I hate to admit, but I’ve been a Joke at dating. A complete joke, with a capital ‘J’.
The difficulty of adult dating
Being an adult, its incredibly difficult to have organic friendships. You just don’t have much time, or opportunity to regularly get to know someone, without pressure. That’s why social groups like church have been how people have managed to find dates.
In Singapore especially, if you’re a male, and you ask a person of the opposite gender out, you’re in going to be a lot of trouble. Prepare to get teased. Prepared to be grilled in the halls of fire, by your friends.
It’s just not okay for a single man and woman to go out together, in conservative Singapore.
Why? Beats me.
Perhaps some of it is because of how in a traditional, conservative, society, asking someone out for a 1 on 1 date is a clear sign of interest. It’s agenda-loaded. You simply don’t go to someone and ask them out for coffee, for nothing.
If you’re the guy, especially. It may be nothing for you, but for the girl, it’s absolutely everything.
You may think I’m shooting my mouth. But here’s what happened on three separate occasions when I asked girls out, one on one.
The first told me she was uncomfortable.
The next one, after going out for 7 times as friends, watching movies, eating, walking, messaged me to say,
I just want you to know that I’m absolutely not interested in anything romantic.
Have no hope at all.
The last one told me that she prayed to God, sensed that this wasn’t the time to know someone new, and prayed that I would be patient and let God take his course.
But I simply thought,
You must be kidding me.
It’s just coffee.
Do we need to pray to God about who we have coffee with?
None of this ‘asks’ mentioned love, or a date, or anything close to it.
That was what made me realise.
Women in Singapore, are very sensitive.
Nothing against women. Perhaps it’s our culture. Perhaps it’s how we’ve been brought up in schools which make fun of single boys and girls walking together.
So I thought I should try a dating app.
Hell hath no fury, like a bagel scorned
The app of choice? Coffee Meets Bagel.
Having 21 dates lined up for me, felt good initially, especially when I had had a grand total of 3 ever dates in the course of my whole life.
But as I slowly passed or ‘connected’ with them, I felt like I was shopping for a basket of groceries. It felt objectifying to be scrolling through pictures, cycling through option after option, knowing that CMB would give me another few anyway.
But this isn’t how the real world works. You don’t have girls presented to you everyday of your life, 21 options a day, for you to take your pick.
If this was how I felt, how did the person at the other end feel? Did she pass on men, knowing that there was another better man, out there, anyway?
Of course there are going to be better ones, over and over again. But at some point, you choose and move on. You don’t live with the thought at the back of your mind,
There’s someone better.
It’s not settling for someone less. It’s recognising that you can be content, with what you have.
And CMB… is the perfect way to prompt discontent.
And then I met the first ever bagel in person
The first time I met the first ever date, I was open.
I was tired, but I was open.
It had been a long day at work, and deep down, I just wanted to get this over and done with. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
She was a human being. At least CMB serves up real people.
But it was awkward, to say the least. I didn’t know what to say. The first 3 minutes were spent trying to break the ice. She sounded shy and guarded, as if not sure if I was going to eat her.
I had to constantly assure her,
I’m not going to eat you.
Relax, relax, relax.
I’m not naturally awkward.
In fact, as a writer who interviews many people for stories, I’ve to make people quickly comfortable, ideally within the first 3 sentences.
The dance where I size you up
But this was a different ball game. Somehow, knowing each other through a dating app seemed to mean that we were immediately sizing each other up.
Is she the one?
Is HE the one?
The first few conversation topics were around me asking her why she hadn’t found the one yet, despite her deeper wealth of experience with the app.
I was also trying to suss out what she wanted, and why those guys hadn’t worked for her.
No connection, no vibes, different outlook on life.
And here she was referring to the drive and ambition the person had.
I could see immediately why the app wouldn’t work for her. She was trying to find the elusive needle in the haystack, for someone who was Christian, and equally driven and ambitious, witty and humourous, and yet kind.
I’m not sure many of those guys exist. Or if they do, I’m sure they are not hiding on CMB.
With an app, you’re immediately vaulted to the (false) thinking that
There’s someone like that out there.
Where it’s probably closer to the truth that there’s no such perfect person, and that you work with what you have.
My personal conclusion
This is my personal conclusion after 1 week of using the app.
That dating apps give you the false misconception of there being someone better out there, that can fulfil all of your dreams.
Whereas what’s closer to the truth is that you make do with what you have, and that who you choose, may not be the one you die with. She may grow to be better.
And that when you shortcut the process of the ask, and you cut straight to the date, you lose the courage and masculinity needed to show a lady that you’ve the guts to initiate something that is very threatening.
Because 1 week after using the app, I came to the thinking that this just wasn’t my idea of masculinity and strength. I wanted to be courageous and bold.
I wanted to ask someone out for a date, even if it cost me an arm. Or made me go red in the face.
Finding love is a deeply masculine endeavour. Where you have to fight for the lady you want. Dating apps emasculate you. Rather than showing the strength you have, much like a stallion, you’re now a gelding. You’re so scared of asking a girl out that you would rather use an app to shortcut the process.
Take it from me.
If you want to grow as a man, go the traditional way. Find someone you’re interested in, in the regular social gatherings you’re part of, and ask her quickly for a date. Being clear from the outset seems to work better for Singaporean women.
But if you’re scared… go to the dating app. You’ll find a partner, if that’s what you’re looking for, but you may not grow as a partner yourself, in the full strength of masculinity that comes from initiating the chase.