Monday, January 9, 2023

Jamie's Dating Diary: The First One (Not Actually THE One)

“You’re actually really cool,” Cameron said as he swam close to me in his Olympic-sized pool, gazing into my eyes with the combination of admiration and lust that only a new Tinder date can seem to muster. “Girls my age just don’t have anything to talk about. We should definitely hang out again sometime.”

It would be interesting enough if only one guy ever said that to me. But, truth be told, Cameron is just one of the dozens who have uttered those very same words — sometimes in a pool, sometimes in bed, sometimes on my couch, sometimes just over a text — but, honestly, it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. 

Cameron was different, though — because he was the first. The first guy I ever talked to on Tinder and actually met in person. The first guy who said these words to me. The first guy I dated who was only 25. And, yes, I say “only” — because I’m over 40. And, more often than not, the only guys who will date me are 25.

Okay, maybe 25 is a bit of a stretch.

I’ve gone in hard on the dating apps for seven years. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, JSwipe, OKCupid, Match, Coffee Meets Bagel, JDate, you name it. And in that time, I’ve come to realize one very major thing. I am typically only attractive to guys in their 20s. “Men” who are 21-28, with the median age around 25, to be more precise.

You may be thinking, “Well, she must only swipe on guys in their 20s. What a cougar.” You’d be wrong. (And let’s not even get started on how a 40-year-old woman isn’t actually someone I consider old enough to be called a cougar in the first place, yet I’ve been called that, MILF and worse more than once.) I’ve set my age max as high as 55, just to see what happens. 

My normal swiping range used to be between 23-49, mainly to see whether the assumptions I’ve ascertained about the young ones were correct. (I've since upped the lowest age to 30, because I'm now 43.) But there is a strange phenomenon that happens again and again — I swipe right on the men 30 and up. They just don’t swipe right on me.

This has become an anthropological study for me of sorts. And in my study of this phenomenon, I’ve come to discern that this is because of two very distinct factors. Most straight men seem to either want a) the younger woman, or b) the older woman (AKA the always popular Mrs. Robinson fantasy).

So, to a man in his early to mid 20s, a late-30-something or early 40-something woman is extremely desirable, especially since the younger woman would still be in high school. Add the fact that I’m not your stereotypical “older woman” and the desire rebounds on itself infinitely. Because, look. I’m a fashion and beauty writer. I have my own apartment in LA. I'm on TikTok. I don’t go to bed at 9:30 on a weeknight or have kids I need to get to school. I know what “lit” means. (The 20-somethings always get a kick out of that last one.) And, honestly, I look pretty young. I was blessed with great genes that still have me getting carded most places I go, so most guys in their 20s ask if I’m lying about my age and am actually 25. When I tell them that, yes, I am actually 40, the desire goes up even higher.

But to men over 30?

They either want the 20-something or the over-40-something — because these women are both sexier, and neither is as threatening as a woman in her late 30s or early 40s who must be ready to settle down and get married to the first over 30 guy who comes knocking. (This is solely what I assume they must think, since none of them will even match with me so I can find out if I’m right.) My profile doesn’t state those factors—I truly think my age alone is enough to scare them off. And, I don’t know for sure, but the fact that I look young may work as a deterrent for these older men as well, because maybe I just don’t look old enough for them to take me seriously if they were ever going to.

But, back to Cameron. 

I’d been on Tinder for a few months, swiping, sort of haphazardly, matching with a few people but not really talking to them — and not really caring whether I actually ever met up with anyone. And then, one fateful Saturday night, that all changed. There I was, lying on my couch, Netflix on in the background, my thumb getting tired from swiping, starting to think, “I-might-be-giving-myself-carpal-tunnel-from-all-this-stupid-swiping-and-why-was-I-even-doing-it-in-the-first-place-and-maybe-I-should-just-stop-already-because-who-even-cares-right?”

Cameron came up. He was cute in a normal, not-too-hot-but-he-probably-knows-he’s-good-looking kind of way. His brown eyes looked kind, he had a bit of scruff, he looked fit without being too sculpted in stereotypical LA fashion. So I swiped right. And he swiped right. And we started messaging, fairly rapid fire, exchanging witty banter and subtle pleasantries. We had a weird but funny conversation about aliens, somehow stemming from the fact that I was from Cleveland. We moved to text fairly quickly, especially considering I’d never even really chatted with anyone on the app before, but it just felt right.

And then, after about 40 minutes of our aforementioned witty banter, came the fateful messages.

Me: “Where are you from?”
Cameron: “I’m an LA native. I have my own place, but right now I’m house sitting for my parents in Bel Air.”
Me: “Oooh, Bel Air? Look at you all fancy.”
Cameron: “Haha not really, it’s pretty normal. But they do have a heated pool that would feel amazing on this semi-cold May night. ;)”
Me: “Oh, is that so? Sounds nice. I’m not really a get in someone’s pool on the first night kind of gal, though.”
Cameron: “Well, we don’t have to do anything crazy or anything you’re not comfortable with. You don’t even have to sleep over if you’re not comfortable. But we can hang out and talk and smoke weed and go swimming.”

This definitely gave me pause. At the time, I'd never even talked to a guy on Tinder before. I'd certainly never been propositioned. And I have to admit — I. Was. Terrified. What if he was a serial killer? What if my head wound up in his freezer? What if the weed were laced with acid or meth or something? (It may be obvious at this point that I don't smoke much.)

But I also have to admit I was curious for a couple reasons.

1) What was this house in Bel Air like? (Yes, it may have been shallow, but come on. It’s Bel Air. And my only knowledge of that neighborhood at this point was what I’d seen on Fresh Prince).

2) What if we had fun and he was actually normal and we started dating?

So I did the (fairly) responsible thing — I texted my friend Gerold to let him know where I'd be and what (I assumed) I'd be doing. I sent him the guy's photo and told him if I didn't text by 1pm the next day, I was probably dead and he should call the cops.

Me: "Okay, I can be there in 40 minutes."
Cameron: "Awesome, see you then."

And then I got an Uber and hightailed it to Bel Air to check things out for myself.

And, after the Uber driver and I got sufficiently lost (those people in Bel Air do NOT want strangers finding them), we got to the house. Cameron opened the door, and I'm pretty sure I emitted an audible sigh of relief when I saw that he looked exactly like his profile photos. He had a moderately deep voice, kind-looking brown eyes, and was sweet from the start. He got me a beer and took me out to the backyard, which was not only bigger than my whole apartment but which housed an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a full-on fireplace complete with stone hearth. It was a pretty chilly night, as LA nights go, and the fire definitely seemed inviting.

Cameron pulled up two chairs around the fire, keeping a respectable distance between us, and we continued the witty banter from our Tinder messaging. One beer turned into two, two turned into three, and he still hadn't made a move. "Maybe he just wanted to hang out and talk," I thought. Yeah, our chairs had been getting closer with each beer we opened, but there was no action.

Then we went into the kitchen to grab our fourth beer. As Cameron opened it, I leaned casually against the sink, laughing at a silly joke he told, my inner monologue still saying, 


And then, all of a sudden, Cameron leaned in and kissed me.

BOOM. (That's the sound of the fireworks that were exploding in my chest.) Cameron grabbed me around the waist, pressed me up against the sink, and we started making out. I'm not sure how long the kissing lasted, but I do know that at some point I leaned back to catch my breath and asked, "So, are we gonna go swimming?" He led me outside and we slipped into the pool, where we swam and kissed and swam and kissed and swam some more. Then, we retired to his bedroom, falling onto the bed in a tangle of limbs.

And, even though I actually despise sleeping over at someone's place, I slept over — mainly because getting TO Bel Air was so difficult that I was worried an Uber would never find me in the dark at 3am.

In the morning light, Cameron seemed the same as he had in the late hours of the evening before. Kind eyes, slightly scruffy, average build. We shared some awkward conversation over a cup of coffee while I waited for my Uber to arrive. Cameron walked me to the door, kissed me goodbye, and I wondered — is that it? Was this just a hookup? Would I ever hear from him again?

Much to my surprise, Cameron texted me an hour later.

Cameron: "I had a great time last night. I definitely want to see you again."
Me: "Yeah, maybe sometime this week or next weekend?"
Cameron: "Sounds good to me."

We spent the next few days texting a LOT. That Friday night, I met him at a bar for drinks and then went back to his place. It seemed so easy, so effortless. Maybe I'd swiped my way into a relationship without even trying, I mused.

And so we carried on for a few months this way — texting during the week, meeting up during the weekend. Occasionally we'd meet up during the week, too, but those times were few and far between. And we didn't really ever GO anywhere — it pretty quickly turned into a friends with benefits situation (AKA FWB, which I subsequently found that the guys on Tinder sure do love asking if you're cool with right off the bat). We'd sleep together, we'd talk and laugh for an hour or so, Cameron would make some empty promises that were never actually carried out — one of which being him asking me for help going shopping and picking out a new wardrobe, which never came to pass when I texted him about it later.

Three months in, I was starting to wonder whether we'd ever progress past this, or if I should just end things. I went to his place one night, we kissed goodbye, I left. Two days later, I texted him to say hello, and got quite the surprising text back.

Cameron: "Sorry, I just started seeing someone, so I can't talk to you anymore. It was fun while it lasted!!"
Me [to myself, not actually texting back yet]: "WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK?!"

This text just felt so cavalier, so tossed off, so insensitive. Had all the times we'd slept together and spent time together really meant so little to Cameron that he could send me this text and just move on? I sat there, stunned, reading and rereading those words, having no idea what to actually say back or if I even SHOULD say anything back. Finally, I knew I had to say SOMETHING.

"Okay, wow. I really didn't expect that since we just slept together two days ago. It would have been nice if you at least had the decency to tell me that in person — or just not sleep with me at all when you were obviously about to get serious with someone else. Thanks a lot."

Predictably, there was no response. I've come to find that these men usually don't like to be told they're wrong, and if you call them out on it, they just say nothing rather than at least apologizing or taking responsibility for their actions.

Three years after Cameron and I met, I thought we were done for good. And then I received this.

Tinder match, Instagram DM

Let's just say I blocked him after that and haven't heard from him since. Also, he was engaged to that girl he stopped seeing me for when he sent that. 

So, for now, I will continue to swipe in the hope that, one of these days, a better man will swipe back on me. He may even have a nicer pool.

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