online dating

The Late Bloomer Diaries: Online Dating for the First Time

II tried online dating for the first time a few weeks ago.

I did a tiny trial after feeling like I was finally in a pretty decent place in my life to meet someone: I’ve been working on my faith, I can wear makeup after giving it up for a year, I am starting to build a career, & am developing a more active social life. I was hoping to find a kind, handsome guy who’s interested in living out his faith like I am, in addition to being completely interested in me and in getting to know me. That was reasonable, right!?

Now how do I turn this sarcasm off?

Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it was definitely disappointing. Here’s what happened.

The Experience

It seemed like a sign when a very handsome university student of similar faith “liked” me the day after I decided I was ready to meet someone. Even though I tried to force myself to temper my expectations, I couldn’t help but picture all the cute dates we would go on.

Tapping the button to “connect” with this guy, whom I will call Luis*, was nerve-wracking and probably took me 5 minutes of pep-talking myself to actually do. Would Luis like me once we started talking? What if he just liked my profile by mistake? How would I manage to have a good conversation with a guy I didn’t know?

When I finally talked myself into connecting with Luis, I was very relieved to find that there was an icebreaker already posted in the chat to help get things started. After I started off our conversation, he introduced himself, asked me a question about myself, I responded, and then waited restlessly for a response in return. I tried to keep busy and went to work, fighting myself to not give into the MASSIVE ITCH to obsess over it. I heard from Luis like 7 hours later. At this point, I started quietly wondering whether a truly interested guy would wait that long to message me.

The next day, Luis messaged me to say that he couldn’t respond quickly due to work, but that he was enjoying things. Technically that meant I didn’t have to be anxious, but of course I was.

I started thinking things like, “he’s not messaging you because he’s talking to other girls who are prettier than you,” and “yes, you might be irrational right now, but logically, you should expect that anyone you’re talking to on this dating app is also talking to other people and potentially using other dating apps.” I starting feeling like I was in a competition with a bunch of people I couldn’t see, and was likely to “lose” because I was only focusing on one guy who likely looked at me as one of many.

So, I started getting hung up on making sure I had “options” and switched my attention back to another guy I had seen on the dating app the day before. I will call this guy Damian*. I had seen him before I saw Luis, and while Damian didn’t excite me as much as Luis did, I was curious about him.

After I messaged Damian (I regret doing that now, for reasons I’ll explain further down), he responded within minutes.  I took at as a sign that he was interested (or bored at work), but it quietly annoyed me because the person I really wanted to hear from Luis.

This went on for about 3 days–me hearing from Luis once a day (and wishing it was more) and trying to talk to Damian without my heart really being in it–until I got a message from Luis giving me the old “it’s not you (you’re amazing), it’s me (bad timing).”

The app notification only showed the first part of the message (the part about how I was amazing), so you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that he didn’t want to pursue things any further. I didn’t even get a date out of it, which was disappointing, and to be honest, embarrassing. Was I that bad at talking?

I don’t really know what happened, but I think the bottom line is that he wasn’t interested. Shoot, maybe I was the one annoying him with messages as he waited to hear back from the person he really wanted to talk to. Regardless, he was pretty decent about it & gave me a proper end to things instead of just ghosting me. It was probably the best unpleasant outcome I could hope for, even though it didn’t feel that way at the time.

The Lessons

My feelings about the situation were a source of confusion because even though I think it’s completely reasonable to just not be interested in someone & end it early, it still upset me, against all logic. Secret: I think my feelings were hurt.

Nevertheless, the experience taught me some things. First, it was nice to be let down gently and kindly, in a way that left my self-esteem intact. I wrote earlier that I regretted talking to Damian–this was because I feel like I was treating him like a Plan B. I have a problem being treated like someone’s backup, so I’m disappointed in myself for treating someone else that way. I don’t want to do that again.

I also quickly realized that the way Luis ended our conversation left me feeling much better than I would have if he had simply stopped talking to me. The kind ending I received prompted me to be kind in turn and end my conversation with Damian. I thanked him for telling me about himself and explained that it would be best to end the conversation.

I also learned from the experience that it’s hard to talk to someone once a day if you’re interested in them. Those long delays in conversations are frustrating and make me feel kind of anxious. Are they going to respond? Do they like me? From what I’ve read (because I’m a huge nerd), messaging once a day is pretty standard, but it’s still so different from what I’m used to: face-to-face conversations, where feedback is instant and I can learn more about a person in 3 minutes than in 3 days of infrequent messaging. Related to this, I realized that I’m not sure how to gauge someone’s interest online.  Is it that they message frequently and respond quickly? Is it that they develop a consistent pattern of talking to me (even if only once a day)? Is it less to do with the timing or frequency of messages and more to do with the content? Or is it some combination of these things?

Additionally, I largely tried to stay true to myself throughout this little experiment, from my profile picture down to the things I talked about with the guys I met. Even though things didn’t go how I hoped, it felt good to know that there wasn’t much that I felt I should or could have done differently. It also felt good that I could generate interest without trying to come off as much prettier or more interesting than I actually am. That being said, one thing I’d like to do differently next time is be better at talking about myself. I usually take on the role of listener in conversations, so as naïve as it sounds, it kind of caught me off guard when I realized that I would be expected to tell people who I am and what I’m about.

Lastly, things not going as I’d hoped and getting rejected was also a good lesson because it taught me not to take “talking,” other people, and myself so seriously. It also taught me that while not getting the outcome I hoped for isn’t great, it’s not that bad either. Life goes on, and to be honest, it hurts my ego more than it hurts my feelings. The next time I try online dating, I think this experience will make it easier for me to relax and keep my expectations low when talking to someone new, which will take some of the pressure off.

What Next?

I’m new to online dating, and to dating in general, so I’m feeling pretty confused. How do I strike a balance between a guy’s looks, his substance, and his character? How do I pick a guy who’s a good match for me? Where do I date: online or off? And is it me, or is it hard to find a guy I’m mutually attracted to and who would be a good match for me and vice versa?

I’m still learning my preferences, but I’m pretty convinced that I prefer to focus on one person at a time and slowly get to know them. I also don’t like my impression that a lot of guys treat online dating like a numbers game. To be honest, I felt like treating it like that too–meet as many people as I can to maximize my chances of connection. I don’t like that because it doesn’t match my introverted personality very well and there is an overwhelming amount of guys to choose from. So far, I’m getting the sense that online dating might not be that great of a fit for me. Maybe it could work for me as a supplement to meeting people the old-fashioned way–offline–but not more than that.

That being said, I decided to take a break from online dating before trying it again. I realized how much even just talking to a person can distract me, and I have some important things I should clear before trying again. I could probably use a little time to bounce back from the rejection too: it’s not a big deal, but it was my first experience with online dating and I think it’ll take me a little longer to get over as a result.

There are so many discouraging stories about online dating, especially as a twenty-something, but as I told one of my friends, I’m guardedly optimistic. Hopefully next time will go better!

*names have been changed


19 comments on “The Late Bloomer Diaries: Online Dating for the First Time

  1. Yea, no, the man repellant does not work on old creepy guys old enough to be my dad. 😂😂😂

    I just have the utmost faith that when it’s my time, it’ll happen. Regardless of what’s going on in the lives of those around me.

    In the meantime my current theme song that i just discovered yesterday is “Dear No One” by Tori Kelly. It basically sums up how I feel.

  2. You’re so brave. Though many people have suggested it, I’ve not tried online dating. I know it’s the way of the modern world, but I’m kind of old fashioned. I want to discover a potential partner’s character in real time, not by reading a paragraph on an app. But I can’t lie and say I haven’t thought about giving it a go. I admire your courage and the fact that you’re not counting one dating out just because of one bad experience. Still, I want to know why Luis gracefully bowed out of the conversation…

    Thanks for genuinely sharing this experience. Keep up the great writing!!!!

    • It actually took me quite a while to feel comfortable with online dating! I started by just putting up a profile and seeing how I responded to it.

      In terms of potential, I still feel that way about online dating sometimes – like how can I really make a decision about someone based on a little blurb? And why is it so looks-driven? But I’ve learned to look at online dating is a way to meet people I might not otherwise meet. I may be talking to a future partner, but the chances are I may not be (same with offline). I think most of the learning about potential part still takes place when we go on dates with the guys we meet offline. But we do get information about things like religion, a guy’s relationship with God, what he’s looking for, etc. I think that makes it a lot easier to avoid dating guys who are interesting and attractive, but not what we’re looking for.

      That being said, I like looking online and offline at the same time and that’s what I’m doing right now. Online dating gives us so much information and options up front, but offline dating feels refreshingly slower and more authentic. So why not have the best of both?

      As for Luis, I think it’s common for people to lose interest online. I didn’t realize that at the time, though, so it really sucked LOL. Like you said, we make decisions off of limited information, but then when we start talking to someone we realize we’re not interested in them like that. I think that’s what happened, and I understand that a lot better now.

      • Touché. I guess I always feel like guys are lying or putting up a front. I need to finish reading, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” I don’t get the way they think. The greater issue, is I don’t trust the way I perceive that they think. Did that make sense?lol Christianity is such a loose concept these days. Two people could claim to be Christian and have completely different beliefs, which is crazy to me. But I guess you would discover that once you met the person face to face and really began opening up to one another. Okay, I get it. You do the weeding out online and then see how people really are in person. Have you met anyone else of interest? Now I’m being nosey, I’m sorry. I’m just curious!😂😂

        • I get what you mean! That’s something I still struggle with, to be honest. I’m learning to stop trying to decipher their thoughts and look at their behaviour instead, though. I find dating a lot less stressful that way!

          I completely agree with you about the differing beliefs and I’m really trying to avoid guys who say they’re Christian because they grew up that way but don’t really practice. I’ve found that mentioning briefly that my faith is of value to me in my profile has attracted guys who at least say they feel the same. It’s a huge relief because I was wondering if I’d meet any like minded people online.

          Your nosiness is appreciated! Most of my friends are in relationships and don’t really share my perspective 😑So it’s so great to chat with someone who gets it! I have met some interesting guys since then and have gone out on a few dates! Nothing that stuck, but I don’t think I was looking for or even ready for that. Just wanted/needed (?) to learn about this mysterious dating world is like and what I liked/disliked. I’m at a point now where I’m wanting to be a bit more intentional, though.

          What’s dating been like on your end?

          • Dating? My end? Non-existent. I’ve literally never had a boyfriend. It feels like I wear a man repellent😂. I’ve always wanted to get married but never really been interested in dating. Is that possible? It just seems so taxing. I’ve better things to do. There’s so much improvement needed in my walk and relationship with God and other areas of my life that I can control. I can honestly say, I don’t get lonely very often, so I’m fine. I do wonder though… when, where, who, how?! All, except one of my friends, are married. I get a pretty good secondhand view of marriage and while I still want that for myself, I realize it’s not all fun. I also realize that I’ve got work to do within myself. In the meantime, I’m chillin’. Also, I’m a Flight Attendant, which adds tremendously to the difficulty of dating.

            • Man repellent? I love that! I’ve felt that way sometimes too, though my particular brand of man-repellent doesn’t seem to work on creepy guys who are old enough to be my dad 🤔

              I can relate! It would be so nice to just skip over the ups and downs of dating and go right to being comfortable and in love. Dating has it’s fun side, though. Sometimes I pretend I’m Carrie Bradshaw 😂

              I’ve always loved being single, but I’ve definitely been feeling some kind of way since I’ve realized most of my friends are in serious relationships. It makes me wonder if I’m behind and missing out on something. I’m not sprinting towards a relationship, but I definitely feel a sense of urgency that I didn’t feel before. It sounds like it might be a lot of pressure to have a friend group that’s mostly married. It sounds like you’re doing okay, though, and I love that.

              Mostly female profession and lots of travelling sounds like a challenge. I have a friend in a similar situation, and while she meets a lot of guys, they usually don’t live in the country!

  3. @driftyness, you are brave to try online dating. It is common nowadays but it is still a no-no to other people.
    I admire Luis for ending it but I hoped he ended it sooner. Maybe he thought about it for a while. The once a day message is really a red flag in online dating and I can see that you realized it afterward.

    I met awesome guys from dating sites.

    I hope your experience will be better next time once you decide that you are ready for it again. If not, I hope you will meet someone offline. Good luck!

    • Thanks! Haha I had hoped I was wrong about the once a day message thing, but I guess it’s important to trust your gut with these things. I’m actually trying again, on a different app this time. I’m glad you’ve had a good experience! What are your tips for meeting great guys that you click with? Sometimes it feels like I’m just responding to whoever makes a sincere effort (i.e. actually asks questions about my profile instead of saying “hey) or just talking to guys because I think they’re cute.

      • I am married now but when I was using dating sites, I used to initiate conversations if I don’t like anyone sending messages to me.
        Just choose guys who are near you. Don’t bother with those several miles away. Though I once took a flight to meet someone. Haha. He paid for my plane ticket. Crazy. Maybe I am too adventurous to give an advice to you but take it slowly if you don’t feel too comfortable.

        • Thanks for your advice! I really should approach the guys Iike – I usually don’t do that. You sound like you have some awesome stories from your dating days!

  4. Let me just say, I’m proud of you for letting your guard down and trying something new, Kudos for that!! Online dating in my experience has been a nightmare, no one is ever who they say they are and when it comes to dating online – you know you’re telling the truth but you can’t always guarantee that they are. Anyone can be anything they want to online, to me that’s the downfall of it although some people have had some good luck with it (my mom was one of them) I guess it worked for her and for others because that’s where God had their mate planted but for me and others, I suppose ours would come in a different way/form. God has someone for you, you might be surprised at where you may meet him. Great Post Gurly! & my fingers are crossed that your mate will find you.

    • That’s so true, I started feeling like I really didn’t have much to go off. Someone’s profile doesn’t tell you much about who they are. I get the impression that this could involve kissing a LOT of frogs…sorry your experiences haven’t been that great, but I’m happy to hear about your mom’s! Do you plan on writing a bit about your online dating experiences? Would love to read a post like that! Thank you for being so consistently encouraging. Hopefully I’ll have a better outcome for you next time 🙂

      • Kissing a lot of frogs indeed, I did my dear…lol lol. Yes, mom’s experience was awesome. Unfortunately it didn’t fare so well with daughter, guess that apple didn’t fall on me. Now you got me thinking, yes – I will write about it, who knows may be soon since you asked…lol. Please keep me updated, I would love to know how it’s going for ya! = )

  5. Sometimes when we do not want to be hurt, we are hurting sb else. And love does come when you least expect it True story 🙂

    • That’s true, isn’t it? Your comment made me realize that it’s important to think about who we’re affecting when we’re trying to be cautious. Thanks for your wise words, they gave me some good food for thought.

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