*Reader discretion is advised; excessive use of the word "fuck" with some full-frontal nudity*
With the bitter-sweet contagion of the world wide web, the whole dating concept has become somewhat warped where all pre-conceived notions and ideologies have been well and truly digitally fucked.
The modern-day language of social media has left many of us singles puzzled as to whether there is any underlying subtext behind a message, and if there is a truer meaning clinging on to every like - follow - request and read receipt. While social media has done wonders for connecting the world, it has also complicated an already complex tangle of emotions associated with dating.
I've learnt that to know what you want, you have to know yourself.
A couple of years ago, I was in a long-term relationship which was so intense with emotion that it was unhealthy. I lost myself within the toxicity and my very identity gave way to its consumption.
Since that train wreck ended, I've had a blast rediscovering myself, the things I like, the beliefs I have and, all in all, it's really chilled me out not having to think of and for another in fear of being "not good enough".
My journey to self-re-discovery has been confidence inspiring, to say the least, and knowing what I do about myself, and feeling pretty comfortable with that, I'm ready to find my partner in crime - an Eddie to my Richie... a Tango to my Cash... a John McClane to my hangover.
Now that I have a pretty good idea of who I am, what am I looking for and where do I start?
"Foxy Stoat Seeks Pig"
I've never been on a dating site. The notion of online dating has always made me feel uneasy. Perhaps it's because I'm old-fashioned and I like to meet someone through more organic means, or perhaps it's owing to the trashy viral click-bait horror stories that I can't seem to avoid.
Saying this, however, I've heard some great stories about online dating, even within the MTB community and with those few success stories, I thought; "fuck it" and I signed up to Tinder.
I think I was on there for all of ten days before deleting it. Fuck that.
Swiping through a series of faces felt like walking the halls of an endless library. Overwhelmed by potential options with shitty blurbs that didn't reel me in, Tinder did teach me one thing, what I didn't want. Working and playing in the cycling industry, it's safe to say that bikes dominate a significant proportion of my life. I need someone who at least understands that, and yea, it'd be cool to date a guy who'd want to go on rad adventures with me from time to time.
I can't honestly work it out; perhaps men are more fragile than I give them credit for and simply don't know how to talk to women, or maybe they think we really want nothing more than to see a strategically angled photo of their genitals? Please, if you know the answer, enlighten me.
If I'm asked for nude photos, I have a selection of favourites I choose from including my cat, my cat's butt, myself dressed as a cat (not the sexy kind), photos of me IN clothes (quelle horreur), or hideously vulgar photos of train-wreck porn-stars which I find from Google - that's what the internet is for, right?
My train of thought is this... why send a nude photo of yourself to a person you've not met or dated? You're ruining all mystery and intrigue so that if an opportunity for sexy fun time should arise, they already know what's coming. It's like someone showing you your birthday present before you've got to unwrap it, which let's face it, is the best part!
I'm going to stop right there because I'm not condemning those who do send nudes and want to. Some women I know find it empowering, confidence inspiring and just a bit of fun, which is totally fine. So long as no one feels pressured to send them, then go right ahead.
MTB Dating Diaries: Part 1
My initial plan for this piece was to invite an open discussion about modern-day dating with the MTB juxtaposition, but as I began to write, I felt myself ranting, venting and pouring myself in until I eventually decided to sod my intentions and just write it all out there.
My MTB dating diary entries will drag you along to share the high's and low's of my dating life whilst introducing you to some of the characters I've had the delightful fucking pleasure of conversing with this far - You know what they say, misery loves company.
*To protect the identity of these persons, I've omitted their names and I won't name them so please don't ask me*
How do you know when a date is a date-date? Without actually asking, it's very hard to tell if a cuppa tea is more than just tea.
Upon a friend's suggestion, I reached out to this "sound guy" he knows well. I approached him under false pretences about something totally convincing to test the waters and after what seemed like a very brief to-and-fro of messages, it was he who suggested we meet up, and we did. Only, I couldn't tell if it was a date so I went with the flow.
The non-date-kinda-date went well, or so I thought. Plenty of laughs, discovered shared interests, plenty of tea drinking and bike talk ensued, and yes, he was very handsome. Could I read him? Like fuck.
After the non-date-maybe-date, I didn't hear much from him. I assumed he wasn't interested and that bothered me. Not because he possibly didn't like me, but because I didn't know what it was and I thought that I wouldn't have minded seeing him again but felt too uncertain and insecure to ask.
Shrouded in mystery and frustration, I finally reached out to him. We resumed messaging briefly with funny low-brow quips until it felt like I was trying to get blood from a stone, so I stopped and finally gave up.
To this day I have no idea whether it was a date, if anything, or what he felt about me, if anything, and now too much time has passed to ever find out.
Lesson: Find out if a date is an actual date before the kinda-maybe-possible date takes place. At least you know that if it's a date, there's an element of interest and potential there, whereas a tea date with a friend is just that.
When someone catches your eye, you wonder if they're single and what better way to check this than via their social media profiles.
Indeed, someone caught my eye and I snooped to find no trace of a female across any of their social media pages. With the coast being clear, I engaged in conversation with Mr-sponsored-rider. I consulted my inner circle of beings for their opinions - as you do - and the general consensus was that this guy was a good egg. Sweet.
Aside from his crass sexual innuendos, to which I wasn't impressed, we discovered we had a number of things in common which lead to a discussion of meeting for a date. The date escalated into an adventure riding trip paid for by his brand sponsor - his idea, not mine.
After a conversation with an industry friend, with whom I confided details of said adventure date, I was taken aback when told that Mr-sponsored-asswipe had a girlfriend. I got my best wing-woman on the hunt and sure enough, after some intense digging around, she shared with me a profile of a very pretty girlfriend - why he would want to hide her, I have no idea.
After confronting this guy, I was immediately deleted from his social media existence. What a dickweed.
Lesson: Find out if they have a partner by any means necessary before engaging in extreme adventure date planning
On my quest for courtship, I've found social media to be more damaging than anything else. While it's great for communicating with people, it is very much a glorified highlight reel of your life. When chatting with guys, the only information I have is what they're messaging me and the carefully selected posts they choose to show the world.
Mangled within that, you have petty associations that stir up even the most laid back of people... Why has he read this and not replied?... If I don't like his post, will he think I'm a cunt?... I don't want him to see I'm online because I've not thought of a good enough reply to the last message... then the usual, checking your phone every 5 mins (or less) in case he's messaged while slowly losing your sanity in the process because you know deep down you're better than this but before you know it, you're writing a list of potential baby names for your future cat children.
Editor note: I know not all men are creepy sex-driven dipshits and yes, I know women can be just as bad. I'm only speaking from my experiences, so before you flex your keyboard warrior fingers and prepare for war, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride...