Back to Innocence

— my online dating stories in Switzerland

About a year ago a girl friend in Zurich gave me a book, encouraging me to go online dating. To celebrate my regained dignity and freedom, she said,”I hope you will find true love. Never give up.”

“121 First Dates” is the title of the book.

By looking at the title, I already felt discouraged. “Does it have to take so many random men to find THE one?” I thought to myself,”Or does this author really have no standards?”

Needless to say, I didn’t finish this book. I have my own standards, and belief.

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”

I set out unprepared. The pandemic “lured” me into trying online dating. So after doing my desktop research, I downloaded this most popular dating App in Switzerland. (note: Swiss people in Switzerland don’t approach people. Men and women both. How they date remains a myth to me. Online dating seems to be the only known way to make people meet and talk.)

Next day I stepped into office, two male colleagues nicely pulled me over and raised their eyebrows,” Jinglei, what are you doing on T. App? It’s a hookup App.!”

That’s the reputation of it. I knew. (I did my desktop research, remember?)

I actually felt a bit amused. I tilted my head and managed to ask nonchalantly,”Where did you find your girlfriend?” “On T. App.” One of them answered. I turned to the other one and asked the same question. He gave me exactly the same answer.

“You see, it works.” I smirked.

“But this happens only one out of one thousand cases!”

If this was a matter of probability, I was wiling to give it a try.

A few months passed, my date pool was several times empty. It seemed like I even didn’t want to find a date. But I knew myself – I was never an online shopper. I didn’t like going through product catalogues, just to start with. All those pictures of men looked to me just meaningless, especially when 80% of them left their profiles blank. By showing a picutre of their six-pack abs and some silly snapshots, they thought women (like me) would just swipe right.

No, I wasn’t that desperate. I had my standards.

Then when least expected, someone caught my attention. He greeted me politely and talked smartly. (being of Swiss-German origin) His English was perfect. And most importantly, we shared the same message typing habits. (Yep, this is very important to me.) We clicked immediately. We chatted everyday. We teased each other every now and then. Sometimes I’d laugh out loud reading his messages, and vice verca. “I want to see where our chemisty takes us.” He said. Yet, he made me wait for an entire month before meeting me in person, explaining to me all about his work projects and priorities. As his star sign and ascendant sign both were Capricorn, I sort of believed in his workaholic trait and his words.

Then we finally met and he asked for the very simple thing as much predictably as possible.

Pff. What a strategy he had!

“Told you, it’s a hookup App!” I could almost hear my colleagues say.

“Looking for a serious relationship? Try P. App.” A suggestion from the aforementioned two colleagues.

So, without doing a proper desktop research, but by remembering seeing their advertisements everywhere in the streets, I was convinced it was gonna work. I downloaded it and after completing their painfully long questionnaire, I even paid for a one-year membership! I was determined to take online dating seriously.

At first, you were not allowed to see each other’s photos. Sure, it was designed for finding your soulmate. Many messages from my potential “soulmates” came in. Within a couple of weeks I experienced two extremes – one group of men deleted my contact as soon as I released my photos to them (Apparently, a pretty Asian woman is equivalent to a monster in Switzerland. Run, chicken, run!) The other group of men got way too excited and boldly wrote me: “You are Asian. You must be good in bed.” and “I’ve never been with an Asian girl. What are your tricks in bed?” This time I had to run away as fast as possible.

One of them after seeing my photos wrote me that he wanted to have sex with me, when I reminded him to behave himself, he wrote: “Meinst du, du kannst hier Liebe finden?„ (You think, you can find love here?) (Sigh, he was even not able to write in English.)

No?

Instead of answering him, I wrote a complaint to this App’s customer service. A few weeks later, the App developer decided to let all paid members see potential “soulmates” profile photos. (Yeah, let us judge a book by its cover as we are basically all visual creatures when it comes to online dating.)

The consequence on my end was – it became extremely quiet. No more guys contacted me. When I took the initiative to contact them, their reaction showed that they belonged to the first group of men. They deleted me immediately without saying anything. It hurt (my ego) at first. But I got over it within no time. And I wrote an email to the customer service again and cancelled my membership. (There was no refund. But I didn’t care. The bad expreience was priceless.)

Well, as some wise people say, “Rejection is protection.” This is the living truth in Switzerland. I hence feel very safe in Switzerland.

Winter fell and stayed. It even prolonged to fight against the global warming. And it prevailed. I gave up online dating.

June arrived. The suddenly picked up warm temperature and loosened up COVID-19 measures restored some hope in me. I heard more and more successful online dating stories rooted from T. App.

I was tempted to download this App again and re-created a profile which sounded more serious. “…looking for a soulmate, a kindred spirit, a partner in crime…” I wrote.

And as efficient as I had always been, I paid upfront for one month, to see who “likes” me so that I could choose from the “likes” pool directly.

24 hours later, I received over 1100 likes. 72 hours later, the number of likes climbed to over 3000. By the time I finally chose someone to like, it had hit 4400. So, it should be easy to find THE one, right?

His profile was concise but well-written – he revealed his educational degree, his profession, his origin, his reason to come to Switzerland and his hobbies, his taste in music. Needless to say, he was my type, 100%. (Didn’t I mention I was a visual creature?)

We matched and chatted. He seemed to be outgoing, bold, smart, fun, honest and hardworking. Wasn’t that some of the qualities I had been looking for?

We met and talked. He couldn’t even wait for a second to point out my flaws. So direct and straighforward. So I was triggered to talk more. We talked more. And we wanted to talk even more. So we did. And we did it again, and again. I fully understood his goals and ambitions, his struggles and achivements, his loneliess and longings. There was a sense of innocence in his boldness. There was a reflection of insecurity in his confidance. He was a little boy (from a small town) in his age. I was a little girl (from a big city) in my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed the simplest things we did together. Nothing could prevent us from feeling the attraction and connection, except one thing…

He didn’t know my age and didn’t want to know. I had my theory but I was too scared to prove it.

Rain started and intentionally tired to quench the sparks before they could become flames. I decided to be honest with him about my age and my past (as I had lived longer than he had at this point, my past would probably seem a bit longer as well.)

“I find you very interesting and intelligent.” He looked at me softly from a distance, “But…”

The lightning scraped the dark sky and the thunder followed quickly to cover the sound I didn’t wish to hear. Outside, the rain was still pouring. I knew it was out of my power to stop the rain. The universe always had its own plans.

“Please drive me home.” I uttered those words.

A goodbye was a well-meant goodbye. We didn’t kiss. We didn’t hug. We didn’t shake hands. I jumped out of his “humble” (I quote his word) car and dashed to my apartment building. I told myself not to turn my head. So, I didn’t. I told myself it was alright to walk away from another wrong one and I should enter the buiding as quickly as possible to keep myself dry. But the air was so humid and it got my eyes moist.

I looked at my T. App profile. Over 5500 men “liked” it. But I only liked one. One month subscription was due and I didn’t renew.

“You are too picky.” All my colleagues and friends tell me.

Truth is, I absolutely disagree. The innocence and simplicity I find in myself is gold. I just need to find someone who will be able to recognize the gold and cherish it, and keep it.

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