Some say dating can feel like a full-time job. We think it’s a lot more fun than most jobs, but like real work, it’s better when shared with friends and colleagues. In this series, Tinder users give us VIP access to one week of their swipes, first lines, and in-person meetings. You’re in good company, don’t you think?
Wednesday, 8:14 p.m.
It’s a balmy summer evening in Melbourne, and I’m sitting alone on the couch drinking my third glass of chardonnay. I know something simply has to give. It is time to re-download the app. And besides, this time it is going to be different.
I’ve been Single and Loving It™ for one million years and counting. Most of the time, it’s fine. Sometimes, it’s actually great. I take myself to the cinema and gorge on fresh berries with my feet on the seat. I bake loaves of sourdough bread I don’t have to share. I binge-watch “Sons of Anarchy” on the weekend and manage to stop myself ordering a bootleg kerchief from Alibaba. I have fun. Yet, I’m also occasionally aware that I’m not.
Like most, I’ve dabbled in Tinder in the past. Some wins. Some losses. However, as a person who imagines meeting their S.O. next to the poetry section of a Parisian bookstore, the idea of a courtship developing via an interface-to-face dalliance feels at odds with my most romantic self.
But, it is time to put my Piscean tendency to idealization aside.
Thursday, 12:30 p.m.
This week feels like an undeniably difficult time to spring from the diving board into the deep end of Tinder. A young Israeli woman was raped and killed by a 20-year-old man outside a shopping center in the northern suburbs of Melbourne — not too far from where I live. I’m feeling mad, sad, and exhausted. Still, I begin my search.
I match with Dylan*. Impressive jawline and seeking “real connection.” Me too, I suppose. We share an interest in baking and compulsive self-deprecation, and we seem to get along OK until he asks how the “men were treating me.” Apparently, all men — except him — are total pigs. Which isn’t necessarily untrue, but this conversation starts to feel like a garish pantomime of pre-rehearsed exchanges built specifically for the sick, sad world we both willingly occupy. Next.
Friday, 6:39 p.m.
Then there is Michael*, who asks me within seconds me to join him on a long bike tour to an art gallery. Bold move. We haven’t yet exchanged star signs.
However, because I occasionally live for glamour and risk, I consider accepting. It would be fun, weird, and extreme to throw caution aside. Then I remember I loathe bike-riding and don’t actually own a bike. I decide to give myself the evening to stew on the right way to say “I’m have plans to wash my hair” and put my phone under my pillow for the evening.
Saturday, 6:39 p.m.
I’ve found a better excuse: I tell Michael I have tickets to the tennis. This white lie doesn’t deter him, and we agree to meet up for drinks in the next couple of days. Feeling momentarily accomplished, I start leafing through my wardrobe for the perfect date dress. Floral? Sheer? Just-the-right-amount-of-fitted? A pantsuit? Weather forecast? Then I rush out to meet some friends and forget all about it.
Sunday, 5:32 p.m.
I awake extremely late and with an extremely sore head to a flurry of haiku exchanges with Fergus*, a DJ at my favorite radio station. Fun (clap) and games (clap). He writes me a poem about trees, and I respond with one about dungarees. Then he then asks me if I ever climb trees (response: not in the past few hours) and extends into a lengthy tale of his love of taking DMT and wandering around forests, and, would I ever like to join him? Not at this stage, Fergus.
Then I look up Michael from the previous day on Facebook to discover it is 99-percent certain that I am at least a foot taller than him. I spend the rest of the afternoon despairing about my inherent lack of depth and my gargantuan hangover.
Monday, 11:20 a.m.
A new day brings Alex* onto my phone screen and into my life. He owns a fine art gallery and is the perpetually devastated type. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like putting my volunteer life coach cap on at this particular time and let the chat die. I do, however, wish him all the best.
Then I receive a message from Sky*, who, like me, is a writer. Into it. He seems like the kind of person who would constantly ask for podcast recommendations but never, ever listen to them. He gives me live updates on his haircut appointment, plant shopping, grocery shopping, and friend’s barbecue. I like the way he writes — like he’s trying to appear carefree, or he’s heavily caffeinated.
Monday, 10:04 p.m.
Michael from Thursday cancels our date without an explanation. Was it my lack of enthusiasm about bike-riding? I spend much of the rest of the night looking up bikes online.
Tuesday, 10 a.m.
I awake feeling surprisingly resolved about Michael. But, the test isn’t over. A fleet of a.m. swipes presents me with Chris, a project manager. From the onset, his vibe could best be described as “Esquire” magazine. For some reason, I persevere through an exchange of non-pleasantries until he decides to really turn up the dial. When I inform him I’d been to see “Crazy Rich Asians” at an open-air cinema the evening prior, he makes a subverted racist comment. I express that I do not endorse this message. He becomes agitated, tell me he “knew a guy” who “lived in Singapore once,” and asks if could I just try taking a joke? Then he blocks me. The toxic words vanish, but the hurt lingers, so I decide to retire for the day.
Wednesday, 11 a.m.
My Tuesday starts with Sky and I rezoning our chat from Tinder to text. His tone is crisp and speaking to him feels like eating a pickled onion straight from the jar — adventurous and depraved. I spend the day glued to my phone, exhibiting reckless pedestrian patterns on the street so I can be ready for the drop of his next heavily rendered thought. “Baby carrots are a scam,” he says, “whereas baby corn is 100-percent baby.” Welcome to your glorious future, I think to myself. And then, I ask him on date — something I have never, ever done. And do you know what he says? “Ok.”
Thursday, 3:06 p.m.
Today passes in a blur of intermittent conversations with Sky*, and newcomer Jonas*, who proves himself quite the daredevil. Just after expressing his hatred for Notting Hill — the film and the place — and his desire to assassinate the British monarchy, he fell from a moving golf cart and took me with him in vivid detail.
This — and Jonas — are too much for me. I need a little break. But I know I will be back.
What I learned, and what I already probably knew, is that I live within the confusing intersection of high hopes and hard truths. I want to be loved, and I value connection. I also fear love, and to survive, I build a deep moat around myself, because it feels easier than getting hurt.
I sit alone on the couch with a glass of chardonnay, staring at the wall. It pleases me to be alone with my thoughts. Then, a buzzing of my phone. I look down. It’s Sky.
*Names have been changed to protect innocent daters everywhere.