I’ve been single for nearly six months, and it’s been a good six months. I’ve spent most of my time making new friends and enjoying my hobbies, but most importantly I’ve spent some valuable time thinking about what I want. One thing I decided I wanted to do was “date”.
Until this year I’d never really dated. Before university I had a steady boyfriend who I was with for just under three years, and then throughout my four years at university I had a couple of serious, but shorter, relationships. For me, meeting the men who became my boyfriends all happened very naturally – through the happy accident of being in the right place at the right time.
However, since I left university and moved back to London I’ve found myself in a much smaller social circle with fewer opportunities for those right-time-right-place scenarios. In late December, encouraged by the stories of my close friends, I decided to join the dating app Tinder.
It made it so easy to meet boys! It’s not only revolutionized my concept of dating but it’s actually made me far more confident. The app is a positive sea of potential partners, and you can quite literally browse to your heart’s content. You can choose to try and match with whomever you like, even the boys that you’d never dare speak to in person because you think that they’re drop dead gorgeous.
Being a total newbie to the experience it took me quite a while to work out an appropriate selection process. You do need to vet people appropriately, partly to keep yourself safe but also to save yourself mountains of wasted time. I found that not only could I be really picky about who I wanted to match with but I had to be picky! Once you’ve had three or four mediocre (or even bad) dates you realize that you need to be more selective.
I thought up my own parameters - attractive, no tattoos, non smoker, witty and, most importantly, interested in at least the possibility of a relationship - and stringently stuck to them. Any sign of any behavior that was weird or raised alarm bells and you can just unmatch and begin your search afresh. Overall, this does result in fewer matches but you end up having much better conversation and far more enjoyable dates.
I’ve met some really interesting people whom I’d never have otherwise crossed paths, but I haven’t pursued many second dates. However, very recently I did meet someone who has made the whole Tinder experience feel entirely worthwhile. This isn’t because I know that we’re going to end up in a relationship but rather because it’s reminded me of the sheer pleasure of really getting to know someone new – someone who gives me butterflies.
I really want to emphasise that many life experiences aren’t – and more importantly, shouldn’t – be perceived as valuable simply because they are leading to some end-goal. Many of the experiences that we’ll come to truly treasure will be the ones that never lead to a remarkable outcome. It’s a terrible cliché but time really does fly, and we can speed through our lives always thinking about the future, about a time when we’ll be happier. Instead of looking to the future to validate these pleasures, I think it’s important to actively delight in them as and when they unfold.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve really been reminded that the here and now, in all its roughness and with all its imperfections, can be an incredibly happy time. So I’m going to be practicing what I preach and enjoying my newfound company.
My final say on Tinder is that it’s like life generally:
it’s all about your state of mind and it works, if you work it.