OK, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh wow an article about online dating, you’ve really tapped a brand new journalistic zeitgeist here, Carrie Bradshaw.” I get it, it’s overdone. But hear me out.
Stating that in the digital age of modern dating it’s now 100 times easier to find love, a hook-up or something in-between through a swipe rather than dropping a cheesy line at a singles bar is about as futile as saying that The Vice Guide to Eating Pussy was written by an intern who had also never gone down on a woman before.
But I’m not a first year media student penning a blog piece about how she tried Tinder for the first time and went on a date with what turned out to be a Reddit-addicted fedora model; nor am I some guy talking about he and his girlfriend going on Feeld searching for a unicorn to join them in a threesome and it actually working (although, just saying, it does).
No: I’m an expert on this shit. I’m the LeBron James of online dating. Six years; five different dating apps; 250 plus first dates over three continents; hundreds of pashes; dozens of one night stands; dozens of wasted evenings; five interstate trips to meet strangers; three former dates that are now married with children; 23 short-term relationships; 16 life-long friendships; two long-term relationships; countless “I’m over this shit” deletions and “goddamn I guess I’m not” re-downloads.
And perhaps most surprisingly: zero cold sores.
Alongside all of this have come thousands of anecdotes. I’ve dated opera singers and I’ve dated strippers; for my very first Tinder date I met up with two women at once; and I’ve allowed a woman I had never met and had no mutual friends with from Happn to live in my apartment for a month (with her cat, and her taxidermied late cat), to name a few.
I’ve made some questionable decisions. I need an outlet, so I’m using this article like an AA meeting. I’m an online dating-o-holic – and I’ve seen and experienced some soul/humanity crushing lows – these are my stories (I’m not mentioning any of the good/uplifting ones because, well, boring).
Date Number One: Melissa*
I learnt two things from my date with Melissa. Number one: It’s a terrible idea to meet up with anyone who suggests doing so in their opening message and to do so that very day. Number two: Christmas Eve is not the right time of year to go on a first-date.
Melissa and I matched on Tinder, and she immediately asked me if I had plans that evening. I didn’t, and I was new and naive to the app, so I went along with her proposal. We made plans to get a drink, because only psychopaths go on a first date that doesn’t feature anything alcoholic.
We met up later that evening at an underground bar (literally underground, not as in an “Oh you’ve probably haven’t heard of it, I’m so much better than you” way). Alarm bells rang within 30 seconds of conversation: “I’ve just moved here from America – I really miss having easy access to guns. I just want to shoot all of the possums in the city! I bet I could make a really nice jacket with their fur.”
I immediately shifted the conversation to her line of work. She told me she was a barista at a suburban cafe.
“Sometimes I just want to sneak some acid into their coffee. I might even slip some into your beer tonight!”
I went silent before she laughed and reassured me that she didn’t have any on her – very comforting. When changing lanes again to ask about her Christmas plans, she replied in excitement with how she was looking forward to seeing her cousin – because she found him incredibly sexy.
We’re 20 minutes into our date and our conversation has covered drink-spiking and incest. Where could it go next?
“So – how down to fuck are you?”
Melissa was not messing around. She pointed towards the unisex bathrooms: “I’ll go in first; you come in two minutes later.”
She didn’t wait for a response – getting up, winking devilishly and entering the cubicle. I’m not proud of what I did next, but I did what any man would do in that situation – I fucking dashed up the stairs and jumped in the first cab home.
Date number two: Courtney*
Fifteen years my senior, Courtney had just turned 40 when we came across each other on Bumble. Following casual banter and after I had come to the conclusion she did not want to skin animals or sleep with her cousin, I asked her out.
Two gins deep and following light discussions of politics, art and music, out of nowhere the conversation turned – she asked me if I wanted to see a risqué video of her. Sure, why not? She proceeded to flip through her iPhone and then held her screen up to my face, to show a very amateur recording of her having sex with five men, all of which were strangers – she had organised the gang-bang via Feeld as a birthday present to herself for entering a new decade in her life.
I want to make it very clear that a woman showing that she was enjoying her sexuality in this (or any) matter was not the awful part of this date. Sure, it took me off-guard – but what followed is the reason this evening makes the list.
We continued drinking for another hour or so, predominately discussing our own sexual exploits, before I invited her to my apartment. Flash-forward eight hours and several rounds of coitus later, her phone vibrates, and she tells me she needs to leave. As she re-dressed, believing the evening had been enjoyable; I asked when she’d like to meet for a round two.
“Oh, I probably can’t ever see you again,” she responded with a laugh. “I can’t imagine my husband would be thrilled to know I was sleeping around.”
I logged into Bumble an hour later and found that she had deleted our match. Becoming an accomplice to a serial adulterer was not on my bucket list. But, oh well, at least I didn’t have to pay for an Ashley Madison/Cougar Life membership, I guess?
Date number three: Sarah*
Before you read on – this is hands-down the most fucked up thing that has ever happened to me. You’ve been warned.
Sarah and I had been chatting on OKCupid for about a week. She had an immaculate knowledge of the literary world, was deviously droll, and had unnervingly similar physical features to my ex-girlfriend. When we met up – the chemistry seemed incredible, which made the following events all the more worrisome.
After three hours had flown by, she suggested grabbing some wine and returning to hers. It took all but five minutes after arriving at her apartment before we began having sex. Some of, which to this day, I still believe was some of the best of my life. Twenty minutes in and she altered the soundtrack from light jazz to throbbing techno; she put on some of her favourite BDSM porn in the background and poured the bottle of red over her chest and demanded I lap it off while she took a hit of amyl and then slapped me in the face.
Things had escalated quickly – but it wasn’t until the next act that I realised I had made a mistake. She then asked me to use a dildo on her, and I obliged: it was retrieved from the side of the bed and handed to me. I was a little perplexed. It was a peculiar, grey colour with shimmering speckles.
I stared. My expression turned into a grimace. I asked – and she told me.
It was filled with her sister’s ashes.
*Names have been changed because I’m not an idiot and don’t want to get sued. All of the above is true, and if you believe that last story is fake then Google ‘dildo ashes’ – it’s a (literal) fucking thing. And no, I definitely did not go through with it.