The Trials And Tribulations Of Tinder After Your Twenties


The proverbial saddle, pretty much the last thing I thought I would be trying to get back on at this point in my life. I truly thought I would be married forever. But that didn’t prove to be the case. Then I thought I had magically attracted the person who would be my forever. That didn’t quite work out either.

So I’m back out here, trying to figure how one does this at an age that is not exactly prime for the dating scene. The choices are limited, at best, and as much as I tried to resist diving into the world of virtual dating, I caved. I’m in it, and I assure you, it is not for the faint of heart. It’s kind of terrifying, actually.

And really just annoying.

Clearly a better scenario would be if it just happened organically, an old friend from high school or a recycled boyfriend or girlfriend reaches out. Facebook is actually your friend here. You reconnect and discover or rekindle a connection. You have a shared history. You trust each other enough to approach intimacy in a way that is safe enough to ease into this whole thing. It’s a much less painful approach, I assure you.

But this is rare, unless you are in close proximity of the network you established during your single years, or you have accumulated a good amount of frequent flyer miles. If not, your pond is a bit more… well, you’ll see soon enough.

Please know, I feel your pain. I will say though, I am slowly adapting, and I’m finding that it truly does get less painful with time. However, my learning curve has been steep.

To date, I have dabbled in two apps and one online forum. I’m sure there are a dozen others, but these three have sufficiently traumatized and overwhelmed me enough to keep me from exploring more.

First step, agonizing over your profile. Most importantly, the pictures. You need to capture their attention in a span of about 1.5 seconds. Start with something that shows your best angle but still looks enough like you so as to not elicit disappointment if physical contact is made. Don’t put up just one, this will raise suspicion. And starting off with a picture of everything but your face, or one where your face is blurry, suspect. If in all of your pictures you are wearing sunglasses or never smiling, also concerning. And guys, for god’s sake, keep your shirt on.

Next, describe yourself in one paragraph without either underwhelming your potential prospects or scaring the shit out of them. Either way you risk your chances of heading left.

My profile? I’m pretty sure it lands more on the scare the shit out of them end of the spectrum.

Opening line:

“You are terrifying and strange and beautiful, someone not everyone knows how to love.”   ~ Warsan Shire

(Well, that should reel them in.)

Profile description:

Adventurous, compassionate, save the world kind of girl, A DEMOCRAT, through and through, active, fun, independent, a little crazy (mostly in a good way), Virgo, considerate, kind, a bit of an introvert in an extroverted fashion, animal lover, NOT a homebody. Normalcy scares me.

I’m interested in finding someone who can keep up, who is kind, smart, compassionate, worldly, socially/globally aware and engaged, fun, healthy, fit, handsome, interesting, adventurous…. with a great sense of humor. A unicorn, in essence.

Profile completed and you are officially on the market. Now commences the never-ending stream of notifications- he’s interested, you’re his favorite, you caught his eye, your move….

Surprisingly, I instantly got a constant stream of these from men claiming to be my unicorn, most of whom were between the ages of 54 and 60. Be clear, you get to select your ideal age demographic, and I did not select my cutoff to be 60. Forty-eight is not 60. What the hell?

There were a handful, like five, who were my age and had some potential, maybe three who refrained from taking a picture of themselves half-naked, and only one who did not feel compelled to share a photo boasting his gun collection or new sports car.

So now what do I do exactly? What the hell do all of these mean and when do I use what? Do I wink back? Or should I favorite him instead? What if his notifications are not activated and he didn’t see my wink? If I really think there is potential, should I email him? Too forward? Truly, is there a manual for this?

When you finally manage to catch someone’s attention, the grueling process of trying to date by way of thumbs begins. First contact, think of something witty and engaging to say. So do you offer up my wittiest banter, or is that too intimidating? Maybe more casual and aloof is better.

Now the back and forth ensues. This part is exhausting to me. My thumbs can’t keep up. So I recently established some rules. You get three text exchanges. Then, we can either, nail down a date and meet face to face, or you can continue on your path of winking and swiping left or right.

It all feels like the equivalent to playing a video game. I just go into pilot mode and start swiping whatever direction my mood dictates, which usually means left. In fact, I swipe left so many times in a row the app keeps trying to explain to me how it works. To match with someone, you might consider swiping right.

Yep, got it, thanks. Give me some effing decent options then.

You know you are maybe doing something wrong when you frequently land on a blank page stating: It looks like you are out of people. Check back soon or invite some friends. Wait, what? Invite my friends? I know this sounds crazy, but if I wanted to date my friends, they would not be my friends. And because they are my friends, the last thing I want to do is subject them to this whole thing.

Someone, a manual please. I would do it, but I have absolutely no idea how to navigate this part.

Lessons learned thus far: free apps are for the most part a vehicle for a one-night stand. If it is sex you are after, Tinder is your go to. Bumble is a notch above as far as substance goes, but it’s a tossup. you pay for, so there is a bit more of an indication of potential longevity. But it’s still a tossup.

So how is all of this working out for me? Below are the results thus far:

– One Tinder date: Absolute nightmare. Tinder deleted.
– One Bumble date, not terrible, but not good enough to keep me from continuously landing on that blank. Bumble’s out.
– One date. Success. An actual relationship, but it was short-lived and kind of painful. Not there yet. Deleted.

I told you, not for the faint of heart. Refraining from all things online dating truly seems like the better option at this point. But what is the alternative, joining some sort of social group and finding myself surrounded by millennials? I tried it actually, and then promptly re-downloaded what is proving to be the place I go to receive winks from their aging fathers. Maybe I should just embrace abstinence for a spell.

Okay no, that’s not an option.

So, I’m back in. Clearly the online dating approach isn’t exactly ideal. But this is what we now have to do it seems. And really, has dating ever been easily accessible? I can’t imagine doing this before the online world existed. We would all be confined to our immediate vicinity, having to rely on friends, family members, and neighbors to introduce us to that someone who they are positive would be our soulmates. The only other readily available pool would be our place of employment, which is rarely the optimal setting to explore options. At least this way we can cast our net a bit further. That isn’t such a terrible thing, right? I think it just takes some practice, a good amount of courage, a lot of patience, and a sense of humor.

So hang there. We are in this together. Just start with one app perhaps. And careful with your profile picture selection. You start there and I’ll start working on that manual. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Natalie Brooke Breazeale’s background is diverse, but her passion has always been finding ways to empower women and children. You can join her on her journey by following her blog:

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