If you have great virtual chemistry, you may have it in person, too.
Dating is different now than it was when I was in my 20s. I'm 45 now. Not old, but certainly not young either. Back then I could be more careless about who I went out with, trying on all kinds of people to see who fit. A night out was a night out, and if it didn't work, well ... on to the next.
I was practicing back then. But the practice rounds are over. Now, I'm looking for someone I could spend the foreseeable future — maybe even the rest of my life — with.
So when I took to Tinder and got the coveted "It's a Match!" message, I decided to to lay everything out on the table in text before we ever even met. Brutal honesty. Insane candor. Terrifying transparency. I figured I had nothing to lose, really.
We matched on January 1. We messaged on Tinder back in forth over the course of a few hours. The usual stuff. What part of town do you live in? What do you like to do for fun? How were your holidays? What kind of work do you do? Then we moved to text, as Tinder messaging quickly gets clunky.
That's when I eased into the bigger questions, the deeper conversations. I didn't edit myself. I made jokes and told the truth. I answered and asked. We talked about our families and what we wanted in a long-term partner. We talked about past girlfriends. We talked about medical issues and religion and politics and money. We revealed ourselves in a way that some people never do, let alone at the beginning of something new. We even sexted. Yikes.
We broke all of the rules as far as I could tell. Taking on topics considered taboo for early conversations. Admitting that we could really like one another. Even (gasp!) talking about the future. It was honestly insane and the only thing that kept it from being too insane was the fact that we both acknowledged how nuts what we were doing really was.
It sounds cheesy, but I can think of only one way to describe it: I opened my heart. And she, in turn, opened hers.
I even blurted out, "When can I see you?" To which she said, "Can I take you out Saturday night?"
I asked all of the questions and answered in the affirmative because on text we were perfect. I mean truly killer rapport. Every joke understood. Every tough question answered. It was sweet and sexy and honest and exciting. And it scared the sh*t out of me.
It went against everything I had come to know about dating. Wasn't game-playing and withholding the key to modern dating? I mean, that's what all of the books and magazines ultimately say: Don't show all of your cards. Ever. But I didn't want to even bother with a real life date if I didn't have a sense of her virtually.
And after four or five days, I felt like I had such a good sense of her, that I got freaked out all over again. Could this girl actually be real? I figured a phone call might help me to figure it out. So I called her. And go figure, the phone call went as well as the texting. So well, in fact, that I got lost in my own city because I couldn't use the navigation on my phone while I was talking to her.
More texting and more phone calls followed in that week leading up to our date. Tons of them. Thank God "long-distance calls" are no longer really a thing. (She lives one city over.) We got along so well tha0t my nerves ramped up another few notches.
Was there any chance that two people with such amazing virtual rapport could have absolutely none in real life?
The truth was that on the night of January 1, I actually had a really tough date with someone who I had a damn good text rapport with. We texted for days and got along swimmingly. But in person, it completely fell flat.
She talked and talked for five and half hours. I tried to find some connection. But I couldn't and she totally misread my polite eye contact for interest. It ended as awkwardly as a date possibly could, with her asking me if she could see me again and me stumbling over myself to say no as politely as possible.
So by the time Saturday night came along, I was as nervous as a girl could be. I didn't have any idea what the night would hold. She just told me what to wear and sent a driver to pick me up. I gave myself a pep talk in the car ride over. "Whatever happens, happens. It was a fun week of texting regardless. You never know. Just keep being yourself and if it's meant to be, it will be."
There are two things I look for when I'm dating someone: the click and the crave. The click is that "thing" — that indescribable thing that draws and connects you to someone. The "I like you. I just do. And I don't even have the words as to why" thing. The crave is desire, when you want someone so much you don't even know what to do with yourself. You're overwhelmed with want.
We arrived at the restaurant and Sonny, the driver, opened the door for me. "Good luck," he whispered with a smile, knowing exactly what was going on. I took a deep breath and walked in. Nothing left to do at that point. She said she would be waiting for me at the piano bar. I heard the music before I even saw the bar. I walked in and caught her eye immediately, and that was it.
I can't tell you how, but I knew. I wasn't sure what I knew exactly, but I knew we would at the very least get along and have fun together that night. And I was right.
But the click wasn't the only thing I felt that night. I felt the crave coming on, too. Not ten minutes into dinner I asked if I could kiss her. I had to know if the crave was real and, in my experience, only the first kiss will reveal that.
We talked at dinner for hours, closing the place down. We went out for drinks at a small gay club where we missed the drag show we had a table for, and then went dancing at the gay cowboy bar. She was an amazing dancer. And dancing, I must admit, is truly the way to my heart.
She rode with me when Sunny took me home and we confirmed our plans for the next day: brunch that I asked her to not even halfway through the date. I already knew then I wanted to see her again.
We had a blast at brunch and ended up spending the whole day together. We went to a wedding the following weekend that she had mentioned the week we were texting.
"If Saturday night goes well, would you like to be my plus one at a wedding the following weekend?"
"Yes," I typed back, despite how crazy I knew both her asking and my accepting was.
As of this writing, we're off on a two-week trip where the ocean rests and the sun warms. Only time will tell, of course, whether we're really a pair. But we're off to the strongest start I can imagine. And I have to believe it's due to our texting.
I have no idea what the future will hold. But the present is downright enchanting.
Connecting well virtually isn't a guarantee that you will experience the same in reality. But it certainly seems like an excellent indicator. Only if you do it right, of course. Be honest. Ask real questions. Give real answers. It's your chance to safely show yourself with no risk.
And if you do it well, if you lay it bare, if you get as raw as every other bit of dating advice tells you that you shouldn't, you just might find what you've always been looking for.