Summer has come early this year. Tonight on my drive home from work, I rolled my windows down, opened the sunroof, and blasted the radio. Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” poured from my car speakers and out into the streets as I watched the city come back to life after an exceptionally miserable winter. Couples walked hand in hand, eager to enjoy the sunshine and one another’s company, and I smiled thinking of the dates I went on last summer when I first decided to join the world of online dating. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have already dissected dating in the modern era and who dish out advice in the form of top 10 lists, but I’m not one of those writers. I also respect the privacy of my ex’s, so I’m not in the habit of writing exposés either. Rather, if I speak of dating and relationships on this site, I will leave out names altogether and try not to dish out advice. All I can really do is speak to my own experience.

Almost a year ago to the day, I set up my first online dating account after being completely single for 4 years. I hadn’t planned on remaining single for so long, but after getting out of a relationship that had meant a great deal to me and moving back home with my family, I didn’t feel ready to start dating again right away. Around the same time that I moved back home, I was forced to attend to some medical issues that I had let slide for too long. That is a story for another day, but the point being is that, between my declining physical health and work, I didn’t have much time for dating. Eventually, my health began to improve and my work/life balance changed for the better. After being single for so long though, I worried, was I ready to date again?

Enter Tinder, the online dating app that makes dating feel more like a game than ever before. Swipe left, swipe right, chase the elusive Super Like star. As a former video game addict, I quickly fell into the modern dating rhythm, for better or for worse, and put myself back out there again. I felt my self-confidence grow with each successive Like and message in my inbox (or maybe it was just my ego inflating.) Then I went on my first date and was brought swiftly back down to earth. That date presented me with a lot of first’s and left me a nervous, babbling mess, which my date thankfully took in stride, but did not prompt a second meeting. It was my first date with a total stranger and also my first date with a woman (yes, this blogger plays for both teams and no, I am not a unicorn—not that there’s anything wrong with that.) My inexperience flooded my nerves and I suddenly felt like a teenager again.

The next day, I recounted the night’s events to my friends and we laughed together at my anxiety and comical behavior. In retelling the story to them, I was reminded of one of my favorite lines from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. The confident and slightly conceited Gwendolyn remarks, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” With this quote in mind, I soldiered on and have continued to meet new people, with varying degrees of success, but always walking away at the end of my dates with new stories to tell. I said that I would try not to dish out advice, but I will say that what I have learned so far from my year-long crash course in online dating is to expect the unexpected (more on that later though.) For now, I will say goodnight and sweet dreams to all you hopeful romantics out there. If you have a sensational story to tell, feel free to share in the comments below.

— B.

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