Have you ever accidentally swiped left on Tinder or Bumble and thought, damn it, I just missed the love of my life? Well, no worries. Chances are if the guy is local, you’ll have another chance to choose him.
I’ve learned that the dating life is like that. You’ll often get another chance to match with a man and exes or guys you dated briefly can reappear. Call this phenomenon a second chance or, if you’re in a snarky mood, dating reflux.
I’ve had a few examples of exes reappearing. These reentries do not qualify as breadcrumbing behavior where an old flame gets in touch irregularly to keep a love interest on the hook. Instead, these encounters highlight the “small world” of online dating.
Let’s discuss while celebrating summer with a taste of warm eggplant and mint salad.
About 10 months ago, I reached out to Mr.J, a man on OurTime. I liked his photos and self-description. Although his profile showed a heavy interest in sports (not my thing), he was also interested in cultural events and outdoor activities. I took a risk and wrote to him. He responded and after a brief written exchange I suggested a phone call.
We talked for about 15 to 20 minutes. No red flags emerged (my primary reason for scheduling a phone call), but the conversation was lackluster. Had Mr.J followed up, I likely would have gone out with him just to see if there was any in-person chemistry. However, he didn’t reach out and I soon forgot about him.
Unexpectedly, a couple of weeks ago Mr. J viewed me again on Our Time. I revisited his profile and took renewed interest in his 6’5” height (call me shallow). I decided to be brave and write to him. I acknowledged our brief conversation about a year ago and suggested we meet sometime. “Sure,” he wrote. “Good timing. My subscription ends tomorrow and I’m not renewing.”
We arranged to meet for a drink about halfway between our locations. He lives about an hour away from me so dating would be a challenge. But I was game. I was feeling the weight of a dating dry spell and willing to venture out beyond my ideal geographic location.
After a stressful drive, difficult parking, and the joy of getting lost while walking from the parking lot to the meeting point, I was ready for the 6’5” blue eyed hug that Mr. J gave me. Yes, I was reminded why I like guys taller than me.
Mr. J opened up the conversation with a comment/question about something in my profile. Things were looking up. However, this initial promise was not fulfilled. The conversation soon turned to 95% about Mr. J, his previous relationships, his children, his ex-wife’s alcoholism, etc. He asked an occasional question or two about me but swiftly transitioned from my responses to more about him.
The kicker? He kept looking up at the TV over the bar. I require good eye contact and so I asked if he could look at me and not the TV. “Just checking the score,” he said before continuing to glance at the television every couple of minutes. I’m sure my comment was a deal breaker for him just as his screen gazing killed any chemistry I initially felt.
I went to the ladies room and when I returned Mr. J had paid the bill. At that point, I think we were both ready to say goodbye. Mr. J was gentleman enough to help me find my car and gave me a light business-like hug goodbye.
As I drove home, I knew I would not go out with Mr. J again but felt no need to communicate that to him, unless he suggested another date. Later that night, Mr. J texted to say he enjoyed meeting me but didn’t think we were a match. Despite my lack of interest in him, I still felt rejected. Why did he feel compelled to provide an assessment? I would have preferred that he just not get in touch with me.
Do I need to start messaging first dates I don’t want to see again to let them know I don’t think we’re a match? I think this kind of preemptive strike is unnecessary but it feels better to reject than to be rejected.
It turns out the next potential second chance was Mr. K, a guy I matched on Tinder and had briefly dated a couple of years ago. See how exes keep coming back? Although Mr. K had some positive attributes, I couldn’t wrap my head around his politics and his single-minded devotion to sexual pursuit. So I told him I didn’t think we should continue dating.
He wasn’t heartbroken but texted that he thought I could be missing out on some adventure. Perhaps. When a few weeks ago, I saw Mr. K’s profile on Tinder, I wondered if I should give him another chance. His profile was a bit different this time – more pictures and a mention of a blog he writes on dating, with the name of the blog listed. I keep my blog confidential so Mr. K’s mention of his surprised me.
Before I swiped one way or the other on Mr. K, I checked out his blog and even searched to see if he wrote about me. He began posting after we stopped dating and I was not mentioned.
I briefly fantasized about the idea of a meet cute situation: two dating bloggers who used to be involved reconnect over their blogs. But political differences compelled me to say no (swipe left) to renewing a relationship with Mr. K. Did he swipe right on me? I’ll never know – unless I encounter him on another site or in real life. Like I said, these exes keep coming back.
Until next week, happy dating or not dating.