When you meet your Tinder date for the first time, you’ll feel all sorts of things. You’re excited and nervous. You’re finally putting yourself out there. So, you cross your fingers hoping everything goes well.
But like most firsts, it’ll (usually) never turn out the way you want it to be.
I was three swipes away from deleting Tinder when I met Hilmi. He was a sweet, friendly, thirty-something accountant with a boyish smile, and above all, ambitious. He also had three cats that looked like feather dusters. So cute.
What brought us closer was our relationship history. Hilmi and I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship which ended when our partners cheated on us. It took a while for us to date again. Now that we’re ready, our timing was a cosmic coincidence.
You might be thinking. He seemed perfect and I was interested. What gives?
Well, mistakes happened. Ones that were enough to keep us single.
It sucks that it happened to someone I liked but hey, what’s dating without them? If one of us is going to have a better Tinder date, I want it to be you.
So, here’s everything Hilmi and I did wrong before we met.
Before the date
1. Don’t text obsessively
When you like someone, all you want to do is text them every day. And I’m one of those people.
It’s hard to find a guy who’s into art and architecture. When I met Hilmi, the first few weeks were texting bliss. We talked about buildings we hated and art exhibitions we loved. Everything was great.
I’m also the kind of person who hates dating rules. You want me to wait three hours before I text someone? That’s stupid. If I like them, I’ll text them.
Since I’m in my thirties, I thought I’d have the whole dating game figured out. I was wrong.
A few weeks later, his messages mellowed. Eventually, we only chatted once every three days. “Sorry, I’ve been busy,” he said, but the real reason was clear as day.
He was losing interest in me.
I forgot that it’s basic human behaviour to want things we can’t have. We loved the thrill of chasing someone we want, no matter how hard it is.
It’s like that time you learned to watch football because your crush is a Liverpool fan. Or that other time when you started working out because you want Margot Robbie to notice you. You do whatever it takes.
By texting him obsessively, I took away the thrill of the chase. If he texts me now, I’ll be there like a Jackson 5 song. He didn’t have to wait long enough to miss me. And that made me easy and attainable.
That was my first mistake. But even before I realised it, I had made another one.
2. Don’t google your date
Was it Aristotle who said ‘the more you know, the more you know you don’t know’?
Never mind, but the ‘don’t know’ part scares me. You might say, “You must google them weh. If he’s a paedophile or she’s married, then how?”
Let me tell why you shouldn’t.
For some weird reason, Hilmi gave me his full name, which made it easy. There I was, in front of my laptop, imagining the worst. He was too nice. He was too good to be true. He must be a viral sex offender. Then, I found out…
…he was a CLEO Eligible Bachelor.
Fucking hell. He’s nice and girls need to join a contest to date him?
I was lucky, but the discovery led me to another mistake – I placed him on a pedestal.
He was no longer just a nice guy from Tinder. He became a bona fide hotshot. He turned into the trophy boyfriend I potentially could have.
And he swiped right on me! I had to do whatever it takes to impress him. I wanted him so bad. From that day onwards, I became desperate.
During the date
3. Don’t be late
After months of flirting, the day finally came. I’m meeting the eligible bachelor himself. Was I excited? Hell yes!
I had my best outfit on. I had interesting conversation topics in my head. I was ready.
When it was time to meet, I was ten minutes early.
He was forty minutes late.
Ugh. Four minutes is fine, but forty? You know how I feel about tardiness.
While he was apologising and looking for parking, I camped in a bookstore. I read about coffee history, cover to cover.
Frankly, I had never felt more pathetic in my life. His tardiness reflected just how little our date meant to him. I was just another Tinder girl on his dating roster.
I told him it was fine but honestly, it wasn’t. That’s not the kind of impression you want to make on your first date.
While hiding the frustration behind a smile, I forgot to tell myself…
4. Don’t be nervous
Despite how turned off I was by Hilmi’s tardiness, I ended up being a nervous mess. Whatever his mistakes were, he was still my eligible bachelor and fantasy trophy boyfriend. At the end of the day, I wanted to make this work, so the pressure was on me. My expectations didn’t allow me to be my natural self.
I prayed he was an asshole, so I could get over him quickly. But nope, he was fine as hell.
Besides being a nice guy, he didn’t rely on his good looks to impress. This man was smart and articulate. If only you could see him argue why Star Wars is better than Star Trek, you’d know just how hot he was.
While he was charming and all that, my nervousness made me boring as fuck.
During the date, I asked many questions. The goal is to be interested in getting to know them right? When I realised that all the asking turned the date into a job interview, it was too late. It was an ‘Ask Hilmi anything’ day.
Nobody told me that a good first-date conversation needs another secret ingredient.
You need to share yourself too.
When he asked about my favourite Black Mirror episodes, I answered quickly and shifted the spotlight back at him. Little did I realise that he wanted to get to know me too. I needed to share my stories as well.
So bring your personality, thoughts and opinions to the table. Give your date a chance to pick up on something you said and expand from there. When both sides contribute to the conversation, it’ll be engaging as hell.
Now that the date is over, here’s what you need to do next.
After the date
5. Don’t expect anything
Despite the mistakes we’ve made (mostly from me), I thought I still had a chance. I was that confident. You might think it was my ego talking, but positive thinking was my way of hiding my fear of rejection.
Three days after the date, I didn’t hear a word from Hilmi. The longer I waited, the more I wondered. Was he busy at work? Did the date go that bad? Was I more boring than expected? Those thoughts were killing me, so I reached out to him.
I said it was nice meeting him and I had a great time. And thankfully, he felt the same way. He found our conversations interesting, which made me happy.
But my optimism was short-lived when he ended it with “To many more great conversations.”
Just like that.
There was no hint of a second date and no conversations after that. It was worse than being rejected. I was friend zoned.
It sucks that I let a nice guy slip away. But whatever happened, I want you to remember something…
6. Don’t give up on dating
A few months into Tinder, there were many moments when I thought dating app wasn’t for me.
That’s because I didn’t meet another ‘Hilmi’ after that. After meeting him, I met a guy who wasn’t over his nymphomaniac ex, which didn’t go well. Then, there was another guy who wanted me to keep my bush for him, which was weird.
Basically, it wasn’t going anywhere.
That’s the thing about modern dating. We can’t control what most Tinder matches want, which are friends with benefits and hook-ups. What we can do is to control how we respond to them. The best way I know? Accept it and keep on swiping.
Your person is out there, and you will meet them someday.
For all you know, they’re going through as many bad dates as you are. They might be dating someone who texts obsessively or asks too many questions. We all need to experience the worst before meeting our best Tinder date ever.
And that eligible bachelor? He might be swiping and searching for you instead.
For more articles on dating, read I’m a Feminist Who Is Also a Submissive. This Is How I Reconcile Being Both, and Here’s How You Know If You’ve Found the One.