After the demise of a two-year relationship, I stretched out my thumbs and re-download Tinder. Though my profile was right where I left it, I wasn’t. Along the highway of heartbreaks, I picked up skepticism and a list of insecurities the length of a Russian novel. What if all these guys are vampires — not the sexy kind — who want to suck the remaining hope out of my heart? What do I even say to anyone? Is “hi” still okay?
Don’t worry, I have a therapist.
Doreen has become familiar with my dating-life woes over the past four years. She has also provided empowering wisdom and a mountain of tissues. And I figured that if anyone could reboot my dating momentum, it would be my no-nonsense therapist. So I invited Doreen into my virtual dating space to conduct some much-needed maintenance.
I open up the world of modern dating to Doreen through the portal of Tinder, a universe of rapid swipes and sporadic matching that comes complete with a library of potential dates. With so many places to begin, it’s the bios that Doreen harps on.
We start with B, a green-eyed, greasy-haired dreamboat in a motorcycle jacket. For me, it’s Swipe Right™ at first sight. But Doreen would toss this Noah Centineo-level heartthrob left. It’s his essay of a bio that concerns her. As Doreen puts it, B’s bio is evidence that he’s not looking for a relationship, which I am. Out of eight sentences, seven start with “I”. Distracted by his Elvis-like hair, I failed to recognize that all B wants his matches to know about him is that he’s never going to stop doing what we see him doing in his pictures: traveling to desolate mountain ranges and cuddling with pitbulls. He actually writes, or rather cautions, of this in his bio. Despite the match, Doreen advises against messaging B. I figure we’ll probably save ourselves many future therapy sessions by staying silent.
Then there’s J, a cutie rocking the no-socks-loafer-tux combo on what appears to be the Amalfi Coast. I’m smitten, and Doreen verifies he’s worthy because his bio is engaging. J notes that he’s into black coffee and red wine, which is great because I too start each day with a deep mug of dark roast and enjoy a glass of Beaujolais almost as much as I enjoy saying Beaujolais. He markets bringing you coffee in bed and ends with a question: “Where are you traveling next?” This suggests he’s not an egomaniac and actually wants to be with someone. All and all, his bio is bring-home-to-mom-and-dad good.
“Mexico City is next for me, where are you off to next?” my therapist and I write, opening the possibility of me being on the receiving end of coffee in bed. But J never responds. The sting of no response is remedied by Doreen’s wisdom.
“You invest two minutes,” she says. “And then, so what? Goodbye.”
We return to the map of men within five miles of my location.
I tour Doreen through previous matches. K and I have been chatting about common interests, but my stomach knots the second he proposes we meet. So I tell him that I’m going out of town for the holidays, which is true. However, I’m leaving this conversation in an eerie, foggy, grey area, much like a graveyard, where I’m destined to become a ghost. As I sputter my “but, but, but” justification, Doreen “woah, woah, woahs” and makes me take accountability. She encourages me to take care of unfinished business and we write, “Hey K, listen, I just don’t think this is worth either of our time.” I gulp but I hit send and retain my Tinder humanity.
G is also waiting on a response. I’m not trying to ghost him, I’m just not sure about him, so I’m stalling. He says I have nice pictures and asks where they were all taken. I’m hesitant to respond, because it seems like a copy-and-paste kind of line. But Doreen smothers my skepticism. “He’s showing interest,” she points out.
Answering his question is simple: “Thanks!” Then, I reveal the location of each photo. But we can’t leave it there. Doreen references G’s bio, where we turn his admission of a recent haircut into a query. “Cut your hair and shave your beard?” I write. “What do you do?” This spurs a game of 20 questions.
While G and I interview each other, Doreen and I hop over to an ongoing chat with L, who began our conversation with a serious question. He asked, “Is driving around the suburbs and looking at homes in good school districts too much for our first date?” I quipped back, “I heard Katonah-Lewisboro is a good one.” He suggested that we start slow and “StreetEasy Greenpoint starter homes over a drink.” But I stopped there, thinking that maybe this line of conversation was a red flag. I explain to Doreen my concern that the guys who tease domestic bliss before even saying hello will break my heart. I’m not looking to develop high hopes that suddenly drop, leaving my stomach feeling like it’s above my head and dating is my personal Tower of Terror. Doreen debunks my precaution and empowers my response.
With his slideshow of funny pictures — there’s one of him surrounded by a tower of SPAM and one in which he’s studying the words of Dr. Ruth — as evidence, Doreen suggests that L is trying to see if I have a sense of humor, too. “Why withhold if you want to be playful?” she asks, encouraging me to show my Joker card. I write, “I really do love India Street. Maybe we can discuss over a cocktail at Ramona?” He says, matter of factly, that he’d like that. And it’s a date.
With my swiping spirit revived, Doreen won’t be joining us. But she will be hearing about it next week.