Mar 7, 2017

internet dating support group: maybe more fun than dating?





I dated four people from Tinder in 2015. Someone from Freeman's Bay, someone from west Auckland, someone from the North Shore. Someone from east Auckland. I was rinsed. All the breakups were torture, no matter who initiated it. I needed a breather. However I was still glancing at dating sites. I'd gotten talking to Samantha, who was keeping a dating diary. She sent it to me — in one month she'd assembled the more bizarre, hilarious and miserable stories. Things between Samantha and Ryan had moved pretty fast, online and over the phone, before he came up from Hamilton. When they met IRL, the chemistry wasn't there for Samantha. Ryan had issues about his body, and had paid thousands for cosmetic surgery. His ringtone was 'the man in the mirror.'

The internet has made it easier to meet single people. But if we met them outside of our social circle we don’t know if they’re what they seem. I thought it might be good for any other Tinderellas to share war stories; to get advice from someone who’s been there, or support from someone in the same boat. I thought it might break down the hetero divide between the sexes? There’s so much truthiness in dating — 'if only' there was a place you could be open and honest. The Internet Dating Support Group was born...
 

We ran two groups, at a friend’s house in Freeman's Bay. There were eight people at each, a few friends and a few randoms. Everyone was in their late twenties or thirties. Gays, straights and bi's. Both groups ran for almost three hours. I was quite nervous before each group, moreso than on a first date. 

We started with pizza, before a presentation by a guest dating expert. Both experts talked about their dating history.  When you’d hang out with Cass, she'd talk almost exclusively about dating. Cass began internet dating during a year in NYC. A la Carrie Bradshaw she’d been keeping a dating blog, until she realised her family might read it and some of the stories were getting out of hand. Cass had recently met an Australian, who was Tindering in Auckland. She’d just moved to Bondi to be with him, and was back in Auckland for a week.  

Jess had matched on Tinder with a guy who knew that she was a performance artist. He proposed they go on a date and not talk at all. Jess agreed and they met up in Ponsonby. Unsure of what to do when the met up —they hadn’t made a plan, and couldn’t talk about it— Jess took charge and took him on a tour of her ex boyfriends’ houses, which were all near each other. That same guy had suggested their next date could be ‘driving around playing songs off mixtapes they’d made for each other’, but still not talking. But no second date. 
Another guy asked Jess to recreate the ‘36 Questions’ experiment, in which two strangers ask each other personal questions in order to fill in love, on their first date. She ended up dating him.

After the expert’s ten-minute presentation, the floor was open. Conversation flowed, touching on different topics. I admitted that I had 400 matches on Tinder, just because I had never deleted any of them. One of my matches was in the room.  

Anna had had plans cancelled five times by the same woman; the last time it had happened her date had said she wanted to go to the gym instead. Everyone reassured Anna that it wasn't her fault.   

Samantha asked why a guy hadn’t called her back, even though he said he would. “He’s just not that into you!”, said Daniel, our host. Daniel said he’d been talking online to a guy in France for eight years, before Daniel met him in Toulouse. Bloody hell, the guy had recently been shot! (Toulouse is quite dangerous, said Daniel.) But the guy still kept the date, what a keeper! Dan highlighted a pitfall of internet dating: "what if you're attracted to the way someone moves through space?"

I talked about how some of my partners hadn’t bothered with condoms. I asked one if I should wear a condom, the first time we were having sex. She just said, “it’s fine.” She later clarified/apologised to me that she wasn’t using contraception, it was just she figured she just wasn’t fertile at that part of her cycle. Her workmate asked if she was mad, when she was talking about this. “Arrogance won’t stop STIs”, said Daniel.  

I talked about how I had been sent a few anonymous messages — photos of an ex and her new partner. I asked for advice on my Dad’s advice, which was “if you’re not bothered by it, you’re not bothered by it.” This led to a broader discussion on social media and break-ups. How it might be a good idea to unfollow exes. Jess shared how to get someone to unfollow you on Instagram: you block them, and then unblock them.

Samantha didn't talk about a guy had driven the 3hrs from Mt Maunganui to see her, the previous weekend. He'd ended up inviting himself to stay at her house, because he said otherwise he'd have to sleep in his car. Samantha couldn't let him sleep on the couch because her flatmate wouldn't want some random guy sleeping on the couch. The next day Samantha said she couldn't understand why he wanted to sleep with her when there was no chemistry for her. His sweat smelt weird.

Samantha said she wouldn't be coming to the second group because she had a date that night. Unfortunately she got stood up.


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I thought some group members might fancy each other. But more to the point everyone who went to the group became friends. It’s so easy to like people who are being open and honest, but 'being ourselves' might be the last thing we're doing on first dates...  

Why were we all single? Who knows? “Tonight was fun and has (weirdly) reinvigorated my desire to date”, said Anna. One of the group members later appeared on the ‘First Dates’ tv show. Chris is bi and was set up with a woman who was bi. Alas Chris’ admission that he was wearing the same trousers that he’d worn to work didn’t match with his date, who’d dressed up.

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