In mid-September I wanted to try dating again. I didn’t have any expectations of jumping into anything serious. Mostly, I just wanted to see who is out there and enjoy myself with a guy who wasn’t constantly worrying about something or afraid to spend money (in other words, the opposite of my ex.) So I downloaded Tinder.
Two weeks ago I deleted the app.
And not because I met the strong, stoic man of my dreams either.
Frankly, I didn’t have high expectations for Tinder, although I was hoping I could meet somebody on there, get to talking and move offline to actually meeting in person. I knew what I was looking for, and definitely knew my non-negotiables: no fathers; no overweight or unkept men; between the ages of 30 and 39; and nothing in the bios that was overly sexual or bitter about women.
My other hard rule was that even if I was the one to “match,” he had to send the first message. I’ve been listening to dating coaches as well as femininity leveling up channels, which have been instrumental in helping me to see where I went wrong in my last relationship and figure out how to revamp myself after coming out of the heartbreak/depression fog.
One of my favorite channels talks a lot about femininity versus masculinity in dating, and that when women are the ones who do the pursuing, it puts them in their masculine. Masculine men don’t typically react to masculine women well, and the ones who do – the men who are in their feminine – will accept what the masculine woman has to offer, until he and his ego grow resentful or she gets burnt out of being the one to keep the relationship going.
I realize this goes against everything the under-40 crowd was taught about dating. You know the advice all us ’90s and early 2000s girls got – “Why don’t you ask him out? Show him you’re interested. There’s no reason why you can’t ask him out.” Or, “Relationships should always be 50/50.” And my personal favorite, the one that sounds more ignorant each year I grow older: “You don’t need to rely on him. You’re strong, you’re independent – you can take care of yourself.”
If I’m so strong and independent and don’t need to rely on a man, why are the same people spouting this off still trying to push me into pursuing a man? Can’t I be self-sufficient and happy as a single woman? But I’m digressing.
To be fair, there are women who are naturally more masculine and men who are naturally more feminine who are happy in life and in relationships with each other. There’s a balance to masculinity and femininity in everyone. But to the younger women who are reading this and operating in their masculine when it comes to dating – approaching him, swiping him, always texting first, always arranging date night and otherwise pursuing him – unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you can maintain the role as pursuer for the rest of the relationship, you will get tired, burnt out and want out.
I’m speaking after 2.5 years with a man who – in hindsight – was afraid of truly being the masculine provider he tried to sell himself as, so he wanted to push me into my masculine (getting a manual labor position in a warehouse and working a ton to support his dreams of being an entrepreneur) while also insisting I fulfill the feminine/maternal caretaking role. Trust me on this – even if marriage, motherhood and a white picket fence isn’t your life goal, turning 30 does force a woman to slow down and re-examine herself, and at some point, most women are going to want to relax in their feminine. You won’t get that when the man is way too into his own feminine and you have to be “the man” and woman in your own relationship.
So I knew what I wanted: a man who knew and dwelled in his own masculinity, who prioritizes an active, healthy lifestyle and is emotionally mature.
It was time to get swiping.
And after a month of swiping, messaging and around 50 matches that went nowhere, my great dating experiment went nowhere. Which was a little disappointing but honestly not surprising. I’ll give you all a brief rundown of a few of the guys I talked to.
1.) The attorney – he messaged me first, told me I was absolutely adorable (eh, compliments are compliments even if “adorable” wasn’t what I had in mind) and wanted to set up a date the upcoming weekend. That Saturday I got a text that stated “Hey babe, I’m coming down with a cold so we’ll have to reschedule tonight.” Calling me “babe” when we hadn’t even met was a red flag, and I told him rescheduling was fine with me. According to Instagram, he appears to have healed himself with an Instagram model.
2.) The jacked guy – I actually got a phone number out of him and wanted to meet him. However, one word answers and always being busy pretty much sealed that one shut. Which I’m still a little disappointed by – not gonna lie, I really wanted to touch his arms.
3.) The musician who came on too strong and invited me to be a part of a music video that would be filmed in some woods around us. I did not accept the invitation.
4.) The guy who let me know that he saw me as a friends-with-benefits potential and wanted to have me in that way. I told him no. This guy seriously wanted someone to “hang out” with in lieu of taking on a proper date, be able to talk about his life with and then jump their bones. Buddy, my time, emotional labor and slice of heaven are not for free.
The rest were either openly lonely and thirsty, or honestly kinda boring conversationalists. I didn’t find what I was looking for – which may have been a tall order for Tinder – so I pulled the plug after a month on there.
Shortly after deleting the app, two things happened. The first immediate thing was that I felt better, not stressed from always checking the app and frustrated by the slim pickings.
The second, bigger thing was that I had to have a talk with myself about if I really want a relationship at all.
Throughout my 20s, as jacked up as it sounds, I wanted to be seen by guys as a romantic and sexual possibility, like a grown up. I was tired of being passed over for practically anyone else and looked at as “just being cute.” Cute is the term middle and high schoolers use. I’m an adult well into my 20s, so being called “cute” is so damn infantilizing. I didn’t want to be sexualized in inappropriate contexts, but I wanted to be seen as a grown, component woman.
So at 27 I met my ex and we were together for 2.5 years. He was my only boyfriend, and I felt like I finally broke out of that insulting “cute little girl” box I’d been stuck in for so long. I guess I thought having a long-term boyfriend would communicate to others and myself that I am in fact grown.
However, “grown” brings some downfalls to it. Frankly, when men can’t see past “grown,” that’s as far as how they view women goes. The big head doesn’t call many shots, and at almost 30, I’m discovering I don’t just want to be lusted over. It got repetitive and disrespectful coming from my ex, and it’s no different when trying to date.
Instead, I want to be cherished – truly wanted and held in high esteem, for the totality of who I am. I want to be provided for and protected, so I can actually rest in my own feminine and not have to be both man and woman in my own relationship. Lusted after is fine in your 20s when you have the energy to keep up with the passion, but at almost 30, I’m not willing to go with a guy who lets the little head shape the entirety of how he views and reacts to me – or (doesn’t) commit to me.
So I’ve decided to not date the foreseeable future. Tinder isn’t the end-all be-all, but unfortunately there’s some behavior patterns I’ve noticed from men on- and offline that I simply don’t want in my life.
What I do want is to explore the world around me, to see new places and new people, to be regularly reminded how small I am in the grand scheme of the universe. I want to focus on my new-ish job and growing in a company where I’m happy. I want to read books and write my blogs, and jump into some creative hobbies I’ve been thinking about. I’m also re-dedicating myself to running and smashing new physical goals in 2022.
And unless God decides to bring someone to me, I’m going to hang tight. Even when I was young I knew there was a strong chance I would have to be the one for me, and I’m going to be own best friend and cultivator. I’m cherishing me, I’m nurturing me and I’m going to protect my heart and provide the life I want for myself and my loved ones. If I have to be the man in my life, then so be it – and I’m going to create my own dream come true.
This was a lot, but I always appreciate all of you who keep up with me. May your day be great, meaningful and happy-making.
Yours in reading and running,