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Valentine’s Day: 28, single, and looking for love… so, where do I find a date?

Valentine’s Day: 28, single, and looking for love… so, where do I find a date?

A couple of weeks ago, somebody mentioned Valentine’s Day to me and it made me realise I had taken the foot off the gas a bit when it came to my dating life in recent months.

Then again, when I think about the dating scene as it currently stands, I realise that the gas pedal I refer to is attached to a 1950s Morris Minor trying to make it up Cork’s Patrick’s Hill with 100km/h headwinds.

My experience of modern dating has been a little bit grim, quite unsuccessful, and if recent months were anything to go by, non-existent.

Last year, the most romantic gesture that happened to me was actually on Valentine’s Day. As I began a cool down in the gym, a rose popped up on the treadmill beside me. I thought, “Oh my God, this is it, this is the moment”, but as I swivelled, I saw the instructor had been given the task of handing out a single rose to every female on the gym floor. Disappointed, not surprised.

To put it lightly, I am one bad date away from asking my parents to send me and the dowry to some wealthy bachelor up the country.

And before the bro-brigade comes for me, I know there are lovely lads out there, but all I’m saying is that ‘Prince Charming’ is not exactly going out of his way to make himself known to me either.

So rather than despairing, I mind-mapped: How does one get a date these days?

I settled on three potential means of finding the aforementioned Prince Charming; on one of the apps/online platforms, in a social setting (at a bar, in a cafe, at a social event, at a sports club etc), and/or on a blind date set up by a friend.

The apps 

Having already done my time on the dating apps, I swore myself off them a couple of months ago. But here I was, once again, downloading Hinge.

I went through the motions: Stuck in some recent photos, added the usual details — height, age, hometown, education etc — and got to work. And within about 30 seconds I was beginning to resemble the Chrissy Teigen cringe meme (Google it).

To explain the concept of Hinge briefly: Each user has pictures, prompts (for example, ‘My ideal first date would be…’, ‘My most controversial opinion is…’, ‘My simple pleasures…’ etc), and a voice note (optional). A potential suitor can then ‘like’ or comment on one of these.

Well.

Nothing humbled me more than some of the likes and comments I received.

Some comments were weird. Some did not make any sense. Some were rude. Some men did not have any pictures of themselves on their own profiles – and as much as I love a sunset, I do not want to date one.

One man commented simply: “Do you want to go to Big Dunnes?” (Like, yes, of course, I do, but still…what?) In the noise of all of that, however, I did get chatting to one gentleman. After the back-and-forth of texting for a few days we decided to do the very millennial (and oh so original) first-date option of going for a coffee.

I travelled about an hour to meet him — he offered to travel too, but the innate people pleaser in me convinced us both this was the better option (also, a note to girls out there who are going on a date in a place they are unfamiliar with: Always share your live location on Whatsapp with a friend or family member) – and there were three main takeaways from the whole encounter:

  • When we went to the café to get coffees, he made a remark about my going up to a dog there and giving him a pet on the head. Bad start.
  • His tone and attitude were negative throughout. (He said he had a “dark sense of humour”, I soon realised there was just no sense of humour.) 
  • His facial expression did not change once throughout the entire date.

In hindsight, I should have stayed with the dog.

Meeting in the wild 

Switching off from — and deleting — the apps (not to mention resisting the urge to throw my phone off the Shakey Bridge) I realised I complain a lot about not yet meeting The One — but I don’t know what I expect when I never leave the confines of my apartment.

So in the post-Christmas time period when we usually say no to going for drinks, dinners, gigs, and events, I became a Yes Man.

I potentially went out more in January 2024 than I did in all of 2023 — and not just to the pub or bar either, we’re talking cafés, walks, markets, comedy gigs, and run clubs. Wholesome stuff.

I could draw two main conclusions. The first being that if there is a chance that anyone is even remotely interested in me, I cannot read the signs. (So if anyone out there has ever tried to flirt with me, I’m sorry, I thought you were just being kind.) 

The second being that when I do come across someone I am interested in, I get a brain fart, I forget how to speak, and I scare them away.

Case in point: Chatting to one retailer at the Marina Market, I came away, panicking I turned to my friend for reassurance. 

“What the hell did I just say to him, I think I blacked out?” I asked. To this day, if I so much as think about that encounter, I have a miniature nervous breakdown.

Blind date 

Ah, the humble blind date. The headline act. The icon, the legend, the moment. 

It would be the most recommended way of meeting someone, were it not for the small hurdle that everyone seems to be in a relationship. Which is great. I’m delighted for you. Yay for romance.

I tried contacting a number of friends asking them if they had anyone in mind they could send me on a date with.

The most popular reply from them was: “I actually have no single friends that I can think of, would you believe that?” Yes, yes I would believe it. 

You are speaking to a girl who’s been on the dating scene for years now. If I came across a single person now I think I would look at them the same way gorillas look back at humans through the glass at the zoo.

Other popular responses were: “I have no single friends who are straight”, and of course “I have no single friends who aren’t in Oz”.

But Mama didn’t raise a quitter (a spinster yes, but not a quitter).

In a last-ditch attempt, I asked a friend’s boyfriend: “Do you know anyone — ANYONE — who would possibly go on a blind date with me? I’m willing to travel.” (Refer to people pleasing, above.) 

As he pondered over it for a minute or two in silence, I began to think we might be on to something. “Would you travel to London for it?” he asked.

While it’s closer than Australia, I will have to put a pin in that one for now. But never say “never”.

And so, as I head into another Valentine’s Day of buying the couples meal deals on offer in supermarkets and eating them myself, my gas pedal and I will continue our uphill battle, undeterred by the storm blowing around us. 

And who knows maybe Prince Charming will eventually show up this year.

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