Ok. I will be utterly frank: before Sunday evening, I had never ventured into the virtual realm of online dating. Primarily because I’m an extraordinarily proud 26-year-old female, somewhat traditional in the sense that delusional daydreams of midday encounters with my soul mate seem more real and appealing than swiping right for Mr. Right. Scanning through local singles in my area just isn’t as quixotic as a fated coffee shop run-in with my perfect match à la any Hollywood RomCom. To me, it seemed a little…desperate and crass.
Additionally, I’m not a, how you say? Hookup lassie. I’m a Gemini, so I flirt. A lot. But I never rubber stamp anything. I hardly make it past the first hello. However, such flippant inclinations do not discredit my longing for romance in its most cliché form. To be wined and dined, talked with and listened to by a guy who is exceptionally good looking but not exceedingly egotistical; a clever, cultured, and charismatic cat, capable of supplying me with an impressive night of PG-13 debauchery. More importantly, I want someone who can supply me with the rush of romantic back-and-forth (I am a Gemini after all).
In other words, I want to chase and be chased.
However dynamic and forthright I may be when it comes to my professional aspirations, there’s a sliver of me that is/was looking for a gentlemen who could compliment and reflect my qualities of fixed passion in his pursuit of…well, me.
I know as a modern feminist, this seems like a betraying step backwards into the archaic thinking of the past, when men held the power over women because they were the hunters and we were the gathers. Expecting a courtly game between me and my imagined other half doesn’t exactly scream equality of the sexes. Nonetheless, it was the result of many wasted years watching male matinee idols and scrolling through Tom Hiddleston gifs on Pinterest.
It wasn’t the idea of a guy eliminating my independence that I found alluring. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I like my distance and my own world. I don’t need a space invader, and I am not looking for a BDSM master-slave situation; I simply entertained the fantasy of someone wanting me enough to go after me. Because when I want something, I go after it shamelessly unrestrained.
Yet, as I said before, I am extraordinarily proud. And my pride was preventing me from putting myself out there (wherever “there” is), thus triggering some heavy hermitage and contemplation. I was starting to question my desirability, and ultimately, my future. Am I too independent? Am I too idealistic? Should I just give up and become a nun?
The Pinterest scrolls continued until saner minds prevailed…
On Friday, I spent a drunken night with a good friend. A week prior, she had just ended an on-and-off year-long relationship with a guy whom she loved and knew since they were wee tots. Also, she informed me, she had just started seeing a guy she met on Bumble. Rebounding on an app? I was curious, but for the most part uninterested, because it was, after all, online, and therefore not real. And it felt somewhat lamentable and…. dirty. If history and Lifetime movies have taught me anything, it’s that online dating sites are for people who have essentially given up on the real-world because they are either too disfigured or deplorable for ‘normal’ wooing, and may or may not want to kill you.
But my reclusive days spent admiring the baby blues of Hollywood hunks on Pinterest seemed to have put me in this imagined category of lamentable losers (sans sociopathic instincts). My friend assured me that Bumble wasn’t like Tinder; you weren’t expected to spread eagle in Sodom and Gomorrah on the first encounter. In fact, people on Bumble were looking for more than a hook-up. Plus, women hold the power. It is up to us to make the first move. If you don’t like a guy, you don’t have to listen to his blundering euphemisms; you just swipe left and move on, or simply unmatch. How novel is that?
Still, I had my doubts; e.g.: do I really want to get with a random single fella in my area? What if he’s the next Buffalo Bill, or addicted to laser tag? What if he’s a laser tag-addicted Buffalo Bill looking to skin a pale skin princess like me with his DIY radiation firearm?
Also, what if all the guys are ugly?
So on whim of mental acquisitiveness, I decided to download the Bumble app. Never, have I ever been so pleased with such a blithe decision.
At first, I was out of my element. I had to acclimate to the dexterous movements required for these snazzy dating apps, which resulted in a few accidental match me’s and hell-no’s. Fatalities aside, it was shocking to see how many decent-to-great looking guys there were in my city. And likewise amazing how I’d never seen any of them before. Like, ever.
It is somewhat unsettling submitting myself into the pool of other Bumble babes. For one, I was worried about… being… turned down. I’ve never been rejected by anyone (except one kid in middle school, but that was before I had boobs and unyielding confidence). What if I swipe right to set up a match, and the guy says with a sneer, “uh…no way I’m getting with her”? What would become of my ego and quest for romantic fun after that?
This journey into Bumbleland required my pride-based fear to take a nap. Go to sleep you Leo-like beast, and let fate and my left-brain take over.
I preened my profile by putting my best Facebook profile pic forward (obviously going for the one with the most likes). But I still felt a tad intimidated by the Bio portion of my Bumble profile: How do I put everything you need to know about me and all of my lovable Gemini weirdness in 300 characters or less? I opted for the basics: writer, artist, actor, and musician; sarcastic, disco-lover and film buff. With this, I was covering all of my interests without sounding desperate or pretentious. As much as I hate to admit it, I want these guys to find me gorgeous, intelligent, alluring yet cool (because I so am).
Needless to say, I was not modest in my right swipes; nor was I deliberately manic. If I saw a great-looking guy, and scrolled to see he had a kid or loved to hike, he was swiped left (sorry!). Even though I seem to have a soft spot for simple guys “not from around here”, with brown eyes and hair, and dogs, I couldn’t let my baser instincts continue to make all the judgements.
So I started reading more of the bios. Adequate grammar, uniqueness, and humor got you a right swipe (unless, of course, you were hideous). While emojis, ignorance, and “gym is life” statements doomed fellas for the left. The first hour I spent with my eyes glued to my phone, I had scrutinized and right-swiped many men – I won’t give an exact number, but it was more than 1 and less than 50 – and no matches.
Then, like a surge of lightning, I started getting notification, after notification, “new match” “new match” new match”. I felt like a Vegas slot machine: these guys wanted to chance it with me! Not only are the guys I dig attractive and stable (somewhat), they like me. They really like me! What a rush this Bumble app is…
Next, the responsibilities for opening up the doors of communication fell on my shoulders. I found this the least scary part, for I am, in my most humble opinion, a verbal vixen. I love language, wordplay, and showing how cheeky and observant I am by poking fun at the leopard print jumpsuit you wore in your 3rd pic. And I’m really good at first impressions. This was my chance to prove to these honey-hive hunks how funny and intelligent this Gemini chick could be (and also to separate the weak from the worthy).
And I did.
Some guys were sooo hot, but didn’t have much to say beyond 2 or 3 word answers. And though it pained me, I had to let them find their horseback riding, hike-and-granola-loving nonverbal mountain mamas somewhere else. I’m a talker and a thinker; I like the city. And if you don’t, or you can’t be creatively carefree with your words on a dating app, then I’m not your girl, no matter how gorgeous you are.
The others were…strange, in that they threw out random facts about kangaroos just to see if you were with it. Or pitched Game of Thrones references and bald Ariana Grande pics at me. And I couldn’t figure out why. The rest were just normal and friendly; neither wacky nor rural, just dudes looking to hang out with a nice, sweet, intelligent girl and maybe hit it off. Little do they know I’m far from being nice and sweet.
All of them were complimentary and eager to connect.
I appreciated the ones who didn’t come right off the bat and tell me how attractive they thought I was, but the come-ons did come. And oddly enough, I totally dug it. Like, my confidence was through the roof, and I felt like I could have the pick of the litter. All of these gents, who I found immensely appealing, and deemed worthy of my attention and time were sending me messages all night. They wanted to know what I did, what instrument I played, who I was… I had a court of fervent 25 to 30-year-olds wanting to woo me. It was grand!
What Bumble does is, in my opinion, revolutionary. Women get to be the hunters and the gatherers. We get to scan through all the would-be suitors and make a decision based off of looks and some pithy self-edited information; then we make the first move. And it is a Gemini’s best friend. You can amass as many guys as you want, flirt with them, discuss various areas of interest, play around without having to commit. Bonus: no one can call you a flighty slut! You’re playing the field in the comfort of your current locale, and getting hit on by guys you like without having to tell a soul (unless you want to).
However, I should add that while I have arranged several dates with potential playmates, I have yet to meet one in person. My Bumble tune may go flat after a few bad encounters that I have scheduled later in the week. But I’m keeping my head up high, and not hoping for anything. I didn’t download the dating app to find my soul mate; I did however, download it with the intention of finding men with whom I can frolic and share some wine and/or vegan nachos, and possibly never see again. Double whammy!
*unless they are of me, the pictures are on loan from the Getty of images: Pinterest*