Needlessly cynical and shamelessly critical, I trotted onto the New York dating scene ready to tear everything to shreds and cackle hysterically at the sincerity of others.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, it’s time to stop being such a coward and start taking this a little more seriously – not a lot more, but definitely a little. Baby steps.
I have mixed feelings about Tinder. On one hand, two of my best friends met their long-term boyfriends through the app and have never been happier. Also, a fellow Irish girl who I met this week told me that she’s been on four Tinder dates since she arrived in New York City -- three weeks ago!
Compare this to my U.S. stint nearing on a year and my efforts are starting to look pretty pathetic. She has found American guys to be spontaneous and exciting, and told me how they have come up with unusual, adventurous things to do rather than a standard Irish evening of grabbing a few pints and a curry chip.
Confused by her experiences and how I had totally missed the American dating boat, I began to ask around. It seems I have been gravely mistaken.
While I have been sitting in a sulk, moaning about American men and how they do absolutely nothing for me, the majority of Irish girls over here have been thoroughly enjoying the company of these fine chaps.
I started to realize that the problem might not be the 20,000 factors I’ve invented to make myself feel better, but might actually just be me.
I’m an angry 24-year-old whose only experience with American men has been one measly week on Tinder – what possible positive outcome could I expect?
Yes, most encounters on the app have been boring, cheesy or just downright strange – but I’m the one swiping right in the first place. Plus, how can you really judge someone based on a few pictures and a witty quote?
People are very quick to say whatever they want from the safety of hiding behind a screen, so why not get the human out of the app and spend some time together in “real life?”
I realize this is rich coming from me, but I’m learning. Slowly.
Ignorance is bliss – but it’s also really annoying.
As I sat among friends last week and bored them to death with another aggressive anti-dating rant, one of the guys was driven to cut across me and yell, “Why don’t you just give someone a chance!?” Fair point.
I finally gave in, found a nice boy on Tinder and agreed to go on a date.
Our brief text conversation had already established that we had a lot in common and conversation would flow easily. He chose a trendy bar on the Lower East Side and we agreed to meet at 7 p.m.
To say I was nervous is a colossal understatement. I smoked about 5,000 cigarettes on my way there with sweaty palms, weak knees, dry throat -- the works.
Standing on Bowery waiting to cross, I could see him standing outside the bar, patiently waiting for me like a true gentleman. I panicked and came very close to turning on my heel and fleeing the scene.
What was happening to me? When did I become such a giant baby? It was just a drink in a bar with a boy, and I was completely and utterly petrified.
Literally shaking, I crossed the street and awkwardly introduced myself. He was the ultimate breath of fresh air -- so calm, cool and collected that I was instantly put at ease, and knew straight away that it was not going to be the disastrous evening I had foreseen.
A few cocktails and an accidental visit to a burlesque show later, we had chatted and laughed the night away. He was charming, witty, incredibly smart, and was anything but the stereotype that I had drawn up in my head. There was never a lull in the conversation and I felt like I’d known this guy for years.
As we walked into the night air, still giggling from some silly joke we’d made inside, the moment of departure was looming over us. He walked me to my subway station at the end of the block, and at the top of the steps I turned to say goodbye.
We had been getting along like old friends all night without so much as fingers accidentally brushing across the table, and I had completely forgotten that this was supposed to be romantic and that there might be some sort of physical interaction involved.
It was one of those moments where you have a split second to make a decision, and it was a toss-up between kissing out of politeness or just chickening out. The insufferable wimp that I am, I sidestepped the situation by going for a massive, over-compensatory hug to firmly edify the friend vibes.
I realize I essentially failed, but I felt exhilarated walking away. I knew I would never see him again, as amazing as the night had been, but I was pretty happy with myself.
Pleasantly surprised and significantly wooed by this American boy, I have to admit that I was wrong. Perhaps there is hope for someone over here to warm my frozen Irish heart. I just hope that next time I don’t freak out at the last minute and run away like a terrified teen.