Three months ago, there I was, standing in my bedroom absolutely terrified about my first Tinder date. Fresh out of an intense relationship, I decided to join Tinder because, well come on, why not. I figured out of all of the dating apps/dating sites, this one was the most similar to real life. Every time you go out, go to the bar and scan a room, you automatically do a quick assessment of all of the members of the opposite sex. You do not know anything of substance about them, you only know what you see right in front of you at that moment and you are using their appearance to judge now you would react if they approached you. And that is all that you are going off when you pull up Tinder as well. So I downloaded the app and began the addictive process of swiping through all of the men in a 4 mile radius. After many, many left swipes, I finally had a match with someone who 1. Didn’t make any racist comments (do men not realize that telling I look like a “delicate Asian” is horrendously offensive?), 2. Did not use any weird heart/kissing emojis in the first two messages, 3. Did not mention a foot fetish (more on that later) and 4. Could spell. Clearly, Tinder has really helped me raise my single lady standards. After a few days of messaging back and forth on the app, he asked if I wanted to get a drink and I agreed, eager to take the next step in the break-up recovery process.
We were set to meet at 7:30pm at Bar Dupont (so a public location where the chances of me being abducted were slightly less). I got home around 5:30, showered, and picked out my outfit. I was right on schedule. Then, at 6:45pm I began my massive, completely unnecessary, panic attack. I began rescrolling through all of his Tinder pictures, zooming into his face, and asking myself if this could be the face of a sociopathic killer. I reread all of our messages, trying to see if there was any hint of instability on his end (there were like 8 total messages between the two of us with very little content). I called NF and SM, my friends across the street for advice. After they both did not pick up (probably a wise decision on their part), I frantically called SBS and screamed “AM I MAKING A TERRIBLE MISTAKE?” when she picked up. Thank goodness my friends are a tad more rational and calm than I am (although to be fair, that is not very hard to accomplish), and she talked me through my inane questions.
Q: WHAT am I doing??
A: Going on a Tinder date.
Q: What if he does not look like his pictures?
A: What if he does? Also, you won’t know until you actually meet him.
Q: What if he sucks?
A: What if he doesn’t? Also, if he does suck, at least you have a funny story. Just think about this as an opportunity to meet someone new. If he is not cool, it is just one night of your life.
Q: I cannot remember what to do on dates anymore. What do I do?
A: Then this is good practice! It will get easier with each date you go on. Just rip the band-aid off.
I felt slightly less hysterical after SBS knocked some sense into me, and made my way to the bar. It turned out to be a fantastic first Tinder date (probably my best one yet). He looked just like his picture, did not abduct me, did not suck, we spent the next three and a half hours talking and I walked home with a big, goofy grin on my face. From everything I learned about him that evening, there was nothing I did not like. He is French, as is my mother’s side of the family, as well as my brother-in-law. He was successful, but not egotistical. He had run two marathons like me. He appreciated delicious food. He was polite, he laughed at my jokes, he asked questions with genuine interest, it was all good!
I eagerly anticipated our second date: a visit to the food exhibit at the National Geographic Museum (+100000 points for picking this). I felt a little more awkward during the second date, since we had already gotten all of the basic questions out of the way and you’re got to dig a little deeper. Perhaps it was because the first date had been such a relief, perhaps because I was still reeling from the recent break up, perhaps because of a thousand other reasons…. I just did not feel into this second date. The exhibit was interesting, he was nothing but sweet and inquisitive, but I could not dissociate dating from the ex. As we wandered through the exhibit, I would occasionally think about what the ex would be pointing out, or how he would be responding to my random jokes. I tried to shut that part of my mind down, but out of nowhere, I would say something and poor Thomas’ response would disappoint me because it was so different than the familiar reaction I was anticipating. As our date continued into the evening, and we walked to get tea (c’mon, that is just adorable) in Dupont, I began to feel a little more overwhelmed. At the very end of the date, I could not think of a single thing he had actually done wrong, but I knew I was extremely relieved the evening was over. Instead of going home, I went to NF’s apartment across the street and promptly burst into tears as soon as she asked me how the date was. It was…. an extremely strange response to a question.
Since I could not place my finger on anything he had done, I said yes to a third date. He was so excited to pick the restaurant for dinner, after I had spent the previous two dates babbling on and on about food, and told me it would be a surprise. Then the week leading up to dinner, he cleverly sent me hints about the spot, which I found so sweet and adorable. Hint number 1:
With these hints, I guessed Mintwood Place. After all, it is located at 1813 Columbia Road, which is between Florida Avenue and Beach Drive, and Simon Bolivar founded Venezuela in 1813. On the day of the date, I found myself super excited to see him and was happy that I had gotten over my second date emotions. He was the perfect gentleman: he waited outside until I got there and looked fantastic in his blazer and pocket square. The little things that are important to me: he did not look at his phone the entire time, was extremely attentive, offered to let me try his food, and listened to my ridiculously random anecdotes. The food was, as usual, wonderful. We started with the steak tartare with homemade potato chips, which was delicious. I ordered the rainbow trout with a papaya slaw, which tasted crispy, light and fresh. He ordered the pork chop, which he enjoyed immensely. For dessert, we split the blueberry bread pudding. When the meal ended, I realized that he had already given his credit card to the waiter before I arrived to ensure that I did not try to pick up the bill. It was a small gesture, but I appreciated his old school tactic. After dinner, he suggested we continue the evening with drinks at Bar Charley, a place I had actually been meaning to try and we spent the next two hours getting buzzed while telling each other stories. Then, as he walked me to find a cab home, he turned over and kissed me. Now, I was not expecting fireworks to happen, but I was also not expecting to feel so not into someone’s mouth on my mouth after such a pleasant night. I quickly jumped into a cab afterwards and tried to process what had happened. Had I turned into a bad kisser? Was he a bad kisser? Did he not feel into it either?
He continued texting me the following days so I assumed that he was not feeling as unnerved as I was. For our next date, he wanted to cook me dinner (seriously, what perfect planet did this guy arrive here from?) and invited me over one Thursday evening to his apartment. Now when I “cook someone dinner,” it usually consists of perhaps two dishes that I have thrown in the oven while showering/watching Netflix. This guy, this guy, explained to me when I arrived that I would need to pace my eating because he had made five courses. Five courses. For a Thursday night dinner. Seriously? I am not worthy. To start, he made crostinis. He followed that up by spaghetti squash in a pesto sauce, then two cod dishes, and then unleashed a grand finale of fresh homemade crepes with apples. While my belly was extremely happy with what was happening in his apartment, my brain was realizing that there was just something missing from this. I felt absolutely nothing when he put his hand on my thigh while sitting on the couch. I kept dreading that he would lean over to kiss me so I found myself trying to avoid eye contact which is hard when someone’s face is literally ten inches away from yours. Finally, I told him that I had signed up for a 6:30am spin class the following day and ordered an Uber because all I wanted to do was get into my bed… alone. I felt so guilty, because he was just racking up points, but in the end, none of those points matter when the other person just does not feel it.
I knew he was leaving for several weeks due to work, so I waited until he left before texting him that while I enjoyed our time together, I just was not ready to see someone in a romantic way yet. And as expected, he was so understanding and sweet about it. At first, I kept kicking myself for being unable to connect to this seemingly fantastic man. What else could I ask for? But I realized that no matter how hard I try, if I am sitting in front of a handsome man who’s trying to kiss me and all I want to do is curl up in bed…. well it is really best to just curl up in my bed alone and let some other lucky girl make out with him.