I’m almost 30, and into my fourth year of singlehood. I’m at the stage in my life where my friends tell me reassuring platitudes like “just be patient”, “there are so many great things about being single” and, the most annoying of all, “just go out there and find him!” (Please. It’s not Pokemon Go.)
Here’s my status quo: I’m in no rush to find a partner. I do find a lot of happiness in pursuing my hobbies, spending time with my friends, and snagging a boyfriend isn’t a top priority. That being said, there are moments where I wish I had someone. Namely, when my laptop has frozen and I don’t know what to do, special occasions like Valentine’s Day or long weekends, or when I’m alone in my bed with my multiple stuffed animals. #datsinglelyfe.
My lack of a plus one is not for a lack of trying. I’ve road tested every suggestion that has come my way, but this bounty hunter is still empty handed. Still, I learnt a couple of interesting things along the way.
The dating apps
This is the most obvious and commonly used option. Technically, it should work. There’s a whole cyber world of men out there! Surely there has to be at least one who tickles my pickle? But as anyone who has swiped left will know, it’s also an abyss of men who want hook ups, men who are covertly spoken for, or, dare I say it, people who are just plain desperate.
I’ve met with men who have discreetly altered their profile picture (yes, even men push in their pictures to look slimmer), men who texted me daily for two months before ghosting (ouch), and men who spent six hours with me on a first date and I never heard from them again (double ouch – you can read more gory details here).
It’s a bit bleak, but my matches are slim pickings. The few who do initiate conversations aren’t stimulating. Case in point: there’s a picture of me dressed as a mermaid on my profile pictures, and hardly anyone asks me about it. Call it bad luck, or poor curation of my profile pictures (maybe men aren’t into fish), or not diligently swiping enough – apps are a barren wasteland for me.
The one good thing? I’ve managed to get a couple of good friends from my Tinder nightmares. They made terrible potential boyfriends (commitment phobes to a fault), and after giving dating a go we figured that it would be better to keep things PG.
I’ve also become that person where well-meaning friends eagerly try to set me up with Mr He’s-Such-A-Good-Guy. Perhaps it doesn’t help my friends that I don’t have a type – if you lined up all the men I’ve been into, it’s a mixed bag. The result: my friends throw any decent guy my way, hoping that their offering will somehow check the boxes.
There have been awkward double dates with my friends (the poor man struggled to make conversation with our mutual friend looking at him pointedly), and dinner dates where I’m discreetly looking at my watch so I can make an escape after paying my dues for an hour.
The best attempt of setting me up was done by my colleague, who really took the time to plan our meet up. Over a month, she dropped hints about me to the man in question (let’s call him J), even enlisting her friend to similarly bring me up in conversations. She introduced me in passing when he stopped by our office to drop something off, and a couple of weeks later, finally gave him my number. If that’s not effort, I don’t know what is.
J was the only one of my friends’ guinea pigs where I felt like we had a genuine connection and I wanted to see him again. While nothing romantic has transpired (yet), we occasionally text and hang out.
PSA: If you ever want to play matchmaker, don’t just throw two friends together. I’m sure the man in question is a great guy and a good friend, but chemistry relies on more than just good nature.
The common friends group
The romantic in me loves stories where old friends discover each other is The One. It’s an “I didn’t realise what I was looking for was right in front of me” feel good moment, which happens enough times in real life to give me hope. But alas, thwarted once again.
I have two groups of close male friends, one of which is off limits because they’re pals with my ex. The other group consists of friends from my school days – that’s a decade’s worth of friendship. Within this circle, two have dated each other and broken up, one had a teenage crush on me, and I briefly dated another, before we decided that the friendship was too valuable to risk jeopardising. If my life was a sitcom, it would be Friends.
When it comes to dating an old friend, I’d say you have to accept the risk of things not working out. Not everyone can be Ross and Rachel, so proceed with caution if you think your friendship might not survive the fallout.
The interest group
As the theory goes, if you’re in a community of like-minded people, you’ll find a guy to hit it off with. And hit it off with someone I did. The problem was that as luck would have had it, he was our activity coordinator and felt uncomfortable with dating the newbie of the group. So it was close, but no cigar. It also doesn’t help that most of my hobbies are female dominated – I dance, attend barre classes and am a recreational mermaid.
But I do believe that I’m an aberration – I reckon that this would be the best way to meet a significant other. There’s something to be said about finding your tribe (whether it’s a book club, gym buddies or scuba enthusiasts) and being surrounded by people who speak your language. And if something more blossoms, you’ll have a built-in partner in crime to share your pursuits with.
Hey, I’ve done my homework
But the point of this article isn’t just to list all my failures at attempting to find love. Oddly enough, it’s almost a relief – because I know that I’ve put myself out there, I’ve taken risks, I haven’t been hiding in a hole playing All By Myself on loop. If I’ve already done what I can, then it’s not on me. He will come, eventually. Plus, I gained a few friends and gotten a clearer picture of the guy that’ll eventually come my way.
So I’m down, but not out. I’m still keeping my beady eyes open.
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