Tuesday, 15 August 2017

My Tinder Story

Tinder. We all know that name, whether you use it yourself or maybe someone you know does. Whether you're a proud swiper or you do it on the sly and don't tell you friends about it. We all know the name. I first downloaded Tinder in 2015. My boss at the time and I had been talking about it and as she didn't have Facebook, we downloaded it using my account as somewhat of a social experiment and for something to chat about on quiet days in the shop. I wasn't very interested at first but it was as per the instruction of my boss (albeit for fun) so I gave it a go anyway. She'd ask me every shift how it was going, who I was chatting with, if I'd arranged to meet anyone and, as many have grown to expect from Tinder, if I'd slept with anyone from it. At that time, I was very much in denial about my sexuality, and the mere thought of my boss knowing I wasn't straight was enough to break me out in a cold sweat so I had my preferences set exclusively on men. I chatted with a few guys, some nice enough, some creepy and invasive but no conversations lasted longer than a few days before comimg to a natural end or grinding to a halt by an unsolicited dick pic. It was fun while it lasted for a bit of workplace banter but after a month or so, it was fading into the background, collecting dust and taking up memory on my phone and eventually, I deleted it. I never met anyone, or even spoke to anyone long enough that meeting up seemed likely. Comparative to some of the horror stories I've heard, I didn't think my experience of Tinder was all together too awful, but it just didn't seem like it was for me and I was fine with that. 

Time pasted. I remained closetted and truly believed I would just have to learn to be straight and muddle through a unfulfilling existence, pouring all my energy into hiding who I truly was. Then last year, a series of events in my life (nothing as exciting or dramatic as that sounds, I promise!) somehow gave me the kick up the bum I'd been looking for for so long. I redownloaded Tinder on a complete emotional, hungover and lonely whim, this time with my preferences set to male and female. I remember so clearly, I was on a coach back from the Edinburh Fringe, by myself. It was late on a Sunday night, I was drained of all energy after a weekend of drinking a lot and sleeping very little and the sheer boredom and longing to just get home to my own bed got the better of me. 

The next day, I was swiping through, judging strangers by the tiny snippets of their lives that they so finely tuned and decided to present to single locals and allowing them to do the same of me when this girl popped up. Beautiful dark eyes and the cutest smile, the type of smile that you can't help but smile yourself when you see it. There was very little on her profile, in fact no bio whatsoever so I had not much but this beautiful smile to go on. I knew I was chancing my luck swiping right to someone so clearly out of my league but what did I have to loose? To my absolute delight and surprise, we matched.

This girl's name is Sara. Say-rah, not Sah-rah, just so we're clear. You may recognize that name because today marks 1 year since we matched on Tinder and I'm very lucky to be able to now call her my girlfriend.

There's still a bit of a taboo surrounding online dating. Although Tinder is probably the most well known and commonly used, in the circles I run in anyway, there's still a certain shameful stigma. It's often thought of as desperate, promiscuous and would certainly never be considered romantic. In fact, when I told my mum about Sara, she seemed more shocked that I'd met her online than that I like women. I kind of love that that's how we met though. We didn't know any of the same people, live particularly nearby, go to the same school or uni or share the same social groups yet somehow, we came into each others lives and fell in love and that gives me all the warm fuzzy feelings inside. With that though, comes hopeless Tinder romantics asking what the secret it.

In my experience (although Sara is the only person that I ever actually talked to long enough that meeting in real life seemed likely), it truly is just best to be yourself. Everyone filters what elements of their lives they choose to put online, as a blogger, I am very accustomed to this. Of course you're going to select the most flattering photos of yourself and list your most desirable and interesting traits but once you start talking to someone, there really is no point in being anything other than who you are. It's exhausting and it can't last. I also think there's something to be said for waiting a while to meet up (although whether Sara would agree with this is another matter, I hope I was worth the wait!) A lot of people I know match with someone and are meeting up for drinks the following day. To me, that strikes me a recipe for awkwardness and for someone excusing themselves to the bathroom and never coming back. Sara and I messaged for 6 and a half weeks before we met up. A little over 12,000 messages. We talked on the phone for hours at a time and sent videos and photos every day so that when we did eventually meet, it didn't feel like I was meeting someone new, it felt natural and comfortable. We met at 8pm, I remember being so nervous and feeling like I was going to faint and thinking to myself 'Do I introduce myself? I mean, she obviously knows my name' but within 5 minutes, we were laughing and joking and talking (and arguing about the Kardashians) like we'd been together for years. It just felt effortless. We didn't get home til after 3am which I genuinely believe wouldn't have happened if we'd met after only a few days of messages. 

We're not perfect, far far from it, but our relationship has gone from strength to strength. Because we talked so much and so intensely before ever even meeting face to face, we used to always say 'open and honest, that's our thing' as a sort of little motto and it's really carried us through our relationship. She's my girlfriend but she's also my best friend and my biggest support, we tell each other every single boring and irrelevant detail of our lives, we share everything and we rely on each other, all so effortlessly, and that's everything I could ever dream of in a relationship. She's away backpacking around Europe for two months at the moment and even through that, our relationship has grown stronger and I've never been more sure of my feelings. Only 12 days til she's home and I cannot tell you how excited I am!

Tinder does have a bad reputation and not everyone uses it to find a relationship (which of course is fine) and I don't think there's a formula for success. What works for some may not for others but I feel so lucky to be in the elite that found the good side of Tinder. Deborah, if ever you happen to read this, thank you so much for making me download Tinder. It took me a while to get on board with it but without you and without Tinder, I'd probably still be single, terrified to embrace and explore my sexuality (whatever that is, I still don't know) and wouldn't have met my wonderful girlfriend.

Friday, 11 August 2017

'Out Of Love' at The Edinburgh Fringe

Every blogger has that one brand that they cannot, even in their wildest dreams, imagine being asked to work with. That iconic name they look up to, that they'd give anything to be a part of but that seems just too amazing to ever want to work with little old you. To me, that is the Edinburgh Fringe and that dream came true a few weeks ago when I was invited alone to a press event in collaboration with the Edinburgh Fringe and to watch Elinor Cook's 'Out of Love' at the Roundabout at Summerhall.

I've been an avid fan of the Edinburgh Fringe for many years now. I first attended with a group of friends when I was in my final year of school. We were all too young to even be allowed in most venues, but we spent the day in the sunshine wandering around, soaking up the atmosphere and just enjoying being in the midst of such uncapped and free flowing creativity. I've been every year since, often many times. I've seen well known names and headline shows but it's the up and coming performers in a sea of hopefuls, desperate to stand out and be seen that are always my favourite. As a huge fan of comedy myself, I've always opted for stand-up shows so when I was offered the change to see a drama piece, I was excited to try out a side of the Fringe I'd never dabbled in before.

Written by Elinor Cook, 'Out Of Love' follows the story of two young girls, growing up as best friends in a small Welsh town, taking an intimate look at how their lives remained intertwined as one moves away for university while the other gets pregnant. It looks at their complex relationship spanning over 30 years, their highs and lows, the challenges they face both individually and together, their complicated families and their less than perfect relationships. All too often, I find tales that claim to explore female friendship centre around love, so I really loved how Grace and Lorna's friendship remained at the forefront of the story throughout. 

(Image : Corner Shop PR)

The production itself is wonderfully simple yet impeccably executed. It only stars 3 actors who move seamlessly between a number of characters as well as the same characters at different stages in their lives and the show itself has absolutely no staging, props or costume changes, which highlights what a flawlessly written piece it really is. If you find yourself in search of a show to see at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, I cannot recommend 'Out Of Love' highly enough, it's a charming and heartfelt performance which made me both laugh and cry.

Full info on dates, times, prices and tickets available here.