I joined Spanish Tinder for 48hrs.

The alternative Spanish conversation class.

I thought I was being really clever. I’m 52 and still, yes still, think I am able to make wise decisions online. This is not the case, never has been the case, and this recent, brief foray into digital dating reminded me of this fact. I must step away from this medium. It is not for me.

I have experience in this field. Pre-marriage I was frequently venturing out into London bars and pubs, partaking in a series of dates that can only be described as catastrophic. My selection process was subconsciously, deliberately poor. I would go for the sad ones, the poetic ones, the “fun ones” who always had a very “unfun” shadow lurking just over their shoulders, the wacky ones with bohemian hair and undetermined employment status and the musicians.

I clearly wasn’t really looking for a husband. If I was I would have had a clipboard and checklist that included character traits, salary level, relationship with their mother, and would have always asked “and where did you school?” in my finest clipped Hampshire tone. No, I just wanted an interesting time, with London’s less predictable personalities.

Cut to present day.

Post marriage, 52 and living in Ontinyent, a smallish town in Spain, and no, I am not looking for a man online. But I do need to improve my Spanish, so here is my train of thought…and I know what you’re thinking, “you live in Spain, you’re surrounded by Spanish people, why can’t you just go out and meet people in pubs and bars like a normal person?”

Because I’m not very good at doing that, even in my own language! I’m an introvert in disguise and sometimes need a good shove (and a glass of wine) to get my arse out of my comfort zone.

So, the train of thought…actually less of a train and more of a slow-moving traffic jam on a bank holiday, but this was the gist:

My online Spanish classes had come to an end and were actually quite expensive. So, thought I, what if I go online and find some poor unsuspecting Ontinyent local to go out for a drink with me. I would at least get an hour or so of conversation for the price of a chilled glass of Verdejo, and you never know, it might be a laugh!

The problem is that to do this I would have to navigate Tinder. (Or such like, other apps are available). In the years that have passed since my last days of dating, these platforms have become murky, cynical and complicated domains, where scammers lurk and ghosting is a given.

I remember a friend of mine fell victim to one of these scammers a few years back. To scam on a dating platform takes time, it’s not an obvious place to work from, but as was evident with my friend, it does happen. Weeks of love letters, backstory, and convincing evidence of truth ultimately lead to the victim sending money, probably to a team of teenagers working in tandem in a basement somewhere.

So this time round, I was wise to these loathsome interlopers. You see, not so old and befuddled eh? But having said that, I was the classic potential victim. I would invariably swipe on the photos of good-looking men, at least 10 years younger than me, with “Chris Pratt” forearms cradling a small dog or puppy.

Can you believe it?! It’s such a cliche! And if men like that actually exist in Ontinyent then yes! I will start hanging out in pubs and bars, I’ll leave the introvert at home! But swipe I did.

They were fake, obviously.

Here are the telltale signs (apart from the chiselled good looks and the dog):

As soon as I said I was English, they promptly wrote in perfect English and responded to messages immediately.

They said things like “do you believe in true love?”, “I’m looking for a committed long-term relationship, are you?” Stuff blokes never say.

I refrained from letting on that “I just want to chat with you in Spanish over a glass of wine and there’s very little chance of a snog, unless you are actually Chris Pratt holding a puppy”.

The real giveaway is when they say they are in the army. That’s the beginning of the backstory, I learnt from my erstwhile friend, one where they are stranded somewhere inhospitable like Syria, and need cash to get home. Delete! You can’t fool me! I’ve seen your type before young man! Damn your eyes! Be gone with you!

Apart from the scammers, there were a few monosyllabic genuine humans, but they were very hard work. Writing in Spanish is ok for me, but soon becomes as repetitive as making introductions online in English. There were no lost souls or eccentrics that we all know I have a penchant for, so I quietly removed myself from the forum.

I don’t think I’ll be missed.

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