It took me 3+ years of being single, but I recently decided I want a vegan life partner. I’m not into social media, as mentioned myriad times I imagine. But many of my friends have used Tinder to find partners. Apparently it’s how many Millennials connect. Pew Research posits 48% of 18- to 29-year-olds have used a dating site or app, as well as 38% of folks ages 30 to 49.
So, I started a profile. I decided to explicitly state that I am looking for a “vegan partner” and I included several photos of myself unfiltered, without makeup. Because I’m not trying to fool anyone. I’m an active gal; I don’t wear makeup or get manicures often. I literally do not know how to “do” my hair. My everyday apparel is athleisure or scrubs (the latter for work). All that to say, I figured if you’re going to like me on Tinder, you can be sure you’ll like me in real life. And I included photos of my animals. Because, obviously, we’re a package deal.
Additionally, I added my interests. I spoke about social justice, animal rights, running, yoga, hiking with my dog, reading, and writing. I mentioned aspiring to travel. But I qualified the statement, sharing that I struggle with how to square the circle that is being an environmental advocate while simultaneously feeling a wanderlust that cannot be satiated without increasing my carbon footprint.
I scrolled for about a half hour, not finding any fellow vegans. I took a break from Tinder for the rest of the day.
The next day, I scrolled through a few more profiles and came across one that was blue. An internet search taught me this means I was “super liked” by the person.
Upon reviewing his profile, I learned that he is a renewable energy engineer, bilingual, pro-choice, and vegan for nine years. He is active as a swimmer and cyclist. I noticed his location stated that he was 2 miles away from me; however, his permanent location was that of a lovely blue state that I used to frequent for camping and hiking with my dog, Nitro. And his photos are handsome, but not so attractive that I felt incompatible. So, I swiped right.
We matched, and I sent him a hello. We exchanged pleasantries and compliments, and he clarified that he is only in my city for a conference and asked me how I felt about that. Because he seemed, well, like my ideal life partner, I told him it is not a deal breaker for me. And he agreed it is not a deal breaker for him, either. Once the housekeeping was taken care of, he invited me to dinner for the same night. To my delight, he suggested one of my favorite vegan restaurants.
But, my fellow dumplings, I had never met anyone online before. I had not been on a real “date” in years. My nervousness was near crippling; I went on a run to subdue my tremors. I hated the idea of dressing up and muttered irritably to myself, “Can’t I just wear athleisure and my secondhand Patagonia coat?!”
I showered and dressed in a blush bodysuit with stretchy wide-leg pants and chunky combat boots. I put on makeup. I teased my hair and pulled it into a low ponytail at the nape of my neck. I shrugged, resigning that it was the best I could do. I threw on my long, black overcoat and headed to dinner on foot.
And I arrived early on purpose; I wanted to choose the table and orient myself to the space before he arrived. Also, I shared my location with my sister. Because, as ubiquitous as online dating may be, I was literally meeting a stranger. But I reminded myself that this endeavor is something that many people do; that it is okay.
When he arrived, he offered his arms for a casual hug. I stood and met his embrace, enjoying his broad shoulders and where my face rested against his chest more than I anticipated. As we sat and started speaking, I was smitten. I told him, “Sorry, your eyes are piercing” and briefly had to look away to compose myself. His eyes are incredibly blue.
As we sat and spoke, we covered everything. Indeed, we both want life partners. Yes, we both feel creating a child is not for us, but adoption may be viable should we find ourselves with the resources to do so. We talked about politics, religion, family, past relationships, veganism, animal rights, and our careers. Our long-term goals and dreams. He told me he has been using Tinder for two years to find a long-term partner. And I found that rather surprising, considering his Bo Burnham-esque face and, well, everything about him. Because we were so busy talking, we didn’t order food for the first hour and a half.
And when we finally ordered, he made a comment about being able to split the check using Toast & Pay. It was polite and casual; I was planning to pay for my meal anyway. Because I want a partner. To be someone’s equal; to be with someone who will pour from their cup as much as I pour from mine. I feel I deserve that. Everyone does.
We ended up staying at the restaurant past closing, tasting each other’s meals, and talking. When we finally decided to leave, he covered the tab and said it was his pleasure. I mentioned I walked, and he offered to walk me home. He said he took a Lyft to get there because he didn’t want to show up sweaty, but that he didn’t own a car back home. At this point I was thinking, he is literally perfect.
When we arrived at my place, we shared a long hug. I love his hugs; I love his size. And I don’t think I really knew that about myself anymore. For a while, I thought “vegan” was the main criteria one needs to meet to be my partner. But I do like the idea of being partnered with a man much larger than I am. I do not know why; perhaps it is the influence of the algorithm that society has infused into me, as a cisgender heterosexual female born in the 90s?
Anyway, I did not invite him inside.
About a half hour later, he messaged me and thanked me for the evening. I chatted with my sister and a local friend, expressing some giddiness.
The next day, as we continued chatting, he told me he felt he couldn’t do long-distance “now that he knows how great I am.” He said he would love to see me again while he was in town, but that it would not go any further.
So, I unmatched him. I was angry; why would he say the distance wasn’t a problem and then change his mind? And to wrap it all up within you’re so great! I briefly spiraled, wondering if it was something I had said or done. Maybe it was that I didn’t invite him inside? Perhaps I spoke too much, or not enough? Or maybe I’m not pretty enough?
But I threw all that emotion into a long run, and afterwards felt a sigh of relief. My routine is a comfort to me. Confirmation that I can resume my life as usual felt like returning to safety, although a sad one. Because he did, kind of break my heart. I waver between laughing at myself about it and longing for a partner like him. For him.
It reminded me of being younger, how I used to yearn for a man, for him. No one in particular, just a him, as though I was put on this earth for the sole purpose of finding him.
But since this happened, I haven’t been on Tinder. I got swept away with acute life stressors, travels, and holiday planning. I don’t know when I’ll return to Tinder, but I think I will eventually. After all, I found him in less than two days. I can certainly find another.
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Photo: Danny Lines via Unsplash