Lockdown and not dating is perfect for someone like me. I don’t have to negotiate all the social foibles. I’ve never been especially comfortable in how I look and I negotiate that by not caring what anyone thinks of me. But rejection is still real and online dating is a minefield of emotional crap I don’t know I have the desire to negotiate. You never know what aspect of your appearance or your personality or your life someone will reject next, or maybe they will just get bored for no real reason at all. It cuts because really all you’re looking for is that one person who gets you.
On that basis it would seem insane to start up my old dating profiles IN a lockdown. But I did. And despite deleting two of them not so long ago, I was back on Bumble again within weeks. The end goal for me is always to get to the first meeting stage. It wheedles out the ones who have no intention of following up with you and lets you sus out who is really like their profile. It’s also really the only way to work out if you have that click factor with someone. A match might be a great texter but socially unavailable or worse.
But, of course, that isn’t happening right now because we’re all locked down. Still. As someone who loathes phone and video calls, these technological advances don’t particularly help, but I don’t mind being pushed out of my comfort zone in the interest of keeping my sanity at such a ridiculous time and I should remain open to whatever is available. Dating app matches are still just an online pen pal if you’re…. well—–online. You need to get off that screen and break the real ice and I suppose video calls will have to do but I am not happy about it.
Without a doubt online dating subscriptions have increased. Bored couples are looking for entertainment independently. Break-ups have been well documented. Busy lives have masked the fact that people aren’t always as compatible as they thought they were. ‘Virtuals only’ are just doing it more. Those who are genuine could easily get bored before we get out of lockdown but more of them are here too because there is nowhere else to go. High hopes built up during months of texting and Facetime calls could easily be dashed at that first meeting when you realise that chemistry, in the light of day, just isn’t there. Equally, you could end up missing with someone who would have been your perfect match in real life simply because of a less than perfect profile.
I’ve changed all my profiles to ‘not sure what I’m looking for’. Looking for a relationship doesn’t filter out the time wasters, and honestly, what do I want anyway? I want a relationship, but do I want to give up the independence I have made for myself? What does a proper relationship look like anyway? Living in each other’s pockets? A shared home? Every Sunday is a walk and a roast dinner at the local? Texting every day? You make your own rules right? Routine is a killer. Obviously I am jumping the gun. Overthinking. It’s what I do. I’m nowhere near having to contemplate these things.
Having that conversation early on is vital, but I’ve never done it like this because I’ve either been in living together relationships or casually dating, and I have never had a substantial relationship yet from online dating, so I don’t even know what that looks like. I have landed somewhere in the middle. I want to meet someone who is the same. Wants something consistent, but doesn’t necessarily want to have to sign their life away. Equally, they at least need to be open-minded to how that might change as the relationship develops, grows and changes. Never say never. I need someone that still values their independence and their own social and private life and is still trustworthy and wants to be in it for the long term. Building that trust will take time, and that’s why living separately feels safer to me.
After a strange first match with a guy who had mapped out our whole lives together before we had even video called, I matched with a guy named Aidan on Bumble. I had deleted and then rebuilt my profile in frustration, and he was one of the first to appear. He piqued my interest because his first line to me was that ‘what I wrote on my profile was lovely‘. That’s a first in a very long time and, I’m sorry to say, I took it at face value.
My pre-stalk verified everything he has told me about him. This was my second mistake. I crave connection above all, and when I know more about someone, that connection, no matter how imagined, builds fast and harder. He was clear about the ‘not sure what I want’ aspect of his journey and in our conversations we agreed on many aspects of that and why we were here and how that might work for us. We talked about what that journey might look like for two people who have no experience of it – for him coming out of a 17-year marriage, and me from multiple disasters and having my fingers burnt far too many times. At the very least we agree that a less formal but exclusive set up which didn’t just revolve around the bedroom was the happy medium. A FWB or casual I suppose but without the games. Call it a relationship without telling anyone.
It would mean getting to hang out, have someone to go on holiday with and all the advantages of an intimate relationship but without the expectation of pressurized and public commitment. There was no expectation. There are people in my life who want me single because of my past mistakes and I am happy not regaling them with my exploits.
But of course it wasn’t going to survive any length of time and within a week I was crying at every song I played, unable to sleep and hating my early enthusiasm as he slow faded at a gallop.
I am always learning, forever adjusting the room to understand and behave and react better and realise what is good for me and what isn’t and to process what is good for me, and what isn’t. It isn’t always clear, but I am learning. Already I have relearned that my limits aren’t good. I still fall too hard, too soon, and I overthink. But I recognise the red flags. At least I know it is there, and I can do my best to guard against it, going forward.