All For One, and One For All

My stupid toxic type-A personality is unhealthy in a lot of ways, but the one weighing most heavily on me is that I feel like I should be emotionally ready to want to date again.

Having gone on three first Tinder dates this week, I can say for certain that I am not ready. Still. Three very different people, all the same outcome: I just wanted to bolt.

One was a perfectly nice former pro soccer player-turned SQL dev who came out to the east end because I asked him to.
One was a beautiful English woman who spent our date inviting me out to kink events and roller derby practice.

One was a bartender who was an excellent conversationalist but physically I wasn’t at all into it.

And I couldn’t wait for each one to end. I kept thinking “I could be doing anything, or nothing, with the time I am spending here being polite and making jokes about early 2000s hip-hop.” It felt formulaic, because I know how to be charming and I know all the stories to tell that aren’t ~too much~. I was antsy.

I explained to a friend (who is going through a very similar phase) that I don’t even WANT to be dating right now, I just want to know that I am capable of it just in case something amazing comes along. It’s like anything else:

I feel like I should be doing something, so I do it. I have a shit time, so I don’t want to do it. I start feeling pressure to do it again, so I get antsy until I do it. Over and over. I used to have the energy for four dates in a week. These three left me exhausted.

Of course, my friend wisely said that I shouldn’t be doing anything I don’t want to do, it just doesn’t feel that easy. For me, getting Tinder dates is easy. Getting a second date from someone who doesn’t excite me is easy. Going to a sex club and getting propositioned is the easiest thing in the world. It’s been a long time since anything easy has appealed to me.

I *hate* the thought that Eleven being a dick to me for the last six months of our relationship has RUINED sex positivity and the pursuit of sex for me. He would pursue anything that walked by, including people and situations that weren’t okay, but then would have these “We have to sit down and discuss why I’m not attracted to you; it’s because I want to fuck everything and you won’t let me” conversations.

My type, under- or unemployed skinny sarcastic jerks who call me out and come from money, is the worst type. I think a lot of my hesitation comes from knowing how awful those people are for me, but still being laser-focused on ONLY being attracted to them. That type is all I have ever dated for twelve years, and that’s probably going to be a difficult streak to break. The next five, ten, fifteen people who excite me will be some variation on it, but I would have to be excited by someone first.

I had a patient on Thursday who knocked me off my feet. The problems in that statement are super obvious, and as a licensed professional I will never be able to act on it… but I flirted in a way I haven’t since well before Eleven and I broke up. I just found him so compelling.

He is type: My height; slight; a programmer who uses an obscure language on which he literally wrote the book; comes from enough money/sold enough books that he can work on his passion project full time… but he’s older than anyone I’ve pursued before (mid-40s) and has no social media presence except a home renovation YouTube channel. In fact, the only mentions of him on Twitter are “What ever happened to _____?” I have more questions than answers, but it’s nice to know I’m not completely dead inside.

So Tinder gets retired for another week, when I visit New York with my cool buddy Javert. Will we finally successfully use Tinder Social? I’ll probably have a better time if we don’t.

That’s that shit I don’t like…

I have heard my entire adult life how much it sucks being a single woman in my city, especially one who uses online dating apps like OKCupid and PlentyofFish. I was lucky in my experience with OKC: my first OKC date becameĀ a year-long relationship, my first date after breaking up with that dude was with a woman who would be my girlfriend for four months, and my first date in an open relationship with Harold (whom I met in University) was with a woman who is now a good friend.

I effing LUCKED OUT.

When I started on Tinder, the first person with whom I met up knocked me off my feet. I still haven’t posted about Gunner, mostly out of privacy for his current relationship with a very close friend of mine, but he set the “decent, handsome, communicative dude” standard on Tinder pretty high. I have met a LOT of super cool people on Tinder, and some very boring ones, but never someone who scared me or made me feel uneasy. I weed those people out pretty well, but recently one got past all my safeguards.

Walter Jr. and I had a bunch of mutual friends, and while he looked a little less clean-cut than my typical straight-laced paramours, his smile was crooked and white and infectious. He was quick to initiate or reply to messages, which was important after Catch. He was eager to get me back to his place to watch Adam Sandler movies and make out, but I was hungry and channelled the plan into dinner at my favourite vegetarian restaurant in an artsy neighbourhood.

On first glance I knew I’d never be into it. His hair was long and dirty; he was underdressed in dirty ripped jeans and a paint-stained flannel shirt that smelled like spilled beer. He twitched and mentioned male genitalia four times in the first five minutes. We walked around the neighbourhood talking about work (he’s an architect) though I evaded any specifics about where my stores are. I was ready to call it off before we even got to the bistro – I didn’t want to waste his time or mine – but the lure of vegan dumplings and homemade cream soda was stronger than my off vibes.

Halfway through the meal, he started speaking very loudly about how good my chest looks. I excused myself and went to the ladies room, rolling my eyes. When I returned, he’d taken care of the bill. Normally I’d offer cash for my half but I didn’t bother. I said I had to be up early the next morning, thanked him for the meal and ducked into the nearest subway.

He was persistent in asking for a second date, and I told him I had too much on my plate. After the second time he asked, this happened:

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What the actual fuck, Walter Jr. I gave him an out to just laugh it off and he just pushed harder for something that I’m clearly not into. With every subsequent message, my “I’m not interested”s became more blunt until FINALLY he fired off a fuming “Your loss” at me. Thankfully I haven’t heard from him since.

So many of my friends insist that this is par for the course with Tinder and OKCupid; that dudes never deal well with someone saying “No thank you.” There are blogs and instagram accounts and name+shame pages for men who are abusive towards women on Tinder. They still may be outliers but this guy is ruining the fun for everyone. What happens to Tinder when power users like me grow uncomfortable and limit their time on the app?

The next night, I received this message from another match who had looked familiar:

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I hate this. The best part of Tinder is that I can only get messages from people I approve beforehand. It helps me feel safe and welcome and helps ensure that people don’t waste as much energy as they would on other apps. Simply by matching, you know that any message is at least somewhat welcome. So why make something so ideal for both parties so hostile? Why abuse that tiny modicum of trust?

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.