Thursday 18 January 2018

'I let Ma pick my dates on Tinder and guess what? It worked'

Sebastian was tall, dark and handsome. 'God I'm on a Tinder roll,' I thought. Mentally, I high-fived my mother for choosing so well, writes Elspbeth Gordon

Tinder times: Elspbeth Gordon gave her mother total control of her dating app, allowing her to choose men she thought were suitable, and was pleasantly surprised by the results. Hair and make-up by Brown Sugar, South William Street
Tinder times: Elspbeth Gordon gave her mother total control of her dating app, allowing her to choose men she thought were suitable, and was pleasantly surprised by the results. Hair and make-up by Brown Sugar, South William Street

Elspbeth Gordon

Imagine handing over control of your love life to your mother? Have you finished laughing yet? I, at 25, decided that the time was ripe to do just that.

I haven't fared too badly with the good old-fashioned pick-the-guy yourself scenario, but thus far, I haven't come across anyone to proclaim my undying love for and elope with.

So, how would this work you ask? I could hardly bring my middle-aged mam, bopping around the bars of Dublin. What would Dad say? No, it had to be something far more efficient than that. Then it dawned on me… Tinder - the super-modern cupid on your phone.

It's an app that shows you faces of potential suitors with very little other information, bar a tiny box wherein more often than not, a cheesy one-liner is inserted.

All you do is swipe swipe swipe. Swipe right if you like and swipe left… well… if you don't like. It seems harsh, and maybe it is, but you can't deny the mother-friendly efficiency of it all. All matchmaking can be done from the comfort of your own home - a little window will pop up when you match with someone, which means that a guy or girl you've liked also likes you (woohoo!). Once you have a match, you can then start private messaging this person and from this, romance blossoms... or so I'm told.

So I decided to hand my mother my phone, allowing her to swipe whomever she pleased and then trawl through my matches and pick whoever she liked the best. Even if I wasn't too sure, Mammy's word was final.

After whittling it down, we decided on a selection of what my mother described as "lovely" or "interesting-looking boys"; I started to feel the thrill of it all.

Mothers are always right, err right? If that old adage is true, then I will meet the love of my life in no time, I hoped.

I began to arrange dates.

It's harder than you imagine, especially when you have a deadline looming and don't have time for the proper chit chat. It seemed my approach of "Hi, how are you? So, anyway, fancy a drink?" wasn't everyone's cup of tea.

I considered letting my mother write to people herself, pretending to be me. But I think even the queen of motherly matchmaking, Pride and Prejudice's Mrs Bennett, would have relinquished the reins at that point.

I had visions of my very red-faced mother trying to cope with the onslaught of cheeky lines that tend to venture their way into conversations and decided against it. So, for any of you enraged fellows out there, scandalised at the thought of my mother telling you that you have a great smile, and flinging compliments in order to speed up the process to the actual date, don't worry… that was all me.

My first date was with nice guy John*.

This was the date I was most scared about. Suddenly, the thoughts of meeting up with a complete stranger didn't seem so fun anymore. Obviously, I had about nine friends on standby should they need to burst in and retrieve me, but still, it was daunting.

There was a moment where an elderly looking gentleman sort of drifted towards the table as I waited for my date to arrive. I had a two-second moment, pondering the power of a good photo filter before he drifted on by and 6'5 Guy Number 1 arrived. I'm extremely lanky, so height for me is a goodie and, of course, Mom knows that only too well.

From then, it was easy - the woman has good taste! A teacher from the countryside, this guy was lovely. The conversation flowed easily and we seemed to get along well. Both boggers, away from home, we bonded over our love of the country and it was a fun date. But... I'm not sure that spark they harp on about in the movies was there.

So, it was Mammy's time to impress with Guy Number 2.

I arrived a little early and as I sat there waiting for him to arrive, it dawned on me that I hadn't asked any decent questions before we arranged a date.

I didn't even know where he was from… great journalistic skills there.

Then he arrived: Sebastian*, tall, dark and handsome. 'God, I'm on a Tinder roll', I said to myself whilst mentally high-fiving Mom.

Sebastian is from Germany and has been living here a couple of years. We chatted away, and it was almost like dating the old way… no sneaky Facebook background checks or detective-style interrogations before meeting meant that we had to start from scratch.

It was just a bit of good old-fashioned fun through the medium of super- modern technology. He was an absolute gent. At the end of the night, apart from my awkward attempt to be ultra European, air kissing like a pro, he asked for a second date. Mammy is chuffed. At this stage, I felt like a bit of a 'Tinder Queen'.

Guy Number 3, George*, had suggested a bar on South William Street.

I arrived early and I stood outside, baffled: the bar was closed, boarded up for refurbishment. I had a moment of dread - had Mammy's selections finally hit a wall? Maybe this time, Mammy was wrong... was I getting stood up in some dark and twisted way?

As it turned out, he just didn't know the bar was closed. We went somewhere else and started chatting; crisis over and Mom's Tinder record was still intact.

This guy was great fun, very easy-going and well-travelled. He works in IT and is from just outside Dublin. He had plenty of funny stories to tell that meant I spent most of the time giggling. Yes, giggling… I cringe as I remember.

It was all going so smoothly, until I received a joint text from my parents, "Well is he lovely? Love Mom and Dad."

He glanced at my screen with a smug little smile as I flipped it over, dying slightly inside… whoops, cover almost blown. At the end of the night, I did my usual awkward flap - first-date goodbyes are just awkward, especially when you know that they might be perusing the newspaper in a day or two. (Sorry!)

I will now be taking full control back of my love life, but you have to hand it to her, Mom's guys were good. I've had more doors held open for me in the last few days than ever before. And even though, I wouldn't say I've found love (feck's sake, Mom), I've certainly had a lot of fun… Maybe mammies are always right.

*All names have been changed.

Sunday Independent

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