Dating in This Time and at This Age

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While many of our contributors are in relationship with men of Asian descent, I was divorced from my Mongolian husband over four years ago. You can read about my marriage and subsequent divorce, as well as a number of posts about life in Mongolia, by going to my archive page. Since that divorce and my move from Mongolia to Turkey, both of which happened in 2018, I’ve been relatively quiet on WWAM Bam.

However, I do live in Asia, and I am open to whatever my next love story might be.

Love story, not life story.

This is a distinction I learned about recently thanks to my sister who referred me to the work of Esther Perel. If you want to know more you can read this blog post, specifically notice Myth #2. When looking back at my life through that kind of lens I can see I’ve had numerous love stories, and one life story.

Nowadays I’m looking to meet a man with whom I can have fun, be myself, have meaningful conversations, and with whom I can enjoy an organic and natural physical chemistry. But dating in this time is so different from when I was young.

Before I first married at the age of 24 dating did not have an online or virtual component. We met people IRL, talked on the phone, and went on dates. If we had friends in common, we heard what others thought or knew of him/her. Dating apps and websites were nonexistent. Social media wasn’t around for us to vet a potential suitor. Yes, since my youth and the last time period I dated seriously and regularly, we’ve added some additional dimensions to meeting and getting to know people.

Here I am, swiftly approaching 50, with no biological children, and no desire to be married again (though I’m wise enough to not say “never”). But love is always a wish, a desire. For those of us who have been in love, there is no greater rush or high. Even heartbreak can’t have a lasting damper on the human desire for connection and love.

In my four years living here I’ve dated two Turkish men. The first one I dated for four months; we remain friends. Nice guy, common interests, great conversation–but there was no magic. The second man I dated for over a year and a half (he and I are still friendly as well), but it was a long-distance relationship and we generally saw one another every 1-3 months. We had excellent chemistry–that of the primal sort–and always had fun together. But we did not have intellectual conversations and I missed having that aspect to the relationship.

Maybe I am searching for a needle in a haystack? Searching for a single man (as in not married!) with whom I can have both sides of the attraction coin–intellectual conversations AND strong physical chemistry–it seems more like I am searching for the Holy Grail. That said, so much of the fun in this life is about journeying a quest–any kind of quest. 😊

While I did meet my previous Turkish boyfriends organically, I have also begun to travel down the rabbit hole of dating apps. Albeit with a conservative approach and a strong dose of skepticism. I’ve heard enough horror stories about Tinder experiences that I refuse to download that app. But I’ve also heard about or met an increasing number of couples that met through a dating app. Therefore, that frontier seemed worthy of exploration. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I dabbled briefly in 2019 with Bumble. I appreciated its structure that required women to make the first contact, therefore filtering out any unwanted messages. I also imagined that any Turkish man using it would have stronger English language skills and would be OK with the idea of an independent woman. Three years ago there were not many people using Bumble, so the candidate pool was shallow. I wasn’t in a rush to meet someone and enjoyed learning how the app worked, and how to navigate the transition to WhatsApp (if desired) and setting up an initial date. I enjoyed two good first dates, but then met Turkish Boyfriend #1 (organically) and was out of the dating game.

I have two male Turkish friends that I met via Bumble during that initial exploration; one is now living and working in NYC (he is a talented artist whom I subsequently hired to design my Turkey tattoo); the other now lives and works in Hong Kong. We message from time to time and I know if/when they are back in Turkey, we will meet up.

Single again after Turkish Boyfriend #2, I have played around with three dating apps: Bumble, Plenty of Fish, and OK Cupid. I literally mean “play with” as they do all feel a bit like a game. I am not a person that plays video games–but these apps have a surreal aspect to them. I appreciate being able to consider a persons “stats” and interests, and reading their responses to prompts/questions. Yet nothing can stand-in for that one-of-a-kind feeling when your eyes meet the eyes of another out in the world, you both know you want to know the other. Magnetism and the human dance of making an introduction come into play IRL. Dating apps circumvent that thrilling rush.

I quickly decided that Plenty of Fish was clunky and not at all intuitive. I deleted it within a few weeks. My younger sister mentioned using the OK Cupid website when she was last in the dating game. She remembered it as “fun” because of all the quizzes/questions it offered to then use to “match” with another individual. I joined and have found that it is a fun app to use and navigate, and that there are a LOT of people here in Turkey using it! Way more than Bumble. I’m sure Tinder would be similar, but that’s yet a hard NO for me.

I’ve only returned from my summer holiday one month ago, and I am busy settling into a new apartment for the time being. However, I do have hopes that this fall and winter will have me meeting new people and going on dates. Hopefully I can meet a man that can become a special someone. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the journey, appreciating most that I know who I am, and I am not interested in pretending otherwise. And as I’ve written before, attraction is a mysterious thing which we can’t force or orchestrate. It either is, or it isn’t. Enjoy it when it happens, move on when it’s lacking. No need to be attached to any outcome of a first date or a fifth date. Just go with the flow!

I’ll hope to be back with you in a couple of months to let you know how I’m doing with this modern dating game. Until then, feel free to comment below with any surprising experiences or useful insights you might have on this topic.

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3 comments

  1. To be fair, I don’t think that Tinder is any worse than Plenty of Fish. The stories that I have heard about men that friends have met on POF mean that it is not one that I would ever use. Good luck in your search for Mr Right x

    1. Hello Carol-Anne.
      Thank you for weighing in. Interestingly, I know a few people that met their husband/wife through POF. But I wasn’t keen on it when I tried it–only a week or two to be honest. Difficult to navigate and not visually appealing.

      Living abroad one has to poke around to see which app is used more in any given country.
      Thank you for your well wishes.

  2. Hello Heather,
    I truly enjoyed reading your blog about dating nowadays. I fully agree with your observations and experiences reminding us how dating used to be and now, especially the online dating. Although from Turkish descend I did not consider dating a Turkish man until well into my late 40s probably the same age as you are now lol. I have not dated for a while but decided now that it’s time to get back into the dating scene. Learning about new online choices is helpful. I was never a fan of POF either so this time I will try OkCupid and let’s what adventures I will encounter! 🤪

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