Tinder, PoF & Bumble — 14 months of Online Dating — What Happnd? (Part One)

Average Jim thinks ‘Woah! Tinder is like natural selection on crack…’

Every tale needs context. In October 2014, I had come out of a 3 year relationship. I was in Bristol, she was in London. The break up was protracted. Although mutual, it hurt deeply. It felt like physical pain; I lost a true friend. I imagine a lot of people can appreciate the emotion that comes from severing ties with someone you have developed such a psychological dependency on. I remember vividly calling one of my best friends a few months after the break up and arguing with him. I said I didn’t want to let go. His words were simple…

‘Mate you need to at least try being single. You might even enjoy it!’

The honest words I needed. The ‘grieving process’ had begun…

Anyway, enough of the Sam Smith stuff. I started the story as a neither unattractive nor a particularly good looking 24-year old male. Confident in some situations (usually alcohol fuelled). Painfully shy in others. Working a 40+ hour week, best friends scattered round the globe and back living at home with my Mum.

I was hardly a Casanova Cocktail.

Like most singletons of our generation there was one obvious route for an ‘Average Jim’ to turn to. Free and accesible via a 30-second Facebook link up I plunged into the online dating world. Daring to ask myself Would this Average Jim find love?

Here, looking back over my sporadically kept diary and texts, I have managed to piece together a collection of anecdotes from just over a year of online dating. I will refrain from referring to the lovely ladies by name as they don’t have a chance to give their side of the story.

Girl 1 (The Rebound)

I thought the term rebound was an unrealistic cliche. I was wrong. After spending a couple of weeks on the ‘all you can eat buffet’ of Tinder swiping, I thought it might be sensible to actually try and meet a girl in person. Girl 1 had the name of a delicate flower but looked anything but. After some promising ‘chat’ we progressed to Whatsapp. I was undeterred by the multiple tattoos and piercings on virtual display. I remember showing photos to some friends at work. Some said go for it. Others that the septum piercing was a step too far. I asked her on a date and thought a posh bar like Browns would suit.

She was taller than me… Great start. We got on relatively well and things quickly escalated, first into the local Wetherspoons, followed by All Bar One. Before I knew it we were making out, in the pitch black, by the Bristol Suspension Bridge. I ran for the last bus in a complete daze. Maybe my friend was right? This could be fun.

Hours of stilted online conversation later it fizzled out. Moving into 2015, I was back to square one but had rebounded.

Girl 2 (The Burner)

I soon found that Tinder was like a sweetshop and I was the kid. Each new match brought an equal dose of dopamine and unrealistic expectations. Like any child in new territory I was about to get burnt. Multiple times.

2a) A brief encounter - a recent graduate who was smart and pretty. I was a bit nervous and driving so only had a half pint, watching most of an England rugby match with lime & soda. She was more ‘my type’ and it seemed to go well. Afterwards I politely dropped her home. A couple of unanswered texts later, she was never to be seen again. My first ‘ouch’ experience.

2b) I met in town (shockingly enough) after attempting some conventional ‘chirpsing’ in Mbargos. We made out in the club and got a Jason Donorvan to conclude the night. I walked home with a mate who remarked how I was “definitely in there”. Hungover I looked back over some cringey texts (don’t judge me we’ve all done it). She later claimed to have forgotten about even meeting me. Once again, Date Two did not happen :(

2c) Another graduate, another burn. We had a decent first date at Start the Bus. I chose to drive and again there was the awkward drop home. No kiss but there seemed to be a spark… Eureka! We even arranged a second date and I sorted a lift with mum to avoid driving this time (again… we’ve all been there).

However 20 minutes before said date I received a text notification from 2c - “Apologies, might have to bail tonight…” Alarm bells rang and I replied “Why what’s up?” to which she responded “moral dilemmas”. I wasn’t that bothered (we’d only had one date) but my ego was knocked. I couldn’t resist probing what moral dilemmas meant in this context. She text back “I’m seeing this boy-ish and don’t really see it as serious but don’t know what he thinks and feel a bit sneaky going on other dates etc.”

Yes I kept the texts and here was some of my riposte.

Boom!

Unusually punchy for me. It felt good though. Ironically, she text me 6 months later to see if there was a chance of meeting again. No ta.

Okay so I cheated. Girl 2 was actually three girls. Have sympathy though as, at this point (March 2015), I was left on the ropes and wondering if this online dating game was for me…

Girl 3 (The One)

Following my winter failures I turned to Plenty of Fish (PoF). I’ve had family members who have found ‘the one’ here. I spent a whole evening curating a profile which felt hugely self indulgent - a bit like writing this story. I tried to pitch it confidently using expertise from an article How to Get the Most Girls Online. The advice was things like don’t smile or look directly at the camera in your profile picture. After a couple of weeks of little to no matches I deleted it.

Back to Tinder. The Dating Tide seemed to turn with Girl 3. In her profile she looked fit! She played hard to get with long delays between messages and was clearly intelligent. When I finally got her number it felt like I’d reached Base Camp Everest. You know the feeling when you can’t help checking your phone at every interval. This elaborate online courting phase led me to label her ‘The One’ to colleagues. Eventually I pushed for the real life date.

I was early (very unlike me to be this keen). I chose a seat looking out over the bar… readied myself for that first glimpse of her :) I then noticed my phone “Hey, I’m at the bar”. “Whaaaat?” I looked over, not sure how I’d missed her ethereal beauty. My heart sank.

I was simply not attracted to her. Although clearly the person with which I had been conversing online, she could not compare with the angel I had imagined. A perception I had unfairly built - granted. I tried to disguise it and we played out a pleasant evening. A few drinks down the line she actually went for the kiss and I tactfully brushed her away. I wanted to walk home, alone.

She tried to intiate date number 2. I cowardly made up a couple of reasons to be ‘busy’.

A few weeks later ‘The One’, was gone.

I was no longer the virtuous victim. I hope Girl 3 found someone better than me. It did though teach me a big lesson of online dating. Real life attraction is far more important - too much online conversation is a waste of time. I vowed not to form any attachment via the app. It was to be a foot in the door. Nothing more.

Girl 4 — (The Fling)

I took a month off dating as my job got seriously busy around the end of tax year. Suddenly it was May/June 2015, and the promise of summer seemed to have brought a new cohort of eligible (supposedly single) girls to Tinder. The only real result was more unanswered messages for me.

Learning from Girl 3, I noticed Girl 4 on the app, was immediately attracted and after a few evenings of solid chat (mainly terrible Harry Potter innuendos) I boldly stated “I’m not really into this online thing. Do you want to just go on a date and take it from there…” I thought she was too hot to say yes straight up but I was wrong. Jackpot.

It was a Thursday evening and I had a few days off. I told mum I was meeting friends for ‘a couple of beers’. I went in completely open minded. Shock, Girl 4 did not look how I’d imagined. However, I was interested this time. We got on well and made each other laugh. It turned into a bit of a Bristol bar crawl — never a bad thing! The final destination was a Yoyo burger and her abode.

During the date I had deliberately not mentioned living at home. When I saw Mum calling at 7:30am I lept out of bed to cancel the call. Suspicions aroused, I was later forced to come clean to both parties about my antics.

We spent a splendid 6 weeks ‘together’. It felt quite couple-y with a number of summer walks and even a date with my sister and her boyfriend (who gave the thumbs up).

Despite all this her days in Bristol were numbered and a return to her northern home was soon looming large. I decided to call a halt to proceedings. I think she was a little hurt. Unfortunately battle scars from a previous long distance relationship could not be ignored. It was over.

Girl 4s’ melancholy prediction proved right…

The summer fling felt like a massive boost and key milestone in moving on from my ex. For that I was grateful. The ease and speed with which things progressed was a shock after the torturous process involved in some of the earlier rendezvous. Girl 4 is now globetrotting in Australia and Asia and I wish her well!

Early Conclusions

By July 2015, I’d seen both sides of Tinder. Personally, I disagree with writing which suggests a ‘Pick & Mix’ environment for guys. If anything, it is the guy who has to put serious effort in to pitch for the girls’ attention. Tricky when starting out as you don’t want to look too weird, cocky or keen. I hear that, unfortunately, this challenge is taken crudely by some guys. However most I have spoken to feel they rarely get given a chance by girls they find attractive. This leads to an arms race for the perfect profile. With ‘perfect’ also being unattractive for many girls. The end result can be a lot of time wasted. For both sides.

With this greater supply of males comes more power for girls? Interestingly I feel the power can quickly shift once you’ve met in person and true natural selection kicks in (making things more equal). So I guess Average Jim’s claim that Tinder is like ‘natural selection on crack’ has some merit but is not the full story.

Girls 5–7 > TBC

To save this being a novel, the story is to be continued. I will describe how I approached the online dating game with new found ‘confidence’. Would Average Jim find real love? Two new apps were thrown into the mix and things were about to get interesting…

Uh oh!

Thank you for reading so far. Apologies if it’s clunky in places. I just fancied getting something out there.

Lots of online love,

‘Average Jim’