“I hope you don’t mind cheesy chat-up lines, but if you were a fruit, you’d be a fineapple.”
Yes, that is a real life example of the perils one faces when dating app matches slide into your DMs. As such, disillusionment in this swipe-addicted new culture is rife. As are such esoteric self-esteem eroders as ‘ ghosting’ and ‘orbiting’. It’s tough out there for the best of us, but it isn’t putting singletons off taking a gamble on a digitally induced relationship.
We’re spending more on dating apps today than we are on entertainment services. According to Sky News, in the third quarter of 2018, UK spending on the top 10 dating apps rose to £23.1 million from £14.5 million. That’s a growth of 60% in a year. Business is booming, and we’re all totally hooked.
Why? Because actually, hidden in among the fuckboys, one-night stands and weirdos, there are some diamonds out there. Here, three women who’d almost given up hope tell us their stories of finally striking (swiping?) gold — and getting engaged.
“I’d been dating on and off for about four or five years. I’d been on all the apps, PlentyOfFish, I’d tried everything. I’d even been on Dinner Date on ITV2, which was a completely strange experience, and I’d gotten nowhere with any of it.
There was one guy I went out with who was really into sharks. He came to my house and wanted to watch shark films — then asked me to tickle his hand while he watched them. He seemed so normal! Another guy I saw on the train, then found on Bumble later the same day. I was convinced it was a sign. We went on a date and he was such a douche. He tried to make out that I had an alcohol problem. He was seedy and awful, and I really was on the verge of giving up.
I just thought, this year, I’m turning 30, I’d had enough of Tinder. I thought I’m really lucky, I’ve got amazing friends, I love my job, and I’d decided I wasn’t going to meet anyone so I organised a big birthday trip like a hen party for my 30th. I’ve been a bridesmaid seven times and a maid of honour twice — it just wasn’t going to happen for me. So I accepted it, and planned to live my life differently.
I thought I’d deleted all my apps, but I left Tinder on there. Tinder has superlikes, and even if you’re not on it, you can get a notification. So there I was relaxing in my house on a Sunday morning in January, when Stuart, 29, popped up. I swiped right, and we got chatting, and I was pleasantly surprised by his answers. He asked good questions for a change, and actually remembered what I’d said. He asked me out for a drink, and I thought, why not.
I thought he’d probably cancel, and I was so tired of bad dates. The whole week leading up to it I thought it wasn’t going to happen. On the day I got a message from him, and I was sure that was him sacking me off. But instead he asked me what drink I wanted, as he was already at the bar. We got talking and it didn’t feel like a normal date. It was really fluid and comfortable. I’d randomly told him I like The Simpsons in one of our chats, and he bought me a tiny Simpsons toy! Which was sweet. At the end of the date, he said he had something in his car. I was worried — I was thinking, okay, now it’s getting weird. And he pulled out a bunch of flowers. When I got home, I thought, I’m not going to play any games here. I told him I liked him straightaway, and he said he felt the same.
It was only two or three weeks later before he told me he didn’t want to see anyone else. On Valentine’s Day he asked me to be his girlfriend. He proposed to me after 10 months and we’re getting married in July 2020. It’s all moved pretty quickly but when you know, you know.
Stuart is so generous but the thing that made me fall in love with him… I really suffer with migraines, and when I have them I’m a state, a bedraggled mess. I had one in front of him and he looked after me. He cooked me dinner, he sorted the house. He was just so caring. I genuinely feel with Stuart that if I really need him, he’s got my back.
We’re going through a bit of a stressful period at the moment organising our wedding, and I’m selling my flat so we can buy a house together. We don’t live together at the moment and it is causing some dramas, but as long as we keep communicating we’ll be okay.
I’m from Southsea, and I always wanted to get married in Courts Cathedral and have the reception near the beach. It’s going to be a nautical theme, all very local. I have four bridesmaids — my two sisters and two best friends. My gay best friend is my bridesman.
Found my wedding dress this weekend! I’m really, really excited. I think I’ll be able to get more excited once we’ve got the house sorted — I just want to live with Stuart. For so long, I didn’t think I was going to get married. Now it’s actually happening, it’s really exciting.”
“I had been using Tinder for about a month, and HER for no more than a couple of weeks, before I met Leah, 28. One of my colleagues was really into online dating, and she just kept insisting that I put myself out there and meet new women. It seemed exciting at first, because of the occasional match, but I was judging the books by their covers and I just wasn’t having much success. I was getting frustrated, and was committed to deleting the app, but then a match came through and I jumped at the chance for a conversation.
I was immediately intrigued by Leah’s profile, I just thought she was so beautiful. When we matched, I told myself that I was just going to be direct because I had nothing to lose. She was very friendly, intelligent, and we immediately started talking like we were friends. I could tell that she was giving off some flirty vibes, so I knew I had to reciprocate if I wanted to keep her attention. After about a day of messages, I asked for her phone number. The first picture she sent me was of her nails after she had just gotten them done. I could tell by her nails that she was a high-femme, classy woman. What’s funny is that I’m more of a scruffy, nerdy, messy dreadlock type. But beside each other, I think we look pretty damn good.
We are both vegetarians, and she found a Thai restaurant for our first date, and something told me to just go for it. My escape plan was to pretend that I had to do something for work.
When she came around the corner it was love at first sight, and the conversation that followed confirmed it. I tend to nervous giggle, and she said that I did a lot of that for the first part of our date. After dinner, we walked down the street to a local bar and that’s where our conversation focused on our life goals, ambitions and highly compatible interests. We closed down the bar — they were literally cleaning around us — but wanted to keep talking, so we went to a hookah bar. When that closed, we ended up at a late-night cookie place, bought a load of treats and went to the park. We just didn’t want the night to end.
At the end of the night, we hugged goodbye for a long time, and I asked her if I could kiss her on the cheek. I knew that I was going to see her again and I didn’t want to be too forward, so I thought a kiss on the cheek was a cute way to end it. We both drove home with cheeseball grins on our faces. I remember telling my best friend, ‘I’m going to marry this woman.’
She travels a lot for work, and a few weeks later, we met up at her hotel and had a romantic getaway of sleeping in, getting breakfast and walking hand in hand through the botanical gardens. After five days, she practically moved into my house. We made it official on 4th April, and have just grown and blossomed from there.
The biggest arguments and disagreements occurred when our periods synced up for the first time, and we realised that we have to be really conscious of our emotions and how we express them so that they don’t get the best of us.
We have been backpacking through Central America since 6th June, and all this time I have been carrying a massive rock in the bottom of my little backpack. I know that Leah loves the beach, and I reached out to her best friends and mine, and everyone agreed that sunrise or sunset would be the best [time to propose]. Leah knows that I’m not a morning person, but once we got to Caye Caulker in Belize, I suggested that we go for a romantic sunrise walk. The night before, she went to sleep early and I anxiously paced around outside and wrote down a poem that I had been working on. We found a spot just as the sun was rising, and I had my camera on record and acted like I was trying to get a time lapse. I stood up, and said let’s go take a selfie together. While she was walking, I stepped behind her and got down on one knee. She turned around and I popped the question. She said yes! But PLOT TWIST, she had suspected a proposal so she told me to close my eyes and she surprised me with a ring too! It became a double proposal, and the best sunrise of our lives.
Our plan for our wedding is to do something medium-sized with our close friends and family and our dog, Tanner. We want it to be holistic, with a few traditional elements. We have already booked the venue and set our date to 16th May 2020. Our goal is to use businesses and vendors that are run by minorities because we live in an area that is diverse and LGBTQ-friendly. We consider ourselves extremely non-traditional, so everything we do we discuss and decide how we are going to do it our way. We can’t wait.”
“I had just come out of a really bad, aggressive relationship, and I wanted to be single for a while. A friend suggested I try a dating app for a bit of distraction, as I’d just thrown myself into work to forget about it all and wasn’t really looking. I’d been on Match.com and PlentyOfFish in the past, and met some absolute nutcases — including a guy with a secret child he didn’t tell me about, and one who already had a girlfriend. I can’t say I was full of hope when I downloaded Tinder for the first time, but three days of swiping later, I got chatting to Dan.
It was really strange, it felt like we were old friends from the start — like we’d known each other for years. He is the same age as me and a PE teacher at a primary school. After a week of conversation, we met in a bar called the Drunk Buffalo Club. I was so nervous, I didn’t know what to expect, but when I turned up he was already chatting to the barmen like he’d known them all his life. From that point on, it was easy. My nerves melted away and the awkwardness was completely gone. We were just together.
Three months down the line, he’d moved in with me, and a month after that he moved his dog in! We’ve been together for a few years now, and even had a baby together, Oliver, who is a toddler now. We got engaged on a trip to New York in February 2018. He proposed to me in the middle of Central Park. It was like being in a film — he sat me on a bench and pretended to tie his shoelaces, and when he turned around, he was there with the ring!
It hasn’t all been a bed of roses for us though. We went through a really stressful period when I was six weeks pregnant and I lost my job. We were going through a house purchase too, and the timing couldn’t have been worse. I almost lost my life at one point when my car burst into flames on a motorway with me inside. I got out just in time before the whole thing turned into a fireball. And I have a chronic health condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a group of 13 individual genetic conditions which affect the body’s connective tissue, making collagen fragile and stretchy. It causes long-term pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness, palpitations and digestive disorders. I get on with it the best I can, but sometimes something as simple as going for a walk can knock me out for a long time. Dan has been amazing through all of this and hugely supportive. It helps that he’s so black and white about things too, whereas I can tend to dwell and get lost in worries.
We’re getting married on 20th July! It’s come around so soon. We’ve booked a beautiful country manor house, and by the night there’s going to be around 140 people, so it’s quite big. Our little boy is going to be the ring bearer, which is really cute. We’re planning a really classic and elegant affair, with plenty of wisteria and flowers, lots of white. We’re going to have singing waiters to surprise the guests. And it’s going to have a loose New York theme, like our engagement.
The only problem I’ve had in the run-up has been my dress! I actually bought one off a lady who’d become pregnant, then I changed my mind and had to dash out and buy a second one. So that was expensive, but I’m happy with it now. Dan’s been pretty chilled and relaxed about the whole thing, and let me get on with it. I can’t wait, it’s going to be so much fun.”
Originally published at https://www.refinery29.com.