Let the record show that I have been on over one hundred Tinder dates. The vast majority of them happened within one year.
They say that love finds you when you’re least looking for it. I say that love, like death, runs by its own clock. There’s nothing neither you nor I can do to stave or hasten either of them. The best we can hope for is that one doesn’t follow the other without at least a few good innings in between.
When you date by numbers you learn a few things. You learn that as a girl, being ernest for a boy is a cardinal sin. You’re ’emotionally too available’. You stand out by standing down. The oldies, aghast, look at the world of online dating and wonder aloud what happened to the old fashioned dumb-struck refrain: “I like you, wanna go out with me?”
Dumb-struck, I shrug back in response.
Online dating, otherwise known as the sushi train of who’s going to buy Tuesday’s beer, is like buying a first home in this million-dollar property market. After spending all these years building capital to be interesting enough to date, you go to inspection after inspection before one of two things happen: you are priced out of the market you want because you’re not good enough, or you are blindsided by a bid you didn’t see coming before the last gavel sounds and the show is over.
So with other options dried up you keep playing the numbers anyway, lowering your expectations and your standards just to get into the market. You take the stream of advice given to you and you drift further and further from the person you thought you were. Further from the person you wanted to be. You hear the occasional story of people who meet online and sometimes an invitation to their wedding is even on your fridge. Sometimes you hear of people who meet online and buy their first home instead. You went to their housewarming. All the while you find yourself in places you don’t like and in places where you don’t want to be.
I took a break from the numbers game after twice being heartbroken, which followed two more before that. This period was concurrent with coming out of a long term relationship and a career change which failed. I went on the dole. I had suffered a breakdown a year earlier and the subsequent depression was still eighteen months away from lifting. Seeing my GP for pain that I couldn’t afford to treat, she stepped me on the scales. I was clinically obese.
I was interviewing all over the city. My flatmate moved out. It was three weeks to Christmas. I deleted Tinder.
On all fronts I found rejection was of a specific kind “we absolutely loved you but there’s someone better qualified”.
The irony wasn’t lost on me. As my money ran out, I was forced to choose how I wanted to live my life. I saw the three pools of life, love and health and had to decide – keep doing the same thing and admit that theres something so wrong with me that I can’t fix my situation or push through. It was a bit hard thinking how to work upwards from rock bottom when depression is trying to suck you under the water. It takes all your energy to keep your chin up just so that you can breathe. To get back to dry land, or rather, to touch my feet on the dry land of stability for the first time, I needed to cash in my capital.
With the help of my support network, I employed my resourcefulness and my resilience in exchange for courage. I thought I was brave before, leaving my stable six-figure dead-end government job for risky company to get my foot in the door.
I was naive. But that didn’t hold a candle to what I had to do next.
A year on from that period I am no longer depressed. I am no longer obese. I found a dream job leaving my last salary in the dust. I decided that this will be the last company I work for.
I’ve been told my whole life to play the game, but I don’t like its rules. They don’t work for me. So I’m changing them. You learn that when a game is played by the numbers you become a statistic. Thing is, so does everything that you are looking at too. The best thing I ever did was spend my capital on fucking it back.