About a year after my last boyfriend and I broke up, I started intentionally dating again. I had always dated after we had broken up (except, maybe, a few months of healing) but I decided I wanted to get out there and meet people.
Given that, at that time, most of my time was spent at my two jobs – one at the church, the other at a primarily female-driven boutique – I really wasn’t meeting anyone.
So, I did as many millennials have done before me – I got on Tinder. I figured that it would be at worst a good laugh, and at best an introduction to my future husband (amiright?).
It took me a while, but I finally got a bit of a technique down with it. Eventually, I met a guy on there who was also very sporty about the ordeal and asked to meet up for drinks to share some tips. We shared our sciences behind Tindering – i.e. criteria for a swipe, how many matches do you keep at one time, how do you keep track of your matches, how many Tinder dates in one day is too many (for me, three), how long should you talk before meeting for a drink, etc. – and then he told me that I should be keeping a Tinder journal.
So, I got home that night and pulled up a word doc, saved it to my desktop as “Tinder Log” and began writing brief overviews of my dates.
I used Tinder for a month or two before quitting. It was beginning to become exhausting and I didn’t have time for myself anymore. I was resentful of a lot of my dates and it wasn’t uncommon for me to get home and lay in bed thinking about how much I missed my ex. (Read: Unhealthy behaviour, obviously a sign that I wasn’t in a good place to be dating.)
And so, I did what any logical 20-something would do in my situation: I got back together with my recovering heroin addict boyfriend.
And it was really good.
I got the closure that I didn’t get when he had disappeared on me more than a year prior. And I realized that he wasn’t the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. And I moved on.
I opened the document still saved on my desktop marked “Tinder Log” some time later. I was looking forward to a reminiscent walk down Tinder memory lane – a laugh here and there, perhaps.
I was horrified.
I had dated my way through two months of my life as some snarky little asshole, just looking for all the reasons to hate the person I was with.
In one entry, about a date on one frigid January night, I wrote, “Matt was way too fucking excited about life. Every sentence was punctuated with the biggest fucking grin I’ve ever seen in my life. I found myself wanting to yell ‘WHY ARE YOU SO HAPPY. LIFE ISN’T THAT GREAT.'”
In another entry, I worried about having to run into a date at the grocery store in my neighborhood, then wrote, “(I later found out that he buys his groceries at Target, which is dumb for many reasons and an obvious indicator that we’re not meant for each other).”
Yet another included, “His laugh made my stomach clench up. It probably showed in my face, too.”
And in yet another terrifically judge-y entry, “I saw him right away and started pleading with God to NOT LET THAT BE MY TINDER DATE.”
I really like to think of myself as a friendly, open-minded person. I can be somewhat reserved but overall I’d like to think that I’m a fun date.
Re-reading my Tinder Log altered all of that for me. I started dating again, with a more gracious heart.
But the thing is….dating is really tough. Because sometimes the little things do matter, and sometimes there are immediate attitudes or habits that we know instantly are incompatible with our values. Someone’s laugh is not one of those. Honestly probably buying groceries at Target isn’t the end of the world. And even though it does freak me out when someone never stops smiling, I’m probably just a terrible person for letting those be barriers.
These days, my attitudes towards dating are healthier. I’m much more sure of what I want, and don’t have to tear down the other person if they are not what I’m looking for. I’m trying to be flexible and open. I no longer keep a snarky diary about dating. But honestly, when you get down to it – we’re probably all just terrible people when we’re dating casually, like Tinder causes us to do. We probably all nitpick little things, and shut down dates (at least in our minds) as soon as the tiniest little thing goes awry or you find out they shop for groceries at Target or drive a Volkswagen or what have you.
Plenty of my journal entries contained entirely valid reasons that a date went bad, but peppered in there were a hundred little quick snap judgments. How are you ever supposed to find a companion if you’re constantly building walls? You’re not going to, unless if you find an equally terrible person.
But, despite all my little nitpicky judgments, one thing still rings true: Sometimes a bad date is just a good reminder that you need to renew your birth control prescription.