Bumble: the Sitcom

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.”

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!

xx Kayla

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I Would Never Do That

“Alright, it’s time!”

No. I close my eyes, pretending to sleep.

“Come on, Kayla, you have to come.” My co-worker, Kim, bounces eagerly, her shoes spitting sand on my face. She knows I’m awake.

I sit up, arms crossed with tension. “If you pressure me then I definitely won’t go. I have to decide on my own terms.”

“Ok, then, just come along and we’ll just…look.”

Kim, my roommate Christina, and I ascend the jagged rock behind my little brother, Jaron, who is leading the way. My skin has already transformed into a bizarre looking layer of bumpy raw chicken. “Guys,” I try one last time. “I’m already freezing cold and I’m DRY right now. I don’t want to jump in the water…” They ignore my dramatic monologue and we continue climbing.

The sun’s warmth is the day’s only redeeming factor. Unfortunately, the trek to the designated point is completely shaded, and the physical discomfort I feel intensifies the emotional dread I’m battling. My eyes widen in awe as we approach the cliff. I can’t move my gaze from the majestic beauty of Michigan’s Pictured Rocks lakeshore. The water is aquamarine and as clear as a glass of water. Powerful swells of Lake Superior assault the rocky peninsula beneath our feet. I shiver.

Jaron stands near the edge, pauses momentarily, and then jumps. I count at least three full seconds before I hear a splash. A moment later he emerges over 40 feet below, grinning at us from icy waters. He sports a stupid grin across his face, waving frantically for a follower. “Come on! IT’S AWESOME!”

Kim and Christina look at Jaron, glance at the shore, and then at each other. It’s clear they’re less concerned about the jump itself and more worried about the hazardous swim to safety. All I can think is that my little brother currently has one up on me.

I walk briskly to the edge, realizing that I don’t actually have a choice. My competitive nature and thirst for adventure win out. Behind me the girls are talking to each other, shocked that I’m even considering the plunge.

I blink. My mind and feet betray me. I jump. Behind me Kim is yelling, “STAY STRAIGHT,” but there’s only one thought on my mind that I can actually vocalize: “Shhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt!!!!!”

Three seconds later someone punches me in the face. Or did I just transform into a sock inside of a washing machine? Hard to say. I try to swim as waves argue with each other, pushing and pulling me in opposite directions. I sputter toward the surface.

Little relief comes after I inhale fresh air. I’m certain an old, fat woman is churning these waters around me, cackling, while I (a small particle of cream) fight desperately to remain afloat. I’m mostly upset that my boobs, which represent 90% of my body fat, aren’t helping me AT ALL. Good for nothin’. I guess I’ll have to use my arms and legs. 

The journey back to shore is both treacherous and tiring. Thankfully, my brother is a strong enough swimmer to support himself and act as my personal lifeguard. I love him for it–but let’s be real: I would’ve loved (even more) to receive first aid and mouth-to-mouth from a shirtless and muscled Coast Guard rescuer. Maybe next time. Right now all I want is food, warmth, and bed.

Several hours later, thanks to northern pasties and subpar coffee, I am thawed from the inside out. The four of us depart the flannel-filled establishment in search of a nearby campsite. No luck. Instead, we decide to make use of our time and drive to St. Ignace, which is over two hours away.

Jaron is navigating us through the darkened world. I peek at the stars, thankful to retreat to reflection. I can’t help but relish the delight of my cliff jump. Yes, it sucked, but I’m so glad I did it. I laugh, thinking of how I initially resisted the idea. Why was I so opposed? More importantly, what inside of me changed at the cliff’s edge? Why did I do it?

I suppose I was opposed because I didn’t consider that other factors (such as competition and adrenaline) would outweigh my fears. I realized at the moment, watching my brother below, that I could handle twenty minutes of bone chilling cold to achieve the satisfaction of a new experience. But those are influences I never considered until I was at the point of decision.

I’m starting to think that this happens more often than I realize. I ponder an opportunity or path and conclude, I would never do that. Or more often, I could never do that. When I finally come to the moment of decision, BAM. I’ve decided to do exactly what I had previously deemed improbable. 

I remember feeling deeply discouraged when I received my midterm grade during my first year of nursing school. Just before that term had started I told my parents that I was going to quit nursing school and move abroad to work with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). They laughed and responded, “no” (I wasn’t laughing). I began my pediatric rotation and suffered through the courses, receiving my worst grade in all of nursing school that term. What did I tell myself, looking at my scores? It doesn’t matter. I would never work with kids anyway.

Three years later I applied for a job at a children’s hospital. When the HR representative called me and offered the position, I still had hesitations even though I had sought them out. I was confused because I had always told myself I would never… But guess what: I did, and I’m so glad I did. 

A few years ago I considered (for a hot second) making a commitment to being single, but the thought actually made me nauseous. Several friends did this during college and all reported good things, saying they pursued healthy friendships, learned about themselves, and invested time in their faith. I, however, abhorred the idea of relinquishing control. I could never do that. What if I meet an awesome guy? Woof. So I said no and concluded I never would. 

Late this summer I sat at Reeds Lake, feeling an unusual craving, almost a burden, to pursue romance. I’ve been single for the last year and a half so this newfound pressure felt unnecessary. Deep down I knew that I didn’t want to start anything before moving to Africa in November. I also don’t want to pour my energy into a relationship while I’m working with Mercy Ships. Frankly, the timing just seemed right and I felt peaceful about it. So I’ve decided that I’ll stay single until I return from my worldwide endeavors–and this time around I haven’t felt nauseous.

Cheers to saying you’ll never do something and then doing it!

   

    
   
 
[yes, I did wear the same outfit for four days. You can see the photos were taken on different days by subtle changes in headband positioning.]