Rebuilding Romance: Life After an 11-Year Relationship in the World of Dating Apps

 The Breakup and the Brave New World after 11 years relationship

After the breakdown of an 11 years relationship, I ventured into the world of dating apps for the first time at the ripe age of 32. It was a daunting new world, one that I had never navigated before.

11 years relationship
Credits go to MCN

The Search for Distraction and Fun

Initially, I wasn’t looking for commitment. I sought distraction, a bit of fun, and maybe some excitement. Swiping right (and left) for the first time was exhilarating! Tinder didn’t even exist when I met my ex; iPhones were only two years old back then. But now, with 45% of couples meeting online, what else could I do but dive in?

Friends and Fumbles

Friends who had dated through their twenties watched in amused horror as I stumbled through the same pitfalls they had encountered. My therapist even nicknamed me ‘Bambi on ice’ as I recounted my misadventures. Still, I persisted, partly for the thrill and partly to satisfy a lingering need for security and validation.

The Rollercoaster Ride of First Year

In my first year of dating men, I felt like I experienced it all: the good, the bad, and the hilarious. At times, it felt like I had hopped onto a jeep, traversing the world's weirdest safari. My ‘newbie’ status was probably obvious to seasoned daters. But amidst the awkward goodbyes, dinner dates that felt like job interviews, and psychoanalytic attempts by dates (more than one!), there were incredible, brand-new experiences.

Sweet Surprises and New Discoveries

There were sweet surprises, like joke gifts to break the ice, and discovering new cocktail bars, going on boat trips, visiting sushi restaurants, and taking in stunning views of London. I was in ‘say yes’ mode, and the excitement outweighed the timewasters and inevitable ghosters.

The Darker Side of Dating Apps

Yet, eventually, I glimpsed the darker side of meeting relative strangers. Expected annoyances like persistent senders of inappropriate pictures and the emotional toll of rejection were there, but some experiences were more alarming.

A Terrifying Encounter

One particularly terrible date soured quickly when I declined a kiss, shifting from annoyed to aggressive. Luckily, a watchful waiter ensured we parted ways safely.

A Shocking Betrayal

Another time, a man I’d been seeing for a while messed with our contraception without my knowledge, only admitting it afterward. It took a week for me to realize what he did was illegal, thanks to Michaela Coel’s incredible ‘I May Destroy You’. The shock at the time made it hard to react, but knowing it wasn’t okay and having an incredible support network helped me through it. If anyone experiences similar, I encourage you to speak to a healthcare professional.

Navigating the Apps

Despite these less-than-fun experiences, I wasn’t deterred. I tried Hinge and Bumble, which were fine, but I craved a deeper connection. I ventured into Feeld, spending more time googling acronyms than chatting, and explored niche apps like The League and Raya. Seeing a famous face on your phone is undeniably fun, and Raya initially seemed promising. But it lacked practicality, assuming everyone could jet-set from London to Rio for a date.

The Shine Wears Off

Ultimately, the excitement of these apps wore off, feeling no different from free ones. Match Group reported a drop in paying users, and a lawsuit in the US challenged their ‘gamification’ and predatory behavior.

Lessons Learned from Two Years of Dating

Two and a half years later, I’ve learned two things.

Respect for Fellow Daters

I now have a newfound respect and solidarity for anyone who navigated dating apps in their twenties. I don’t think I was strong enough back at that time.

Simple Pleasures Over Grand Adventures

Sure, new experiences are amazing, but I only need to chat about nonsense over a glass of wine. I love hearing people’s stories and letting conversations wander—from TV shows to politics to dinosaurs and everything in between—whether we’re romantically compatible or not.

A Final Thought

Though I’m still dating, I only use one app now, realizing you don’t need an app to chat about nonsense. The journey through dating apps has been a wild ride, full of surprises and lessons, but in the end, I’ve learned the value of simple, genuine connections over the thrill of the new and exciting.

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