What My 3 Most Unforgettable Dates Taught Me

Dating apps get a bad rap sometimes but having a virtually unlimited pool of other singletons at your fingertips? Priceless. This is true not only for those of us laser-focused on finding The One but for anyone hungry for interesting, fun or downright weird new experiences. Dating 'success' doesn't always end with a ring on your finger. It can mean a hilarious escapade that blows up the group chat the next day, a deep conversation that triggers you to rethink your entire career or even a date so awful that it makes you realise how much you miss your ex. These are all life lessons that money can’t buy.
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Lauren Crouch, 32, a community manager from London who started using Bumble last year, has made some invaluable discoveries along the way. "I'm honest about what I'm looking for, but I try to show a sense of humour on my profile," she says. "My photos show me having fun – but I want them to be a clear representation of me, so I can't be accused of catfishing!"
Lauren recently connected her Instagram account to her dating profile and was pleasantly surprised by the response. "I'd never usually have put gym pics on there but after I got some comments on my fitness-related Instagram pics, I put one on my profile, too." Badges, which let you highlight your interests, have allowed Lauren to filter out what doesn't appeal to her. "Smoking and whether they have children are dealbreakers for me." And if a guy hasn't specified he's after a relationship, she’s less likely to swipe right.
All in all, Lauren describes her dating life as "unlucky but fun". Here are her three most memorable dating experiences.
The man who taught me that rejection is okay
About two years ago I matched on Bumble with a divorcé who was outgoing, intelligent, friendly and direct. His pictures were clearly well taken. On our first date we went for drinks, spoke about our relationship history and what we were both looking for (I knew he was seeking a relationship because he had a badge on his profile). There was sexual chemistry and we were both attracted to one another. We kissed. I was optimistic because he was so open and candid, which I appreciate. For our second date we went to a museum, then on to a pub crawl and back to his for wine. I had a good time.
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A couple of days later, he called me on my way to work and said he didn't see us going anywhere but he thought I was a cool, smart woman and that he wanted to stay in touch as friends. We've been for dinner a few times since and we message a lot. He went travelling with his new girlfriend and sent me photos of his trip. We talk about everything and he offers me advice with other guys, too.
Honestly, I wasn't upset or surprised when he called things off – when someone is honest and polite, you can't be mad at them. You can't go on dates just expecting everyone you like to like you back. Dating is about figuring all that out along the way. 
I think people fear rejection in all walks of life. It made me realise that it's not all bad and really, it comes down to respect. He didn't overpromise when we dated either – I never just assumed I’d see him again and he didn't lie about how he felt about me or try to seduce me into bed, so I wasn't upset. It made me realise that I should be the same with guys I'm not that into – just bite the bullet and send a message. Ghosting isn't on.
The date where I realised I don't have to settle
Last year I matched with a guy who, even from his profile, seemed attractive, kind and sweet from the off. We dated for about two months, going for dinner and drinks or watching a movie at mine. I was optimistic. We didn't have much in common, but he was so lovely and I knew he'd make a great boyfriend and treat a woman well. 
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I started getting cold feet about a month in. I couldn't fault him, there just wasn't a deep connection and we differed on a lot of things. It was frustrating because it felt like there was something wrong with me. Here was a great guy and I'd been single for so long, yet I just wasn't feeling it – why? I wanted to call him but he was away with work, so I messaged him to end it. He responded well, as I knew he would because he'd always been a gent, and he somewhat agreed with my reasoning, so it was a relief to know I'd not upset him.
It taught me that no matter how long you've been single, or however much you want a boyfriend, you shouldn't settle. When you've been single for seven years you can feel desperate at times, but it was reassuring to know I'm not. Saying no was empowering. I'm happy with my life as it is, and I definitely want to meet someone amazing to add to that – but not unless it feels right.
The date that taught me not to take it all so seriously
Way back when Bumble first launched, I went on a date with a good-looking, funny, cheeky chappy type. We were at a pub in Covent Garden and were having the usual first date chat. It was going well. We'd probably had two or three drinks when it happened.
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I went to the loo and left my phone and bag at the table. When I came back he looked like he was having a minor panic and asked to use my phone. He thought he’d sent a text to his mate telling him how the date was going, but had accidentally sent it to me. It said: 'Not too shabby. Reckon I'll have her back to mine within the hour.' I read it aloud and he was mortified.
I wasn't offended. We even laughed about it – I've certainly sent worse to my girlfriends. He was hardly going to text his mates saying he'd met the woman of his dreams and he wanted to stroke my hair and read me Shakespeare. It was reassuring to know he fancied me. We went out one more time and he was a nice guy, but there just wasn't that drive to see each other again.
The whole thing made me realise that dating should be fun – not something you're a slave to. People feel so much pressure to date and meet someone that it ends up being a chore and in a sense, it is. It takes up a lot of time – sending messages, making them seem personal (I’ve just started using Bumble’s Conversation Starters to kick things off with new matches), and then waiting for replies. Bad dates can seem like a waste of time. But after this I started seeing dates as an opportunity for a fun night, a good story, a page in the autobiography. 
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Success on Bumble can look however you want it to — whether that’s meeting a true love, having a fling, turning a romantic relationship into a priceless friendship or just gaining back some self-confidence after a great date. In 2020, Bumble wants you to feel empowered in creating your own dating narrative.
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