Lessons Learned From My First Tinder Date

I’ve never had a boyfriend. Not for any specific reason (I like to think) but simply because I don’t really hang out around boys – plus, I have a horrible habit of ignoring everyone I’m attracted to. If you don’t talk to someone and immediately turn away when you see them on the street, they’re eventually going to realize you’re into them, right? This school year it just so happened that literally all of my housemates had a boyfriend. While I had never felt odd for not having one before, I suddenly felt very out of place. I started to think that maybe something was wrong with me. Was I really so unlikable?

Two of my housemates had met their boyfriends on Tinder so they urged me to give the app another try. I had used it before and had semi-decent conversations with people, only for them to end abruptly either on the boy’s end or on mine. Nevertheless, with my friends' advice and reassurance that there were some good guys on Tinder, I vowed to try again, and this time I would actually message people back and keep up a conversation.

Fast forward to reading week and I matched with an attractive guy on Tinder – let’s call him Steve. Steve messaged me first, which was a great sign because people rarely message me first despite – what I like to think of as – my witty bio. We then bantered back and forth for a little bit and easily transitioned into a flowing conversation. When we kept up the conversation the next day, I was over the moon. By the fourth day, having to text this guy back was draining me and I was really wishing reading week could be over so we could meet in person. Then I would know whether or not it was worth it to spend my energy texting him. Nevertheless, the conversation was still relatively interesting and I began to picture myself with a boyfriend. I imagined this date working the way it had for my friends and I imagined slowly transitioning into life in a relationship. I was very excited.

Eventually we got back to school, and Steve and I set up a day to go out for breakfast (his idea) on the weekend. I gave him my actual phone number and we started texting on our phones. The problem arose that night, when he texted me about how he was going to the gym – and I just really didn’t want to respond. I found that I really didn’t care (I know that sounds horrible; I’m sorry!). I joked about it to my friends and my housemate asked why I was going on a date with him if I didn’t want to talk to him. I got offended and assured her I did. In the next couple of days we still texted each other, often with me taking more time than I should have to respond. My excuse was that I hated texting, but really I just didn’t want to put all this time into a person I didn’t know.

On the day of the date I was hungover with a headache, but nevertheless excited and very nervous. On my walk to the breakfast place I was sweating way more than I should have been on a -10 degree day. I’m going to skip through a description of the date because I don’t really think it matters. All you need to know is that he was a perfectly nice guy and generally easy to talk to, and he mentioned to me we should hang out again some time. The moment I left the date I said, “Well... fuck,” to myself because I was disappointed. Disappointed because the date had made me realize I wasn’t attracted to Steve like I dreamed I was going to be – not because of looks and not because he wasn’t nice, but just because I wasn’t really feeling anything special. This reaction should have been a sign; however, I told my friends the date had been “meh” but that I’d go out with him again if he asked. Most of my friends agreed that I should give him a second chance.

He texted me that night and I didn’t respond, and I didn’t the day after, either. I felt horrible inside. I wasn’t attracted to Steve. I didn’t want to go on another date with him. What was wrong with me? I envisioned going out with him again and starting a relationship. I could easily start to be attracted to him if we hung out more, couldn’t I? He was a nice guy and we’d had a perfectly nice time and talked comfortably, so why didn’t I want to see him again? Why couldn’t I just text him back and go on a second date with him like I said I would? It’s because I didn’t want to lie to him, and I didn’t want to lie to myself. I knew that I didn’t have it in me to pretend anymore, so I sent him a text apologizing and saying I didn’t think it would work out.

This perfect fantasy of finally getting a boyfriend was shattered. But with it a weight was also lifted off of my shoulders. I realized I didn’t owe Steve anything, I didn’t owe him a second date and I most certainly didn’t owe it to myself to have a boyfriend. I needed to realize I didn’t need a guy to make me whole. My friends’ lives weren’t mine. I’m very happy being single, and what this foray into dating taught me is that I don’t want to put my time and energy into something I’m not certain about. Maybe when the right guy comes along I’ll actually want to text back, but until then, I shouldn’t have to pretend and I shouldn’t feel bad for not pretending. At the end of the day the only person you owe anything to is yourself... and probably your mother, too (she did give birth to you, after all).