It wasn’t something I’d expected. I didn’t write about it in my Jan Brady diary with the butterflies on the cover when I was 10 years old. I didn’t plan on my husband leaving me for another woman. I didn’t schedule the year of crying that followed. I had no idea my friends would eventually intervene with a pitcher of margaritas, a bag of sexy clothes, and a cellphone.
That last part is how I came to be a 50-year-old woman on a dating app. With Tinder, even someone my age can find a date, possibly more, certainly less, with just the swipe of a finger.
At the time, I just wanted some attention, and the dating app was free.
I wanted a man to look at me, listen when I spoke, pay me a compliment, maybe buy me dinner, and allow me to feel like a woman — as opposed to the broken heart I’d become.
I was terrified. I’d never dated — I got married early because it allowed me to avoid dating — but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life without a companion. With most of my demographic coupled and my being past the age of bars loaded with frat boys, it seemed like an app was my only choice.
I knew Tinder’s reputation as a hook-up app, but I didn’t know what “hook-up” meant. So I looked it up. Really? Was this my life now?
But I soon discovered that most of my single friends were on Tinder. It made me feel a bit better. And — better still — I found there were boatloads of men who wanted a date. I quit my crying, used my self-help books as fire-starters, and booked my first date.
He was a construction worker from Liverpool. And he was bald. It scared me. I’d never touched a bald head. On the phone, he sounded like Paul McCartney. We made a plan to meet at a gastropub. It took me three glasses of wine to figure out what to wear and two more to get out the door.
He didn’t show.
He did send me a picture of his penis. That scared me, too. I saved the photo nonetheless. Since then, my man-part photo collection is trumped only by my collection of Madame Alexander dolls.
My second date was with a 56-year-old “rock musician” who was, in actuality, a 75-year-old psychoanalyst who played a yearly “bar-be-cue” in his back yard — with three friends. They knew three songs. Apparently, the potato salad was awesome! I know this because he told me. He dumped me via text the next day. (The advent of technology has not only made it easier to date, but it has also made it easier to dump.)
It was date No. 3 that was the game-changer: a retired Army vet so far outside my Ivy League, uber-successful, parent-pleasing doctor-lawyer parameters — which had thus far provided me with liars, cheaters, and pervs. He showed up at the restaurant in flip-flops and a T-shirt. Shoot me now. He didn’t drink, so I drank a lot.
But by the end of the night, when he traced circles around my wrist with the tip of his finger, I had Jan Brady butterflies. And when he gave me that first kiss, I morphed into my 15-year-old self, and those butterflies flew free.
If they invite you over to their house for the first date, it means they want sex. Don’t go.
If they invite you over for Netflix and Chill, it means they want sex. Don’t go.
If you randomly never hear from them again after things were going well, it means you’ve been “ghosted”. This can hurt feelings quite deeply, but eventually, you will get used to this new normal, and you will be the one doing the ghosting.
When you upgrade to Tinder Gold or Platinum, you get more options like Tinder top picks. Tinder Top Picks is a curated selection of matches that Tinder has chosen for you based on an algorithm that factors in education, occupation, hobbies, and interests. This could potentially save you from wasting your time trying to sort through potential matches. If you have a free account, you have access to one of these picks per day.
Editor’s Note: This article was written before the time of Covid, back when we were able to get out and about and see our dates in person, warts and all. During the last year, we’ve had to adjust to Zoom dates and try to navigate a time when you’re trying to get a read on a person through a screen. What are they really like in person? Are they as confident face-to-face as they are from the comfort of their living room, talking into a phone with an escape route as easy as an ‘End’ button at their disposal?
The beauty of dating apps like Tinder is they’re helping us get back to the dating world after a rough and isolated year. Current statistics show that divorce rates spiked during quarantine when we had to face a spouse that perhaps was a better match when we could get some distance each day. I suspect the coming months will bring many new app downloads, attempts to get the perfect pic, and a lot of adventures and new ‘friends.’
It will be nice to get back to the old-fashioned way of doing things, meeting a person at an actual location, and getting to have some in-person contact with them. There’s nothing wrong with a little technological help, though, because having a program find you a perfect match is probably better than having your mom set you up on a date. Well, maybe…
For more from P. Charlotte Lindsay, go to pcharlottelindsay.com.