‘Call me please. Pretend that there is an emergency. You’ll get a video call with an explanation later.’
I’m not a fan of texting friends during dates but trust me, sometimes when things are going from bad to worse – you need an escape!
I installed Tinder right after I turned 18 in 2019, following the advice of some friends who thought I should give it a try for ‘experimental purposes’. Honestly, I wasn’t so excited to use dating apps for the first time, but I also wanted to form my own opinion on them.
To say that I was anxious about the whole process is an understatement. Picking nice pictures and writing a fun bio can easily lead to overthinking.
When I finally felt ready and at peace with my profile and with not-so-high expectations, I started swiping, eager to discover what was out there for me. I’d never been on dates before this, so it felt how I imagine jumping out of a helicopter does.
Unfortunately, ‘Hey Tigress’, ‘Never tried Blackies before, could be interesting’ and ‘Island Candy’ were among the many uncalled-for introductions I quickly started to receive.
I decided to shrug it off at first, sadly knowing that as a Black woman, it was to be expected.
However, after hours of deterring the numerous fetishists from further embarrassing themselves on top of the already draining regular online dating experience, my appreciation of Tinder had been altered.
So, a few weeks after the start of this online madness, I decided that my next match with good vibes would be the last one getting my time and attention before looking for dates elsewhere.
Despite refusing to get my hopes up, I still ended up being pleasantly surprised with my supposed ‘last attempt’. His profile really stood out and you could sense that he put effort into it, which is pretty rare on Tinder for a guy. I liked the ‘free spirit’ impression that came from his style and pictures; he looked fun to be around.
We shared a common passion for fashion, football, and sarcastic humour, so we quickly decided to move our chat to Instagram where we discussed clothing trends and sport news we were both passionate about for days and days.
After two and a half weeks, we decided to meet.
What a mistake.
The first minutes of our meeting were awkward to say the least, with me actively trying to find a proper topic to recover the chemistry we seemed to have had online.
I slowly realised that his apparent shyness was actually him just waiting for subjects of conversation that he could monopolise.
He even had more things to say than me about my preference for cappuccino, which apparently came from my childhood… the more you know. He repeatedly cut me off to start ranting – not even bothering to pretend to be interested by my opinions and interests.
I convinced myself that this lack of balance was a form of clumsiness and not intentional, hoping that I hadn’t left my house on a cloudy day for nothing.
I slowly realised that his apparent shyness was actually him just waiting for subjects of conversation that he could monopolise
‘You look so much better in real life’, he suddenly blurted out of nowhere, shaking my previous hesitations away.
I thought that he had finally realised that a date should be a two-way street, until he added the words that transformed the whole thing into a nightmare.
‘You’re really not photogenic. Me neither, and that’s why I don’t take pictures of my face’.
Needless to say, I recalled the selfies I put on my Tinder profile in absolute horror. I was embarrassed and deeply insecure about my appearance.
Not wanting to appear irritated in case he would react poorly and further dig a deep hole, I ignored what he thought was a compliment and moved on.
However, the crude and unnecessary comments did not stop there – from asking me with sexual undertones if I was flexible, to criticising my short height, his mouth never seemed to close.
I’m not one to give up, but my patience was wearing thin and my mind was subconsciously racing to find a way to get rid of him.
Desperately searching for a sign from the universe, I looked through the window and saw that rain was on the verge of falling – the perfect excuse to cut the date short.
When the time came to pay, his credit card was declined. He then looked at me, with an absolutely relaxed look, and asked me what ‘we’ should do.
I’m not sure what made me pay his order without much questioning – either foolishness or some good old Sunday Christian charity – but at least it brought me closer to going home.
‘He can’t do any worse’, I thought as we started walking to the Metro after he ‘forgot’ to thank me for covering his order.
When rain started pouring, he snatched my umbrella from my hand… minutes after telling me that its fabric seemed cheap and that he didn’t want to share it with me.
I couldn’t even string a sentence together. He was so unbothered that he didn’t even catch my stunned expression and continued ranting in the void.
That was it – I couldn’t spend one more minute with this odd character. I wasn’t even pissed off at this point, I just felt jaded and tired.
I discreetly texted a friend asking her to help me to get me out of this situation ASAP. He prevented me from hopping on the Metro for way too long with his foolishness.
She called me almost right away, pretending that she needed me for a family emergency – her dog’s disappearance.
It was hard to stay composed when I had to tell him the lie after hanging up.
She actually lived 30 minutes away from my town and did not have a dog, but she got so carried away with her imagination as desperate times call for desperate measures.
Thankfully it worked and I left relieved. He didn’t seem puzzled by my sudden exit at all and told me that these things happen.
A few hours later, while I was conflicted with my attitude and my unwillingness to directly confront him, he texted to thank me for a ‘successful date’.
My regrets immediately disappeared as clearly, none of my words would have helped against this senseless guy. I vaguely texted him that our date was an original experience for me, but that work prevented me from focusing on dating. Not an absolute lie, but not the full truth either.
After that experience I was done with Tinder for good. Whenever curiosity – or boredom – lead me to want to download its equivalents, I remind myself of this terrible date and put my phone away.
I took some time to reflect on this experience, did some work to build my self-esteem, and wholly changed my dating approach – in my eyes, nothing beats meeting people the old-fashioned way now.
I’ve had some dates, mostly nice ones, without dealing with this dreadful digital-to-real transition, and I’ve been peaceful ever since.
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