Dig Baton Rouge

Dating in the City

 

If you’ve been single in the last five years, you’ve probably both feared and lived for the cheerful chime of matching with someone on apps. Most in our city have seemingly followed the Southern rule of getting married to either your childhood, high school and/or college love. While those are truly cool situations—my parents among them—there are a few (or many) of us on the periphery still ordering Waitr for one. Let me preface the rest of this piece by saying it won’t be a pessimistic tale of a Bitter Billy; I’ll do my best to present things as positively as I see, and to be open about the experiences I’ve had. Additionally, to provide a different perspective, I invited a friend to join me this month to share some of her dating woes and lessons learned. Meet Leigh Phillips.

Leigh: Hi there! I’ve been single most of my young adult life and have had my share of experience with dating apps and traditional dating as well. I decided to/begged Josh to let me join this story because I couldn’t let the trials and triumphs of dating in Baton Rouge be limited solely to a male perspective.

Apps: You have to expand your search on nearly every app by 50+ miles to see new people.

Josh: I’ve used about 10 apps, from BlackPeopleMeet.com, Plenty of Fish, to Tinder. In fact, some of the students I mentored created a rap about my app activity. Nearly all my married friends love the idea of swiping for me and saying the anticipated and dreaded line, “Oh! I’m so grateful I don’t have to go through this.” Note: that never makes any single person feel better.

One of the issues I have with apps is that it’s easy to get caught up in unrealistic expectations when you’re swiping. “Oh, she’s not pretty enough.” or “Just how many times does she go out to Fred’s?” The intrigue of seeing someone in a setting and witnessing her personality first-hand are replaced in a matter of seconds. I do my best not to fall into the trap, but it becomes second nature and I eventually log off due to exhaustion. That said, I have met up with a few girls I’ve matched with, and each has been perfectly normal and nice.

Leigh: I’ve only been active on Tinder and Bumble because most other apps have approximately three users in the entire state. There are others out there, such as Vouch, I would’ve enjoyed if not for the radio silence. Tinder was exciting in a risque kind of way at first, but it got tiring quickly. I then switched to Bumble where the men were generally more attractive, educated, employable, and normal. Plus, I appreciated the power to speak first. I felt like I needed to be “on” all of the time. The vast majority of my app-initiated dates were fine, but I adopted a policy of not giving my number out to anyone I had not met in person. Another problematic thing is the abundance of options. While hanging out with a Tinder date after two glasses of wine, he lamented that “girls have it so much easier” on apps. To prove his point, we logged onto my profile and swiped right on every single person. By morning, I had over 400 matches/messages, and my phone crashed. This probably sounds like the biggest #humblebrag, but hear me out. In an age where you have hundreds of potential suitors at your fingertips, it’s easy and harmful to always wonder, “Is there someone better out there?” It’s definitely caused me to hold back in some of my relationships for fear that this one wasn’t “the one.”

First Date Expectations: Who does what?

Josh: It’s absolutely confusing. With the exception of Bumble, you constantly ask yourself “Should I communicate first or should she?” In most cases, I send the first message. I may be old-fashioned because I was raised by parents and older sisters who trained me to speak first, pick the girl up, and always pay on the first couple of dates. In 2018, those expectations have shifted. I haven’t picked up a girl for a first date, if we’ve met virtually, but I still abide by some traditional values—I believe are traits of being a good human being—of holding the door open and paying first.

Leigh: Like Josh, I have a pretty traditional upbringing but tend to find gender roles outdated, silly, and sometimes offensive. And don’t even get me started on things like “manly” body wash and laundry detergent. But, I still expect the guy to pay on the first few dates. You’re trying to pursue me, and I need to see you putting forth a little effort.

I would never, ever, ever get in a vehicle with someone I had never met before (well, except for Josh, but that’s another story). I’m all about that “meet ya there!” life for the first couple of dates as well.

Ghosting: Chances are, we’ve all pulled a Casper on someone, be it a date, a family member or a teacher.

Josh: I’ve been stood up before, and frankly, it sucks. In college, you wait for the professor to show up 15 minutes. I waited 30 for her. When she finally responded the next day, she said she was napping. Wherever the truth lies, it was not an enjoyable experience. I don’t believe you need to have a full conversation about ending things if you have yet to meet them. That’s weird. Be politely direct about ending things if you’ve met.

Leigh: Josh promised we wouldn’t be Bitter Billy/Betty for the sake of this article, but I’m about to get on my soapbox. Ghosting is one of the biggest issues with modern-day dating. When I’ve ghosted, I didn’t feel I could be bothered with having an uncomfortable conversation. When I’ve been ghosted, I’ve been wrecked. I wanted closure and reexamined every word and action, hoping they would realize what an idiot they had been. (It doesn’t help when your ghosters periodically slide in your DMs, by the way.) Through a lot of grace and forgiveness, I’m now dating someone I originally met on an app and who I have regretfully ghosted in the past. I’m not sure I could be as big of a person as he has been, but I am very grateful for his mercy.

Until I swipe right on my best match, I’ll be living my best life navigating the apps, strolling up and down the aisles at Target and Whole Foods in my workout gear; and attending every upcoming wedding.

Photos by Sean Gasser

Josh Howard

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