I take regular trips down to Atlanta to visit some very close friends. A few months ago I had a trip scheduled to go camping with them just outside of the city and I figured I could open Tinder while I was there to find out if men are as proud of their fish in the South as they are in Madison. It turns out that there are far less fish in Georgia and Memphis than there are in the Midwest. The few I did see were more action shots of men in boats or with fishing lines, and less with fish. I’ll continue my study the next time I visit.
One major difference was men “super-liked” me more there than they do here (where I can see they like me before I like them), like they were more open to the idea of pressing the button to be pro-active about getting a match. This probably has to do with the denser population, but I imagine it might also have to do with the very passive-aggressive culture in Midwest. People are afraid of confrontation here, while in Georgia it feels to me that people aren’t afraid of pro-active flirting.
My plan had been to just “nope” everyone since I was passing through town, and just get a good sample size of people through my feed to find fish. Several people super-liked me and I noped them, too, but one stuck out. He said he was poly, in an open relationship, and seemed a little geeky (I like video games and have a long history of being in gaming communities, so this was interesting for me). I liked him back so we could chat.
Conversation seemed to flow a bit, but there were times where it was halting. I figured it wouldn’t be the worst thing to meet someone who wouldn’t want a heavy commitment, since I travel to Georgia enough that I might want something regular and fun there, but not enough to warrant anything serious. I had a couple things on my list of “need to do” in Atlanta, so I asked if he’d like to go to Gladys Knight’s Signature Chicken and Waffles for lunch, after my camping trip was finished and I’d had a shower.
Before the camping trip, I friended him on Facebook (this was before I made the decision that friending blind dates on social media is a bad idea). He liked my posts, looked back at photos, and I went on my camping trip. When the afternoon came around for lunch, I messaged him to confirm, and let him know when I was leaving the suburbs so he could work his timing accordingly with traffic.
“Great! On our way!” He replied. …What?
Yup, he brought his girlfriend. I was still very relaxed and in my vacation-glow, so I took it very gracefully, but this was incredibly bad form. He never mentioned to me that he would be bringing his girlfriend, he just thought he’d sneak her in there. It was a little awkward at first, but I felt like I got along better with his girlfriend than I did him. He didn’t really try to make any connection with me, but instead took away my autonomy several times with phrases like, “I can’t believe Tinder set me up with you! You play the same video game as me and are non-monogamous!” So instead of me having any decision making in the Tinder process, the app gave me to him. He also didn’t actually want to talk about the game with him, just marvel that I also played it. I tried to show him some strategy and photos of possibilities within the game, but he was just not interested.
He also mentioned me as a “Unicorn” several times. I have a photo of myself dressed as a unicorn on Tinder because it’s a fun outfit. He tried to use it as a reason why I was willing to date both him and his girlfriend. I never mentioned that I was interested in dating a couple (and I’m not interested in that). This was another way he overlooked my autonomy.
When we were finished eating, he looked to his girlfriend for permission to pay for my meal. I was more than willing to pay for my own lunch and had my wallet out, but they insisted after a long and weird look between the two of them.
I said I had fun, drove home, and planned on unfriending him from Facebook when he calmed the fuck down and stopped liking every damn post I made. Yes, this was a very passive aggressive thing that I was consciously deciding to do, and it made me feel weird and evil, but I just didn’t have the social energy to tell him how uncomfortable he had made me, knowing I’d have to spend twice as long consoling and comforting him as it took to tell him nicely to fuck off. Yes, some dudes are so delicate that they need you to comfort them after you break things off, even something so casual as a platonic first date, and I knew there was a strong possibility of this in my situation.
He didn’t back off with all the “like”s, and it felt like I was getting too much attention from him. He started sending me private messages asking about school and work (just nice, casual conversation), so I ended up unfriending and blocking him without explaining anything to him. I was completely exhausted of social energy and I took the easy way out. I know it was mean and I’m not proud of it, but I feel so much better for having done it.
Having written this blooper in my recent dating history, I would like to say that I have also had some pretty amazing experiences. Some men are fun, outgoing, and want to do things in town with me, and others are tender and sweet, staying in with me for hours to just touch and talk. These gems are restoring my lost faith in men, actually, even though they’re transient moments. After so many bitter years of driving cab and being shown the monotonous disrespect that seems deeply rooted in gender, it’s nice to feel like there’s still potential for connection and care.