Jamie Bailey
April 15, 2016 12:32 pm
Getty / Hiroshi Watanabe

In the last six months, my life has done a complete 180. I quit my less-than-fulfilling full-time job as an operations manager at a financial group to move to Spain to become an au pair. Many people thought I was completely insane to leave my steady job and apartment and start over from scratch in a brand new country across the ocean, where I knew absolutely no one besides my wonderful host family and their children. I am a social being, and I have my proven strategies for making friends, which includes a lot of chatting, terrible jokes, and occasionally margaritas. But after discussing it with some friends, I decided to give Tinder a try again, if nothing else, to meet some locals to help me improve my Spanish skills and show me around.

When I’d previously tried the app in the U.S., I’d lasted approximately four days before I became horrified and deleted it. I will admit that I was too self-conscious and embarrassed that someone I knew would see me and think I had become desperate. But my perspective changed while using Tinder in Europe. Before I quit my job and moved across the world, I had a stable job and had put down some roots, so I suppose you could say that I was looking for a stable relationship, too. When I moved and gave up all that stability, I gave up the relationship ambitions too. I also gave up the slew of seemingly indifferent dudes that had been treating me poorly and/or stringing me along. Here, I was only looking for someone to go to salsa lessons and get tapas with, but something different ended up happening.

Once I created my profile, I was overly cautious, though that was nothing new — I had also been cautious on Tinder back at home. I would have been cautious in any location, but especially being thousands of miles away from my family and friends. I also wanted to make sure my matches and I could communicate well, since most of the men are Spanish speakers and only partially bilingual. When I arrived, my Spanish was so mediocre that I imagined these horrible dates with guys in which I could only manage to say, “I like beer,” or “More wine, please.”

I am an impatient person, and I quickly grew wary of swiping through profiles and the boring small talk between me and my matches. Then, I stumbled upon the profile of a cute French guy — a fellow English-speaking expat living in the same Spanish city. When we began talking on Tinder, I made note about his intentions; like whether or not he commented on my appearance right off the bat (not preferred) and what type of questions he asked me. We messaged back and forth on the app for a few days until we moved to WhatsApp and he eventually asked me out for drinks. You know how those first messages go; they kind of suck because you can’t gauge the other person’s sense of humor through text before meeting them. However, he joked that he is an old man in a young man’s body, and I say the same thing about myself frequently. I also figured out he liked Led Zeppelin. That’s when I knew everything was going to be alright.

When we met up, it was love at first accent. And sight, of course. But seriously, every time he spoke I’m sure my face looked exactly like the emoji with heart eyes. I immediately sensed his gentle and kind nature. I felt self-conscious, like anyone on a first date, but especially because I was doing most of the talking. He seemed to enjoy my ramblings, and he never once acted disinterested or checked his phone. I showed him photos of my hometown and of my beloved cat. He has a cat too, and both of us are vegetarians. Multiple scores, here. Good work, Tinder!

After our first date, he was very enthusiastic about meeting up with me again, which was so refreshing. On my prior experiences in Whatevering, many dates toyed around with me, and I had no idea if they were interested or not. But Leo used forward statements like, “I can’t wait to see you again.” He also uses words such as “girlfriend,” “couple,” “dating,” and “our relationship” to refer to us because he is a grown ass man with intentions. Maybe I judged a book by its cover, because I never would have expected such a relationship to come from Tinder. Not just that, but my very first Tinder date!

I’m an American writer, he is a Parisian engineer, and we were both drawn to Spain for different reasons. Even though our lifestyle seems straight out of a fairytale, sometimes it’s hard for me to admit that we met on Tinder. Every writer has their idea of meeting their someone. Although it would be more romantic to say we met while sketching the town cathedral on a sun-drenched afternoon, sometimes you have to take your fate into your own hands, a la online dating. The story of our meeting is very technical, but we’ve made up for it in many lovely adventures! With Leo, I’ve run through the rain to catch a bus in a small Spanish village, sat on a castle wall during a sunset, and ridden on the back of his bicycle through medieval towns. Wtf is my life? is my most common thought that runs through my head approximately every 5 minutes when we are together.

It is totally serendipity that we were both on Tinder in the same city at the same time. Our worlds were so far apart, but so close at the same time. We had no idea! Both of us studied abroad in Denmark in 2012, and I had previously studied in Paris, where he also attended school. We were there in the city of light, blissfully unaware of our future meeting. Modern technology brought us together. #thankstinder

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