The right Tinder date can make online dalliances just a little more tolerable
By: “A Tinder Match Deferred”
This past weekend, I slept with a guy after the technical first date. With my almost two-year, non-voluntary celibacy following a rough, long-term breakup, to say this was unexpected is an understatement. The only thing is, I had known the guy for over six months.
Way back before COVID-19 and the world ending, I liked to browse on a little app called Tinder. I never expected much out of these meaningless right swipes; they normally resulted in a short exchange of dialogue with me ghosting the guy after a few messages out of boredom. I had never actually gone on a date or met anyone I matched with and frankly had no hope in ever doing so. I felt the same way about this boy — who won’t be named — but our conversation didn’t get boring and evolved to the point of us maintaining a snap streak and talking every day throughout the summer quarantine months. We never planned to meet, since I was in middle-of-nowhere central Virginia and he was a NOVA kid, not to mention that little pesky pandemic that’s happening. I had truly accepted this wasn’t going anywhere — we both returned to campus without mentioning an actual meeting for over two weeks. I should also note: he doesn’t go to the College of William and Mary so the fear of an accidental meeting was an irrelevant issue.
But one Sunday night, while I was lying in bed, my phone lit up with that magical sign of a notification from Snapchat. Unable to resist my millennial urge to check it, I opened the app to a message inviting me to dinner sometime that week. I panicked.
I had given up the hope of actually ever meeting this person and now I was faced with the inevitable doom of the illusion of him I had built in my mind being ruined by reality. Even with the fear of being disappointed by reality, I accepted and had all week to stress over the Friday night date. My brain struggled to focus on anything except this meeting; I felt distracted and nervous. My anxiety was through the roof.
For context, I had never really been on a real date in my life. All of my previous relationships were the byproduct of a friendship turning into something more and never the result of a “normal” dating situation. Not to mention, prior to this I had taken a two-year break from romance after the end of an emotionally abusive, on-and-off five-year relationship that almost ended in me being engaged — though thankfully, I dodged that bullet. I was scared of rejection, I was scared of not living up to who I projected myself to be over Snapchat and I was scared he wouldn’t live up to my expectations either. I didn’t know where I stood with him either; when we originally matched on Tinder, we both were just looking for hookups. But after a long, lonely six months, I wasn’t in that state anymore, I wanted more and wasn’t sure what he wanted. Taking all my nerves and throwing them into my purse, I drove out to meet him in Newport News. After a dinner that went better than expected, we headed back to his place. My nerves were growing, but initially we just sat and played Mario Kart with his roommate and his roommate’s girlfriend. Unfortunately, however, it didn’t last long enough to satiate my nervousness, and next thing I knew, I was awkwardly standing in the middle of his bedroom, fidgeting with my rings and crossing my feet over one another periodically to keep my growing anxiety at bay. I wasn’t ready to make out with him and wasn’t sure if I would be at any point that night. Ready to flee out the door, I was stunned when he handed me some sweats and offered to watch John Mulaney. I think he could sense my unease and was simply trying to make me more comfortable; I honestly didn’t expect him to be so nice about my nerves. The last time I was in a bed with a guy, I was being sexually coerced by my ex, so to say this was a nice change of pace is an understatement. We cuddled for an hour or so, he played with my hair and occasionally kissed my forehead, and for the first time in a very long time, I felt safe with a guy. He didn’t pressure me or push me and waited until I initiated the sex that occurred later in the evening.
In all my relationships, I’ve always felt controlled by the guy I was with; we did things when they wanted to do things and I just got used to it. While the sex was awkward at first while we figured out what we both liked and disliked, he was responsive and respectful to all my decisions and stopped whenever I was overwhelmed or out of breath. How crazy is it that one of the best sexual encounters in my life came from someone I had only known virtually for a few months? If I have to thank COVID-19 for one thing this year, it might be this.
“A Tinder Match Deferred” encourages you to take as much time needed after a breakup. Everyone moves on differently, but when you think you’re ready to try again: move forward, you never know what you’ll find.