“You're dating the wrong men!” This is what my best married friend used to say when I showed her the profile of my new date in the past (Creative, in his early 30s, preferably with a beard). “You are a successful 30-year-old woman with clear values and needs. Not a teen who has a pointless crush on a pop star because he has such a cute smile, ”she always used to say. And just like back then, when my mum warned me as a pubescent about my loser boyfriend at the time, who never treated me well, I caught myself again shrugging off the objections and thinking "Oh, what does she know?" But now I know that mom was always right - just like my best friend. Obviously there's a good reason why it never worked out with men before. It's not like I haven't tried Believe me, I definitely had to get out of my dating rut and sometimes the people closest to you see things more clearly than you do.
My first step after this peptalk was to try out a new app. Unfortunately, some dating platforms are very superficial and do not offer a particularly detailed profile. I needed more than a short bio like "Travel, Laugh and Beer" and two bad selfies. When you register, OkCupid asks you a number of questions and then shows you the compatibility of the singles with your answers. And the questions are tough; some are deep, some are mostly funny. This is an absolute game changer. So I noticed that in everyday life I rarely stop and think about certain topics and how important they are to me. Our views, values and no-gos change over time, and that's a good thing. The creation of my profile reminded me to question myself more often, to think about what I am made of and ultimately also which person I would like to see by my side. I am so much more different than my career or my appearance, and the same goes for my dates: They are not just made up of lush facial hair and certainly not only convincing due to the fact that they live only a few kilometers away. In the end, of course, I am aware of this, even if sometimes only subconsciously. In all honesty, compatibility is definitely something that was missing from my previous experience. But that should finally change. My plan was to go on three dates outside the box to go. Date a different type of man, get involved in something new - three dates with unexpected Mister Rights, so to speak.
"Having dated older men in the past, this date was also a bit of a return to my former comfort zone."
I chose my first date because of our compatibility. Because Adam * and I agreed on basic things like religion and politics, but had enough differences like our musical tastes and pets, I hoped our combination would make for interesting conversations. He was also 42 years old. Having dated older men in the past, this date was also a bit of a return to my former comfort zone. But hey, I'm ready for a family, so why not go out with a seasoned man who is past his bachelorhood? Another big plus was his background and the fact that his preferred language is English. Adam * is from Brittany and lived in Great Britain for a long time. I was born in Poland, moved to Germany as a toddler and lived in the USA for a year. That was the first thing we had together and I was looking forward to chatting with him in English. I was also interested in whether he felt at home nowhere like I did.
I was excited to meet Adam *, in a totally unjustified way, as I quickly realized. He made the appointment and picked a new craft beer pizzeria - these are just two of my favorite things. He looked sweet and mature at the same time. "I ironed my shirt especially," he confessed proudly before giving me a tight and warm hug. We could hardly sit down and the deep talk began. We had a connection right away. So much so that we completely forgot to order food. I was really surprised by his openness. No spark of toxic masculinity - no subject was taboo. Childhood, relationships with parents, changing jobs, we discussed everything. Not in a difficult way, but in a wholesome and funny way. Something like a shelter formed around us and this feeling is extremely important to me for a real relationship. The evening ended with another great hug and plans for a second date that should fit the theme of the first: he wanted to show me one of his favorite films that would confront and destroy my fears of horror movies. I'm sure I'll feel just as safe with him on the couch as I would with delicious beer and a shared pizza at 10 p.m.
I left my best friend to choose my second date. She should choose based on the intros, bios and answers alone. Chatting was left to me, of course, so that it remained authentic. She was super excited and couldn't choose anyone for days. Maybe she understands my side of the whole online dating jungle a little better now. Of course, there was also a lot of pressure on her. But in the end she did it: A 35-year-old teacher (with a beard, by the way) named Andre * smiled at me from the phone screen. Not really outside my box, I thought. "He's basically you in masculine," my friend informed me. And wow, we were absolutely right! When I read about his values, worldview, passions, fears and no-gos in the app, I might as well have read my own words.
"He was just in a long relationship and admitted that he still felt weird and shy on classic dates"
Her last tip was to organize a picnic. “The weather is so wonderful,” she said, and luckily I had to go before she could start the chorus of “Love is in the Air” for the second time. But you have to give her her enthusiasm. The weather was really fantastic. My conversation with Andre * felt as easy as the gentle breeze in the air. We were relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. But there was a wall, I noticed that straight away. He had just been in a long relationship and admitted that he still felt weird and shy on classic dates, which I could fully understand. But he was ready to open up and suggested that I meet him and a few of his friends for a barbecue at the end of the week. That way, his idea was, it wouldn't feel so uptight and date-wise. I totally liked the idea.
The third intro on OkCupid that became the date started almost like a little storm. His first message to me was long. And I mean laaaahaaang. And a little weird and sarcastic - just to my liking. For example, Rami * asked me in a very empathic way how often the spelling of my name had given me problems. He asked specific questions and I felt like I was being seen as a person. No wonder there was something immediately. We wrote all night, talked about God and the world, told each other about our passions and explained things like knitting to each other. I couldn't put the phone down. I rarely write so much before going on a date. A waste of time, I always thought and had the feeling that I first had to experience a person holistically in order to really get to know him or her. Well, Rami * proved to me that I was wrong. I heard my best friend say: "I told you!" The digital way was the ideal way for us to establish a real connection, because Rami * went on a trip the next day.
That's why our first date found something like that outside my box instead - namely via video. The fear that it might feel like a work call quickly vanished when I saw his nervous smile on the screen. We cooked something together and his food looked a thousand times better than mine, which I will blame forever on how our conversation went from OkCupid to "Ok, cute!" We picked up exactly where we left off the night before. Yes, the never ending eye contact is to blame for my burnt chicken, ok? Not that we needed conversation starters, but there were so many topics inspired by our OkCupid profiles. Statements like "There's nothing wrong with being messy" or "I love animals, but I eat them too" created a basis that felt real. We made a plan to cook together in real life soon. I'll be responsible for the salad then ...
"The digital path was the ideal way for us to create a real connection."
Three very different but exciting dates and a whole load of impressions later, I have to admit that these dates are without question some of the best I've ever had. Maybe that's because I was so ready for something new - rather overripe. Maybe it's because OkCupid suits me better than other dating platforms, which in turn means that I finally feel more like myself, understood and valued. The app serves as a support to data more consciously and to ask yourself what you really want. You are actively encouraged to listen to yourself and to refine your awareness of the qualities you actually want in a partner. This experience definitely taught me to stop being afraid to ask for love. To be encouraged to express my wishes openly - something I was ashamed of in the past and especially with other apps - was the game changer par excellence. And who knows, maybe I'm already a little in love ...
* Name changed by the editor
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