There was a time when I thought swiping through the digital dating world was like swimming through the River Mersey and hoping to see a dolphin.
But as it turns out, Tinder is not just a way to achieve premature arthritis while gazing at a load of topless gym selfies and grown men with SnapChat filtered bunny ears…
These days it’s more normal to be meeting your match online than it is off, and yesterday I went to witness two incredibly lovely humans – one I’ve known since the day that she was born – tie the Tinder knot.
Having the attention span of a chimpanzee and the entertainment expectations of a toddler, my own online dating life mostly consisted of left swipes and non-starter conversations, but there were a few token “might as well” dates too.
Anybody who read about my date with Mr Bingo will know that my first ever real life tinkering with Tinder involved a very awkward evening and a 32 page NHS autism test followed by me running for my life into the nearest taxi.
They will also know that for my second Tinder date, with a new and unsuspecting victim, I offered up a spare ticket to a one woman soliloquy about her transition from a man to a woman. So moments after meeting, there we were, sat front row at The Unity Theatre with a naked transgender woman wiggling her designer vagina just inches away from our faces.
And while you may think that my disastrous foray into digital flirting would put me off for life, I was still totally intrigued by it all – so I dated on.
I waded my way through the beige introductions, politely declined the very generous offers to be somebody’s bit on the side and I point blank ignored the 2am booty calls.
I had an entire photo album in my phone, aptly named Tinderella, and it contained screenshots of the most atrocious profile pictures you’ve ever seen.
I’m talking thirty-five year old men with SnapChat filters that give them doe eyes, freckles and eyelashes fit for a Disney princess. Tanned and oiled up muscles in neon speedos, gym selfies and inflatable gimp suits. There were close-ups of crotches, some wearing women’s knickers and the occasional, absolutely horrendous dickpic.
It was a circus – one that was definitely more Barnum & Bailey than Cirque du Soleil.
Coincidence or Fate?
It was fun while it lasted and that’s all it was ever supposed to be, until one day back in October.
It was late Saturday morning as I was sipping on a Dirty Chai at Overstand café in Chiang Mai when I realised I still had two dating apps installed on my phone. Dating was at the very bottom of my priority list, in fact I hadn’t even given it a thought.
That trip was all about me and working out what I wanted to do next. I had every intention of uninstalling the apps, but before I did, curiosity got the better of me…
I swiped my way through with the majority of thumb movements heading left. I’d matched with a few but no words were exchanged and before long, boredom had set in and I’d re-decided the whole thing was pointless.
The idea of enduring the stomach-churning torment of pre-date nerves on the ninety percent chance of an evening wasted on small talk was the last thing I wanted to do. Plus, even on the slim chance I did actually ending up meeting somebody I liked, that in itself would be a huge inconvenience.
I wanted to be a free spirit on the no-plan-plan; I was letting the universe throw opportunities at me and travelling the planet solo. I wanted to be interested in everything and committed to nothing.
So I uninstalled both apps and went about my day, pottering around Chiang Mai’s old town and dipping in and out of those magnificent temples. I wandered along the Mae Ping riverbank and slid my way through the stampede of mopeds and tuk tuks and in through a small entrance to the bustling maze of Warorot Market.
But as my feet wandered my mind wondered and there was a picture that I couldn’t get out of my head. It was a face… a smiling face.
The Right Swipe
When I got home I doused my pillows in lavender oil hoping to lure myself into to an early slumber and lay there with my eyes peacefully closed listening to a yoga nidra meditation. I tried to sleep but that face kept appearing in my thoughts.
We’d matched on both of the apps and not exchanged a single word. And even though I’d matched with others too, it was his profile picture that was swirling round and round my mind.
I had this totally indisputable, overwhelming urge – some sort of magnetic pull from deep within the core of me and it was telling me I needed to talk to him. So I peeled back my eyemask and reached for my phone.
I knew that it was unlikely I’d see him there again. The algorithms on those things usually only give you one shot at swiping, plus he could have easily moved on from Chiang Mai.
But that force in my stomach was strong that I couldn’t possibly ignore it any longer. So I reinstalled one of the dating apps and created myself a new profile in the hope that we’d somehow match again.
And as soon as it downloaded, there he was – and so we did.