It was late. The bar was closing, and it was time to head back. The others went ahead as we casually strolled under the stars with our arms around each other’s waist. Perhaps it was because we each drank a little too much wine with dinner. Or maybe it was a little chemistry. He was a handsome stranger with gorgeous blue eyes and an accent to match that I met only a handful of hours ago. Suddenly he stopped and told me to wait. I protested unsure of what was happening. He slowly pushed me into the rock wall and started kissing me. My hands reached for this hair as I pulled myself closer to him. I knew it was both a start and finish to another backpacker’s love story.
Dating abroad is not an easy task. Hell, it’s not easy to back at home in the “real world.” Modern dating just plain sucks, but if you ever want that ring on your finger and white picket fence with a husband (or wife) grilling burgers in the backyard while the kids are splashing in the kiddie pool with the dog lazily sleeping in the shade, you have to deal with all the crap that comes with it.
From heading to the local pub on a Saturday night to the online world of Match.com and swiping left or right based on someone’s physical features, it’s incredibly easy to meet people. Yet, it is so hard to meet the right people. Add in the element that you’re constantly either traveling from city to city every fortnight or just living on a farm in the middle of nowhere; dating is tough.
I’ve been out of the dating game for a while. I’ve gone on dates here and there but between attending grad school full-time while working full-time then training for an Ironman and then working over 100+ hours a week to pay off 60% of my student loan debt and to save up to travel, needless to say… dating was not a priority.
It’s not uncommon to hear other long-term travelers and travel bloggers complain about dating on the road. When we do have love interests, it tends only to last for a short time. Kate from Adventurous Kate wrote a great piece on her love interests over the years of traveling on her blog and Nomadic Matt has written about it as well. While we all choose to live the life that we do, it’s only human nature to want someone special to share it with.
Chalk it up to nearing 30 or my slowly imploding biological clock, but since I arrived in Australia, I’ve decided to give dating a try again. So I did what every 20-something does and downloaded Tinder.
I’ve always avoided Tinder based on its premise of judging people superficially on their appearance. If anything I’ve learned in life; it’s “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Plus, some people, like myself, are just not that photogenic.
I’ve met some pretty awesome guys throughout my travels in the recent years. I’m a strong believer in that relationships are all about timing. You could meet the perfect person today, but if they or you aren’t ready, it’s just not going to happen. It sucks. But, that’s life.
Hostels are always a great place to meet people. I’ve met several of my good friends in hostels. Love interests, though? A little harder. I went to the Darling Harbor fireworks and dinner with a guy I met in one of the hostels in Sydney when I first got here.
He was a software engineer who owned his house in Queensland. He was super friendly with a lovely smile. Although he has hardly traveled, he listened to my travel stories with starry eyes. And then he told me he was only 18. Say what? I’m too young to be a cougar!
And then there is Tinder. If you’re single and have used Tinder, then I’m sure you have your fair share of Tinder horror stories. If not, just google Tinder horror stories for the fun of it. It totally makes me feel better about myself.
Like I said before, I’ve never used Tinder before randomly deciding to take the plunge in Sydney. At first, it was kind of fun. Australia is home to some good-looking men. I’ve never seen so many six packs in my life. And when you finally match to someone that you’re mildly interested in… it’s like Christmas.
Until half of them “open their mouths.” I wish I took screenshots of some of the conversations or lack of intelligent conversations I’ve had with potential dates. While I respect honesty and bluntness, just saying “want to f*ck?” is just not cool. Delete.
Once you weed out the men who just want booty calls, then the numbers get smaller. Here you have the men who are just interested in knowing my finish time for Ironman Lake Placid (because triathletes are awesome like that) and those who have some potential.
I’ve gone on exactly two coffee dates from men I’ve met on Tinder. Well, one really because the first one never showed. Seriously people! If you’re not interested or can’t make it, just text that you’re not coming. It’s common courtesy. And that goes for both genders.
And the second was okay. I was just happy he wasn’t a serial killer. And I didn’t get robbed. While he was totally sweet and friendly, the connection just wasn’t there. Both of us realized that as soon as he learned that I despise coffee. Tea, please!
Then there was the American. We never met in person. Between our busy schedules and geographical locations, it just never happened. But, we chatted over text for a long time, and I started to think that I actually found one of the few good men on Tinder. Just when I thought this thing had potential, he upped and ghosted me. Awesome. And that’s the magic of Tinder for you.
Now I’m in a small town on the South Coast. I absolutely love living where I am. It’s a beautiful little town. Unfortunately, there aren’t many eligible men of my age. Although, there are two very attractive butchers at the local butcher shop. I think I’m getting low on bacon…. again.
Like any loyal Sex and the City fan, I can’t talk about love without quoting the queen of love, Carrie Bradshaw, “somewhere out there is another little freak who will love us and understand us and kiss our three heads and make it all better.”
Love is a fickle thing. It causes so many highs and so many lows in many people’s lives. It’s only human nature to want that heart pounding, sweaty palms, squeaky voice kind of love. Or perhaps that is what every rom-com wants you to think you want.
Either way, I’d like to share a fine glass of Riesling while watching the sunset over the ocean with a special someone someday. I might not find that on Tinder in Australia, but I have hope that someday I might run into my little freak somewhere who will decide hopping on the next plane with me anywhere is better than doing it alone.
Of course, I might have a better chance if I didn’t delete Tinder. At least I’ll live to see another day.