invited me to join him and some Irish bros of his for drinks. In front of his friends, he mentioned his Irish girlfriend at every possible moment. Once they left, though, he kept putting his hand on my thigh. We moved from one pub to another.

When the discussions of what we liked sexually came up, I knew he was weighing the pros and cons of taking me home. “The hardest part about long distance,” he said, “Is sleeping alone.” I have never knowingly been the other woman, but I’ve been the deceived one (even in an open relationship), and I raised these concerns. I don’t remember what he said, but he assuaged them and we started the walk back to his place.

When I drink, my own accent comes out. I’m first-generation and was raised by people with thick brogues. He and I talked about dialect coaches we’d worked with and I said my favourite word to hear uttered in any accent is “Goddamn it!” (Which I attribute to Gunner and his posh West London lilt).

Ever the show off, Irish Toast imitated him spot on. And then he imitated my Dundee-born Grandpa. Then he imitated Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Concords. He even imitated me. I said, “okay, and how do YOU say it?”

He had no idea. We walked in silence for an entire minute before he ran at a fire hydrant and kicked it. The thud rang out down Dufferin.

“God DAMMIT!” He shouted.

What a nutball, I should have thought. If only!

He limped all the way back to his place and said “Let’s watch a movie.” Usually that’s code and I thought I might FINALLY get somewhere.

He puts on Mystery Team and we watch an hour’s worth before I say “Look, I’m falling asleep. Are we going to make out or what?”
He said he didn’t have the energy, and lent me a pair of boxer shorts to sleep in.

I heard him groan appreciatively as I got undressed and we crawled into his single bed and spooned.

The next morning, he said he had an audition at noon. I asked if he wanted to get brunch and he said “Better – I’ll make it! You like French Toast and tea?”

Heck yes I like French Toast and tea and dudes who cook. He said “I don’t have syrup or sugar or anything for the toast though. I like it dry anyway. Reminds me of home.” I am not usually one of those “ASSIMILATE INTO OUR CULTURE OR GET OUT” but I’m pretty sure not putting maple syrup on French Toast is grounds for deportation. Never one to look free brunch in the mouth, though, I ate in silence before he booted me out.

It wasn’t until I was taking the bus back home that I realised he’d given me some kind of fucked up pseudo-girlfriend non-sexual date experience; that this all really probably happened because he didn’t want to sleep alone but couldn’t bring himself to cheat.

I got a text after a week and a bit of radio silence saying “Call over! We’ll finish watching Mystery Team.”

So I finish up with the Tinder date I was on (it wasn’t going anywhere, despite how much that dude looked like Israeli Bret McKenzie) and hop on a bus over to Irish Toast’s place. He’s made a veggie stir-fry (he’s not vegetarian but knows I am) and says “I’ve already eaten my bit, but I’ve saved you yours.” Again, I am all about free food, so I graciously accept.

We watch the movie on opposite sides of his bed and when it’s done he says “So… I have to get up early, but thanks for calling over.” He all but shoves me out the door.

As I leave, he shouts “Oh, I’m free next weekend too!” I looked back and said “For what?”

My first text as I’m walking down the path from his door was to 007 (this was when we were still sleeping together) and I call over to him. Hell if I have three dates in one afternoon and don’t even get laid.

I have not heard from him since, except for the occasional “LIKE” of an Instagram picture or nerdy Facebook status.

I don’t know why that happened the way it did. I don’t know why I kept thinking something WOULD happen. I am sure as heck glad nothing really did, though.

She’s a Marshmallow…

I’ve gone on about fifty first Tinder dates in the year I’ve had the app. That’s more than the number of times I’ve seen my lifelong favourite band in concert (though not by much). That’s more than the number of other first dates I’ve had combined.

I’ve had a lot of fun and met some truly adventurous, hilarious and interesting people, but I’ve only been limerant of two of my Tinder paramours: The first date, and the most recent.

The first, whom I’ll call Gunner, deserves a post of his own. I adored him but put him through hell because he was my first partner after Harold and I opened up our relationship; a failed experiment at his expense. He jumped through so many hoops for me in the few months we gave it a go and I like to think I helped him work through some resentment he had over his ex. It must have worked, though, because Gunner is making one of my best friends very happy – they celebrated six months together recently and I take full credit. (note: they do not give me full credit, but we all know I set them up, okay? okay.)

The second though? Ooof. I’m calling him Catch. Not just because he is pretty much an ideal person (at least on paper) but because I know that when he breaks my heart I’m going to relate way too hard to this song:

(Allie X is a treasure, btw, and you should listen to everything she’s ever done)

His profile made him sound like he just wanted to show off – he stated his (impressive) profession, his height (excessively tall), and his favourite dessert (also my favourite dessert). His pics were typical: suit pic, pouty selfie, darkly-lit guitar pic… but Catch looks like every unrequited crush I’ve ever had, from the former frontman of my favourite local cover band to my favourite basketball player with a little bit of my high school best guy friend thrown in; like Jeff Winger from Community meets Robb Stark from Game of Thrones. He is very educated in fields semi-related to mine and has one of those jobs that impresses moms. He’s well-rounded (plays guitar! and sports too!) and is as obnoxious as I am. He’s also not on social media, which is frustrating but I’ll deal with it. I’m convinced I Weird Science’d him into existence.

My profile asks people to talk to me about glasses if they need an icebreaker, and he asked me a question about stemware as a wedding gift for his sister. After dozens of “So… Tell me about glasses lol” first messages, I was all about it.

Most importantly, he likes Veronica Mars, which is possibly the most attractive quality any person can ever have.

Our first non-tinder text conversation involved covert references to favourite video games and old flash cartoons from 2002. He got every reference and we accused each other of being hired by our friends to heal us from our fairly recent breakups. He texted me the next day and said “I can’t stop thinking about you.” I felt the same way, so we met up for midnight milkshakes at a diner halfway between karaoke, his work (where he’d just finished his rotation) and his condo. We talked until 4:00 am. He offered to let me crash at his place and was a complete gentleman (though I later found out that it was because he didn’t have condoms).

The next day I texted our mutual friends who had only glowing things to say (with the exception of an ex of mine whose other ex was Catch’s roommate and remembered only bad hair and combat choreography).

We had to wait for our second date because he had to go home for a bachelor party (they played Diablo III the whole time and he texted me every time he won). I was the first person he saw when he returned and I showed him my favourite downtown parks where we exchanged Community quotations and discussed the cultural significance of The Simpsons. I got to use the “You’re more handsome than the guy who’s famous for being handsome!” line and actually mean it.

He had sent me a text beforehand saying “This is going to sound RIDICULOUSLY presumptuous… But I have not had a chance to get to a drug store or equivalent… so if sex is at all on the table… You should maybe bring something… Don’t tell me if it’s on the table though! That way I can still have the joy of being all ‘Will we? Won’t we? What if she’s changed her mind? etc.’ (Yes, I know, I’m romantic to the core).”

So we went back to his place where we had amazing, safe sex in an overwhelming number of positions. Like, the kind of sex that could ruin sex with other people. I climbed him like a tree and he gave me the best workout I’ve had since my last bike ride out to the 905.

He confessed he doesn’t generally do the casual sex thing, and I told him that I’ve been over it for a while but haven’t met anyone I’d want to date exclusively in a long time.

I spent the whole next day with a big stupid grin on my face, even if sitting down was the best kind of uncomfortable. My coworker called me on it and had no idea how to handle it; she knows that I don’t gush about my dates.

The third date happened after I received this text:

IMG_3406

SO Catch, in one text, made a pretty compelling case for heteromonogamy.

I took him to my favourite pizza place, we watched the movie, he insisted I spend the night…

I woke up the next morning to him sitting on his couch, playing “Odds Are” by the Barenaked Ladies on a beat-up teal acoustic guitar. I sang along and thought about how perfect that moment was.

I’m trying not to read into this too much, but I’ve always been on to talk myself out of anything good. I’m at least using this giddiness as a sign that I should pare down the less-exciting people in my harem. I don’t have time to spend making out with people who don’t make me smile like a doof every time I think about them.

But no pressure, Catch. I know how hard “ideal” is to maintain. 😉

007: You Only Live Twice

“Hi can we cool it on the hookup front? I have some feelings for someone I’m trying to work out.”

Goddamn I hate iMessage first thing in the morning sometimes.

“I’m not just going to call you in two weeks when it blows over, don’t worry.”

That’s what I would do if the situation were reversed, and I think he knows that.

I’m trying to figure out exactly why I’m bothered by this, because I am. I’ve heard it a dozen times in my life from many different people, but I’ve never been on the other side of it. I want to say it’s because I can handle casual hookups. I don’t know if that’s true, or if it ever was.

The radio played “Do I Wanna Know” as I got dressed for work. I’m glad this song wasn’t around four and a half years ago, when 007 first gave a sexual friendship a try. It was more applicable then, when I was looking to be in a relationship with him; when I thought everything he did was art. Learning that 007 is human with flaws and insecurities and a guilty conscience made me more comfortable with him. I think he liked being with me because I know how hard he works to not be the person he was back then. I’m not the same person I was at 22 either.

“Yeah, no probs.” I replied, “Hope it works out! She’s lucky, whoever she is! :)” Completely fucking honestly. He is, above all else, a completely solid friend and a dude whom I am lucky to have in my life.

I have a weird expectation for myself that I say what I mean and mean what I say. That I hate the grey areas that exist when open communication doesn’t. I am excited to spend time with 007. I am excited when we’re at a house party full of people who don’t catch us checking each other out; I’m excited when we watch episodes of TV shows he wants to share with me; I’m excited clothed, naked, eating twizzlers, drinking tea and any state in between. 007 passes Mark Manson’s Fuck Yes! test. He passed the Fuck Yes! test even when we were seeing other people and he tutored me through my academic upgrading. 

Shuffle managed to play “Heartbeat” on my commute. This is more like it. An ex of mine used to tell me that 007 reminded him of a white Donald Glover. “I’mma flirt with this new girl and I’mma call if it don’t work.” I’m guilty of that.

Every part of me is screaming “THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU, T.” And I want it desperately to work out between him and whoever the girl is.

And if it ends, I want him to take me climbing again. Because I know I’ll still be into it. I’ll still shout “Fuck yes!” Even when I find someone else with a sexual charge as strong as his, I’m going to proposition platonic baseball games or long bike rides with him, no expectations of a happy ending (of either kind).

In the meantime, I’ll be on Tinder.

Great and Terrible Expectations

As I sat on a plush blue couch in a humid apartment in Midtown on a Tuesday night, I purposely put a partner of mine on the defensive.

“I just think it’s rude,” I said, “that say you’re going to stop seeing me altogether once you’ve found someone new even before you know if she wants to be monogamous. Like you’d drop me just for the idea of someone else.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed this. I’ve been seeing BTSK for almost nine months; he’s the longest current relationship I have, and has nicely bridged the gap between my former polyamourous ways and my new not-poly-just-single life. We met on Tinder and officially count our first meetup as the Frank Turner show where I texted to ask “Wait, are you the guy three rows behind me who looks like Michael Weatherly?” We count our first date as the night I brought him to karaoke and he blew me away with his rendition of “Wrecking Ball.” We have a standing date every Tuesday and I’ve always tried to treat those evenings as socially sacred – if we only get one day a week, we should make the most of it.

It usually plays out pretty much the same way every week – we always end up watching Parks & Recreation reruns (sometimes with popcorn) and talking him through whatever latest life choice he has to make before retiring to his room for some solid (albeit vanilla-as-heck) sex. Most recently, he’s thinking of moving back in with his parents in the suburbs. He told me he does not expect me to ever come visit him.

For a majority of the time we’ve been seeing each other, I had a primary partner in Harold. For that reason, BTSK and I have never considered each other as someone with whom we’d spend the rest of our lives. We’ve met each other’s friends (though not until Harold and I broke up) but not each other’s family. We never use terms like “boyfriend” but have acknowledged that when this ends, we’ll probably refer to each other as exes. I like to think he’d help me move if I needed him, but beyond that we are what we are.

I felt bad for a while that BTSK couldn’t do girlfriend things with me, and I know he’s been seeking, for at least the last few months, someone who could fill that role better than I can. He’s still on Tinder and on OKCupid, and I’ve never been jealous about the messages he gets. I’m not a jealous person to begin with, anyway, but especially not with BTSK.

Return to the blue couch on a Tuesday; he is talking to me about a few dates he has lined up. “This one girl? We’ve been out a few times. Get this – She’s a self-described west-end snob.”
I don’t care what else she has to offer. He can do better.
“Does she know you’re casually seeing someone?”
“Well, no.”
“Oh.”
“It’s just that she wouldn’t want to see me again if she knew.”

Monogamy has been so engrained in him that he hasn’t kissed her (or anyone aside from me) yet. That makes me nervous and a little guilty, because I made out with seven people at my birthday party alone. He’s from a small city east of here, and everything is very traditional there.

Monogamy right off the bat is an expectation in his world. I don’t deny that eventual monogamy is the end game of an overwhelming majority, and I know that having been in a long-term nonmonogamous relationship (even though it will be held up as an example of all the things that can go wrong) has made me a deviant from this.

That said, I think the presumption of monogamy is silly in the early stages of a relationship, particularly if the two of you (like dear BTSK and the West-End Snob) met on an online dating app.

Think about it: Two people meet on OKCupid or Tinder or POF or Grindr or, heck, HotOrNot IDEK. Though both of them have several cool matches worth getting to know, this one seems special. The conversation is amazing and both are attracted to each other based on the pictures. The first date goes swimmingly, and ends with a kiss. The second date is less great. Someone shows up late or reveals a weird opinion on Israel or makes a joke in bad taste about a cause important to the other. Is that enough of a faux pas to undo the fun of the first date? The third date goes better. One even deletes the app off of their phone. But it doesn’t work out. Everyone has those one-month flings that just fizzle out. Should they have to restart from the beginning? Reactivate OKC or Tinder and explain to other matches that they were less compelling than another match?

No. Eff that.

Date everyone once. Meet everyone knowing that everyone you’re meeting is also meeting other people. It gets rid of the Grass Is Always Greener mentality that is so prevalent in the early stages of monogamy. You have the chance to really get to know many people before committing to one. There shouldn’t be jealousy; there’s no expectation of commitment right away. Think of it as the sexiest process of elimination of all time!

“But T,” I hear you cry, “How ever will we know when someone WANTS to be monogamous?” Effing communication! Oversharing will ALWAYS be better than keeping things in. Say “Hey, this is great. Would you be interested in exclusivity?”

As far as I’m concerned, I can do whatever I want with other consenting adults until we have the exclusivity conversation, and I of course have an expectation of my partner(s) that they are doing the same.

After my breakup with my primary partner, everyone (including Harold) expected BTSK to start transitioning our relationship into something monogamous. I remember a few weeks after the breakup, I was lying in bed with BTSK and I said “You’ll want to know when I start sleeping with other people again, right? For safety reasons?”
He paused, and didn’t look me in the eye. “Yes, of course.”

A few weeks after that, we were hanging out again and I said, “Just so you know, I’ve started sleeping with someone else.”
“Oh. Guy or girl?”
“Guy. 007, actually.” (He’d heard of 007)
“Does this mean we have to stop seeing each other?”
“What? No! Of course not.”
“Oh, okay.”

And that was that.

Let’s return to the blue couch. I tell him that I know we’ll be ending things sooner or later, but what we have is pretty cool right now. I resent feeling like he thinks I’m disposable, and he can date anyone he wants but I won’t let him dump me unceremoniously after nine months because he feels weird about kissing two separate women in the same week. It’s rude AND nonsense.

Heteromonogamy, you guys. I don’t really get it.

Magic Mike

Though Magic Mike was the first match I received on Tinder when I first downloaded the app almost a year ago, he and I didn’t meet up for several months. He was uncomfortable with my open relationship and our schedules were incompatible – I worked 10-7 every day and he said he was a bartender. He looked like he could be cast as the male lead in a bad teen fashion drama – pretty and mischievous with an alliterative name that lends itself to Teen Choice Award ballots. “I bet you get all the tips,” I texted to him after he sent an “all dressed up for work!” picture. He simply said, “You have no idea.”

We’d send each other workout snapchats and pay hyperbolic compliments to each other’s torsos. Normally I prefer to be stronger than the men I date because feminism but I make exceptions for Worcestershire sauce-coloured curls and people who are genuinely embarrassed of bad tattoos they got in their teens.

After a few weeks of this, he responded to one of my pictures saying “You should get really thick oversized glasses instead of the ones you have.”

Record scratch

I asked if he was negging me.

“No, but it’s funny you know what that is.”

I deleted his number and unmatched with him. Everyone worth snapchatting with appreciates a good pair of FaceAFace frames, right?

Fast forward a few months.

I get a “Hey, what’s up?” text from a number I didn’t know. At that point in my Tinder career, this isn’t a rare occurrence.

“Not much – just getting ready for work.”

I ask for a pic. I recognize those strong, actually-groomed eyebrows as Mike’s right away. Nobody has eyebrow game like that except men who are paid to be pretty.

This time, he and I agree to meet up. The bar we pick is centrally located in a hip area in which neither of us live. It’s off a side street; it’s dark and dirty and the drinks are cheap. There’s a food menu but I’ve never seen anyone ever order the $6 Pad Thai. We hug hello and he seems relieved that he’s taller than I am.

We talk about our childhood and coming from big blended families before it turns to what we do for money. I start talking about glasses, and he says he’d love to be an actor. I ask where he tends bar and he laughs.

“Confession time: I am not a bartender.”

“Oh?” I lift my drink and prepare for the worst. I don’t do well with lies.

“You know *REDACTED*?”

“As in, the men’s strip club? You’re a stripper?” I take a big gulp of Strongbow.

He shrugs and gives me an aw-shucks blush.

“Cool! Can I try to guess your schtick?”

He laughs. “It’s an obvious one.”

“Schoolboy?”

“Kinda gross for a 23 year old, eh?”

Once he starts talking about how much he actually enjoys his work, I realize how charming he is. He has no qualms about answering my questions about Channing Tatum’s movie (“It’s maybe a *little* more glamourous than that…”), his clientele (“Older gay men are the kindest! There’s no entitlement there!”) or his coworkers (“We all want to be there, at least where I am.”) He even answered my most pressing question: how do patrons tip since we don’t have $1 bills in Canada? (“We get $5 or $10 tips but we do more for it!” with a wink)

He invited me back to his place, and I was curious to see what kind of condo could be rented with bundles of sweaty Lauriers.

One with a really nice view, it turns out.

His bookshelf was filled with acting guides (and yes, a copy of The Game, which was the only work of fiction I saw).

The kissing was good. The physicality was excellent. I’m still not used to partners who can overpower me but this was nice. He was very preoccupied with making sure I had a good time.

After several hours, he told me he had an audition in the morning and that he’d walk me back to the streetcar. He asked me what I was reading, and had never heard of Foxfire OR Joyce Carol Oates. He told me he didn’t really read much. I know, bro. I know.

We didn’t see each other again, but the post-workout pics still get sent. He’ll see on IG that I’m in a thrift store change room and ask for snaps of the rejected clothing. When he got cast as the shirtless male lead in a music video, I watched it four times (though it was on mute for 3.5 of them).

Recently I decided to get a manicure while waiting for a different Tinder date (no rest for the wicked) and as I was waiting for my fruit punch shellac (very uncharacteristic) to dry, I saw that the salon was playing the Magic Mike dance scene cut on a loop. As soon as I could touch my phone again, I was texting my own personal Channing Tatum. We decided we’d meet up a second time when he finished his trip home. Apparently he quit his job, but as far as Tinder stories go, Magic Mike and his eyebrows and terrible tattoo will live on in infamy. Will he be as much fun without the novelty? I guess we’ll see.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my bunk.