Living in another country rarely has its dull moments. You are constantly learning new things, new ways to do seemingly simple tasks, a new set of social norms, and suddenly things that came naturally to you back home now seem like uncharted territory. Dating, for example, is one of those newly foreign things.
Dating in the US is a lot different now than it was when I was casually dating what seems life a lifetime ago. I’ve been in long term relationships for most of my 20s, so when I was single, I was just doing me, hanging out with friends, working a lot, and not really “getting out there” in the dating scene, so I didn’t care about the fads and rules. Now, there are all these different dating apps and weird rules about texting, hook up culture, and a whole new level of BS that I honestly can’t keep up with. Throw all that into the mix with navigating another type of dating culture, a different language, and entirely different cultural norms and expectations, and you can imagine how crazy it can feel.
Now that I’m in my late 20s, dating has a different meaning in general to me now versus when I was younger and carefree. I’m not looking for anything serious yet, but I do know I’m over the string of drunken one nighters followed by the infamous Walk of Shame. Oh, college. I love meeting new people, as always, and still hold my same values (and much higher standards, thank god), but recently I found a new way to see things. I realised that dating at my age is actually a really intricate social experiment in disguise. (aka fuuuun!)
As you may or may not know, I studied sociology in college, so the way I see the world is a bit different than most. I can turn anything into a social experiment. That doesn’t mean I manipulate people, or constantly judge, it just means that I am able to observe situations and let them unfold without getting my emotions involved; much like a scientist watches reactions happen and takes notes for future data. I see things more objectively, and it helps when trying to understand men’s behaviour, especially when I am meeting people from all different cultures and backgrounds (and figuring out what I want in a guy).
I recently downloaded a dating app called Bumble (yes, there’s Bumble and Tinder in Italy). With the rise of things like Match.com, Plenty of Fish, and the golden age of Tinder in the past X years, I, am a complete newbie to this digital dating world. I am also the only person I know in their 20s who has never used Tinder. Yes, seriously. I say that and people look at me as if I just walked out of a time machine from the 1400s or something. I could have used it when I was last single, but I absolutely refused after hearing numerous horror stories about unsolicited dick pics, the expectation of mostly naked profile photos, and creepers constantly sending shameless explicit messages. I’m no prude, but that’s just gross.
Well, if you don’t know what Bumble is (which I’m sure most of you do), it’s a dating app where you are given profiles of the single people in your city based on your sexual preference, and if you both “like” each other there is a 24 hour window of time that the female has to make the move. I wasn’t looking for anything serious, so this seemed like a fun way to meet new people. I like this because A) I’m not shy to start a conversation and B) no one can message me without my initial invitation! Great idea, Bumble.
Swiping through the profiles of the available men near me was a huge shock at first. A few things crossed my mind:
God, how vain and egotistical are these guys?! Is this what dating in 2017 is like? Great.
Ugh, can I puh-leez get an interesting bio? Or any bio at all, NOT using all emojis?
Who’s baby is that?
If I see one more shirtless photo or ridiculous speedo pose, I’m gonna puke. *Swipes left to yet another speedo pic, throws phone*
*Blue Steel expression, great hair, casually standing somewhere beautiful, relaxed, but somehow has flexed muscles* Pfft, I bet his mom took that photo…
Sunglasses…sunglasses….What, does he have a lazy eye or something?
Ok, we get it, you’re active and you’ve hiked a mountain…cool, bro.
JEEZ! Well, there’s someone out there for everyone, I guess…*swipes left* but it’s not me!
Um, does the girl you’re kissing know you’re on Bumble?
Haha! Great bio AND cute *swipes right*….nothing. *sigh*
Aww, well his dog is cute…
Fuck it…*swipes right* “You’ve matched!” Ew, great.
*Not even looking at phone, swiping left*
Oh, wait! He’s cute and looks normal….
…ugh, no bio…*swipe left*
This cycle went on for quite some time until I finally found a few decent guys here and there. I would say something witty, start a conversation, and then after a little back and forth….crickets. They couldn’t hold a conversation for the life of them. If they did, it turned sexual quickly and I unmatched them just as fast. Boy, bye!
The guys that were cute, normal and could hold a normal conversation, however, were refreshing. They even asked me out like gentlemen. I went on a few dates, had a great time, but didn’t really feel anything special. I also realised (real fast) that I am on an anti-Italian kick right now and could not stand going out with another self absorbed, overly gushing, pretentious, or pompous Italian guy, no matter how hot. That narrowed down my options by a lot.
My profile, by the way, was hilarious. I had an authentic bio, with sprinkle of cute, and a dash of humour. Most of my photos were of me making weird faces/not taking myself too seriously, eating/drinking, or dressed down, with only 2 cute photos on a pretty decent hair and makeup day. Don’t want to set the standard too high if they do meet me in person, right? If guys didn’t appreciate my sense of humour, then they were lame and not the kind of guy I wanted in my life anyway. I definitely ended up matching with some awesome people and we had some great laughs. I was pleasantly surprised; I was actually having a good dating experience.
I went out with some local expats, a few travellers passing through, and started talking to a couple other expat guys I matched with who live farther outside of Florence. I tried new bars and restaurants, learned some new things, discussed different ideas, had some stereotypes reinforced and also some destroyed. I was meeting people from all walks of life and I loved it. After all, dating is a social experiment and I was collecting data to see which traits I would like in a future partner eventually. It was all very fun and exciting. My phone was constantly blowing up (not to brag *brushes shoulder*) and I was never without entertainment. I even learned a few new things about myself!
Then, over some time, my interest started to fade. I got bored with the whole thing, got tired of swiping, tired of the surface conversations, and stopped caring as much. Is this really all there is, I thought. I mean, I’m turning 28 this year, and although I’ve never been the type of girl to dream about her wedding, it all started to feel a bit empty. How many lonely people are there in the world? Do people really enjoy this? Dating is exhausting…fun, but exhausting. How long do people do this for?
I stopped replying to conversations that were clearly going nowhere, stopped swiping as often, and didn’t jump every time my phone buzzed. It was fun while it lasted, but it was kind of like eating too much of your Halloween candy too soon. You’re excited to be a glutton and delight in the taboo of having something that is otherwise restricted, but eventually you get sick of the freedom of overindulgence, and the remaining contents of the jack-o-lantern candy bowl start to seem less like yummy treats and more like brightly colored wrappers containing empty calories.
Craving something more nutritious than candy, I can now say I am over Bumble for awhile. Who knows, maybe it’s time for a detox…and I seem to be craving a really good protein shake lately. 😉