Picture an 18-year-old with little to no experience in love or relationships falling deeply and madly for a guy.
The same person who at 15 said she’d never have a serious relationship till she had her life sorted and in the meantime she would just live and experience as much as possible.
Five years later knee-deep into a full-time, full on relationship, which turned more into a marriage, the memory of all those things she planned to live and experience were long forgotten.
Flirting a distant memory, if at 18 you’re even any good at flirting anyway, not even the thought of another guy crossing her mind.
Till it ended.
Now imagine that same person trying to re-enter the dating game. After five years which saw the rise of all kinds of dating apps.
I felt 15 again. And not in a good way.
How does one exactly enter the game again and how much has said game changed in five years?
I was determined to find out.
So at the old age of 23, hoping to make the most of my last few good years of youth and beauty, I downloaded Tinder – and boy, wasn’t it an experience.
Let’s begin with saying not only I had never used Tinder, I had literally never seen any part of the app either.
I’ll leave you to imagine how many times I swiped wrong the first week on it. So many hot guys lost forever, and so many deceived by my lack of dating expertise.
Being still in my Mediterranean look phase, my first period on Tinder was not proving fruitful. I just did not find many attractive offers, so obviously, sticking to my true self, my first Tinder date was an Italian guy living in the UK.
Yes, I know, I never learn. I don’t know what made me think it could have ever worked out if I tried my whole life with Italian guys and it never happened.
Baring in mind I was not looking for the man of my life, coming back from the toilet to see briefly he was on Tinder while on the date was still a bit too much.
At some point during my first few months single, say it’s because I lost any hope, or say it’s because I was surrounded by them, I walked out of my Mediterranean look phase to enter my pale, British guy one.
Plenty of swipes later I had another date set, a few days before the Christmas holidays and my flight back to Italy.
The guy was absolutely lovely. A true gentleman who had a genuine interest in me and the date was absolutely a success. I was thrilled.
The real problem is that I did not take into account there was no chance in hell I was ready to enter another relationship anytime soon and he most clearly wanted that.
Two UK dates under the bridge, I had to go back to Italy and let me tell you, the game does change from country to country.
Tinder in Italy is an experience worth noting.
No matter how many times you swipe, no matter how many hours you spend on there, you will always find the same guy. Or what you think is the same guy.
Insert here an olive skinned, bearded, brunette guy, wearing a light coloured shirt in a photo and on a sandy beach shirtless in the next.
I tried, I did try my best to make the most of tinder while I was back home, but the results were terrible.
First date I set, I had to cancel because something came up and let’s just say he did not take it well. “Bitch” was probably his favourite word to use. Thanks mate. Next.
Second one wasn’t from Rome, but lived there for work. Spent the day saying how much he dislikes the city. And by all means, we are all entitled to our opinions, but I am from there pal, you’re really not making a good first impression.
In the meantime my friends started praising my new-found freedom, telling me I sounded like a high school girl living her best life. I felt like a 40-year-old divorcee, too old to be still playing games but still wanting to try to get her life together again.
Many other brilliant encounters later, many months into my single life, I realised that as much as I was enjoying the banter and the excitement of first dates, I wasn’t bothered enough to actually look for someone and that I probably just needed to feel like I had the chance if I wanted to, that I hadn’t lost it in the previous five years.
Truth is I was scared as hell when I came out of that long relationship. You get used to having someone and you don’t even worry about being liked or liking someone. There is no drama about that in a relationship – plenty about other things, but still. You kinda start thinking you have no sex appeal or no game whatsoever anymore and the thought you have to check if that’s the case is frightening.
Dating is not one game you can lose though, but you do need two good players before it’s actually any decent.
I probably wasn’t one because I had not realised I was just looking for personal reassurance I could still do it. Some of my tinder dates were great players, some other weren’t.
My point is that I wasn’t scared to just go and figure it out.
Ending a relationship can be scary, but I think it’s all about how scary you make it for yourself. Taking a leap of faith and just throwing yourself out there, regarding all kinds of missed experiences, is doable and even if it doesn’t end well, you will learn loads from it.
Go dancing, go on thousands of first dates, get drunk, or go for brunch dates with your girlfriends, or traveling solo somewhere far. Life doesn’t end when a relationship does, if anything it starts again.
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