I can explain how this all started.
Me: “Ugh. I used to be fun, lighthearted…now I’m so serious all of the time.”
Todd the Therapist: “I want you to practice levity. Loosen up more. Pretend that your life is a sitcom.”
I didn’t know how to pursue this until the next day when, under the influence of a Chrissy Teigen-inspired brunch, my girlfriends told me to create a Bumble account. Frankly, dating has always been a source of stress for me so I haven’t done much of it lately. At the ladies’ brunch I realized that a dating app could normalize the process for me and, hopefully, help me move past my fears.
I consider my decision to mingle in the beehive an act of bravery, and courage always pays off: two months of Bumble dates have proven more fun and interesting than I had ever imagined.
I love first impressions so, in my opinion, first dates are fun. They are a social experiment, a challenge to win someone over. How well can I put my best foot forward? How will he react when I say this ridiculous joke? How long will it take for him to realize I am out of his league? (That’s something a person on a sitcom would say, right?)
Some dates have been good. Others have been…different.
My first date and I made it to round two, but the second date was a 180-degree turn from the first. His ratio of talking about himself to asking me questions was 4:1. Not good. Stories of “getting hammered” during undergrad were neither interesting nor redeeming. The night was a flop. I’m not sure he knew that, though, because he sent me snapchats of his dog for the next two weeks.
One date and I discussed our favorite sources of news. I prefer the BBC and he prefers the Atlantic. We playfully debated on whether or not Trump could be impeached and the benefits of New Zealand’s gun control system. I rather enjoyed myself, but he was out with me because his dad is in the ICU and his sisters told him he needs a distraction. If you know me at all, you know that I am incapable of making small talk if there is a meaningful subject to discuss.
I assessed his dad’s cardiac health history and his experience at the Meijer Heart Center. How are the nurses? How is your family dealing with this? What’s your relationship with your dad like? I may have crossed a line. It is safe to conclude that if this man needs a distraction, I am the worst person for him to date.
The most recent date was genuine and kind. We grabbed coffee from Madcap and meandered around the city. I was looking forward to this date because he is a former Peace Corps volunteer. I thought, finally! We can connect on similar passions and experiences. Unfortunately, despite my attempts to steer the conversation toward foreign affairs, our evening was sprinkled with polite laughter and talk of work schedules.
My diverse experiences make me want to write “date reviews” with ratings from one to five stars. I could provide and receive helpful insights that wouldn’t be too personal:
✩ well-meaning but he drops the F-bomb all the f***in time, er–oops! He rubbed off on me!
✩✩✩✩ he planned a great date!
✩✩ uses snapchat as primary means of communication
✩✩ laughs at her own jokes but she’s not actually funny
✩✩✩✩ his profile was an accurate representation of himself–no unwanted surprises
✩✩✩✩✩ OMG LET’S GET MARRIED, LIKE, NOW
I think reviews would be helpful for everyone. They could tell us where we went wrong and how to improve in the future. But that could complicate things, too, and at the end of the day some people just want to move onto the next profile.
Overall, my review of Bumble is positive. I am now comfortable telling people I’m not interested and, conversely, I don’t succumb to insecurity when a guy doesn’t want to go out with me again. This is a huge change from a few years ago. Cheers to you, dating apps! However, my dating insights don’t come from Bumble alone.
I recently watched Howards End (2017), a television series based on the book by E.M. Forster. Margaret, the likeable protagonist in her late twenties, accepts a marriage proposal from a man who is much older and recently widowed. Her younger sister, with whom she has a close relationship, abhors her decision. The scene is tense. But Margaret, instead of acting defensively, provides compelling reasons to justify her decision:
“I don’t intend to correct him or to reform him. Only connect. That is the whole of my sermon. I have not undertaken to fashion a husband to suit myself using Henry’s soul as raw materials.”
Margaret’s wisdom reminds me to focus on the big picture and the most important aspects of a potential relationship. I shouldn’t ponder how to change him from day one. Does any man want to be a woman’s project? I certainly hope not.
Connection is what Margaret seeks. And that’s what I seek too, although I am guilty of being overly picky. Prioritize the essential matters: can we connect on topics that are important to us both? Could we share a future trajectory? Is there natural dialogue about beliefs, lifestyle, vulnerability? When I find the person with whom conversation is not a chore, I will gladly schedule our next outing. So far that hasn’t happened on dates one or two.
At this point if I make it to date number three, I’m lovestruck.
Bumble Measures of Success:
Attractive + Connection = WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN
Attractive + No Connection = Win
Unattractive + Connection = Win
Unattractive + No Connection = Lose
According to this chart you have a 75% chance of success!