Coming from a small Midwestern town, my dating opportunities have been limited ever since I came out freshman year of college. So, it should come as no surprise that I was eager to test the waters of the gay dating scene in London. At home, there aren’t many people “out” around my age, and therefore, meeting someone in a more traditional way, such as through a mutual friend or school, is very unlikely. Before arriving in London I had hoped to rely less on my Tinder account and more on traditional means of meeting potential suitors, such as face to face verbal communication…seems strange, I know. As it turns out, meeting people through friends or school and expressing a romantic interest in them isn’t all that easy, even in a city that is so culturally diverse (aka full of gays, haha).
While in London, I had a good number of first dates. Most of these dates were with guys I met on Tinder or other dating apps. Thankfully, I am still alive to write about these dates! None of them led to me being kidnapped, murdered, date-raped, or sold into slavery, so overall, I will mark them up as good experiences. For the most part, these dates were very comparable to an average first date in the U.S. We would meet at a given location, grab a bite to eat, grab a drink at a pub, and then maybe hit the clubs.
Where I did see more of a contrast from my dating experiences in the U.S. was in communicating with them via Tinder, text, or other apps. I noticed a few subtle differences in the way Londoners text. For example, in the U.S. after an initial “Hey”, one might ask “How’s it going?” or “What’s up?”. In London, I constantly had guys ask “You ok?”. At first, I wondered if I looked sad or upset in my profile picture, since asking someone if he is “ok” in the U.S. usually has a more serious connotation. I also noticed that most Brits do not use “hey”, or at least not as often as Americans. Brits are much more likely to start with “Hello” or “Hi” in both written and verbal communication. Thankfully, these differences were insignificant enough, that they didn’t ruin any potential connections.
I certainly found it easier to meet guys and find dates through social media in London, than in Indiana. However, I was disappointed to find it just as challenging to meet good guys in a more traditional way in London as it is in the U.S. I suppose it doesn’t matter if there are a heavier concentration of openly gay men in a certain area…it’s still hard to express a romantic interest in someone in person, whether it’s the guy across the bar or a new acquaintance with whom you have a mutual friend.
Additionally, meeting potential suitors in a more relaxed and tradition way takes PATIENCE!
Although I rely on them constantly, I have never imagined myself meeting my husband on a dating app. It could happen, but so far it seems unlikely. I have always imagined I would meet him more by happenstance, such meeting him through mutual friends, work, or some sort of social club. I enjoyed almost every date on went on this semester. I was able to see new places around the city, get a little dating experience under my belt, and most importantly I met some cool British guys from whom I learned a lot of current British culture. Unfortunately most of them did not lead to second or third dates. I wonder if this is due to a disconnect that happens when two people meet online. In my experience, going on a Tinder date feels somewhat rushed. Expectations are set that you will have romantic feelings for each other by the end of the night, and often that is just not the case. However, going on a first date with that cute guy you met in class and have already had multiple conversations with, can be much more relaxed. Those romantic feelings have had time to develop more gradually, and you are more comfortable with each other by the time that first “real” date rolls around.
In closing, my advice to those hoping to go on a few dates while in London, is to go for it! I don’t regret any of my dates this semester and not once did I feel that I was in danger. All of my dates this semester were good experiences, from dancing to my favorite song with a cute guy to making a good friend with whom I have stayed in touch for months. Feel free to use dating apps to meet guys. It is certainly a lot easier than just walking up to someone in a bar. Just be realistic about the outcome…it most likely won’t be the start of a life-long relationship.