Tanya Sweeney on her disastrous Tinder date: 'After giving me the once-over, he announced he had a friend to pick up at the airport right away'
I wanted 2016 to be the year of fun and adventures, I really did. I had decided to open my heart and mind and jump back into the trenches of dating… specifically, internet dating. After dozens of nearly-rans, never-woulds and ones that got away, I had retreated into a virtual cave.
But you can't find love, companionship or even some fun flirting in a box set or Netflix binge. All the stroking your ego can handle can come courtesy of friends, but… really, wouldn't it be nice if a man paid you a compliment once in a while?
Well, be careful what you wish for.
Karl (as we'll call him) and I swiped right a few days ago, and he was straight out the gate with some eye-watering banter. Far from asking about how my week was going or if I was enjoying the sun, as is the wont of your average Tinder amateur, he revealed that he had been watching movies all evening and couldn't sleep as a result. Twenty minutes in, he got right to the point.
"You're more than welcome to call over if you're not too busy," he suggested. "Just had a Facebook snoop, too… yes I would."
"I have a question," I offered, hoping to ask him exactly what he wanted out of the website. A flirt? A casual fling? Something more meaningful and lasting?
"Nine inches," he replied like a shot. Which, in a way, answered my question.
I repeatedly threw cold water on his suggestive correspondence (he even offered visuals in case I wanted them. I didn't). I don't mind a little salty banter, but not before I've met someone face-to-face and decided that yes, there's real, actual chemistry.
And then, a twist in the third act. He asked me to come for Sunday-night burgers. My instincts balked - fast food? What kind of first date gubbins is this? - but I switched off War & Peace, threw on a frock and out I went.
Forty five minutes late, in saunters my would-be paramour. After giving me the once-over, Karl announces that he has a friend to pick up at the airport at 10pm.
"But it's 9.15 now," I said, checking my watch. Wow, he had literally deployed his emergency excuse within minutes. Seeing as we were on the subject, I told him that I'd been checking into a flight from Cambodia at that time last week.
"That doesn't really interest me," he said, leaning back.
He did stir to life momentarily when, like a double-glazing salesman, he pushed the idea of seeing the aforesaid picture of his penis on to me. "Go on, you know you want to," he said, scrolling furiously. He laid his phone on the table as I covered my eyes, only flipping it over when our food arrived. He munched away on his burger, stopping only to inform me that it was better than the last one he'd had in the same place. We resumed our lengthy silence.
"Don't you want to know anything about me?" I finally offered, confused. This silence game was most unorthodox first-date behaviour.
He thought for a second. "Nope," he finally surmised.
"This is the quietest date I've ever been on!" I told him as he reached for his phone and started to scroll. Occasionally, he would laugh at a text or message while I eyeballed him for whole minutes.
"I suppose you think I'm being quite rude," he finally observed.
"I really do, in fact," I replied.
The phone pipped to life again. "Well, I'm afraid I have to be rude again," he said faux-apologetically.
Now, a lucid, emotionally sane person would likely get up and leave. But like an idiot, I stayed. Because we women are taught to be polite and nice.
What women also do is immediately start looking within for answers. My first reaction was, 'Well, I'm clearly not attractive/thin/shiny enough for him.' But the fact is, whether I look like Jennifer Lawrence or not, a man like that is bordering on dysfunction. It's not that I'm ugly; it's that he's a sociopath. Karl, himself, was no Michael Fassbender.
As it happens, his pal 'landed early' at the airport, putting us out of our misery. We split the bill, I caught the last of War & Peace, I retreated to Facebook and gave my friends a laugh as I WTF'd for a good hour.
Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Quite what he would make of my dating approach is another matter. Maybe I need to stop giving undeserving nobodies my time. Maybe I need to stop being interested in someone just because they appear interested in me. But managing that high-wire feat while keeping an open head and heart... that's the real trick, isn't it?