By Chris Slater

The first thing that hit me was the smell. It wasn’t horrible, but this guy’s apartment was definitely too small for the three large dogs that lived there with him. I could tell he cleaned, but it wasn’t enough to mask the smell of damp fur.

“Why am I even here?” I thought to myself. Oh yeah, I’m here for the reason I do most dumb things in my life: a woman.

He comes into the kitchen, where I’m awkwardly sitting at the table. “I’m ready for it,” he said. I hand him a $20 bill. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he tells me.

I sit there staring at my phone, trying to avoid looking at the three dogs eyeing me suspiciously. Finally, he comes back. The dogs seem relieved. He hands me a small plastic bag. I don’t even smoke pot, and I can tell this is garbage.

Again, I question myself as I drive home. Why? Oh yeah, trying to impress her.

• • •

lurayLuray, Virginia is a fun town to visit. It looks like it would be a fun town to retire in and settle down. There are the Luray Caverns, there’s a thriving triathlon and bike races, the scenery is wonderful, and the people are nice.

I don’t like to run or ride bikes, I don’t like to go hiking, and I have no desire to wander around a giant hole in the ground. The 15 months I spent there working at the newspaper were very challenging in terms of making friends and finding ways to spend my time.

With Tinder, everybody interesting was an hour away, either in Harrisonburg or Winchester. So, when I found a beautiful 24-year-old on Tinder who was 1 mile away – which meant right in town – I was excited. We matched up, and began talking. Turns out she had just moved to Luray for a job from Texas. So, she and I had that in common at least; we both had come to this small town from other places, although my 4-hour trip from West Virginia was much closer than her trek.

We begin texting and are hitting it off well. I’m instantly attracted to everything about her. “Smitten” to use a word that nobody says anymore. We meet for the first time at her house. She gives a very fake-sounding and hollow “Hugs!” as she wraps her arms around me. I later found out that was her greeting for people she wasn’t close to, just kind of a way for her to appear bubbly.

She smoked pot, and I didn’t. But, she said she felt weird if she did it by herself, so I agreed to partake with her. It hit me harder than I expected, but I tried to maintain my cool, as we sat on her couch to watch Rick Moranis in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

After a while, I excuse myself to the bathroom. I start washing my hands and think about how the night is going. The water feels good on my hands. I’m trying to calm myself down from my altered state, but also thinking about how fun the night is going. Then, a moment of terror: “How long have I been washing my hands?!” Now I’m panicking, worried that I’ve been standing at the bathroom sink for 20 minutes.

I decide that I’m going to just walk out and play it cool. She doesn’t notice anything. Once we become closer, I ask her about that night and if I was in there for a long time. She tells me it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary; just a little paranoia on my part. She also agrees with me when I say I shouldn’t smoke with her anymore. She’s running out of her “Texas supply,” and asks if I know anybody. I do, and I tell her I’ll get on that later.

• • •

50300789613__e1c8f947-a07e-4e40-88dd-02927a055d53We had been hanging out for about three weeks; we mostly just sat in her apartment and watched “Rick and Morty,” or “Black Mirror.” She cooked pasta for me one night, and I made tacos for her once. I used my only real “move” that I know: I casually made conversation about candy, and then brought her favorite candy with me the next time (Sour Patch Kids).img_0215

She is upset that Christmas is coming up and she is so far from her family. Christmas is her favorite holiday. She has a tiny, fake Christmas tree up in her apartment; it’s like three feet tall. I quickly hatch a plan. One of these nights when she is asleep, I’m going to sneak in some presents and put them under her tree.

img_0217I go to Walmart and pick up a bunch of cheap stuff; I’m mostly going for things that are rectangle shaped and would look good in wrapping paper. I also got her some candles, gloves (she didn’t need any when she was in Texas) and some wine glasses (since she had lost hers in the move). I spent like $30; it was nothing crazy.

I took her out on our first official date. We went to the fancy restaurant in town, and I spent way too much money. The police chief from the next town over was there, and he knew me from town council meetings. I think he was excited to see me outside of “work.”

We go back to her place, and she follows her normal procedure of toking up and turning out. She fell asleep on the couch, and I quietly brought in a bunch of Christmas presents. And then I went home. I woke up to a text message from her telling me I didn’t have to do that. I played dumb, and implied that it was Santa.

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We agreed to meet up later that night. I really have no clue what happened next. I didn’t hear from her for a couple days after that. I accepted her excuse of getting called into work out of town and forgetting her phone. I accepted it until things stopped adding up. I felt like I was being lied to, and I needed to know the truth.

I had left my coat in her car after our date. So, I needed it back. She told me she was busy and asked if she could drop it off at the newspaper office. I told her to drop it off at my apartment; I would come down and grab it, and she could continue with her plans. When she texts me that she’s arrived, I grab that $20 bag of subpar pot and walk out to meet her. I trade the bag for my coat. She didn’t have any money, but I told her it was cool. She opens her arms and I hear a fake-sounding “Hugs!” I’m back down to that level, apparently. As she walks away and tells me we need to do something together soon, I know that I’m never going to see her again.

• • •

I spent the next few days being very sad, as one is prone to do. I hadn’t texted her for a few days. The plan had been to spend Christmas with her. She didn’t have anybody to be with, and my family was four hours away. Christmas Day, I’m moping around my apartment alone. I decided to text her. I have to be on her mind, right? It’s Christmas and she has a bunch of presents under her tree. I’ve sent much-riskier texts without any hesitation. But, as I stared at the words “Merry Christmas” on my phone, I felt such a nervousness about hitting send.

I hit send. Then I waited. And waited. Of course she never responded. She was done with me.

I’m sure we’ve all been in those situations. What do you do when the other person doesn’t like you back anymore? Can you do anything? How do you heal the hurt? I’ve found three options that help.

Time

There’s no way you’ll immediately feel better after a breakup. You need more than days, and likely more than weeks. It might take months, but hopefully not years. There is no set system for when one feels better. But, the pain eventually gets lessened with time.

Keep busy

My mistake was to sit around the apartment and mope. Keep your mind occupied and you won’t have time to think back on the previous relationship. Exercise, consume yourself with work, video games; anything that stimulates your mind and keeps you busy is necessary directly afterward.

Positive relationships

Yeah, it may not have worked out with this person, but you’ve got somebody else in your life. A friend, parent, co-worker, there are people with a positive attitude who can be there to take you out of your negative doldrums. Smiling is contagious; if there’s somebody is around who can have a wine and movie night, or just a fun dinner, or casual conversation; any little bit of positive thinking helps.

• • •

There’s no set way to get over somebody. We all work at our own pace and need our own ways to cope with heartache and sadness. What are some of your ways? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or shoot me an email (chris.slater@wvgazettemail.com).

A helpful list of handy Tinder hints

By Chris Slater

Tinder has changed our lives; well, the dating part of our lives at least. No longer do we have to get dressed, style our hair, go to a restaurant or bar, and talk to somebody. Now, we have this little contraption in our hands with a magical app that does all the work for us. We all know how it works: it’s GPS and age based. You select an area, say within 50 miles of you and an age bracket, let’s say 25-35. Ladies or fellas who meet those requirements will show up. You can give them your approval with a right swipe, or pass with a left swipe. If you both swipe right, you match up and are allowed to chat.

We all have different reasons for why we’re on Tinder. Some people want to find a long-term relationship. Some don’t even want a commitment that lasts longer than that night. Some people want love, some want friendship, some just want sex. And, it’s all good. You do you, and have fun with it.

But, there are some simple ground rules that we all need to abide by. You may only want one thing, but we’re all in this together. Respect, common courtesy and decency will go a long way.

With that, here is a handy, helpful list of Tinder Do’s and Do Not Do’s.

Pictures

img_3198Do: Have a clear, current picture of you to start off with. Let people know who you are and what you look like.

Do Not Do: Multiple group pictures. If the first picture is you and five other people, which one are you? And, if they’re all you and other people, then it implies that you’re trying to hide something; why can’t you just be you?

Do: A mix of serious and fun pictures. If you’re proud of your professional life, a picture of you doing something related to that is fine. If you like to go out and party, a picture of you at the bar with a drink in your hand won’t hurt. But, we don’t need six pictures that are all similar. Mix it up and give people a look at your life.

Do Not Do: Shirtless pictures. Yeah, you love your abs and want to show them off. But, here’s a tip: Don’t. Ladies don’t like it. If you have a lot of muscles, we can tell with your shirt on.

Do: Puppers. “I just swiped right for your dog” is a bio line that girls think is clever, but not when 95 percent of them all say it. But, it’s true. If you have a doggo, take a picture with her and make it prominent.

Do Not Do: Dead animals. If you like to hunt, just say that. A potential mate can overlook those ideological differences and like you for who you are. But, not if you’re sprawled out on a dead deer holding his lifeless corpse up by the antlers. Talk about a mood killer.

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Do: Give a thoughtful, honest representation of yourself. If you’re looking for something serious, mention it in your profile. Tell about your hobbies, career, dreams, anything that you think is interesting. A picture says a lot, but words are literally the definition of saying something.

Do Not Do: Be disgusting. There are clever, non-pornographic ways to say you’re just interested in sex. The sexiest organ is the brain. Use it.

Messaging

Do: Be fun, flirty and lighthearted. Start with a joke. A well-timed GIF is always welcome. Compliment a picture tastefully. You’re communicating with a new person; be on your best behavior.

Do Not Do: Be immediately crude. I would say roughly 98% of Tinder conversations are initiated by men. With that said, give the dirty talk a slow burn. Girls love to be filthy, too. But, they usually don’t like it within the first couple messages. Patience is a virtue. If you know how to properly talk to a woman, you will eventually get rewarded.

• • •

This is not a comprehensive list by any means. It is merely a quick look at how to get started and better enjoy your Tinder experience. Has it been working for you? Got any other tips? Sound off in the comments section, over at Facebook or slide into my Twitter DM’s and let me know.