Let me take you back to where it started, when I re-downloaded dating apps for the who-knows-what-number time. It seems so long ago. February 2020 was, QUITE LITERALLY, the beginning of a different time.
I was just scrolling through Twitter one night and laughing at dumb stuff, sharing some of it with my roommate through DMs as she swiped through Tinder. She sent me this guy’s profile who she was cracking up over because of his haircut and something in his profile. I was disappointed to realize I couldn’t see the account and laugh without a profile.
“I thought you had Tinder?” she asked when I told her I couldn’t see the link she sent.
I did not long ago, but thought I was on my way to getting a boyfriend with a guy who was constantly leaving me on read and sending mixed signals. I had deleted the app months before. I was holding out in case there was something there between us, maybe a spark that would reignite the flame, or whatever tf that was. Just for fun, I made a new account with memes as pictures to see what other peoples’ profiles looked like. This was January.
By February, I saw maybe this guy just wasn’t that into me, but I still wasn’t over him. I had to move on, just as he had from me. I was a mess, and I figured what better way to numb the pain than using that Tinder account for real? At the time, my roommate was also draining my energy in various ways and I was in an awful downward spiral trying to cope with how things were: the guy, living with her, my family drama, college studies and other things.
So, I replaced the memes with my pictures of myself and put up a quirky bio, though the guys rarely read it (as usual). I quickly became discouraged with all the pick-up lines, dry responses and couples looking for a third in their relationship. I was starting to think maybe chasing guys down wasn’t such a bad thing.
There were a few gems in the mix of things, but it never led to actually meeting up or setting anything in stone. So, after I spent enough time on Tinder, I redownloaded Bumble.
My luck wasn’t much better on there. It had only been a few days. It was an endless cycle, though, swiping for the love of my life who seemed further away with each swipe. I decided to lower my expectations by the second week.
I made sure not to expect too much this time around and was looking purely for friends with benefits or hookups. Nothing serious. No getting attached. Maybe if I didn’t care so much, I’d have better outcomes.
But then a new problem emerged. It wasn’t even a real problem, but I convinced myself it was.
I hadn’t had sex with anyone other than my ex almost 3 years earlier.
It started to bother me constantly once I realized I’d only had sex with him and no one else, so I made a new goal for myself. I had to have sex with someone else, anyone else.
If these guys were just looking to use someone, I’d do the same. So I started getting straight to the chase in these conversations.
“I’m down for whatever.”
“Friends with benefits?”
“I’m looking for good trouble.” *I know, considering it’s from a John Lewis quote I’m REALLY ashamed*
“Can I be your fantasy?”
“I’m just looking for something casual.”
That approach worked out way better than anything I’d ever tried and led to several, I don’t know… encounters? Yes, encounters. I felt like I was owning my sexuality and finding empowerment with this new approach. But was I really?
Around the same time, I started smoking cigs *cough, cough- American Spirits*, and drinking. Sometimes separately, sometimes at the same time. I was also going out alone at night. A lot. Just walking around because I had no car on campus.
Then the pandemic hit full blown right at the beginning of March that year. Everything was shutting down. Breathing air was suddenly unsafe. I had to end all my shennanigans. I had to come to terms with myself once I was back home. Was this the Rae I wanted to be? No, it wasn’t. I didn’t like myself or where I was going. It took about a couple weeks before I was in a better mental space and not smoking and drinking all the time.
But I was still on dating apps.
This time, however, I accepted that I should raise my standards above sea-level and that my value was much higher than just a piece of meat to be sexualized. By September 2020, I ended up deleting all of those stupid apps, resigning myself to meeting people the old-fashioned way when the pandemic settled down. Yeah, I know.
To be continued…
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