Adult Swimming Classes: Online Dating
BY KUDI NATASHA MARADZIKA
“I always wear sneakers to first dates…Let me explain.”
When I started dating five years ago online dating was reserved for socially inept recluses and single people with hoarding issues. Fast forward to 2018 and its THE thing. I feel like I fell asleep in a world of dial-up internet and woke up in a world with 5G internet. Curious, I ventured this uncharted territory to find out what all the fuss is about.
Online dating is like ordering a body con dress online and not knowing whether you’ll get a dress that makes you look like a Victoria Secret Angel or pieces of rag stitched together by pissed-off underpaid elves. But I tried it anyway. So I downloaded as many apps as I could, uploaded a picture and got to swiping. Ugh…even describing the act of looking at people like they’re virtual meat in a meat shop as ‘swiping’ is kind of gross.
“Let’s be dead honest if we told PEOPLE WHO we really are on the first date we’d all die alone”.
First it was a breeze, ‘this is exactly like shopping I thought!’ then BOOM 💥💥 , a match! (the app even says BOOM, I’m not making up sound effects up for dramatic purposes). Then two! Hello! I’m getting good at this! Now this is where things started getting interesting because whilst you’re ‘shopping’, and clicking through someone’s profile pictures trying to get a picture of what they’re like, they’re doing the exact same thing to you. ‘That’s fair’, I hear you say? But is it?
Let’s be dead honest if we told dates who we really are on the first date we’d all die alone. Or we’d walk hand-in-hand with Ethan Hawke in Vienna and make three indie films about our romantic ramblings. Imagine this introduction: “Hi, I’m Y. I’ve never pay my speeding tickets, I hate my mother and I spend too much time thinking about things that really won’t build me or my future. Oh I’m also really messy and occasionally a jealous psycho who will key your car and burn your clothes if you so much as look at another girl. Nice to meet you!'
Oh I’m also really messy and occasionally a jealous psycho who will key your car and burn your clothes if you so much as look at another girl. Nice to meet you!'
Or, ‘Hi I’m X, I’m so particular about what a woman should look like and how she should act that if a partner steps outside this ideal, I will say anything I have to to make her feel as small as possible so I can control her self-esteem and mould her to my whims. I also have a gambling problem and owe a lot of people money. How about a drink?” Too dark? It’s a jungle out there guys.
Online dating more than any kind of dating, is about the mastered art of deception and trapping someone long enough for them to consider your flaws endearing and your annoying habits and shrug-gable common place offences. Yes, even that unwashed dish in the sink and yes, even that fart you let slip! Surely it can’t all be bad? I know people who've met on Tinder and ended up married. Well, those odds are pretty rare, like Kimberley Diamond rare. The honest truth is that some people get lucky and meet people who are willing to be as honest as they are straight away and other people, well…
They get ghosted, blue-ticked and ignored. They go out of their way to prove they’re worthy of someone else’s attention and in the process forget who they are. They call a date drunk and look unhinged and out of control, when they really just had a bad week and wanted to let loose. They have momentary lapses of judgement and come on too strong or too desperate when they just want to be seen. I’ve been that person as I’m sure you have and I’ve cringed at the aftermath of my own behaviour and thought, ‘this really isn’t me’. Either way ‘putting yourself out there’ means you’re opening yourself to be judged unfairly by a total stranger. So its basically self-inflicted torture.
I’ll tell you my version of the above with three experiences. Over Compensator, Anime Guy and Low Key Alcoholic.
New to the uncharted territory of online dating I downloaded Bumble which is by and large full of less creeps than what I’ve heard and experienced Tinder to be. To be fair saying Tinder is full of ‘creeps’ is like going to Burning Man and complaining about the sand. Fact is you have more luck finding life on other planets than finding love on Tinder. In any case, I started at the top, filtering through and swiping. Statistically what happens on these sites is that for every person you swipe ‘yes’ to you sometimes get a match. This match is calibrated to your preferences, age, interests and even horoscope. Its basically a Venn diagram of romance ,(or STD’s), where like is paired with like. On this particular day the Gods of Bumble laid a bounty upon my laps and I happened to end up chatting to three people.
“I recall walking to the bathroom, looking in the mirror and mouthing the words ‘GET OUT!’ followed by a dramatic Edvard Munch’esque silent scream".”
The first of the people I went on a date with was Mr Over-Compensator. This guy wouldn’t stop talking about himself and his achievements, about how great his job was and about HIMSELF and the Russian classes he was taking. Him, him, him, him, him. I don’t even think he asked me what I did come to think about it. 20 minutes into the date I recall walking to the bathroom, looking in the mirror and mouthing the words ‘GET OUT!’ followed by a dramatic Edvard Munch’esque silent scream. Edvard Munch is the dreary Norwegian guy who painted the stuff of nightmares to your left, (or above you if you’re reading this on your phone), and inspired an emoji that perfectly captures my sentiments on online dating in the process. 😱 😱
Over-Compensator was nice enough though and when he wasn't so caught up in coming across a certain way there was a sliver of what may have been a personality. The date ended and I knew I wouldn’t call him again. He called me though a few times after and each time I had to make-up an excuse to not talk to him. Hope your Russian lessons are going well Over-Compensator!
A message to Anime Guy later in the day was blue-ticked and ignored. The boarded signs were clear. ‘No crazies allowed.’
The second person I went of a date with was Anime Guy. Anime Guy was the kind of arty guy my mother would have judged me for talking to. Tatted up and with no fucks to give, he was a rebel sans cause, (says the girl with a half-shaved head). I guess The IDEA of Anime Guy excited me more than the actual person, so when he implied I was ‘paranoid and insecure’ in a WhatsApp message exchange I should have left it at that, but I didn’t. To be fair I completely misread his tone and incited the verbal vitriol. Did that justify the name-calling though? Nope!
Weeks later I was close to a bar where he works and went to hang out there with friends. The only issue is that we partied a little too hard and clearly over-stayed our welcome. I was like the obnoxious house guest that made everyone stay up late to keep them company. Truth is Anime Guy intimidated me. I knew I couldn’t get away with my usual bullshit and he was too cool for school, so I pre-empted my demise. A message to Anime Guy later in the day was blue-ticked and ignored. The blue boarded signs were clear. ‘No crazies allowed’.
The last of the people was Low-Key-Alcholic. Ever been on a date with a guy who orders a double shot of whiskey as he arrives? I have and I can tell you that it all goes down-hill from here. Low-Key-Alcoholic was a computer programmer who was a great conversationist and we vibed on all things Marvel, tech and geek. Problem is when you’re trying to talk to someone who is slurring and keeps repeating his sentences and all you want to do is not smell alcohol when they talk that’s problematic.
Low-Key-Alcoholic also had the habit of calling me at 2am on weekends asking me to come over or used to FaceTime me mid-week at the most inconvenient times. FaceTime is a sacred tool reserved for close family, friends and people you actually give a fuck about. He had no sense of boundaries and I subsequently stopped responding to him. He sent a text a few days later with a picture of two bottles of champagne and a caption that read ‘champagne for the pain?’ This was on a Monday. His drunk-ass wanted me to skip work to come and drink with him. Guy…we’re not students anymore. Some of us have bills to pay.
What’s really funny in all of this is that all of these people WERE just as anxious, lonely, nervous and hopeful as I WAS.
Problem was we were not great matches because of personality, preference or timing. Over-Compensator needed a Miss Pleaser, someone to listen to his stories and tell him how amazing, smart and talented he was ALL THE TIME. Anime Guy probably preferred a subdued Miss Cool-Calm-Collected not the bold, brazen party gladiator I was on that day. You only get one chance to make a good impression and even though I may have been a low-key Saint it was too late. I also realised there is nothing remotely possible you can do to make someone like you when they aren’t crazy about you. True, unrequited vibes are a bitch, but so is wasting time on the wrong person.
I also totally put Anime Guy on a pedestal. He was a normal guy with lots of emotional baggage of his own that he needed to learn not to leave in other people’s hallways. In any case, a soupçon of self-sabotage with a dash of misplaced passion and a whole lot of bad timing killed that.
Low-Key Alcoholic…well, he needs therapy and a hug. I gave him my therapist’s details and blocked his number. It was really for the best. He was a ticking Kamikaze time bomb waiting to explode and I wasn’t going to stick around for the emotional whiplash, mind-fuck shrapnel and overall shit-show that he was.
What I’ve learnt is that you might as well be yourself in all versions and variations of your crazy, sexy and cool. The people that don’t like me for who I am aren’t really the people I want to date anyway. The people that judge the person I choose to be once in a while as the be-all and end-all of my essence can judge away. Judgement is fear and we’ll both be much happier out of each other’s way.
On the other side of this all is the person that thinks who you are is just fine. This is even with all your variations of OCD, tone-deaf shower singing, occasional binge drinking, shit parking and all types of bonkers.
They’re the keepers.
The ones you’ll wake up next to ten years from now and not want to kill. Or maybe want to kill just a little but then feel bad and tell them you love them. Not to keep the peace, but because you really mean it.
Until then I’ve resolved to stay far away from the online dating scene. It’s a space that seems to bring out the worst in me and in others.