MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Tue 22-Jul-14 12:06:52

Guest post: Returning to the dating game - 'Now, things seem far more weighted against women'

Following the end of a long-term relationship and a year of breast cancer treatment, MN Blogger Scars, Tears and Training Bras - now in her mid-thirties - decided to return to the dating game. Here, she shares her experiences and argues that apps like Tinder have changed the rules - and not necessarily for the better.

Scars, Tears and Training Bras

Blogger and author

Posted on: Tue 22-Jul-14 12:06:52

(27 comments )

Lead photo

'Everyone was talking about Tinder, and it seemed perfect for my purpose'

"But obviously, my only interest in someone so much older than me would be for casual sex", the 28-year-old Danish model blurts out, when I have the temerity to rebuff his advances on our first date. "You're not my type anyway; I like tall, thin girls," he adds.

It should be noted here that I'm 35 and a size 8, and surely, calling a woman old and fat is one of the worst ways to persuade her to drop her knickers?

“If you ask me, it's not right to lead men on the way you do,” he continues, picking up his jacket and getting to his feet. “You put your hand on my thigh: you were obviously up for some fun.” And then he storms off as if I, a stranger, owe him something.

Considering the episode later on, I feel more and more aggrieved. So I brushed his thigh with my hand; I flirted with him a bit - so what? Surely something has gone wrong with human communication if he could see a flirty stroke of his thigh as assent to sex.

But then, I've been out of the dating loop for a long time. This is due to, amongst other things, a long relationship with my great love (who became a monk, which is another story) and then a year of breast cancer treatment.

Returning to the fray, I assumed that dating now would be more or less the same as when I first started doing it in the early Noughties. I couldn't have been more wrong. Having just spent a month on dating phenomenon Tinder, I can report, dear reader, that dating in 2014 has become far more heavily weighted against the woman.

Tinder is a relatively new beast on the dating scene. It’s an app rather than a website, so you can access it anywhere and at any time. It knows where you are, and so only shows you men who are in close proximity (you can set the geographical limits). You can then scroll through photos of said men, and ‘swipe right’ if they appeal. You’re only alerted when someone ‘swipes’ you back, and only then can you start messaging. So, it’s all pretty low-stakes embarrassment-wise.

I joined Tinder - rather than one of the slightly fustier, older players in the internet dating game - because a couple of avowedly-single male friends had recently joined, met new girlfriends and raved about its possibilities. Everyone was talking about Tinder, and it seemed perfect for my purpose: some nice dinners, theatre trips and outings with some chaps - a bit of fun after the ghastliness of the last year.

At 35, I am fairly battle-hardened. However I worry for the women who are doing this first time around; in their twenties and using Tinder as a much easier alternative to walking up to somebody in a bar or club and chatting them up. What about the girls who do send nude photos to these unscrupulous chancers?


And most of it has been just that. Becoming a part of this trendy new dating revolution has opened up a whole new world. I've met men who I would never encounter in my day-to-day life - bankers, doctors, barristers and artists who come from eclectic backgrounds. I've met Germans, Australians, Siberians and Danes. It is exciting dressing up to go and meet new people. And the massive advantage is that you’re in control. Nobody can contact you unless you have both 'swiped'.

But not all of it’s pretty. Boys (and a lot of them really are boys – the average age of Tinder users is 27 and around 70% of my dates have been in the 23 – 28 age bracket) will often try to arrange first dates at my home or theirs, and seem surprised when I respond: "That's not safe. I always meet strangers in a public place."

Once I have met up with them, it doesn't take long before they start angling for an invite to my flat. When I refuse, they seem surprised. These bright young things also appear to expect naughty photos before the first date. They send me charming pictures of their willies, and messages in the middle of the night such as "Sex?" and "Why don't you come round and we can fuck?" My personal favourite has been: "as long as I have a face you'll always have somewhere to sit".

These are all from men who I haven't met or even yet exchanged messages with. When the willies arrive, they are exceptionally large and often underneath implausibly ripped abs. I can only assume they come from some kind of Central Willy Database.

To avoid future misunderstandings, I've taken to telling the men in an early message that I'm not up for casual sex, or, as they call it “fun”, but all this has led to is the grammatical horror of: "thinking about you and you're (sic) famously hard to get into pants".

At 35, I am fairly battle-hardened by years of mental and physical illness. However I worry for the women who are doing this first time around; in their twenties and using Tinder (because all their friends do) as a much easier alternative to walking up to somebody in a bar or club and chatting them up, with all the potential embarrassment that comes with it.

What about the girls who do send nude photos to these unscrupulous chancers? What if they’re under the influence of drink, drugs, or just crippling insecurity? Even worse, what happens if they go to a strange man's house in the middle of the night and he turns out to be dangerous?

I, perhaps naively, assumed the men I encountered would know that "no means no". But my recent Tinder experiences have made me question my previous assumptions.

There have been some nice chaps, but 2 out of my 14 or so have behaved terribly. The ‘extra-pushiness’ of young men in their twenties - which goes beyond the enthusiasm and gratitude I'm sure they've always had - and their expectation that one will have sex with them immediately is, I'm sure, connected to all those things we usually cite when decrying how young people conduct their sex lives; from easy access to pornography to a pop culture obsessed with the sexual subjugation of women.

Something is rotten in the state of dating it seems, and I can't help but feel apps like Tinder have something to do with it. It’s all about the here and now – ‘who’s available within 5 miles of my current location?’ at any time of the day or night – and it’s based entirely on physical attractiveness.

The modern dating scene is so far removed from how I imagined it would be. Hopefully I am thick-skinned enough to handle it - that remains to be seen - but I fear for those women who are too young, inexperienced or sensitive for this frightening reality.

By Scars, Tears and Training Bras

Twitter: @tindernymph

BomChickaMeowMeow Tue 22-Jul-14 13:44:57

I wouldn't worry too much about young women. People worried about us when we were their age- they will be fine, as we were.

Also maybe switch to another dating site. I have never used any dating service but even I know from acquaintances who do that Tinder is notorious for being all about shagging.

sunbathe Tue 22-Jul-14 13:57:00

Meeting people elsewhere is no guarantee of niceness.

I remember a guy in a nightclub saying to me that I 'might as well' go to bed with him. (As if!)

sunbathe Tue 22-Jul-14 13:58:48

Forgot to say, that was 30 odd years ago.

Plus ça change...

BomChickaMeowMeow Tue 22-Jul-14 14:06:01

Yeah. I've been chatted up with the line "Fancy a fuck?"

"No thanks."

"Oh well, just thought I'd ask."

Onesleeptillwembley Tue 22-Jul-14 16:02:28

Sorry, only read halfway through, found it a bit tedious.
But I read enough to see you're on tinder. It's well known as the online version of a pick up joint at closing time. Why not try a decent dating site for a realistic view.

PenelopeGarciasCrazyHair Tue 22-Jul-14 16:47:52

I thought Tinder was more of a hook up thing than dating. If you're looking for a relationship or a situation where the man wants to actually meet you before expecting you to fuck him, perhaps one of the fustier old fashioned sites would suit you better? Tinder is full of 20 somethings for a reason and as someone doing OD in her late 30s the last thing I wanted was to be reminded how old I was! I'd rather be approached by lecherous 50 somethings than be rebuffed by boys!

Madrigals Tue 22-Jul-14 17:36:00

Try guardian soulmates or eharmony.

Most people I know who have started new relationships in the last year or two met each other online.

joanofarchitrave Tue 22-Jul-14 18:50:22

Is it surprising that a website which involves you looking at a picture and deciding whether or not you want to meet someone is based entirely on physical attractiveness?

LizLimone Wed 23-Jul-14 00:49:19

Isn't Tinder just a hook-up site though? That seems to be how it is viewed here in the US. The idea is that you find people in your area who are up for casual sex, not really a 'dating' website as such.

I have no idea if this is the case as I am married since before online dating was common and so have no experience in this. Am just basing this on what I've heard and media coverage here in the US. A recent radio show I was listening to, for example, asked women who use Tinder to call in and talk about their experience as the presenters struggled to believe that there really were that many women out there looking for casual hook-ups. The absolute assumption was that Tinder users are looking for sex, not dates.

fourlegstwolegs Wed 23-Jul-14 07:55:49

There are so many mean women on here! Actually a friend of mine is in a happy relationship from a Tinder match. I myself have made some new friends on it. Yes, some are just there for hookups but they are easily avoided.
However I agree that things are stacked against women in their 30's....

BitOutOfPractice Wed 23-Jul-14 12:37:18

Sorry this article really annoyed me

Tinder is a bit impersonal and used by people too young for you? Really? You knew that before you signed up so why are you surprised?

So that's right, write off all online dating (and men) on the basis of that.

It would have been a much better article if it had referred to other dating sites and apps and had had even a tiny bit of humour in it

BitOutOfPractice Wed 23-Jul-14 12:38:07

And as an aside, I am in a relationship with the kindest, most emotionally mature man I ever met, after finding him on an online dating site last year

PenelopeGarciasCrazyHair Wed 23-Jul-14 12:39:21

Admittedly you may find someone who you get along with on Tinder, but as someone else has said, the fact that you rule them in or out purely on the basis of a single photo means that you could well be discarding people who are more suited to you and only focussing on those who have a good photo, not usually considered to be the best basis for a long term relationship!

Other OD sites allow you to express a preference for age, give some info on your job, hobbies etc, kids (have any/want any), by allowing the person to write a profile you get a sense of their personality, you can assess spelling etc if that is important to you (it is to me!) and it basically allows you to get to know a little bit about someone, not just 'do I like their face'.

I can't imagine ever thinking that picking someone based on a mug shot was the route to a happy relationship.

GretchenWiener Wed 23-Jul-14 12:43:34

lol at penis data base

Mitchy1nge Wed 23-Jul-14 12:45:25

v puzzled by posters so far who are responding as if the writer is asking 'what's the best dating app' rather than 'why the sinister shift in relations between the sexes since I last did this'

BitOutOfPractice Wed 23-Jul-14 12:54:16

Because Mitchy we are trying to explain that in our experience, there isn't a sinister shift but rather that the writer's view thatthere has been has been massively skewed by the sample of men she's met due to the app she's using

GretchenWiener Wed 23-Jul-14 12:55:30

everyone I ever hear of on dating sites is inundated with unsolicited pics of tumescent todgers.
Guys - retain some mystique

Mitchy1nge Wed 23-Jul-14 13:31:26

as an aside if anyone is interested OP is going to be live on woman's hour TOMORROW discussing issues around dating with cancer/uncertain prognosis/post cancer treatment

Mitchy1nge Wed 23-Jul-14 15:00:56

but Bit, the author says mostly she has met nice men through Tinder for theatre outings and dinner and so on (after some of her friends met some nice people through the app) but that a minority have behaved far more badly than she can remember from when she last did any kind of dating - not sure she is writing off all online dating

waternymph Wed 23-Jul-14 20:39:56

Thank you everyone.

Would be interested to know how/ why the writing is "tedious"?

Obviously tediousness is not what I aim for in my writing!

DeathStar Fri 25-Jul-14 12:48:49

If you go on a regular dating site now like PoF, a number of the under-40s guys seem to want to redirect you immediately to Whatsapp and other unmonitored means of messaging, where they can't be reported to the dating sites for demanding sex chat and sending pre-date nekkid photos...

Although I believe in their success rates, I've never personally met any couple 'who met through a dating site' - it's always third-party success stories or rumours of such. But I haven't given up on them.

Many folk treat it as window-shopping or 'browsing' - I've never had a relationship (I was one of the invisible ones at school, nothing has changed there), have been on dating sites on and off since they started 14 years ago, and have probably been on around 20 dates (I don't live in or near a city, which probably reduces my chances also). I never went on more than a second public date, and never any hook-up type stuff (avoided those websites altogether). If they didn't admit to being married already, it was all just mutual 'not for me, move along'. It's not that it encourages laziness, just that there's altogether too much choice in one place, and no magical sense of coincidence or serendipity about meeting anyone on those sites. Seeing an attractive guy for the first time passing in real life is completely different to clicking on profiles. I'm not attracted to one in ten guys in real life, so the odds of meeting a guy I felt especially connected to in every ten guys I met online is also slim.

There's still exactly the same number of single people in the real world at any given moment as there are online - it's just that some are going about their usual business in real life, while others are looking at their phone or computer screens smile Good luck searching xx

waternymph Sat 26-Jul-14 08:18:06

Wow thank you DeathStar!

Plenty to think about there smile

My cousin and his girlfriend met on JDate. Seeing them today. She is fab - going to ask her about some stuff I think.

Of course would rather meet someone in RL but have been/ am not that well ATM, so whilst can spend plenty of time on phone/ computer, a new course etc is hard. And having more operations in October sad

Madrigals Sat 26-Jul-14 10:26:05

Water, I think asking her is a good idea - I've helped some people set up profiles since DH and I met that way and I think showing in the profile just a little of the things that are particular to you is key.

I found DH by keyword searching a hobby we are both into!

I hope your treatment and ops go well and so sorry to hear you are ill sad

DeathStar Sat 26-Jul-14 12:43:19

waternymph Ouch sad Hope you recover quickly!

I have the opposite problem - I'm waiting for surgery following sports injuries to my spine & sternum, although I'm ok so long as I keep moving around and exercising, at the moment I can't sit unsupported for long, so I'm supposed to limit my computer/sitting around time. Easier said than done when I'm meant to be taking time off sick and folk still email for IT Support grin

So far I haven't been brave enough to go to the local gym (I'd rather run along the beach where nobody will see me!) - apparently gyms are the health-conscious equivalent of bars and clubs when it comes to window-shopping for dates. I guess it depends on the time of day, or day of week you go there as well. But way too hot in this weather to be stuck indoors - I think that will be more of an autumn/winter theory to test out smile x

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