Have you ever asked your parents – or better yet, your grandparents, how they met?
Chances are it did NOT go something like this. ‘Well, I saw a photo of your Pops on a dating app, and I thought he looked DTF! So I swiped right, and he swiped right, and we met up at a bar, got fall-down drunk and went back to his share house where we had disappointing, trying-to-be-quiet sex while trying to remember each other’s names’
I’m the first to admit that Tinder and similar dating apps are excellent for that quick, easy and (mostly) drama free style of interaction. It is the perfect fit for our generation – we are the generation who grew up with the world at our fingertips, and a smartphone placed in our hands as quickly as possible. Since we were born we’ve been taught to strive for more. Better grades, better university offers, better jobs, more money, better cars, thinner waste lines. There is a reason that we are the generation who coined the phrases ‘FOMO’ and ‘YOLO’. We are constantly competing to have the most and be the best, while also being hyper aware that our youth will fade and there is no time like the present. Why wait for tomorrow? It is only natural that we date the way we live the rest of our lives – fast, easy, and as much as possible.
But we are also the generation who have been taught to continually question. I am starting to realise that long-term, healthy relationships take time, require nurturing, and, yes, they do require us to leave the all-you-can-eat buffet of choices that exist on our Tinder accounts. I have recently started dating. And by dating I don’t mean a few drunken bar crawls, awkward morning walk of shames and then slowly ‘ghosting’ when you are bored of the eight conversations you’ve had about their favourite pizza topping in two weeks. I mean dating. I mean dinner reservations, kisses on the cheek, a few glasses of wine and driving home – alone. I’ve recently met a man who shatters the concept I used to hold of what dating meant. After the first date (two beers over dinner at a local pub) he gave me a kiss on the cheek and called me a cab. He texted me when he got home to thank me for a wonderful night. I was a little confused as to why, if he’d had such a good time, I was in bed alone… but I thought ‘maybe he is old fashioned. I’m sure I’ll hear from him tomorrow and he will invite me to his place’…… And then I didn’t hear from him. FOR THREE DAYS.
Apparently this is an ancient relic of dating from times long ago. Before smart phones, text messages, WhatsApp, Facebook, tinder and every other means of communication that we use to studiously avoid talking to each other, this three day rule was a thing.
I actually almost cancelled the second date, because I’d had a busy day and I was tired. And dates are disposable, right? I’ve done it a million times, cancelled a date on the day, and met up with them a few days later for a shag instead. But, intrigued by how different he seemed, I went. I was prepared for what I expected to be a night of sexual tension, a few too many drinks, and finally making it home to take off this incredibly uncomfortable (but sexy) lingerie. Imagine my complete shock when he greeted me with a kiss on the cheek, and led me to a beautiful restaurant where he had made us a reservation.
We sat for three hours, laughing, talking, and getting to know each other over a few glasses of wine and truffled lobster. He told me about his family, and asked about my career. We swapped travel stories and talked about our goals. Once we finished dinner we walked out into the cold, and he called me a cab. A kiss on the cheek, a text later that night to say thank you for a wonderful evening, and that was it. I was incredibly disappointed. I had thought it was going so well. I must just not be his type? My male friends shook their heads in sympathy and told me I might have been friend zoned. My girlfriends assumed he must be gay. I was so, so confused.
When asked me out for the third date, I remembered seeing in Hollywood movies pre-1998 that the third date is where things happen. He remembered I had said on our first date that I love whiskey, and had found a whiskey lounge that I’d never been to before. He gave me a kiss on the cheek, and I was embarrassed by the butterflies in my stomach and the oddest sensation of being nervous and excited at the same time. We spent five hours laughing, talking, drinking top shelf whiskey and making long, drawn out eye contact, and I was yet again taken aback by how comfortable I felt in his presence. He hadn’t even seen me naked yet. But here he was, asking about my parents and what I wanted to be doing in five years’ time. As the night started to draw to a close, I started to realise… I didn’t want to go home with him yet. I had only known him two weeks. I still had so much I wanted to know about him before we confused the situation with all the emotions that sex can bring. When he opened the door to my cab and gave me a quick but passionate kiss on the lips, I realised how backwards I had been doing things. Shagging someone to see if I liked them, and if I was still interested after a few weeks then maybe considering actually getting to know them… when did that become how we date?
I went home and deleted tinder. How deeply depressing that the first time someone had acted like a gentleman, and treated me like a lady, I had mistaken it for disinterest. If you want something you’ve never had – you need to do something you’ve never done. If you are searching for more than the instant gratification and ego boost that Tinder can provide, then put down your smartphone, work on your conversation skills and date the way your parents did. It’s surprisingly beautiful.