Millennial dating misconceptions…

This is a post I’ve been nervous to share for awhile. It’s literally been sitting in my drafts waiting to see the light of day, so here is the shine it’s been longing for. This is actually going to be quite long, I wouldn’t bother reading if I’m a lazy reader. Definitely worth it though…

I’ve written about my dismal experiences before, but for some reason I find my failures more comical to write contrary to my successes. If you don’t laugh at yourself, you’re humourless and you take yourself too seriously. If you don’t have a sense of humour, go and find it where you left it! Under the bed or in the 90s, but I digress. They say when you stop looking for love, that’s when it finds you. Had someone given me this spiel years ago, I would have scorned and probably laughed in their face but today, I am that girl who goes about telling people this, because believe it or not, this is exactly what happened to me.

Anyway…

It’s happened, I met a man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I didn’t meet him in a very ‘romantic’ or conventional way. All I know is that I have found a guy I have a really good feeling about. I met my boyfriend online. On tinder to be specific.

Yeah, I’m serious.

I know, I know, I know. Tinder: the dating app of the millennial generation. Or should I say the hookup app? It is known for being the perfect place to meet your next hookup and when you’re feeling lonely.It isn’t exactly known for its great reviews and solid foundation to build a relationship on. What are the odds right? Even people who aren’t on tinder to necessarily “hookup” tend to not find much more than a fling even if they’re looking for something serious. The old timers might even say that meeting someone online takes away from the authenticity and specialness of meeting “the one.” But if you ask me, love will meet you right where you’re at, exactly when it’s time. Believe me, I’m still in complete and utter awe.

For those of you who don’t know what Tinder is, it’s a dating app in which you swipe right if you like the person, and left if you don’t. The app uses your location on your phone to find people within 100 miles of your location, so that you could potentially “match” with someone nearby. A “match” happens when two people like each other, AKA swipe right on each other. The only issue people have with the app when people call it a dating app is that a lot of people on there are on the app mainly for flings or one night stands. That does not account for everyone on the app (obviously).

Now, just because I met my boyfriend on tinder doesn’t mean I swear by it for everyone. But I’m definitely not one to shame it either. Although it’s rare, you CAN find someone you love on Tinder. People’s reactions usually convey a mixture of shock, enthusiasm and judgment when they ask me how we met. It’s a little like: “Good for you. But there’s no way I would ever do that!” Something like….”Really?! No … wow. Hey, it’s 2018!” And that’s fine. I don’t need anyone else to “approve” of my relationship.

Anyhoo the kicker to this story is that when I went on tinder, I was NOT looking for a relationship at all. I had just gotten out of a 5 year relationship with my ex, and I was honestly speaking just looking to meet new people outside the circle of friends my ex and I shared. I know that online dating can be tough, but My boyfriend was actually the first (and last) guy I went on a date with on tinder.

OH-EM-GEE. What is life? What am I doing with life? Is life hitting me in the head like it always does? This was crazy, impulsive, insane, and yet I actually didn’t care. I’ve realised for some reason online dating is still in this day and age considered a last resort. In fact, when I told one of my friends I was thinking of getting on tinder her response was, “oh you’re nowhere near desperate enough to do that.”  There is a stigma, and I tried to keep it a secret for that reason. All my life I was what you might call a serial dater. I’ve always been in long term relationships. I loved the comfort of having a long term boyfriend, and I was used to it.

When I broke up with my ex, I found myself newly single and surprisingly felt really happy and free. My friends really wanted me to go out on dates, meet new people and just embrace my newly found freedom. I remember saying to those same friends, “I don’t know anyone I want to date, If there was someone in my life who I wanted to date I would have already done it.” With that attitude, I set up a tinder account for myself. My ex was a “public figure” and many people knew about us therefore, I didn’t want anyone to spot my profile and put my business in the streets like that.

Within an hour of downloading tinder and setting up my profile I was bored. It was constant left swiping, they’re all awful, I don’t want them even looking at my profile, nevermind anything else. I decided to use my cousins pictures instead of my own for the simple reason that no one knows her in Zimbabwe ( lol basically catfish my way through it). I matched with a couple of guys who were nice enough but boring. So much small talk, so many empty questions, stupid pick up lines, and my personal favourite… the utterly foul sexually aggressive opening line. These guys were the most entertaining because I delighted in cutting them dead short and writing huge paragraphs preaching about respecting women. When they got angry it was hilarious. And just as my opinion of men was hitting rock bottom, I matched with him. He was based in England but like myself was also back home for the holiday season. Most of his stay in Zimbabwe was based outside Harare so I didn’t even think we would meet but I was just happy to engage in small talk given he had a personality I could keep up with. I remember our first conversation happened at like 2A.M or something random like that. Normally I wouldn’t have responded to those A.M texts from a ‘random guy on tinder’ because I’ve always thought no one really meets anyone half way decent online and to make matters worse…in the wee hours. There was a good feeling hidden in the depths of my insomnia that night. Or maybe I was just feeling adventurous. Either way, in a manner that was uncharacteristic, I responded.

I was barely into the conversation at first but, he seemed to be enjoying it. After exchanging a few messages I disappeared and went to bed. If I’m being honest, the first night I didn’t even think we would have a conversation again but…to my surprise he messaged me good morning the next day. We spoke for a bit and that conversation was definitely going a lot better than our first one. At that particular moment, I remembered that I had someone else’s pictures on my profile. * awkward* If at all I wanted to continue talking to this guy I had to come clean early on for obvious reasons. My intention was never to deceive anyone into thinking I’m someone I’m not.

I asked for his number because I was barely on the app and it was taking me forever to see replies etc. He sent me his number and the first message I sent sounded a little something like “ First things first, that wasn’t me in my pictures on tinder. That was my cousin.” He took that surprisingly well actually, he basically just laughed it off and kept it moving. I even offered to hook him up with my cousin if he preferred lol. Apparently he was enjoying our conversations therefore what I looked like didn’t matter at that particular point in time. In saying that, we did exchange pictures and basically got to know each other better. We got on, it was cool. I might just add that most of our conversations at this stage were happening at awkward hours of the night. Here we were having yet another conversation after midnight. My best friend was coming from England and I was meant to go and pick her up from the airport that evening. He messaged when we woke up just to check in and basically told me he was driving down to Harare for business. I just joked about whether he was planning on seeing me or not after running his errands before driving back and even invited him to tag along to my airport run. Funny enough he actually agreed. He suggested we meet up for lunch first and then do the airport run right after. Cue a day of texts bouncing back and forth and a date on the cards.

We had agreed to meet up somewhere at the village at 2:45pm. I got myself ready and I was at the village a few minutes before our agreed time. I really expected to have been the one running late on a first date but guess what? he was. I waited for about half an hour and I remember thinking to myself I got stood up. At that point I felt like I had been catfished and was probably talking to someone’s father. He eventually showed up about 45 minutes later, what a gentleman. Not a very good first impression is it?! Lol! There he was – I was seeing tinder guy for the first time. It was not the type of thing where he walked up to me and I thought, “there’s the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.”  I thought he was handsome and very easy to talk to. I was somewhat shy in the beginning because I had never done anything like this before but he made me feel so comfortable. There was so much excitement and unfamiliarity in the air that day. I was buzzing for the rest of the afternoon – I’d literally just met someone I could potentially crack on with! We were able to make each other laugh and it was the happiest I had been in months. We just clicked instantly. It was so weird. One of those connections you can’t explain or justify, it was just effortless and I felt like I could just be myself around him. It had been so long since I’d been on a real date with another man that wasn’t my ex.

I basically came up with this bright idea that we trick my best friend into believing we were in a relationship. Imagine, your best friend that you’ve known for 15+ years telling you to meet her boyfriend that you’ve never heard her speak about lol. We did a pretty damn good job at selling the relationship idea to her. We held hands, perked a couple of times. (Yup, pretty crazy) I was even starting to buy my own story at this point. My best friend was obviously shook and had so many questions but we stuck to the plan. Before the night ended, one thing led to another and we exchanged our first real kiss. ( too soon right…first date!  ha). Something very weird happened though, when he leaned over to kiss me, I got butterflies. I felt like I was in high school all over again. I swear to you my stomach was in knots. I’ve never felt anything like it before, and it took me totally by surprise. In that very moment, I knew I could spend more time with him, and I left the date feeling extremely happy, but I did not let myself get too excited. It was very different and weirdly I felt a little too comfortable it was scary. I felt like I had known him for years.

I got back into the house with the biggest grin on my face, I just couldn’t stop smiling. I actually ended up with a slight crush on him after that night. Not only was he handsome, he had a charming personality, good banter and a great smile. Later on he messaged telling me he was home and that he had enjoyed spending time with me. Obviously the feeling was very mutual. As much as I was excited about a guy I had just met, I didn’t know if I would date him though. As much as I’d enjoyed myself, I’d been left with a few things to puzzle over, and potentially a long time to puzzle over them, as we weren’t expecting anything to move as fast it did. He seemed to know precisely who I was without knowing any real facts about me. It was weird. I wish I could say our relationship evolved into this deep rooted thing over time but it was actually like this from day one or two, which in my opinion makes it so special.

After our first date, I was still adamantly convinced that I did not want a relationship.

However, I continued to see him quite frequently. He was hugely accommodating despite his busy schedule, which was obviously very flattering, and so the rest of our holiday went on like that. A string of dates, smiles, kisses and laughs. My guard was definitely down. I knew he was special and I actually let myself have feelings for him. Needless to say, he felt the same. He treated me differently than other guys that I’d been with. Maybe it was because of my nonchalant mentality, but it felt like he really genuinely liked me for who I am. I didn’t have to second guess whether or not he wanted to see me, and I just felt so happy and carefree around him. I liked that he would take the initiative with everything, from planning dates to inviting me to meet his friends and family. Nowadays, it’s hard to find certainty and assurance from the people we want. In this day and age of modern dating, we find ourselves getting stuck in the gray area where everything is unclear, where only ‘almosts‘ happen. With him, I found something permanent. Something beautiful.

I’ve heard people say, “when you know you know.” I always thought that was the dumbest phrase ever. With him I knew.  I knew almost immediately. It’s so hard for me to explain all of it because I don’t even understand it myself. There was never a doubt in my mind at any point. A good friend of mine once told me that the best person to marry is the one you’ve known the shortest time but feel like you’ve known all your life. I thought she was being funny, but the longer I’m with my boyfriend the more I think she’s right.

So many things in the universe had to slip and fall into line for us to ever have had the chance to actually speak, let alone meet. But whether you believe in fate or the universe, I really do believe there is something at work here that was bigger than I am. Or maybe I am the luckiest fucking girl in the world, maybe both? At this point I don’t think it even matters.  What matters? That I seem to have stumbled across this person that I am instantly willing to travel half way across the world for, literally. And no, it’s not just because I think he is hot. (Although I really think that he is a total babe.)

It’s because after saying no to people that had basically waited half of my last relationship to get a chance, I said yes to this one without hesitation. It matters that my gut feeling is stronger than any cell in my brain that could possibly tell me that this is a bad idea. It matters that somehow I am so in love with this man and within two weeks of spending so much time together, I knew that I had to be with him. We continued to see each other, we clicked and we ticked each others’  “important” boxes. For the first time I actually had no qualms about him, nothing that was holding me back. It really seemed too good to be true! I knew that in a matter of weeks we would be in different countries, but that wasn’t even on my mind. Within a few weeks he was my boyfriend, and we were making plans for the rest of the upcoming year. It felt so good! I didn’t expect myself to have been so ready and willing to open myself up to someone else so quickly.

I’ve definitely learned that life almost never turns out the way you think it will. It’s good to have goals and work towards the things you want in your life, but you can’t plan it all out. I never could have imagined meeting an actual boyfriend I would want to be committed to forever on freaking Tinder. I have no idea what the details of this particular aspect of my life will look like a year, or five years, from now, and that’s ok.

I’ve also learned that you have to make your own path. There are certain things everyone expects you to do, certain milestones everyone expects you to hit, but you don’t have to do those things…If it doesn’t fit with you, don’t do it. This was not the traditional way of meeting a guy or the normal path of starting a life with someone, but it worked for us. I’m learning to accept that I don’t always control how my life plays out and that I’m happier just living in the moment and not micro managing my life so much. I understand that our mindset determines much of the outcome of our lives and that doing the right thing is always the right thing.

Probably 80% of the people you would find on Tinder are looking for anything but a relationship, but I really think that you can find good people on there. It’s like meeting people in real life, there’s always those awful, over-confident, gross guys that think purely because you’re female you’re going home with them. And equally, there’s those genuinely amazing people who you’ll sync up with as if you’ve always known them. I believe it’s the same concept in the sense that you never know who you’re going to find. And yes it’s like sifting through a full skip. Wade through all the trash and find the hidden gem and it not only makes for a great relationship, but a pretty good story too!

In conclusion, online dating apps can work, but I think a big part of it is your mentality and attitude towards it. I think going in with no expectations helps you both be yourself and not be disappointed if things don’t work out. Don’t expect to find your future husband online, but something amazing could come out of it and you would never know unless you take a risk. No one is ever prepared for love. If it comes knocking at your door, welcome it with a smile, and say, “I’m ready to be happy, and sad, and confused, and maybe angry at times. I’m ready to be in love.”

Have you got any online dating nightmares or success stories? I’d love to hear them in the comments

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