In the modern romantic context, “getting back on the horse” more often than not means plunging into the world of online dating. For some, it’s exciting; for others, it’s daunting. But the plunge is always good for a story or two. That’s why I asked three women to tell me theirs for our fourth installment with Badoo, a dating app with a funny name and an encouraging founding principle: that there’s someone out there for everyone. With over 370 million registered members, flexible location settings (you can match with people all over the world) and a focus on security and verification features that make users feel safe, Badoo is particularly well-suited for getting back on the horse to see what’s out there. If you’re currently in that process or simply looking for a nudge, read on to hear about three women’s experiences who have already done it.
“I ended up being pleasantly surprised.”
Lola, 29, started dating again after a tough breakup with a partner she’d first known as a friend. Looking to expand her horizons, she started dating people she’d never met before. Although she wasn’t looking for something long-distance (something Badoo’s app is great for, if you recall!), she doesn’t regret her out-of-state date.
I decided to give dating apps a whirl about three months after a tough breakup. Working through a shitty, painful heartbreak is tough but enlightening and clarifying. My ex was a friend first, and coming out the other end of those three months, I suddenly saw the value of expanding my dating pool beyond my known-knowns. Still, I was a little trepidatious. It’s hard to imagine having a good date when you think you might still be healing, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
I learned a lot about myself in the online dating process, like how I was more interested in meeting guys who commented on the books and music I listed in my profile, and not so much those who sent heart-eye emojis in response to a photo of me standing with an alpaca. I also learned the importance of adjusting your location preference. Many apps auto-set to a 15-mile radius. Maybe that’s fine in L.A., but it doesn’t really work in NYC, at least not for me. Not trying to cross state borders to go on a date.
I’m still very much learning the art of both sending and receiving the gentle breakup text (usually after date two). Some guys got it right away and appreciated the honesty (I try to do the same). Some I really wanted to be friends with (though that never really panned out). Some I eventually blocked/stopped responding to altogether. I may feel a little pang of “Is this unkind?” when I block people’s accounts/numbers/etc., but my desire to protect myself from those who do not respect my boundaries and make space for those who do is much greater.
It wasn’t until I made the first move that I actually met someone who I really connected with. I commented on his music choices, and he responded quickly and thoughtfully. Conversation came easily on the first date — attraction too — and our collective nervousness was kind of thrilling and manifested itself as a sweet goofiness. The date ended with a walk, something we would do on many more dates that summer. We live in different states now, and again, not trying to cross state borders, but I think it’s fair to say we have a mutual respect and appreciation for being in the right place at the right time to get to know each other when we did.
“I’ve learned over the years that first impressions can be false.”
Patty, 53, was thrust into an unfamiliar dating scene following the end of an almost 30-year marriage, an experience she describes as both difficult and thrilling. Her online dating experience has been a little mixed, but it’s made for some funny stories.
I started dating my husband when he was 14 and I was 15, and we got married when I was 22. I’m from a small town, and we were part of a generation where everyone was dating and getting married young. It was different back then. We were married for 29 years. One night, we admitted that we loved each other like siblings. The next morning, I was like, This isn’t normal. And we both agreed it was time to move on.
We got divorced about three years ago. I’m 53 now. The transition was very difficult. Being married was all I knew! Our kids took it hard initially, but they’ve accepted it as time has gone on and understand that mom and dad are much happier doing our own things.
I waited a year and a half to start dating. I’m a hairdresser, and one of the girls at work helped make my [dating] profile and kind of pushed me along. Looking back, I might have told myself to start sooner. You don’t know what’s out there until you actually go and seek, which can be incredible. Online dating gives you an exhilarating thrill. I would run to my iPad and see who “liked” me. It’s exciting just to see who’s interested.
I went on some interesting dates — a few were kind of wild experiences. But I don’t regret going on bad dates — I definitely find the humor in it. It’s always a learning experience. I think there’s a reason you meet anybody you ever meet. I may have learned something from some of those people, whether good or bad, and I learned what I liked or didn’t like in a person. It broadened my horizons about what’s out there. It helped me hone what I was looking for.
In the beginning, I was like, “I’m gonna find my soulmate and I’m going to marry this guy and he’s gotta be this and be that…”
That’s one thing I needed to learn early on: My friend said, “Patty, you’re not going to marry him. You’re going on a date!” But in my experience, I went out with somebody and then I married him. So that opened my eyes up so much. Now, if I do go out with somebody, I remind myself that I’m dating them, not marrying them. Which makes it so much better. So much less pressure!
It’s a good reminder to be less critical. Everybody has some good qualities, and everyone has some defects of character, including me. I’ve learned over the years that first impressions can be false. And looks are not #1 — none of that material stuff matters. I’m looking for a good, honest, caring person with a good heart. I think being less critical comes with age and growing up, too. I can speak my mind now, whereas before, in my old life, I guess you could say I was waiting on a man. Now, I’ve set new rules for my new standards and new life.
“I could tell he wasn’t just on there because he was bored.”
Sam, 28, met her current boyfriend on a dating app after a period of much-needed time away from online dating to focus on other aspects of her life. The energy she brought to it ended up making the experience more fun.
I met my boyfriend on a dating app. I’d taken a hiatus from apps during a particularly busy time in my life when I realized I needed to do some “me” work rather than date. When I signed up again, I was ready for all of it: the patience required to make real connections, the thrill of the “match,” testing out one-liners, actually going on dates. I liked that I could see our mutual friends in common, but that wasn’t a requirement. I didn’t see anything more or less weird about meeting someone online versus meeting someone over Instagram, or Twitter, or in a bar.
I don’t mind pickup lines — using them or getting them. I think they’re funny. They make more sense online than in person, where it’s like, just introduce yourself. Online, I like having a jumping-off point for conversation. Great banter has always been a mark of someone I’m going to get along with, so I liked the chatting aspect of dating apps, too.
What’s funny is that I would not call my boyfriend’s banter skills great, but he was kind and interested and asked a lot of questions. So there wasn’t the rapid ping-pong game I had previously judged conversations on, but there was a really nice back-and-forth. I could tell he wasn’t just on there because he was bored. We talked enough to gather a pretty good picture of the other person: likes, dislikes, sense of humor, taste in movies, politics. It was enjoyable, and then, like me, he wanted to get off the app fairly quickly and actually meet. (It drove me crazy when guys seemed to want a pen pal rather than a date.)
We spent most of our first date, funnily enough, talking about past online dating experiences: the good and the bad. I think it bonded us. It was almost like we’d been through all of it together, in a way. We laughed the whole time. We’ve been together six months now.
The weirdest part is that we very easily could have run into each other before meeting online — we had mutual friends and were at at least one party together without knowing it. Isn’t that kind of crazy? I like to ask him, “What do you think would have happened if we met in real life a year ago?” He’s always like, “What does it matter? We’re together now!”
Do you have a “getting back on the horse” story to share? Are you thinking of doing so yourself? Badoo might not be a bad place to start, but also, I wouldn’t mind you using this comment section to talk about your dating life all day long instead of doing anything else.
Download Badoo here!
Illustrations by Juliana Vido.