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Why 12 months and eight boys on Tinder made for an interesting learning curve for Emma Clifton

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Emma Clifton Magazine journalist

Somehow without trying very hard, I had reached the second half of my 20s really, really single. Like, super single. For a good wee while. With most of my friends in couples and working in the ladies-only field of magazine journalism, it was becoming harder and harder to find single men. And so, grudgingly, I joined Tinder to get some dating experience. A year later, this is my story… Oh, and I’ve changed all their names to protect their privacy. Okay, now this is my story…


1. David

Duration: 3 hours

Emotions are high as I enter my first Tinder date, so I take twice the recommended amount of stress vitamins and walk into the bar, wobbly legged. David is tall, friendly and smiley – we hit it off immediately. There’s subtle body contact throughout dinner and drinks, but when we move to a smaller bar, things intensify quickly. You know those disgusting couples that paw at each other in public? Well, we become one of them despite my very best attempts to untangle myself. I am not pawing, I am desperately trying to make conversation and distract him with shiny things so he will just STOP KISSING ME. Not only is the kissing non-stop, it’s also… not that great. I had always thought bad kissers were a myth, but no. I assume that the kissing will be better when we stand up (surely?) so he walks me to the ground level of my apartment building, which is located on a public street. Having reached my PDA-limit for my entire life, I open the main door to the apartment so we can attempt better kissing in there. Mistake. He thinks it is all on, and I have to forcibly shove him out the door, locking it behind him while trilling madly ‘I’ll text you.’ We never speak to each other again.


2. Frank

Duration: 1 hour

Frank is sweet, funny and older than me. I have worn heels to this date – I am very tall – and it immediately becomes clear that the height difference is a problem for both of us when he stands up to say hello to me, and barely clears my shoulder. All the charming conversation cannot overcome this and we part after one drink. At the end, we walk out to the exit together and he puts on his backpack to cycle home. I look like I am his mother dropping him off at school.


5. Damian

Duration: 2 dates

My first date with Damian is quick, because we only have one hour free between us in a very busy week. In an hour, this is what I learn about him: he has a tattoo of a banana peel, his aunt raises llamas, he accidentally found himself living in China for a while, his sister makes capes for a living. All of this is enough intrigue for date number two, which is where Damian says the best sentence I have ever heard in my life: “I think it would be cool to be in a band where the lead singer was a dog.” He also admits to having recorded an entire album as different types of animals, including one song where he pretended he was a pig. Joining Tinder has been worth it for this encounter alone. There is no third date.


6. Will

Duration: Three months

Terrific flirty banter leaves me very excited to meet Will – so excited, in fact, that the butterflies in my stomach mean I have to leave our first date halfway through because I think I am going to pass out. After spending the next two days vomiting, it turns out it’s less excitement and more of a virus situation. Will is cute, funny and very good in bed, which I learn on our second date, held after my stomach virus has cleared up (sexy). He is also still hung up on his ex and not looking for a relationship, but because our vibe is more lust than love, this is fine with me. We see each other casually for a few months before it turns out I am not the only FWB situation he has going on – he is also sleeping with a 23-year-old. Who’s Brazilian. Will, who works part-time and wears rain paints that zip off at the knee as part of his workplace outfit, is sleeping with two women – one of whom is BRAZILIAN. The man drought is real, people. And the men know it.


7. Matt

Duration: 2 dates

‘Don’t date another guy on Tinder to try and make your sex friend who is also sleeping with a Brazilian jealous’, as the old saying goes.


 8. Hugh

Duration: Six months

I fall for Hugh approximately five minutes into our first date and at the end of it, he kisses me by my car in the pouring rain, like a cute Taylor Swift song. And then we fell in love and got married immediately. Hahaha, no. Actually we break up and get back together over a six month period, before finally calling it a day (just like a sad Taylor Swift song, I guess?).

What I learned…

When you join Tinder to get some dating experience, you can’t be sure which experience you’re going to get. Are you going to get your heart broken, or are you going to fall in love? Or what if it’s both? Will your dates be amazing, awkward, exciting – or all of the above in a two-hour window? Even though I started last year single, and started this year single, the 12 months in between were an invaluable lesson in what I want and what I don’t want – and that’s a lesson I would not have got otherwise. The worst thing you can do is be too afraid to try anything new or scary and the best thing you can do is put yourself out there. Before I get too carried away and start comparing myself to Sir Edmund Hilary – ‘it is not the Tinder we conquer, but ourselves’ – it’s important to remember that dating is supposed to be fun and a cool part of growing up. Best case scenario; you met the love of your life. Worst case scenario; you have some really good stories to share with your friends, your family, your future children. Because happily ever after is way more interesting if you had a bumpy ride to get there. 

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