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Posts tagged ‘finding love’

Tinder: Dating in the New Millenium

Sean and I recently came home to find our baby sitter busy scrolling her Tinder account. Loch was asleep and she was watching a movie on mute while checking out prospects. Having heard of, but never really seen, Tinder I sat down beside her to check it out. An hour later I was STILL there.

Is this is how people date now?! For reals? How old am I? It was completely ridiculous…and totally addictive.

Tinder is an on-line dating app that locates you with GPS then uses your Facebook information to create a profile (nothing about Tinder is posted on Facebook). A Tinder profile is simply your first name, age and “up to” 6 photos of your choice. It also includes any public pages you might have ‘liked’ on Facebook. Tinder then uses an algorithm to find you potential matches and you further narrow the choices by age, distance and appeal.

These days, if you’re single, you’re probably on Tinder. Since I’m not single, and this kind of technology didn’t exist AT ALL when I was dating, I completely missed the boat and, it’s a hell of a party boat!! You can literally “shop” for a person. Our sitter is a doll, with a great sense of humor, and she thought it was a riot to give the old lady her phone and allow her to drive. I learned to “swipe left” on anyone I didn’t think was right for her and press a heart button for those I thought were. I could further “examine” a profile by checking their other photos and short bio and, I could just as quickly discard someone who didn’t make the cut with the touch of an “X”. It took SECONDS for me to judge and decide. “No. No. No. God no. No. Please! Dude, where’s your head?” Even taking the time to look further into someone took less than a minute. You check their pictures – make assumptions based on their aesthetic, background location, clothes and friends – and read their “bio” which seemed to range from the bare minimum – LA<NY<CA or, their height, which apparently is a big thing on Tinder – to cleverly written self-descriptions that offer insight. If you were still intrigued you could “heart” them and their picture was stamped with “Liked” (much like the the post office would stamp a package with “Fragile”) and, if that person also “liked” you, a separate page would appear with the offer to “Send a Message” or “Keep Playing”.

Keep Playing!!! It actually said that. As if the entire thing was a game.

If it was, I was in it to win it.

Our sitter’s the best and she happily sat beside me while I continued to “play”. I became giddy when we (yes we, I was an active participant now) got a match. I was abnormally excited to come up with something clever to say when they messaged her. I was careful to take her personality and likes into account when crafting my response and check before I sent it off but, I know her well so, I think it’d be fair to say, I did a pretty good job of capturing the vibe she was looking to send out. At one point she even said, “Dude, you got him hooked!” and I felt, God help me, proud. You know what’s incredibly attractive? People who are happy, who aren’t really looking, people who don’t feel the pressure of needing anything to lead to anything.

Happily married people can apparently kill on Tinder.

Look, for many reasons I’m glad I’m not single but, it really is a new world out there and, I believe parts of it can be truly fun if you allow them to be. A friend who’s my age recently joined Tinder after a disappointing run with on-line dating and very little help from her married friends. She said the process was horrifying but, it was also kind of awesome to be encouraged to embrace your instantaneous and shallow reaction to people. She said “Tinder teaches you a lot about yourself and your biases”. She told me she realized she was kind of “nameist”. That if the guy was named Io, or Jebbadaiah or, God help her, Five (real name for a real guy who came up shirtless in her pile) she was “swiping left”. I totally get it.

It’s pretty easy to be judgey from the privacy of your own phone. No one gets hurt if your shallow flag flies because no one knows. You either like someone or you don’t and you don’t have to make up a whole song and dance excuse at a bar in order to have them go away. With a flip of your finger they’re just gone. You might go on some bad dates. The guy that turns out to be 4’1″, a grump or, worse, a bully but, that can happen no matter how you meet someone. I went on any number of bad dates as a single person. The guy that did six shots of tequila at a bar before the movie and then proceeded to get into a fight with someone he thought owed him money. The guy who verbally shamed me for over 10 minutes after I ordered a glass of wine because, unbeknownst to me, he had just decided to become sober. The first date who left me sitting alone for 45 minutes in a restaurant without a call, text or apology. Even the waiters wanted me to bail. There are a million jerks out there, how you meet them is kind of irrelevant, you keep trying because one day, the hope is, you’ll finally meet someone good.

Honestly, I found the whole Tinder thing incredibly amusing. I’m sure it can be just devastating if you’re never “matched” with anyone or your dates all turn out to be duds but, without risk, there is no reward. Personally, it made me feel like an incredibly successful matchmaker. I’d look at people’s pictures and say, “Ok, he travels, that’s good” or “He likes animals. That’s important.” Or “Aw, he’s hanging with his niece. You love to do that.”

I picked dudes with tats and piercings because she likes tats and piercings. I chose alternative looking guys I found borderline homeless but, she found hot. I avoided the clean cut guys that appealed to me but were too “boo-jee” for her. Despite being over a decade older, a “married with kids” to her “single, ready to party”, we ultimately had the same goal. We both know she deserves better in the love department. We both want to see her in a solid relationship where she feel good about herself and, just like the friend who’s my age, we both know she’s a terrific girl who deserves a terrific guy. I’m not sure if either of them are going to find him on Tinder but, it seems like a legitimate place to start.

Meeting in a bar, at work, through friends, it seems slow and archaic in today’s busy, busy, go, go, social media is mecca, world. Tinder speaks directly to our culture’s shallowness, our preoccupation with physical attraction and our increasingly limited attention span. It’s a game where the winner gets a date, a hook up, or just personal validation.

Ultimately I had to force myself to stop. It was just too fun. Too addictive. Too tempting.

Single people, I don’t envy your situation but I am slightly jealous of your applications. Permission to flirt without expectation? The ability to follow through only if desired? Picking a date out of a virtual catalogue of potential suitors? I know finding love can be tough, but lighting a flame on Tinder…that’s kinda hot.

xo leigh

ICIG Tinder


A Lesson in Love

Dear Loch,

Love is the most important thing in your life. It is now, when you’re small and dependent on your parents’ love and protection. It will be when you’re grown and find a home in the heart of another, and it will culminate in the love you’ll feel for your future children. But for this the season of cupids and cards, let’s put parental love aside and focus on romantic love which you will experience all varieties – obsession, heartbreak, ambivalence, lust, desire – throughout your life. Ultimately you should look to find yourself an equal, a partner who not only turns your head but fills your soul. Love, at it’s essence is acceptance. If it’s right you should feel supported for who you are and encouraged to become who you want to be. Love is not all passionate getaways and happily ever afters but at it’s heart, it has the ability to bring moments of true magic.

I’ve written about your father before, my love for him, the great blessing of finding such a partner, the struggles of marriage that befall any couple. I’ve spoken about dating and navigating your way through the discovery of love. But in the month of St. Valentine I want you to know that though love will be the most important thing in your life, you can’t make it your sole focus. I pray great love will find you but I want to encourage you to live your life and experience its many joys while you wait for it. Finding the right person is a blessing but before that person arrives there are bound to be some disappointments and it’s best if you are aware enough to handle them.

I can’t prepare you to deal with heartbreak. It’s something you just have to live through. All I can say is there’s life after heartbreak if you don’t let it to ruin you. Heartbreak, though painful, is a good sign. It means you committed. You put yourself out there and in doing so truly allowed yourself the best chance of success. It’s my belief that true love can only be attained from an open and unguarded heart. It’s hideously gut wrenching when it doesn’t work out but it’s better to be unsuccessful because you gave too much than to fail because you couldn’t give enough. People who guard their heart so tightly that they’re unable to truly commit or relax with another are the people I truly feel sorry for. You’ll get over heartbreak but you’ll never find true love if you aren’t willing to experience it.

I’m can’t say for certain if boys and girls experience love the same way. I believe as we age men and women treat and see love in remarkably similar ways but I wonder, as you traverse the path of young love, if I can truly relate to you on your level. In my experience boys always seemed less invested in affairs of the heart. Not to say they weren’t committed or didn’t get hurt just that they seemed to have a stronger ability to disconnect, move on, or play the field. Male dating behavior seemed to involve a lot less crying and certainly less rehashing of minutia details. Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps boys feel everything just as strongly but gender bias forces them into silence. I guess I’ll never really know until perhaps I watch you go through it.

However it plays out I can tell you that when love takes hold it can control your behavior, your feelings, your choices, it can even change the person you become. People don’t start out bitter they get that way. Disappointment in love can cause great misery and if you experience it over and over it’s difficult not to allow past sorrows to dictate your future possibilities. The important thing is to keep the faith. Throughout my life of rather dismal dating experiences I  never lost hope that there was someone out there for me. That hope didn’t prevent my suffering but it allowed me not to get trapped in it. For all the pain, I was never jaded.

Your younger years are full of unrequited love. It’s the way of the world. We all want what we can’t have. High School is tough. Certain people are considered the pinnacle of desire and others their pale comparison. You could navigate these waters without a hitch or struggle to keep up. The key is not to let it define you. Whether you’re the BMOC or the awkward guy trying to find his place, everything is fluid. Everything changes. Have confidence that becoming the best version of you will attract the right people for you. Don’t change to fit in. Don’t conform. Don’t become someone your not. Never do things you aren’t comfortable with to make someone love you. The greatest relationships I saw as a young person were not between the “coolest” people but the people who were coolest with themselves.

My lack of teen dating success can be boiled down to fear. I set my sights too high on older boys, or boys who only loved the beauties, and more often than not I allowed the opinions of others to dictate my choices. There were boys I could have gone out with, nice boys, boys I liked, but they couldn’t live up to the people I’d put on a pedestal or else my friend’s didn’t approve. Either way, I didn’t have a boyfriend till I was nineteen and the only person I have to blame for that is myself.

juliet's balcony and statue in

juliet’s balcony and statue in Verona.

I wrote a boy’s name on the walls of Juliet’s house in Verona one summer when I was backpacking through Italy. I made it small and subtle and kissed the spot it was written. In those days I dreamed of love but I’d yet to experience it. I fantasized about boys who didn’t care about me and spent my time making out with boys I didn’t care about. I aspired to great love but settled for trivial attachments.

By University I was able to value myself more and compare myself less. I dated a lot, had a series of mediocre, short lived romances and one serious relationship that introduced me, for better or worse, to capital L, Love. I lost myself in that relationship and it wasn’t till it was over that I was able to pull myself out from under it. Loving someone can be the most powerful thing you do but it can break you and you have to be strong enough not to let it. You have to know who you are and have a clear enough sense of self worth that even if you lose yourself in a relationship for a while, you can walk away knowing you’ll never do it again. Problems start, not when you make mistakes, but when you repeat them.

Even the things that appear to be perfect can surprise you. I have a darling friend who had the most grown up, open, respectful relationship in High School. They were so well suited to each other, so in love, so devoted that no one questioned them ever breaking up.  They made plans for the future and stayed together as we all went off to University. When he ended their five year relationship over the phone because he’d met someone else she was completely blindsided. Sadly, this happens. We change so much as we grow that ideal relationships from one phase of our life may not work in another. This happens with location as much as it does with time. You meet someone at camp or on vacation and it’s perfect, you try and make it work when you get home and it fails. The saddest thing about my friend is I think she believes she had her shot at great love and lost it. She’s never been as sure of herself, her gifts and talents as she was when we were kids. She’s never asked as much from a man again and, in a disturbingly self fulfilling way, no man since has been worthy of her. It breaks my heart she’s still alone. She’s so deserving of love. Life is hard but it’s so much harder by yourself.

When I was in my mid-twenties a boy who’d always been pleasantly dismissive in my teens, looked at me across a pool and said, “I should have been nicer to you in High School”. It might have been a kind and aware thing to say – a young man suddenly realizing how superior he and his friends had been to all but a few of us – but what was really happening is he was hitting on me. He was saying, “Hey, you turned out way hotter than I thought you would and I should have laid some groundwork when I was younger because I don’t have as much of a chance now.” He wasn’t wrong.

Ironically, a lot of the boys I’d pined for seemed to return as I got older. It was as if they’d always been interested in me the person, but now that I looked differently they could commit to being interested in me the girl. Keeping this in mind, never judge potential partners on too narrow a list of requirements and try not to idolize. You can’t fight chemistry, you’re either attracted to someone or you’re not, but make sure you like the person inside the package. You’re convinced someone’s perfect for you? Make sure your perception matches the reality. Love a person not the ideal and understand people can grow in relationships, improve or degrade depending on the love, but ultimately you can’t change someone. We can be better versions of ourselves -clean up, learn new skills, get better looking – but at the end of the day we are who we are and deserve to be loved for that person first.

You shouldn’t have to second guess love. I was never totally at ease with anyone before your Dad. I knew I only had a tenuous hold on most of them, they were only partially committed to me and no matter how much I cared it was never going to be right. When I met your Dad, I knew immediately. I always say, I could have told you I’d marry him on our first date, but if I was being truly honest, I think I knew the first time we made eye contact. There was something about that moment – a recognition, a stillness and I never questioned it. I may have a million terrible dating stories but I never doubted I deserved love or could make someone truly happy. I knew I was worthy of someone who would meet me at my level. Getting to know your Dad was like coming home and everything that came before had lead me there. I didn’t need to lower my standards or expect less. I didn’t have to pretend or settle. When we got engaged I knew in my heart it was the right decision and it took everything that came before to prepare me to recognize that.

Love to the fullest. Don’t guard yourself or hold back thinking it’s safe. You will experience hurt but it’s part of the journey. Things have a way of working themselves out.

Believe in love. Have faith in love. Respect love and in the end it will respect you.

Happy Valentines.

Love forever,

Your Mommy xo

The path to true love is never smooth.

The path to true love is never smooth.