Sex offenders (yes, you read that right!), ghosting, cards declined, alcoholics, (Oh, my!) –– these are just some of the exciting things you can look forward to in the exhilarating world of online, or app dating. After many exciting conversations and real-life experiences, I’m here to try to help you navigate your way around. Be prepared to “laugh at my pain,”  *Kevin Hart voice.*

Some background on myself. In August 2018, I became single after a marriage, divorce and another serious relationship. I hadn’t been single in 10 years! I completely missed the “Golden Years” of Tinder and OkCupid –– however, I loved hearing my friends’ crazy stories or swiping left on guys for them. Now, I am the mid-30s swiper – the cynical and jaded swiper.

1. Ghosting: and no, not Casper the Friendly Ghost

You are going to learn very quickly that men or women like to talk and disappear. At first, I would be very confused and take it personally. I had some great conversations with men and even made plans to see each other – ghosted. I had some great dates – ghosted. I had a few intimate relationships – ghosted. Look, it’s going to happen, and before you try to let your crazy shine bright like a diamond, let it go. You’re not going to figure it out. It’s just part of this crazy, digital dating life. Why do you think there are so many great memes about ghosting?

2. Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

You’re going to meet some “gems.” For example, some gems who are trying to catfish you with pictures from 10 years ago, lie about their age, kids, relationship status and even their sobriety. I met one guy who was attractive and his profile said 39 with no kids. We started talking and we met up. This grown man ended up being 45 and had a child. Why lie? I asked him straight up. He said, and I quote, “I don’t want older women hitting on me.” RED FLAG! ABORT MISSION! Listen to your gut and peace out of that situation, ASAP. To this day he still messages me and asks for a second chance. No means no, bye Felicia.

3. Don’t Expect the Perfect Dinner Date

I had been speaking to this guy for a few weeks. We had a lot in common and we were so excited to meet each other. We had so much in common and I was eagerly anticipating finally going out with someone who was raised European, like myself. We decided to go to one of my favorite rooftop spots locally. Immediately when we met, I felt like something was off but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Now, it’s Friday at 5:30 p.m., we decided to take a Lyft to a rooftop lounge. Within the first hour of being there, he pounded five drinks. He also made vacation plans with his friends via text while telling me about it! In my head, I felt awkward and wanted to leave. He kept telling me to drink more and catch up. I was not really in the mood to pound nine drinks by 7:00 p.m., so I took my time. Also, his obnoxious and loud jokes towards me and the servers were the last straw. This winner decided to get in his car and drive home after he had about a dozen drinks. Needless to say – ghosted!

4. Google is YOUR BEST Friend

I am the Queen of Lurking. This is something that I am proud of because I don’t want to be going out with any psychos. This next experience is the most painful story for me. I began chatting with someone who seemed very fun and innocent. After two weeks we met up to play pool and have a few drinks. Our conversations were raw and we got to know each other very well. We had an amazing time on our first date – laughed, talked and agreed to go on a second date. The first red flag was he told me he believed he was a wolf in a human’s body. I laughed it off and figured he was just drunk.

The second date was the following Sunday. I took him to my favorite place, also known as my “Cheers” bar. It was almost as if a flip had switched. He was all over me and I hate PDA. He was asking the bartender, my good friend, to make him stronger drinks that were, “more high octane!” At one point, the bartender mouths to me “are you okay?” and I roll my eyes and reply, “no.” I ask to close out our tab and he takes out his card. Declined. He doesn’t know why and says, “well if I use my other card I won’t be able to take a Lyft home because I don’t have enough on it.” Mortified, I take out my card and pay his $115 bar tab. Yes, his bar tab.

Next, our group decided to go to Dave & Buster’s, and that’s where the downhill spiraling started. We all go to the bar, he throws his card down for one round of drinks. While the card was laying on the counter I memorized his full name. That’s right – he hadn’t even told me his full name. He walked away to use the restroom and I immediately Googled him: my mouth hit the floor, my chest got tight, and my best friend looked at me. I was shook. I threw my phone at my best friend. There he was, photo and all, on the Megan’s Law Website. For those not familiar, Megan’s Law is a website to look up local registered sex offenders. His convicted charges were disgusting. I ran to the restroom before he came back and stood there in shock for 15 minutes. After I was able to compose myself, I came out and pulled him aside. I let him know I Googled him and that he needed to leave. Later, I found out that he had a restraining order against him. Friends, I dodged a potential flying bullet.

5. Find the App or Site that is right for you

Sorry, that last story was pretty intense so let’s end this on a fun note. Not everyone is going to be a registered sex offender, not everyone is going to be a closet alcoholic or out of touch liar. Regardless of my experiences, I am having fun. I like connecting with people and I have met two guys who have become my closest friends after dating just didn’t work out.

If you’re more serious about finding someone, invest in a paid site. My sister met her husband off of Eharmony and they are perfection. I have friends who’ve met off Match.com, but, I hated it. Men as old as my father kept liking me, it looked like everyone just got out of prison or was using it IN prison and the quality was just awful.

For something more light-hearted try apps like Hinge, OkCupid or Bumble. Personally, I like Bumble. The woman makes the first move –– but if I have to see one more photo of a guy sitting on top of a mountain who has traveled the world to “find himself,” I will throw up. Seriously, we get it. You’re “spiritually woke,” cool story bro.

So how would I rate dating in my mid-30s? Is “meh” an acceptable answer? It’s definitely an experience and makes for great conversation over drinks with friends. The key to dating is to just have fun, roll with the punches and enjoy those free meals and drinks. Cheers!

Written ByNatasha Dressler

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