TINDER and I have a love/hate relationship.
I’d been single for five years when I first heard about a dating app that would put thousands of men at my fingertips, and the idea was beyond exciting.
Lancton Tinder addict Jessica Bateman, 30, swaps online dating for old-school meet-ups
But as the months – no, years – rolled by and I rarely met anyone I wanted to see twice, I began to resent the hours of messaging and yearned for my student days, when I met guys every Friday night.
But can an app-addicted girl like me ever find love again IRL? I’ll give it a whirl…
Week one: Meeting via friends
Lancton Jessica Bateman pictured with Adam, a 33-year-old marketing executive, who she chatted up at a wedding
The thought of just waltzing up to strangers is nerve-racking after years behind a screen, so I start by trying to meet guys through people I trust.
On Saturday I have a wedding reception to go to as a plus-one with a friend. I’ll barely know anyone, but if the bride and groom like my friend, they must have good taste when it comes to their other mates, right?
Getty – Contributor The thought of just waltzing up to strangers is nerve-racking, says Jessica
On the day, I go for a blow-dry (seeing as I’ll be Insta-filter-free), and thankfully at the bash it’s easy to strike up a conversation by asking guests how they know the happy couple.
As the night goes on I chat to Adam, a 33-year-old marketing executive. Being tipsy from prosecco helps the conversation flow as he tells me he’s an ex-housemate of the bride and shares funny stories from when they lived together. He asks for my number and texts the next day to suggest a drink. He’s too sensible to be my Tinder type, but in the spirit of the challenge, I agree to see him the next week.
Getty – Contributor Jessica chats being bolder on dates after years of awful experiences on Tinder
A few days later my friend Emily suggests I meet her ex-colleague Tom*. He’s 36 and a doctor. I’m up for it, so she gives me his number and within a couple of days we’re on a date in a bar. However, my friend didn’t tell me he’s teetotal and a gym fanatic, and he’s distinctly unimpressed when I talk about my weekly drinks with the girls.
The conversation is hard work and we part after less than two hours. I feel annoyed at wasting an evening, but I guess that’s a risk you take on and offline.
Getty – Contributor Jessica says she rarely meets anyone she wants to see twice on Tinder
The next day is my date with Adam. It goes far better than expected – no stilted conversation as we learn about each other outside our online profiles – and we end up drinking too many cocktails late into the night.
The next morning I wake with a sore head and a guaranteed second date. Maybe I do like this challenge!
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Week two: Trying new events
Getty – Contributor Jessica books some singles’ nights to try meeting some blokes
Despite last week’s success, I miss the thrill of swiping, so to distract myself I book a couple of singles’ nights.
First up is Match.com’s sushi-making class in Camden. It’s fun, but no one takes my fancy apart from a hot Portuguese scientist… who’s making a beeline for another girl. It’s annoying, but not as galling as being ghosted by someone online. At least IRL there’s transparency if a guy likes someone else.
It’s tiring and I’m a little over devoting my evenings to men
On Wednesday I head to a swing-dancing class, which is a great way to meet people as you swap partners all evening. I immediately lock eyes with Ben*, a handsome, dark-haired 25 year old who works in banking.
We make chit-chat when it’s our turn to dance together, then find each other at the bar afterwards and swap numbers. I normally swipe left on guys who work in the City as I expect them to be arrogant workaholics, but he’s sweet and funny.
Week three: Hitting their turf
Lancton Jessica heads for after-work drinks at a bar in Shoreditch with her friend Rachel
I decide to try hanging out in places men might naturally gather. On Saturday my fellow single pal Nicola and I head to a pub showing a big football match. However, I hadn’t counted on everyone being too engrossed to chat. The two guys we do manage to talk to at the bar tell us they’re meeting their girlfriends afterwards. I feel pretty deflated – all this effort, just to get turned down. At least with Tinder I don’t need to leave my sofa!
On Wednesday I head for after-work drinks at a bar in Shoreditch with my friend Rachel. There are lots of offices in the area and I figure guys are likely to be out for a pint if they don’t have a partner. I make eye contact with a sexy skinhead I’d definitely swipe right, for and he introduces himself as Chris*. He’s 31 and works in advertising, and we soon swap numbers.
Getty – Contributor Jessica admits she feels pretty deflated – ‘all this effort, just to get turned down’
I’ve heard of girls meeting dates at the gym, so cram in a session before a date with Chris on Friday. However, my gym is like a school disco, with girls on one side and guys on the other, and I don’t have the courage to cross the divide. Plus, I don’t like having to worry about how I look while working out.
Later, I meet Chris at a pub in east London. Although I’m not sure there’s any chemistry, it’s a pleasant evening. I don’t mind that it’s probably a wasted date as it makes me realise I can chat to strangers more easily than I’d thought – I don’t need to hide behind a screen. Even so, the last few weeks have been tiring and I’m a bit over devoting so many evenings to men.
YouTuber Katie Snooks, who is anticipated to be a future Love Islander, talks about Tinder dates on her Vlog
Week four: Being bolder
Getty – Contributor Jessica is not sure if she’ll go back to Tinder…
It’s time to make my dream of bumping into a handsome stranger in the street a reality. During my Monday commute I make eye contact with a hot dark-haired guy. He gets off at Bank Tube station and I know I should go after him, but nerves take over. Gah! I’m determined to do it and on Wednesday, as I walk past a good-looking bloke on my lunch break, I give him a smile.
He grins back so, stomach lurching, I force myself to turn around and ask him if he’s single. He is! He tells me his name’s Danny and we swap numbers.
It’s time to make my dream of bumping into a handsome stranger in the street a reality
We arrange a drink for the following night, and Adam’s also been in touch about a second date. I text Ben from dancing, but don’t hear back.
Danny and I meet for a drink near Liverpool Street. He’s 31 and a barber, but even though he’s really sweet, he doesn’t get my sense of humour, so I quickly call it a night. While I’m going broke finding different ways to meet men, I can’t deny it’s been enjoyable.
Plus, Adam and I meet for pizza at the weekend and it’s even better than our first date. I think I might like this one…