I have got to hand it to Tinder.
For all the slander I used to give it, it has actually put me in contact with the bulk of my dates. Like any dating or social networking platform however, you still have to sift through the masses to find someone who's on the same wavelength as you but I can't complain. Because I've said it before that this app is used a lot differently in Japan. People use it to find friends and unsurprisingly, they also use it for language opportunities. There will always be those looking for hook ups but there are also those seeking something more meaningful which is nice. Sadly, while none of my dates have actually ended up being a sure thing, they've certainly been interesting experiences so here's to the second round of contestants.
The "Japanese Only" Guy Date
As the title suggests, this guy spoke zero English so when we first started communicating, I was convinced that it wouldn't even get off the app. Nevertheless, I saw it as an opportunity to use my somewhat limited Japanese ability. In my day to day life, I barely use Japanese at all but via text, I can communicate fairly well. We spoke for about a week and then one evening, he asked me to lunch on a Saturday. I accepted and for the first time since I'd started dating, I was actually nervous. Texting is one thing; speaking is another ball game. Nevertheless, we met up and despite looking as he did in his pictures, he was a whole lot shorter than me. Starting off, things went well however. I liked the fact that he was pretty quick at finding places to go despite having never traveled to the area before (hurray Google Maps). But as the date progressed, I began starting to find it difficult to communicate effectively. My spoken ability is still beginner at best. He was very patient nonetheless but eventually conversation began to dry up due to the fact that my brain simply couldn't handle the sudden influx of "foreign language". It lasted roughly four to five hours and was a good date overall but by the end of it, my head hurt and I knew that logically nothing else was going to come from it.
The Older Guy Date
When I first started communicating with this one, his profile had indicated that he was 31 years old. After communicating for some time and scheduling a date with him, I came to find out that he was actually 40 years old instead. I was gutted. You see, I have both a lower and upper age limit where dating is concerned because I feel like I'll have very little in common with, or very dissimilar mentalities from those who are much younger or older than me. But as I'd already agreed to the date in the first place, I went on it anyway. He was late which annoyed me further but when he arrived, I had to admit, he was extremely attractive. He did not look forty at all so I brightened up a little. As the date progressed however, I soon discovered that we had absolutely nothing in common. He would bring up a topic that I knew nothing about and vice versa. What's more, his mentality seemed a hellova lot younger than his age. He didn't seem to completely have his act together and everything (and I mean "everything") was a joke with him. I braved the time we spent together to give him a chance but ultimately ended it. What I'd suspected before had come into fruition so we parted ways. I was polite and thanked him for the date but ultimately I never heard from him again and rightfully so.
The Ugly Guy Date
He was tall, older then me and also, within my age range, and he asked me to meet one Saturday afternoon. His pictures weren't completely clear however and that should have been my first clue because when I met him in person, I physically recoiled. I have never done that before. Physically, everything else was perfect - height, stature...etc - but he had not been gifted in the face department unfortunately, and I think maybe he knew this as well. Nevertheless, I'm not one to completely rule someone out so the date continued. He reminded me a lot of one of my students who likes to talk a lot and he also possessed similar alpha male characteristics to the date I mentioned in my previous entry. Unlike the others however, I could tell based on his body language (and the occasional body touch) that he found me attractive. He also told me so, although I think his words were more PG then what he was really thinking. He was alright however and our conversation was good (when he wasn't sneaking in a text message to someone). He was also kind enough to help me catch the train I needed to get to my next destination. I just found it very difficult to look at him.
The British Guy Date
I'd been speaking to this guy for a long time and had given him the benefit of the doubt because his work life had been crazy; I'm talking about no days off for at least a month. But ultimately, rather then let him take his sweet time to ask me out, I asked him out and we settled on a quick two hour "coffee date"as we both had places to go in the evening. What was ironic however, was that this guy wasn't British at all but had spent a considerable amount of time in the UK to make me feel like I was dating a guy from back home. His accent was extremely weird - a mix of Japan and southern England - but it was refreshing to hear vocabulary that I hadn't heard in such a long time. I couldn't read him however. Sometimes he would screw up his face and I couldn't tell if it was a facial twitch or a display of annoyance. He bought me lunch which I didn't finish (I felt bad for this) and then we spent an hour singing karaoke where he picked songs that reminded me of my childhood. I couldn't tell if he was serenading me or simply taking me on a stroll down memory lane but it was good fun. Whenever I finish a date with a Japanese guy, as public displays of affection aren't a thing here, I usually shake hands or wave but this guy actually went in to give me a hug which both surprised and didn't surprise me at the same time. "British guy" right? Just like home.
The Monastery Guy Date
I call this guy the "monastery guy" because he described his life as just that - a relatively simple one with no drama and absolute peace. He also described himself a naturalist; very food conscious, into yoga and very internationally minded. His intense dislike of crowds cropped up in conversation often. He'd also spent 6 years in Belgium and when I saw his profile, it was worded as if he had returned to Japan. What I found out later however was that despite the fact that he was looking for a relationship, he hadn't actually left Belgium. He was actually on holiday visiting his family and had no intention of returning to Japan for now. But to get out of the house one Sunday afternoon, I agreed to a "beach meetup", where we grabbed a bottle of water each, sat across from the sea and chatted for a couple hours. So I guess it doesn't really constitute a date but I can't say it wasn't cool chatting to a complete stranger without having to worry about how I came across or whether we had an interest in each other. By the end of the date, I think we'd indirectly agreed that nothing was going to come from it but we did decide to keep in contact.
The American Guy Date
Of all the dates I've been on, this is the first fellow foreigner I'd actually managed to meet in person. I'd talked to other foreigners before but conversation often fizzled out so I thought I'd hit a milestone here. Unfortunately for me however, I hadn't actually read the guys profile properly when I swiped him and it was only later after talking for a while that I saw that he too was a little bit outside my age band. Nevertheless, after talking for a while and coming to the conclusion that he was relatively normal, I decided to give him a chance. We met up and had a pretty short but amicable date. We swapped stories about our lives and our experiences in Japan (and outside of it). Him being ex-military had taken him on some adventures. He was definitely the most mature and levelheaded of all the people I'd been on dates with. I wondered if I ever met him again, would I be the immature party this time? With a southern drawl, Not used to my British accent, however, he found it difficult to understand me on occasion - which we both found humorous. It was also nice to be able to wear heels and have someone still hold a centimetre or two over me.
I think I'm quite lucky in that I haven't had any major disasters while dating via Tinder. I'm either screening people very well or I've just been very lucky. But I'm still very much single so I'm wondering if I'm doing it right. It just goes to show however that you really shouldn't knock something until you've tried it. So by all means ladies and gents, get out there.