1. The Opener

phone-958066_1920Using dating apps to meet people is a singular experience. Having met My Ex when I was 18, I’d never really dated anyone but him. My utter lack of familiarity with modern dating norms left me feeling out of sorts — my hopes frequently raised only to be quickly dashed. The emotional up-and-down of it all is rather stunning and oddly addictive. You can effectively initiate a connection, ask practical qualifying/disqualifying questions, and move to the next level of intimacy all on your phone without raising your eyes or hearing a human voice — potentially all in under 30 minutes.

I’ll delve more into the intricacies and oddities of dating apps in later posts, but for now, know that I am completely out of my comfort zone. And it is at this moment, one morning while lying in bed, that I meet The Opener. We match, we banter, we discuss our plans for the day. Neither of us is busy, so he invites me over to watch a movie at his place. This seems reasonable to me, and I take his invitation at face value. Just to be safe, though, I don’t shave my legs. You know, as insurance against sex. Because I am definitely not sleeping with this guy.

On the way to his place, my brain and gut are in turmoil over this completely out-of-character choice, to meet a stranger at his apartment. My body joins in on the chaos, and my chest breaks out in mild hives for the first time in my life. I almost back out, less than a mile from The Opener’s building, but I persevere, breathing deeply and wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans.

I learned a few things from The Opener:

  1.  I now know the definition of a “hookup” and the ensuing lack of communication, which, despite being disorienting, is apparently completely normal.
  2. Slightly hairy legs are an inefficient safeguard against sex.
  3. Sex can “just happen.” Though I had always previously laughed at this claim, I now know I was wrong.
  4. Some men’s arousal and stamina are significantly hampered by alcohol.

This was the first man I had ever slept with besides My Ex, and even though we didn’t technically “finish” (see #4), I felt as though something inside me had profoundly shifted. On the drive home, I kept the rear-view mirror tilted towards my face so that I could see my eyes. I found myself frequently glancing at my reflection, startled each time to find recognition despite feeling so deeply disconnected from the sense of self I had held securely the day before.

I got home and deleted the dating app from my phone.


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