At 22, suddenly I was alone in a country where I knew next to no one.
I’d moved to New Zealand with my first boyfriend but after 5 years together, I realised that I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. All I knew was that the life I was living was not the one I dreamt of growing up.
Dating should have been the last thing on my mind but I was so used to being in a relationship that I didn’t know any better.
Queue my first taste of online dating.
Can we just take a moment and reflect on what online dating was like 10 years ago? This was the real, online dating world with full profiles, Q&As, ice-breaker messages and a time when you could filter out guys that didn’t meet your criteria; ie were shorter than 6ft, smokers and didn’t like comedies.
Thinking back on that time in my life now, I was pretty naïve and totally out of my depth. But online dating was actually the best thing I could have ever done, and it’s turned me into the biggest online dating advocate ever to exist.
Did I go on some bad dates? Yes.
Did I meet dudes who were not at all like their photo? Yes.
Did I fall for half the guys I met way too quickly? Yeah, probably.
But I was 22 and had never properly ‘dated’ so navigating my way around the ‘dating world’ was completely new to me.
Fast forward 7 years, a few more online dating stints and a few relationships later and the dating game had totally changed.
Helloooooo Tinder! 😉
It was the beginning of 2015, Tinder had been around a while, but it didn’t seem like something I wanted to try in any hurry. I won’t lie, even I was sceptical and hesitant to jump on Tinder after my last long term relationship ended. I wasn’t heartbroken and it wasn’t a bad breakup but it was the relationship that made me realise that I am the only person responsible for my happiness. If I wanted to experience those crazy butterflies, the anticipation and excitement of seeing my man (and wanting to rip his clothes off), and feeling that in his eyes ‘I’m the only girl in the world’; then I would need to focus on creating the best version of myself first.
I was no longer prepared to sacrifice my own dreams and desires for a guy and vowed that the next relationship I was in, would be the one. I was done spending time in dead-end relationships and was determined to not only meet the love of my life, but my best friend, my ride or die and the guy that would find me completely hilarious!
Having that clarity on what I was prepared to accept in a relationship immediately changed my mindset. 2015 was going to be MY year. I decided I was going to focus on smashing all my own personal goals and that I was going to tick off all the bucketlist items I’d been meaning to do since moving to NZ.
I had All. The. Possibilities.
In hindsight at that point Tinder was pretty counterintuitive to my personal goals but after some serious peer pressure, there I was, sitting in the lunchroom at work with my girlfriends egging me on. They were all in awesome, serious relationships and I think they got way too excited about the thought of living vicariously through me. Their persuasion was impossible to resist so I set-up my account, slapped together a quick profile and let the swiping begin.
I had no expectations and was just doing it for some fun. We swiped right on a few dudes and then went about the rest of our afternoon.
‘You’ve got a match’. Ooh, well isn’t this a bit exciting.
The first guy I got chatting to that night was a lovely, charming Spanish guy; who had been in Auckland a couple of years. We had great chats and he invited me to go out and have a drink for our first date. It was awesome.
I arrived at work the next morning and proclaimed to the entire office that I had met my husband. It was slightly tongue-in-cheek of course but I was just so pumped to be back in the dating game that I knew this time around was going to be a game changer.
I was happy, I had so much love for myself and I had rediscovered those butterfly feelings that I had always heard people talk about but had never truly experienced as an adult.
The lovely Spanish guy clearly wasn’t the one, but he was the first date of many, many great dates (we’re talking 25+) on the journey that ultimately led me to meet the love of my life.
During my Tinder stints I got pretty good at the dating game. I had some basic rules and a yes policy. My rules weren’t to do with the guys so much, but around how long matches were allowed to sit without conversation, how many times I would try to make the conversation interesting before giving up, and how long the banter could go on for before one of us initiated a date. My yes policy was simple: if they have the balls to ask me out, I would accept. After all, online chemistry is different to in-person chemistry, and I knew which one was more important.
Can I just put it out there and state that ladies, there is absolutely nothing wrong with dating like a dude (it shames me to even admit there is a gender divide in the way we date)? If you want to send the first message, do it. If you want to ask him out on a date, do it. If you want to be flirty in your messages, do it. There are no set rules, so date however the hell you want to.
Dating isn’t all coffee, wine and laughs. It’s time consuming and serious business; if you’re serious about meeting someone. I had weeks where 5 out of 7 nights were booked out with dates, some days I even had 2 dates. Generally, I was ‘dating’ more than one guy at a time, as most wouldn’t go past a first or second date. Because I was dedicating time to the task of dating, I didn’t want to waste opportunities to meet new people, on the off chance I might meet one that I clicked with. Sure, this meant I had to cancel on dates if I met someone who I wanted to see again but dating isn’t exclusive until it’s exclusive, okay?
I’m sure this will make a few people cringe, or roll their eyes in judgement but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest because after all of my serial dating I found myself a keeper.
I like to tell people that Karl tricked me into going on a date with him, and whilst there is an element of truth to that; there was no way that I was going to let the fact that he actually lived in a different city (island, even!) stop me from meeting him. Yes, despite this semi-vital piece of information only coming to light after a week or so of chats and agreeing to the date; by that point, I was going all in! He was funny, interesting, had great banter and looked pretty hot in his photos. Our first date was at a bar close to the hotel he was staying at whilst he was in Auckland training for a new job (as I knew he would be car-less). When I arrived he already had a drink, so I went and ordered my own. Not exactly dating etiquette but I let it slide as he was even better looking in person and he was wearing a cardigan; it takes a confident man to rock a cardigan. 😉
We chatted, laughed, shared stories and everything just felt so natural. Needless to say we were pretty keen to see each other again and it wasn’t long before we were making very regular trips up and down the country to spend time together.
I never planned to fall for a guy that lived an hour and a half flight away but I think the universe matched us for a reason. There was no way in hell that we would have ‘bumped’ into each other by chance. We had to actively look for each other and it’s bloody good that we did, I say.
During my few months of Tindering up a storm, I learnt a lot. About myself and about dating.
Firstly, I learnt that guys have it tough on Tinder. Hold on, hear me out. Do you know how intimidating women can be to the male species? When it comes to the online dating world women really do call the shots. We swipe left far more than the guys do, we have a list of prerequisites that they need to meet before we even agree to go on a date with them, and we are far quicker to judge them and write them off based on anything that has even the remotest resemblance to a past boyfriend/dating experience.
Secondly, as cliché as it sounds, you should never judge a book by its cover. I had been guilty in the past of making assumptions on a guy’s personality based on their bio and photos but when I decided to stop and give more guys a chance for a second impression, I was beyond impressed. When given the opportunity to be treated as a human and not just an object in a catalogue, people tend to respond positively. That guy with the topless selfie that you immediately think ‘douche!’ may actually turn out to be one of the funniest, most genuine guys you’ll meet and could be the best guy for you.
Thirdly, when I stopped worrying whether my dates would like me or not I had WAY more fun and was able to just be myself. I loved myself enough that I knew the right guy for me would think I was pretty rad, and I focused my energy on getting to know him and if he was the right guy for me rather than whether he thought I was funny or attractive or interesting. Each date was like a catch-up with a friend who I’d not seen in ages; so even the ones with zero chemistry or common ground were actually not so bad.
Fourthly (is that even a thing?), DATING SHOULD BE FUN, DAMN IT. If you’re dating be sure to make the dates interesting. Do something you want to do, go somewhere different, try something new because if the date doesn’t turn into anything, at least you’ve created a rad memory. In addition to traditional coffee and wine dates, I had dates at concerts, comedy shows, arts festival gigs, and even at the airport… seriously. If I had all day I would tell you all about them, but you catch my drift.
And lastly, I discovered that deal breakers should be treated with a pinch of salt because realistically you’ve possibly added a whooooole bunch of things to that list that really don’t need to be there. When you meet the right guy for you, you’ll realise what is really important.
If you’re single (or ever find yourself single) make sure your first priority is YOU. Then once you’ve gotten some clarity on who you are and what you want, get your sexy butt on Tinder. Really. And if you want some help or guidance, then I’ll gladly be your Tinder-Wing Woman.
Kylie is an Aussie Girl Boss, living in New Zealand with her handsome man, Karl. She’s an absolute coffee fiend, laughs at everything and is renowned for her infectiously positive, you-can-do-it attitude. Kylie runs her own business ‘Confident + Crushing it’, which coaches women to ‘be the girl that has it all’ in life, in love and in business. Kylie has just launched her newest side hustle, an e-commerce store selling limited edition pocket squares for men called ‘The Handsome Hombre’.