couple on a date at a cafe restaurant romantic

I’ll let you in on something personal – I’ve never really dated.

From the age of 16 I’ve gone from having one serious relationship after the next, lasting at least 1-5 years each. The first guy called me his girlfriend after about an hour. The second one just naturally flowed into a relationship right away. The third one talked about marriage the kids on the 3rd day and the fourth one moved in with me from the start.

I saw how people dated in movies and always found it curious and strange at the same time, since it’s not something that was part of my world.

dating app on phone

Not too long ago I had to write a ghost blog for a client of mine on the subject of Tinder (a dating app). I’ve never been on it and I wasn’t thrilled to be signing up to something that had a reputation for casual hook-ups.

After a week of “researching” strangers and the occasional awkward conversation with old school acquaintances, I was happy to delete the damn thing off my phone…until one day I got bored abroad and installed it again, just to hang out with someone my age. It somehow felt like an addictive game and I was suddenly thrown into a whole new world that I wasn’t sure I liked, but somehow a part of me was curious about.

I can’t say I’ve enjoyed it (with a few exceptions).

You talk to someone, then all of a sudden they disappear (“ghosting”). Or they pop up every couple of months with a “hey, how you doing” (“breadcrumbing”) and then don’t check your reply for the next few weeks. Or you dated a bit and now they just follow all your Instagram stories without saying a word (“haunting”) – ok the latter can be acceptable in some cases, like if you’re friends or old classmates, but if you’re not friends, then why are you still thinking about them every day, maybe you care about them more than you think? When I get over someone, I stop checking their stories after a week or two because they physically and emotionally leave my life.

So amongst ghosts, breadcrumbers, mooners and sexting buddies, are there really any actual people to date out there, or is the modern world doomed to be part of a game, where you endlessly text strangers the same thing over and over and never bother to physically get to know each other? I’m honestly worried about virtual reality getting popular…

phones kissing online dating apps

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but there’s just something more “real” about meeting people the “real way” – out somewhere… physically… in person… yes, like away from your phone!

Tell me which story you prefer of a first romantic connection:

1) Tinder sent a notification that someone super-liked me. I checked out his profile, thought he seemed nice enough and swiped right too. Chatted for 4 weeks, kept postponing dates. Finally went on a date, which was quite nice, he gave me a little hug at the end and planned two more dates for later… but then he didn’t write for a week. I asked what’s up and he said he really likes me and wants to get to know me but is busy with work. Fair enough, it happens. Then he disappeared again for several weeks. No communication or social skills whatsoever.

2) I didn’t know anyone at the mindful festival and everyone was holding hands, dancing around in a circle. The presenter announced couple’s games/dances and everyone paired up, ready to play. There was one guy sitting on the side, not taking part in the action. He was really handsome: blue eyes, athletic and with a mysterious distant look on his face. I hadn’t been single for long and never done anything like this before, I kept looking over at him for a good 15 minutes with butterflies in my stomach until something inside me pushed me towards him and I asked him to dance. Thirty minutes later he carried me on his shoulders in the nearby lake. Two hours later we were jumping over fire as per ancient tradition. Four hours later we were sitting by the open fire and he was playing the guitar, singing me romantic songs. 24 hours later, grannies on the streets stopped us to tell us we should get married because we looked so perfect together. 48 hours later we shared our first kiss. 3 weeks later we had a romantic getaway weekend in Paris…

Anastasia, Ringing Cedars festival in Vladimir eco village, Russia, dancing games

I don’t know about you, but the first story sums up pretty much most dates that I hear my friends talking about.

The second story wasn’t a date, but I’d take that over the first one any day! It was real, it was romantic and neither of us swiped right – we just followed our intuition and took a risk. Sometimes the best things in life require you taking a risk. They require vulnerability!

I truly believe that you lose something personal when you skip that first stage of meeting someone. I’ll never forget the rush of excitement I felt when I kissed a friend of mine, wondering if it would ruin our friendship, or how I observed this one guy build up the courage to come talk to me with this adorable shyness to it. Let me tell you something, people know how difficult it can be to go up to someone and ask them out, so you totally get points for that!

When I went on online dates, I honestly didn’t even feel excited.

It was like any other day for me (again, with a few exceptions, obviously). Maybe that’s part of the reason they didn’t lead anywhere, there was just this emptiness behind it…does that make sense? Apps take out the part that leads up to a date, that excitement and maybe a bit of fear that comes with going up to someone you don’t know and taking a risk at asking them out. When you both swipe right, you already know that you both like each other, so then it feels like it’s a done deal. I don’t know about you, but that feels kinda strange.

So where is this article going? I don’t know, just felt like writing. Does that mean that all online dating sites are bad? Well not at all, I do know couples who met through the internet who are really happy together, and maybe I’ll even do it every now and then. I actually did have some fun dates (beetroot bouquet was definitely original!) and made some good friends from it. Maybe this post seems very anti-online-dating, but there are definitely good things about them too, like if you’re new to a city or the place where you live doesn’t have much going on socially.

girl checking phone messages at laptop

I guess this post is just meant to encourage you to go out and talk to strangers on the street.

Or get a hobby and meet people who are into the same stuff. Don’t hide behind text templates but build up the courage and talk to the hottie sitting across from you at the cafe. The worst they can do is say no. And if you do date online, that’s awesome, but just don’t be a jerk that sends unwanted dick pics or who disappears with no explanation. Remember that people at the other end of the line are actually human beings too who have feelings, so if you didn’t feel any sparks on your date, tell them that openly and honestly.

guy asks girl out on a date with rose behind his back. couple, love, romance

Also, do you ever feel like you know too much about your future date before going out with them? When someone comes up to you and asks you out, you don’t know anything about them and there’s an element of mystery and surprise that is part of what makes this upcoming date so exciting.

When you date online, you probably have already stalked their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter back to 2007 and know all of their interests, ex partners, their first dog’s name and what they did for their grandma’s last birthday.

So much for the “mystery” eh? I’ll tell you honestly, if I knew that my second boyfriend smoked before I went out with him, I would have never agreed to meet up, but now I wouldn’t trade that year together for anything. Now I would swipe left (no) on anyone who doesn’t speak English, but if I did that a few years ago with my Russian partner, I would have never had a real-life fairytale.

Final point – you “feel” things in person

When I was a teenager I once read in a magazine that women know within the first 10 seconds of meeting a guy if they’re right for them or not. I partly agree with that. It happens differently with different people, but when you meet someone, you get the whole picture and not just some version of reality with a SnapChat filter over it.

You can feel their energy, you can get their vibe through touch, smell or kiss. For example, a friend of mine will know right away from the first kiss if the guy she’s with is worth a second date or not. I once touched the hand of an ex of mine and began crying because I felt like I knew him from before. I’ve also always been massively sensitive to smells, so if someone’s pheromones don’t resonate with me, then I know it’s not going anywhere. You don’t get the opportunity to experience that with online dating, you can chat to someone for a month and then you meet in person and the spark just isn’t there…

So let’s wrap this up – be spontaneous, be strong and brave and go ask someone out in person. This is my homework for you, if they say no you can blame me ???? But after the first date, don’t just disappear and stalk their Instagram stories for an entire year without saying a word – if you like someone, TELL THEM! Why complicate life?

couple on a date at a cafe restaurant. love, romance

P.S. If you think it’s “stupid” or “awkward” to go up to someone in certain places, here’s a list of places I’ve personally been asked out at – so no excuses!

Level: beginner. On the streets, waiting in line for something, at a bus stop, at parties, festivals, anywhere that’s pretty stationary. If you’re shy, just ask for the time or how to get somewhere. But don’t make it ridiculous, I once had a guy ask directions to the beach…150m from the beach! Another scenario that fits beginner levels – get a mutual friend to introduce you to someone at an event. Oh and let’s not forget planes, I’ve had some great flights when you’re literally stuck next to someone for 13 hours 😉

Level: intermediate. In cafe’s, the gym, museums or mutual places of interest. Did you spot someone you like when you last went paragliding? Get their number before they fly away…literally!

Level: expert. I was recently walking super fast in the centre of town with headphones on, clearly not paying attention to anything around me – some guy elbows his way through the crowd, waves his arms to stop me and says, “I’m sorry to disturb you, but I just had to say that you’re incredibly beautiful”. Just don’t do this if someone’s running/exercising with a cheesy line like “where you running to?”, according to my best friend who runs in the park every day, that tends to happen way more than it should!

P.P.S: Sorry is this post sounds a bit harsh but hey those of you who know me personally know that I’m just direct that way. It’s NOT aimed at anyone in particular and I didn’t write this to hurt anyone’s feelings, but if I did, I apologise.