Sometimes in life, things don’t work out. So we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. For those of you who are in the trenches with me, or coming after me, or just wondering about it from the safety of your long-term committed monogamous couch, I offer these observations.
My social circle in Paris is pretty small, so I use dating apps. They don’t work for everybody, but they’re fine for me.
Online dating is a bit like pearl diving. You leave the safety of your little boat, plunge deep into the abyss, holding your breath and poking rocks, swiping left and right, filling your little bag with oysters, rising to the surface and gasping for air before plunging down to the depths again. At the end of the day, you open all your little oysters. Women typically get a lot more attention than men, so I’ve been opening a lot of oysters. And by that I mean responding to “likes”, texting back and forth, seeing who looks respectable enough to meet, and having drinks with the selected silver foxes.
This go-round, I swiped right on a bunch of non-smoking fifty-ish guys, most with beards because that is my jam. I did not specify language or nationality. I’ve talked to suave Frenchmen, really tall Dutch guys, goofy Brits, gruff New Yorkers, charming Irish, bubbly North Africans.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
Observation 1: Fifty-ish men have varying levels of text and photo capabilities, so cut them some slack in the initial stages. They’re not digital natives, even if they’ve been using technology their whole adult lives. Their texting might be terse or wordy. They might use too many emojis or no emojis at all. Their photos might be awkward or weird or minimal, with some scenery shots for reasons I can’t comprehend. Bathroom mirror selfies are ubiquitous. Still, if the guy is funny or interesting or cute, take his tech usage with a grain of salt and proceed with caution.
Observation 2: Fifty-ish men all lie about how old they are. Add four years to their stated age.
Observation 3: For that first date, meet for a drink. If it goes well, continue through dinner. Some guys want to meet in a park for the first date, but I’m no longer doing that. We are not in middle school. He needs to be peacocking for you. I promise that if I’m your girlfriend I will not be a financial burden on you, but you’ve got to show me that you’ll look after my well-being in public. I own property, sir: buy me some dinner.
Observation 4: Sometimes you get your first real-life glimpse of the guy and think, no way not now not ever. He might have ticked all your boxes online, but the in-person meeting shows that he’s just not for you. Maybe he smells funny, or he misrepresented himself in his profile pics, or maybe you just don’t want him. So girl, follow your heart. Gulp your espresso and go home.
Observation 5: Sometimes during the date, you realize it’s not going to work. He interrupts you a lot, or mansplains, or gets too touchy before you’ve given him the green light. Or, as in Observation 4, you realized you just don’t want him. Again, go home.
Observation 6: Some men will say, during the first date, shall we see each other again? If you agree, stay cool, because sometimes what that really means is they have done an Observation 4 or 5 on you during the date and they’re looking for the most drama-free exit possible. Say yes if you want, but keep pearl-diving. If they meant it, they’ll turn up. If not, you didn’t want them anyway.
Observation 7: After a successful date or two, you might invite them home to dinner. Most reasonable men consider that a healthy step toward building a relationship, but some partake of my hospitality, eating my succulent roast chicken and sipping my fine wine, then they disappear. But no regrets, because the chicken was delicious and the wine was sweet and I enjoyed it every bit as much as they did. C’est la vie.
Observation 8: Pearl diving is exhausting. Sometimes you sell your boat and go lie on the beach with your girlfriends. Then, after a while, somebody tells you about their friend’s cousin’s neighbor who found a huge pearl just down the coast, and you get hopeful and buy another boat and go diving again. The allure of the sea is strong.
Observation 9: I won’t say that I’m “kissing a lot of frogs” because that would imply that I scrunched up my face and made the best of a bad situation. There is no scrunching here, and I refuse to be in a bad situation. While all the swiping and texting and meeting can be trying, I know what I want and I’m patient enough to wait for it. I am not 1987 Yvonne, looking for Mr. Right and trying to fulfill society’s expectations for nice young ladies. I am 2021 Yvonne, who has seen some shit and come out stronger, looking for Mr. He-Makes-Me-Laugh and fulfilling nobody’s expectations but my own.
It’s all about agency, ladies.
If you’re looking for love online, remember that you’re in the driver’s seat.
Until you find a guy that likes you like you like him, guard your heart, gird your loins, and keep swiping.