And so, the millennial was a doubt-riddled spinster no more and she lived happily ever after... was the ending I had hoped would come from my dating adventure. However, my luck was short-lived and the fairytale abruptly came to an end, as the events that followed my dating experiment turned out to be more comical than romantic.
A few months ago, I swapped dating tactics with Gail, a baby-boomer who was to date like a millennial, only using dating apps whereas I was on the quest to find eligible bachelors as if the internet didn’t exist. People asked me if my dates knew I had written about them for an article and whether they had read it. Well, our very own editor-in-chief had been the one to tell Hugh* (the date that I had ended the piece with) that my confident pursuit and the foundations of our two-month-long relationship was for an investigative piece. Hugh took the news surprisingly well. The others, I imagine, less so.
Lawrence*, I think, had picked up on my disinterest when I (lamely) excused myself from our date and there was no contact thereafter. Arthur*, who I probably had the most fun with – though I was put off by his incessant messaging – stopped contacting me after the article. I hadn’t spoken to Alex* since we tried to organise a second date. I might have expected this from someone who boldly claimed they were bad on their phone and within five minutes of meeting declared he has commitment issues. Turns out he did read it – but still, no word.
Nevertheless, I left the whole experience on a high, bemused that I had found myself in the ultimate rom-com scenario – a friend on one arm and a Hugh Grant equivalent on the other. But after a few mid-week dinners and weekend dates with Hugh, I started to develop the all too common mallady of ‘getting the ick’ – uncontrollable, cringe-induced feelings that soon led to mild revulsion. The circumstances in which we met was the most thrilling and exciting part of our (short) relationship. The conversations that followed however, were anything but. I had thought that a slightly older match (not as old as Lawrence) would be a refreshing and different experience. But we had little in common, the mature charm wore off and there was a cultural and language barrier working against the fluidity of conversations.
The point I made in my previous piece remains and applies to both instances, online and in real life. Knowing what you want, being true and honest with yourself is only a positive. I encourage everyone to take Gail’s advice: to be brave and try new things. But it’s also important to trust and act on your instincts. To loosely quote Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl, “why settle for catfish when you can have caviar?”
It was then I realised, I had to act on my own words. The more time I spent with my friend Max*, I noticed I was forcing myself into seeing him in a different light for the sake of it. Of course, I was initially tasked to do so but I knew that this would be the outcome as we've been friends for a decade and knew everything about each other. The dates were new, different and fun as we had reconnected during an exciting chapter of both of our lives. But this did little to change the chemistry between us and we decided we were better off being friends.
Perhaps it might be different in another ten years time. Friendships after all, are the most common beginnings of romance. But for now, it’s not for me. Sure, meeting people today is infuriatingly hard, especially when dating apps encourage anti-social behaviour. Dates – or no dates, just ego boosts – can be found at the tip of one’s finger and in the comfort of one’s home. But turning to an existing or wider friendship group feels too safe and easy. If anything, it’s just as indolent as sitting at home, swiping left or right, when we should be putting ourselves out there, being bold and adventurous.
So, have I met anyone since? Alas, I am back to square one. But at least I’m not the hopeless Bridget Jones I was the last time. All in all, I learned that dating is an arduous, time-consuming, energy and money-draining process of trial and error, that requires a ridiculous amount of trying. Though I vowed to stick to IRL dating, Gillian (the professional matchmaker) did advise that I date as many people as possible. How it came about – whether in real life, on the apps, or on social media didn’t matter, as long as my dating options and chances of finding someone I was compatible were broadened. And so, I downloaded Hinge (out of curiosity and for the ego boost), noticing it is less invasive and more considered than other dating apps.
Turns out, the dating pool in London isn’t as barren as I once thought. Though, with the app’s calculated nature, I have found myself double-taking, even bumping into a few Hinge matches on streets and outside the Vogue offices, leaving me feeling rather unsettled that the real and virtual isn’t as disparate as I once thought. And so, my dating experiment continues. As Gail rightly said, only time will tell which will prove to be the winner.
Original story published by Vogue. Read the article here.