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Singledom: breaking out of your uncomfortable comfort zone

If you are single and can't seem to meet someone who interests you within your primary or secondary social circle, try any of the apps or services available now with an open mind. If you're like me, your social circle consists of five people, you work alone at home and only ever leave the house to get milk! 

After the divorce, I had no way of meeting new people, especially men. My city is very small and everyone seems to know everyone (especially my ex), which makes it harder to meet someone. That plus the fact that I'm shy and not very outgoing wasn't doing me any favours. 

There is literally an app or dating service for absolutely ever imaginable person, sexual orientation, religion, interest or hobbie out there.

If you are serious about finding a person with potential for a long term commitment, try joining a paid website like eHarmony or Match.com, with all the elaborate algorithm and filtering. You'll know that the person you meet online is there for similar reasons to your own.

If however you just want to break the dry spell and get back on the dating scene. Keep an open mind and just take it slow. For me this is the best way to deal with dating, because when you are desperate you send out urgency vibes, and put too much pressure on men to commit too soon. They can smell desperation, believe me! Desperation also jams your receptors and you misread or ignore certain warning flags that you otherwise wouldn't (and shouldn't) tolerate.

Artwork by Jimmy Simpson

Why I used Tinder

Critics say Tinder is a hookup app for casual sex. It's true that it's very superficial, as it's all about the profile photo which will make you swipe left or right on someone. 

Most people on Tinder want to have fun and meet people, feel a sexual attraction and flirt a little (and yes, for most adults this includes casual sex). Tinder is an accelerated way to meet many new people in three steps. Swipe, chat, meet. 

It's not about compatibility, and there's no expectation for more than what it is: a date with someone you would normally have to invest time to get to know before going out. It expands your dating pool, and in my small world, this is a major plus.

After a couple of months recovering and mourning the death of my not-so-alive marriage, I felt the need for attention. I wanted to get out there and flirt, be seen, feel attractive again. My 6 year relationship with someone who was emotionally unavailable left me feeling drained, unattractive and invisible. 

They say to let a stranger choose your profile pictures. If someone is picking me based on a few photos, what do I want them to see and understand about me? I chose my own because I wanted to show certain things about my character, not only how I look. I wanted to show my creative side, my fun outdoorsy side and that family is important to me. No mixed messages here: no parties, no bikinis, and no duckface selfies. That's not me.

Rules I set for myself: 

I knew I was *fragile* after a break up and wanted to protect my emotions. I did this by deciding on some rules which I would set for myself. Everyone is different, so I am not saying these work for everyone, but they did work for me.

No.1 No sex

Yes, this sounds extreme for a divorced 32 year old to suddenly decide celibacy is the way to start dating on Tinder, but for me this was very important. 

Women, being on the receiving end of sex, often have an 'emotion drop' after sex. Women think more clearly before sex, whereas men think more clearly after sex (once their goal has been achieved). This is a very long topic I can talk about for hours, so I'll save it for a future post.

I didn't want sex to cloud my judgement about the men I would meet. I wanted to get to know them before anything (if anything) were to happen between us. Alot of them tried it on, which quickly showed me what they were after, and I did not go on a second date with any of these men.

No 2. Safety first

I would only agree to meet anyone I met online on my terms. That means at a coffee shop or bar of my choosing. My girl Vicky had my back, so I always told her when and where I'd be meeting someone.

I had rules for the men too, before swiping left or meeting with someone.

Profile pictures: no selfies (I hate this trend, I find it narcissistic), no topless pics (if a man is showing off his body, he's a show horse looking for a rider...no thanks!) and no partying/drinking/smoking photos (clearly living a different lifestyle to me!).

Description: there must be one, with no reference to sex or a 'good time'. Preferably a list of hobbies or interests show some depth.

Chat: does he actually make the effort to send a message? Again, reference to sex will quickly result in blocking him. 

Chauvenism is dead: I am an old fashion gal, so I like an old fashion guy. If a guy doesn't offer to pay for the drinks, he's done. Don't be hating on me just yet all you femme-nazis, I don't expect him to pay, but I do expect him to offer to pay. It shows good manners and good up-bringing. 

The dates

Let me begin by saying Athens is a hotbed of gorgeous men who know how to flirt! Athenians are great salesmen and will make your head spin with all there sweet nothings to reach their end goal - getting laid! That said, I went on a few dates there but stuck to my rules (sorry, not sorry boys!). These are some of my most notable dates, in no particular. 

Date with G

G was an absolute gentleman. An engineer who walked around Syntagma with me, even popping into some shops with me while I oggled different products and he patiently and politely waited. We went to a tucked away coffee shop which was just perfect and he drove me home afterwards. As any respectable gentleman should, he paid for coffee. We still keep in touch and message each other every once in a while. There was no chemistry, but G was lovely and I'd definitely consider him friend.

Liar liar

Everybody knows that people exaggerate online or show their best images. This was a graphic designer with a hot body...  I know I said no topless pics before, I made an exception and regretted it immediately. We arranged to meet somewhere central, and when a guy arrived and asked me if I was Anastasia, I realised he used fake profile photos. He was not a 1.90m greek god but an average height, average looking slightly balding blah! My mouth dropped, I stood up and walked away. Stick to the rules! 

Date with S

S was handsome, your typical good looking Greek man. We went for a drink and then walked to a late-night restaurant and had a great meal. Conversation was easy and playful. Greeks love my accent, so there was alot of playful teasing. The only thing S did wrong was not offering to pay. When the bill came he did not even blink, and just put down his share. At both places. At the end of the night I had to literally push him off as I said my good byes. Under what moon he thought he was getting lucky, I have no idea! The next couple of days and months my inbox was inundated with love/hate messages. The poor guy thought I was playing a game, and had he been more of a gentleman, he may have been given a chance. Alas, rules are rules.

Cypriots do not know how to flirt like Greek men, unfortunately. Maybe it's the poor vocabulary, maybe it's the small island 'everybody knows everybody' mentality. Tinder in Cyprus was a disaster! Cypriot men are much too self conscious to have fun, and care too much about their image. So obviously I only matched with foreigners! 

No date with C

One Cypriot guy, who found me on Facebook through mutual friends, was *dying* to meet me. However he was only ever free after 11pm as it was football season and he couldn't miss a game. For months he was messaging me and trying to arrange to meet, on his terms. How did that work out for you buddy?

After a few failed attempts at chatting with random non-chatty guys, I did go on a couple of dates. One was with a Greek athlete G, surprise surprise, and one with a Moroccan entrepreneur M.

Awkward athlete

The date with the Greek was awkward, we really didn't have much in common, but he was polite. However, his end goal was definitely not on the table for me. Even his sweet messages the days following couldn't make me want to relive and hour of staring over his shoulder when the crickets were chirping.

Date with M

M, the Moroccan  was really bubbly and enthusiastic. We did have a great connection but he was interested in persuing a proper relationship with me. After a few weeks of kindly turning down all his invitations I had to be a little cold and told him he misunderstood my interest. Maybe the poor guy was thrown off by meeting a Cypriot woman (well...half anyway) who was open and kind and chatty. 

Along came Mr Fabulous

Just when I'd given up on using Tinder in Cyprus, I found a profile I hadn't seen before. This guy broke all the rules. He had a selfie, but he was pulling a funny face. He had a topless photo, but laughing on the beach. He had a photo with a fat cigar in this mouth, but smiling and looking like he was having a good time. In short, this guy looked like a fun person. We matched and started chatting. He made me laugh from the first few messages. He lives in London full time and happened to be on Tinder while visiting Cyprus which he does quite often. 

Mr F wasn't trying to be smart (which he is!) or sexy (which he is!). He was just being funny and silly. Our first date was coffee, for 2 hours. It felt like we didn't run out of things to say and I left feeling elevated, like I'd just hung out with an old friend. 

We just chatted through texts the next couple of weeks, not planning to meet up again. Then when we finally did, Mr F came to take me to dinner, the old fashioned way. He picked me up in his vintage car (he did not open the door for me, we're still working on that). We went to one of the nicest restaurants and spent 5 hours there, eating, drinking and laughing. While on the date, my phone beeped as I matched with a few other guys on Tinder. This did not go unnoticed ;)

It was the first of many great dates to come with this wonderful human being. 

There was no love-at-first sight magic. There was a conscious decision, which we both took, to be ourselves and have a good time. At some point after spending enough time with him, once I saw this person for who he is, with all his great qualities, I decided to love him.

Language definitely makes a difference for me now, because now someone finally understands my sarcastic and silly sense of humour and it's not lost in translation anymore. This is the first time for me that a relationship has been so effortless.

If you go into the dating scene expecting to find Mr Right, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. However, if you go into the dating scene with no expectations, but high standards, you'll not only have a good time but may come out of it with unexpected surprises and a few good stories too. Dress to impress at all times, be truthful and take your time. 

Act like a lady, think like a boss. 

Love & light always

Anastasia

 

Artwork by Jimmy Simpson


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