It's a big step to finally decide to start dating and actually put yourself out there. And when you lack a basic human function i.e.: socializing with other human beings, it feels impossible to actually find someone. A sense of hopelessness settles in and you can become so comfortable with that. The thought of living the rest of your life alone without ever even having a taste of being in love? That just becomes so inevitable that you accept it as your reality. But is that what you want? Deep down inside you long to be happy too, right? You deserve to be loved.
"I was so socially awkward and was basically a lost cause, but I wanted to try."
I am an introvert who lacked the capacity of formulating conversations and exuded awkwardness to a 5-foot radius from where I was standing. I was never the type of person who would just walk up to someone randomly and ask what's his name or how he's been. I only talked to people when permitted like when we worked on a school project or I needed to ask something really important. When people do approach me, I shut them down with one-line answers and carry on with my "busy" day.
Having just recently come out, I had zero experience with love, romance or dating in general. I was still in the process of figuring out who I am and introducing myself to the world. The concept of actually finding a boyfriend or connecting with other gay men romantically was something I never imagined I would be able to do.
I always just had crushes on straight guys in my school and I thought that I could never find someone I like who would ever like me back. Being in a closet so long really did a number on me and my situation was tragic. As much as I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and change, I didn't know how to.
"How it all starts: A friend introduced me to Tinder"
I visited my friend's house during her birthday and she was showing me all of the guys that she matched with on Tinder. This was a friend I have not come out to yet so when she told me to download it and try it out for myself, I was kind of inwardly panicking about it. I played along though even when I only had the selection of girls to look through.
She was teaching me how the app worked like how I can adjust the age and distance of the girls I'll be seeing in my screen, to say "Hi" and respond to their replies. She was encouraging me to start seeing girls and put on a little effort to actually make "ligaw". It was super uncomfortable and I didn't know what to answer to her awkward questions, so I played along instead. I do have to admit it was fun even when I wasn't really into it at first. I actually just wanted to snatch her phone and use her tinder account instead to look at the guys there.
Finding a person from a few swipes on your phone felt funny to me. I couldn't believe that it was a actually a thing. If you swiped right on each other, then you match and can start talking? It was that easy? I can do it all on the phone and I don't actually have to put someone under the torture of socially engaging with me in real life?
"Tinder is also for homosexuals? What?"
I didn't know that I can actually pick to see men in tinder. I honestly thought that dating apps were strictly for heterosexuals. It blew my mind how there were so many other gay guys out there who were like me. And I actually found a lot of them attractive. I suddenly grew curious to see how many more there were, what they looked like and how I can get to know them personally. During my first few days in tinder, I was a maniac. I was so overjoyed that I kept on swiping so much to the point of always exhausting my daily swipes.
I don't know. I think I was trying to catch up from all of the years I didn't allow myself to entertain the thought of love. I convinced myself that I didn't need anyone else, but that wasn't true at all. I was always sad and lonely. Of course, I wanted to experience what everybody else was always going on and on about since the beginning of time.
Tinder was the perfect place for me to start. I literally just put myself out there and labeled myself as "gay" and "open to dating" for everyone to see. There wasn't any harm and judgment to that because everybody else in there was doing the same thing. So we just basically moved straight past the initial phases of figuring out if the guy is even gay and sensing if he's interested in you. If you guys match, then there is some percentage of interest. Now, it depends if either one of you makes the first move and the other replies, keeping the conversation going to see if there is something there. If that doesn't happen, then you'll be nothing but an icon to the hoarded collection of untapped matches. What a waste.
"What? I'm actually a flirt? Who knew?"
I was the exact opposite of who I was in the real world to who I was in those apps. I was more aggressive, excited, open to people and just fearless. I was always more keen on writing. I can write more words in one journal entry or a letter to a friend than I can verbally speak in a year. On online dating apps, I used this to my advantage. Instead of my actual body, my mind was fully in charge and I just freaking went for it.
I always made the first move for every guy I matched and I kept the conversations going. Maybe then I was talking to 5 guys at a time every day, but I didn't miss a beat. I wanted to get to know more about every person and see if we had things in common. Talking to people in tinder was the first time I actually had fun conversing with human beings and I couldn't get enough of it.
I was also surprised by how much I opened up about a lot of stuff I never said out lout before. These strangers went through the struggles and hardships of being in the closet as I did growing up. I felt genuine connection like I wasn't actually alone all of this time. There are actually people out there that can fully understand me.
"I take it back. Tinder sucks."
Of course Tinder and said people there aren't all that great. The system isn't built perfectly and well human beings aren't always a treat either.It's easy to lose someone in a snap of a finger without any goodbye or explanation even if you thought that you were really going somewhere. That's ghosting for you.
And it is just to be expected. Why would one person stick and talk to you when he has literally a number of options at his disposal? You can always be replaced when he gets bored, finds somebody better or for just no reason at all. And yeah, you just have to accept that.
I never really ghosted anyone though. I gave every guy a chance, because I was glad that they were willing to give me one. I replied to anyone who said "Hi" or replied to my greetings. I will always respond quickly as long as you ask more and more questions. I'm a nice person and even if the replies were curt, frustrating or took too long, I will still be there ready at the other end.
So yeah, it is always I who's left behind every time with what I didn't know were the final words we will ever speak to each other. It used to hurt during the first few times, but after a while I learned not to take it too much to heart.
"Hooked on attention and it was bad"
It was addicting. I honestly don't remember every guy I matched with or even talked to. When a conversation ends with a guy, I just go and hunt out for more. I couldn't let go of my phone without mindlessly swiping for more and more men. I kept on pushing, pushing and pushing.
But, it can get exhausting: talking to different guys every day because none of them will stick for longer than that. I was sick of asking the same questions and giving the same answers, every single time. It was obviously pointless. You always lose them at one point or another.
But I couldn't let go because I believed that I shouldn't give up. I can find the right guy any day now and as long as I'm on the app, the possibility is kept open. I thought I was being optimistic, but that's already desperation for you people.
And from what I learned over the years, desperation is not something that should be attached to any goal. It's ugly and you shouldn't lower your integrity because you want something so bad. You have to stop, walk away for a little while. Chose to be smart and think instead.
"Learn from your mistakes and never make them again."
I quickly recognized how Online Dating was so much like a game. Every time I lost with a guy, I always made sure to recognize what I did wrong. I can only learn from my mistakes and use those key points moving forward in the hopes that maybe I'll do better next time.
But there is just so much more that I realized while being in those apps and talking to all of this different people. It has really shaped me to become a person who respects not only other people, but also himself. Click this link for my 7 Key Tips on Online Dating.
"Dates and Disappointments: a likely pair"
I met a few great people out of Tinder, Tan tan and Bumble. Both good and bad. I fell for some of them too soon: those were gone before we even had a chance to meet face to face. Those that I did go on dates with, didn't really go so smoothly. Most dates were disappointments if not disasters.
It's just that people are just different from what they present themselves online. A picture and a few messages on your phone can be read entirely wrong by your brain. You paint this picture of who you want this person to be. Then of course you'll always end up disappointed by what you see in front of you.
So my advice is: start from scratch when you go on your first dates. Break the ice as soon as possible and try to not go into the date deciding that who you're meeting is your next boyfriend. Also, don't be afraid to ask the same questions you talked about before. What you spend hours and hours talking about in the chat? Well it has no bearing in the real world. Try to get to know the person all over again and see if he is the same person you liked in your phone. And then from there, who knows? Maybe a real romance will spark.
"Thank you, next, next, next…"
I'm not saying that I'm this point I am an expert. I am not. I actually decided to delete those dating apps and remove myself from the dating scene. I am still single at this point, with no foreseeable prospects whatsoever.
I am still happy and grateful for the hours I spent talking with guys who eventually broke my heart. Because of them, I finally felt love, pain, sadness and sparks of resilience. I was new and clueless, but during that course of time, I learned to adapt from absorbing every insight, emotion and experience I could. I developed the ability to carry conversations for hours and hours and it has helped me overcome a lot of my social anxiety in the real world.
I am still thankful for all of the guys who had the pleasure and displeasure of meeting me online. Everything they did to me and everything I learned from them are valuable. I finally learned what I liked about a guy: his intellect, openness and sense of humor. I discovered what I liked about myself and what I'm not so proud of that I'm now willing to work on. What I garnered are tools that I use to grow and become a better version of myself, not for next guy to come, but for my own personal well-being.
"Online dating is an open pool of possibilities. Jump in!"
I am not saying that dating apps are bad and you shouldn't try them at all. I actually recommend dating apps for people who were like me in the beginning. It gave me the footing I need to be confident in myself and be more open to others.
I would just like to advise people to be extra cautious on those apps and to not get sucked in to the point of addiction. It's so easy to be swept up by words of a stranger, and your mind may paint pictures reality will never actually project. Keep your heart at bay until you really feel like you know the person enough to invest some feelings in.
It is best to be smart and take things slowly. Don't put too much effort into dating or relentlessly looking for the one. Live your life out. Spend time with your friends and family and focus on your personal goals. He will just come to you at the right time.
Every person is different and I know that and everything I said doesn't apply to everyone. Maybe it is just dumb luck for people who already found someone they love. And maybe someday I'll find mine. I don't know where and when, but I am not rushing into it anymore. Maybe I'll go back to dating apps someday or maybe I won't, but the thing is I am no longer waiting and I'm okay.
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