[True Story] Out of My League: Getting back into the dating game
“Back in Autumn 2017, I split up with my ex-boyfriend of 7 years. Nothing dramatic about it. I just fell out of love. My mates jokingly called me ‘The Ice Queen’ because I wasn’t upset at all and I knew I was ready to find love again, I just had to meet someone suitable.
I was 18 when I got into that relationship so finding myself single again having spent the whole of my early twenties in a relationship was daunting to say the least. Was I a catch? What was my type? How do you meet people? What is Tinder??? When I got into that relationship Tinder didn’t even exist! But eventually, I bit the bullet and downloaded a couple of dating apps.
At first I found it so scary swiping people. Every face I looked at I thought about their feelings, about their friends and family who loved them… I didn’t dare swipe anyone away but then had to deal with the messages from people I wasn’t even interested in. School boy error to say the least.
Then came my first date (my first ever first date in my whole life by the way, all my exes had been friends). There was zero chemistry, zero dating etiquette from his side and the night was topped off when he tried to kiss me when saying goodbye, which I had to obviously swerve.
Even though it was a disaster I still had really enjoyed myself. I felt like I’d nailed it. I knew he was into me and it was like passing your driving test the first time – all that worrying for nothing and I came out alright.
After that date, which I had been incredibly nervous about, I realised this whole dating malarkey wasn’t so bad.
The next few months I went on loads of dates. And I mean loads. I even went on two dates in one day! I gained so much confidence in this time and it almost felt like I was getting to know more about myself than the other person at times.
Being in those scenarios you get asked questions that you just don’t get asked in long term relationships and you have to dig those answers out and think about your own feelings. I found this whole period pretty cathartic to be honest. It was like I was dating and getting to know myself again.
But there was a problem and there was a pattern that happened every time. It went; I dated a guy, vaguely liked him so gave him a shot, he started to like me and then a few dates in I got the ick and I realised I didn’t fancy him at all. I had this issue every. single. time. It was starting to get a bit tedious. I was constantly having to break it to men that I no longer wanted to date them. And karma got me back. Soon I was ‘ghosted’ by a guy I was starting to like and a guy I’d never met but seemingly had loads in common with from conversations just disappeared off the face of the earth (or my phone screen).
When things like that happen it really knocks your confidence. I started to see patterns around when boys stopped talking to me; if I mentioned football for example (girls aren’t allowed to like football apparently). I changed tactics and started filtering what I was saying to people and chose my words carefully, proof reading every comment.
I almost became obsessed with being who I thought the other person would want me to be. In the end, not being myself took its toll and it really started to get me down.
Fast forward to NYE 2017. I was in London with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I had plenty to catch up with them and in the end one of them just turned round to me and said “I think you need to come off these apps, it’s not doing you any good.” And she was right.
I was tired of the emotional fatigue that came with dating.
So far my stories had only ever ended with me being let down or me having to let someone else down…and neither feelings were nice. Some of the boys I dated had ended up falling for me hard and taking on that burden of hurting others again and again was not something I was used to.
So deal done. New Year’s Resolution. I was deleting Tinder on 1st January 2018.
The next day (New Year’s Day), I was at a family gathering and my Nan (believe it or not) had requested to look at “the list of men on my phone” aka Tinder. She bloody loved a good swipe.
After I let her have my phone, the temptation to have a quick nosey was too real and I went on there myself for one final farewell swipe. Don’t ask me why, but I didn’t end up deleting the app…(thank god).
The next day I got a message through. It was a sweet message and it took me by surprise. Knowing full well I was meant to be deleting the app I thought “sod it” and messaged this particular guy back.
I knew I was breaking my New Year’s resolution (only a few days into the new year) so to not completely do wrong by myself, I knew I had to have a different approach with this one.
This time I was completely and honestly myself. I would even go as far as saying I was being cockily and overtly myself, throwing every aspect of my personality into his face.
I was taking this new opportunity as my last chance at finding love before deleting the app and I knew I had to just dive in warts and all. I even threw in some of my worse jokes to test if he had the same sense of humour, which he did.
We spoke non-stop that whole week and it was almost too good to be true. In the end I took the plunge and asked him on a date. But again, I knew I had to get it right. This time I did things differently. I was going to a local football teams match that weekend so I just invited him to that; fuck all those guys who seemed weirded out by me liking football. If he didn’t like that suggestion, he was not the right man for me.
Fortunately (and probably a little bit crazily) he agreed to drive the two hours to meet me. It was the first time ever that I wasn’t nervous for a date. I was so chilled out because I put zero pressure on the situation. He seemed to like me exactly the way I was. I even answered the door to him with only half of my hair curled and I finished it off in front of him!
The date was amazing. We went to a non-league football game in Derbyshire, drank ale, went out for an Italian and did shots of coffee patron and it was the most “me” date you could have ever invented but he totally bought into it and totally bought into me and guess what? We have been together ever since.
So I finally figured out the trick to this dating game; be true to yourself. Who’d have thought it, eh?
There are three key morals to my story:
#1 Don’t be snobby about dating apps! I would have never met my boyfriend if it wasn’t for Tinder and even if I had, no chance I’d have had the confidence to approach him (definitely punching and proud!)
#2 Never, ever, ever settle. I dated about 8 guys before meeting my now-boyfriend and I could have very easily ended up in a relationship with every single one of them if I hadn’t been brave enough to call it off. I would have been settling for a bland, flat-lining relationship where, to be quite frank, I just didn’t fancy that person and it would have failed years down the line just like my previous one.
The only guy I ever dated that I wanted to pounce on from the off was my now-boyfriend and dating has taught me that attraction IS just as important as liking someone’s personality. I’m never settling for less again.
#3 The most important learning of all, as cringe and overused as it is, is to just be yourself. I could not stress enough to anyone single and looking for love that you need to be able to be your weirdest and your worst in front of your partner and if they come out the other side still in love with you, that’s when you know you’ve met the one. Figure out who you are and what makes you happy before you rely on someone else to do that for you – your happiness and comfort should be theirs too. ”
Do you have a dating story you’d like to share? We’re looking for real and relatable dating stories – whether it’s funny, a lesson learned or just plain weird! The purpose of the Quit Dating Idiots blog is to connect women on their dating journey and give each other a much needed dose of hope and inspiration. Send your story in here.