I look around. Fixated on the rectangular object held. Distracted by the vision of their hand.
I am nineteen, three years after it is legal to have intercourse in my country. I have never experienced anything sexual. At this age I feel late to the game and feel pressured to get a move on to see what I am missing out on. I fear that I am undesired.
I was constantly surrounded by male dancers. I had no interaction other than the kisses made in spin the bottle. No one was interested. I would flirt but they would nudge straight past me to my beautiful long-legged friends. I was bored and alone, the outcast. The city is highly populated yet the people don’t speak. Or look. Just at their phones. No interacting. Simply glued to technology. This is when I decided. I opened the app store and typed in the search bar “t i n d e r”: clicked go.
Back then it was very against the norm; you didn’t meet people on dating apps. It wasn’t natural and more often than not you were cat-fished. But I didn’t know how else to go about seeking someone. At the time, my friends didn’t live in the city so I rarely left the apartment. The entire summer I spent time learning to cook with my grandparents; very wholesome. Yet I would see my friends starting relationships or telling me stories about one night stands.
In the winter especially, it was cold and dark and I just wanted someone to talk to… not even about anything in particular.
I was alone in my apartment on Boxing Day. I finished work early at 5pm. As I walked home, I unlocked my phone and began my dating app experience.
Immediately I started swiping my thumb in either direction, mostly left. I felt strange, looking at those 5 selected photos of strangers, and I also felt slightly trashy for even thinking of maybe doing this for sex. The conversations were initiated by males, the topics mostly sexual. I felt uncomfortable. I did not reply.
That night actually turned into a 3 and a half year relationship from a conversation initiated by me. At first I was embarrassed by our meeting story and felt particularly judged by older generations, until I eventually got comfortable, even giving others the confidence to try it out for themselves.
The point is: do not be ashamed. You managed to find someone out of hundreds of others…a web of cyber algorithms working for you to unite. Even if you have to try a few different dates, you may end up finding someone who you really click with. It’s good to meet new people or for getting used to dating; putting yourself out there. You don’t need to find the person you are going to marry, but you never know who is out there until you try. The dating scene will always feel somewhat strange, but at least the dating apps allow you to curate your own gallery of what you want to display yourself as.
In this day and age we want everything immediately, and this allows you to find someone with a mere swipe and chat in the palm of your hand.
I don’t regret it. It does work and that’s the way our generation is heading.
(Disclaimer: do not feel like 19, or any age, is too late to begin sexual intercourse – you will feel ready when you are comfortable.)