adventures in middle-aged internet dating

I'm single.  I have been for several years.
I was really enjoying my single state during those years.  I did what I wanted, when I wanted.  It was pretty glorious.
I've started thinking though, that I would like some companionship too.

Now that I have popped by head up and looked around, I realize I have no idea how one goes about meeting people.
I have friends.  But there's not a pool of potential dates within that friend group.  Or anyone with a secret stash of available friends of friends they have somehow kept from me until now.

How did I used to get dates?
I would start playing a new sport.  Or go to the bar.
I'm middle-aged now.  There is no bar.
I don't think.
Is there one?
God, if there is, someone tell me where it is!

I understood the etiquette of meeting people at bars.
I do not understand this whole internet dating and hooking up thing.
I wish there was a book - How to Internet Date for Middle-Aged Dummies
There is this cheatsheet, but geesh, how old do they think 50 actually is?  This reads more like a 70 year old's guide.  And is not actually helpful.  Gah!

I'm impatient. 
I could join sports teams (for the aged) and go to meet ups and hang out in tasting rooms, hoping there will magically be single folks of the appropriate age just dying to meet me, but I need to feel like I'm taking the situation in hand, not just wishing and hoping.  (Send your thoughts and prayers, please!)
So I joined Bumble.
I heard it was the least cringe-worthy of the dating sites.
Be that as it may, I'm still doing a lot of cringing.

I have been on the site for about two weeks now.
(see earlier comment about impatience)
It took several days before I got my first match.
I was getting ready to delete my profile and give up on the whole endeavour - I mean what's wrong with me?  Why wouldn't everyone be happy to immediately swipe right on me?

So, my first match.  How exciting!  And nerve-wracking because it is my job to initiate contact.
Great, I put on my thinking cap and came up with a witty opening.
Some chatting ensued.  Then I got a "Sounds fun!" comment.
Well that's a conversation stopper.
Oh God.  Or is it code for "I'm just not that into you"???

As I tried to figure out whether I was expected to do anything further with Match #1, the chime rang for Match #2.
Okay, I thought, maybe this internet dating thing isn't totally awful.
Match #2 responded to my witty opener, and then after my follow-up I got another "Sounds fun!"  Uh-oh.
This time I answered it with a question, you know, to see if it was my job to keep the conversation going.
I got deleted for my trouble.
I didn't even know you could do that.  I'm half insulted, half impressed.

Match #4 sent a long response to my witty opener.  Then when I responded, changed his setting to "busy" mode (which I don't even know how to do, so again, I'm half confused and half impressed).
Match #5 didn't even bother to respond to my first message, just went straight to deleting me.
Dammit - I was excited about that one - it sounded like we had tons in common.

I am obviously not playing this game right!
What are the rules?
How can I win?  Winning in this case being interesting enough to keep from being deleted?
This, this is what I need the tips for dummies book for!

I reached out to friends who have ever internet dated.
I got back conflicting advice - apparently it isn't just me who doesn't know the rules or how to win.
Definitely chat a lot first.  Don't chat a lot first, meet up right away.  Don't meet up right away.
Don't go for drinks, make sure it's coffee first.
Definitely go for drinks first.
Make the first move.  Don't make the first move.
Don't go some place you like.  Don't suggest some place you haven't been before.
Say yes to anyone remotely compatible.  Don't waste your time, only say yes to perfect matches.
Be picky.  Don't be too picky.
Don't spend much time on what you say.  Always craft perfect chats.

It's been two weeks. 
I can't imagine how anyone survives this long enough to go on an actual date.  It's hell!

(For anyone who is counting, the missing Match #3 has continued to chat with me.  It is possible we might even meet up IRL.  It is also possible I will win a lottery.)

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