WHEN I FIRST ARRIVED IN DUBLIN, I had no idea where I would live or what I would do. I had just finished a six month backpacking trip that had taken me all over Europe and into North Africa. I was exhilarated, excited for what was to come. I had a two year working holiday visa for Ireland and I was hoping I would find myself a new home. I had left Canada, quit my job and let go of my lease. All my things were in storage and I had no plans except to explore.
Things fell into place pretty quickly for me when I first arrived. I found a job within the first few days, found a group of friends within the first month, and had a room in an old Georgian rowhome in trendy Donnybrook complete with cool housemate within 5 weeks. Not bad for Dublin.
The first day I moved into the house my housemate Bébhinn informed me that this was the love house; every one of her housemates’ so far had left within a year to move in with their boyfriend. I told her not to worry, my love life was a non-starter and I would probably be there forever.
Bébhinn and I bonded over broken hearts and past loves. When I told her I was not looking to meet someone, just to enjoy my time in Dublin and create some lifelong memories, she decided dating should be one of those memories. Somehow she and my sister ganged up (despite the distance) and convinced me to try Tinder. In my experience Tinder was no more than a hookup app, which did not really interested me. One-night stands are fun, but I had been there and done that. They convinced me to try it out just to see what was out there. I started to imagine meeting a beautiful Irish man with blue eyes and a lovely lilt. That could be kind of cool?
Tinder seemed more like a computer game than anything else at first; swiping right, swiping left. I approached it without any expectations and that was probably the right idea. I noticed pretty quickly that I was only hearing from international guys. Bébhinn informed me that the Irish guys generally did not message you. And they definitely did not respond if you messaged them. This I found fascinating — how do they use Tinder, why do they use Tinder without sending messages, without responding? I decided to do an experiment and message some, not message others, and play with the like and superlike. I liked Irish guys and international guys the same, to see what the response rates were. It became a fascinating science project to me.
Somewhere in the middle of all this observation and experimentation, chatting and silence, I saw a Tinder profile that said “I love baking, traveling, being Italian, and Oxford commas.” The big nerd within could not believe she was seeing a subtle grammar joke on a Tinder profile. And an Italian man… I had spent a month in Italy during my backpacking and it had been by far my favorite country. I had fallen in love with the culture, the food, the history; the cliffs of Cinque Terre, the back-alley canals of Venice. This man loved traveling and baking; he had a beautiful smile and intense blue eyes.
All of a sudden my Tinder experiment became less objective. How to make this man notice me,I asked myself? What do I do? All my previous data told me that the majority of the men I messaged did not respond. Either my pick up lines needed some work, or as Bébhinn said, the men don’t like to be pursued. So what do I do? Up until now I had not been attached to the responses or lack thereof. All of a sudden it mattered. I could not make sure he knew I was interested beyond a “like”, and “superlike” all of a sudden seemed kind of needy. What was a girl to do? I swiped “like” and hoped for the best.
A day later a message popped up on my screen. “Would you rather spend 6 months backpacking around Europe or 5 minutes on the moon.” I did a double take, it was Filippo, my Italian-chef-grammar-nerd, with the best question he could have asked me! I took a deep breath and responded. We started to chat and within a week we had started dating.
As charming as I found his profile, he was even better in person. His beautiful eyes stared deeply into mine and I knew that this was serious. We had so much in common, every viewpoint either matched or counterpointed in interesting ways that led to lively and respectful discussion. He was the most considerate man I had ever met. He had none of the Italian machismo but all of the calm self-confidence. He was gentle and grounded yet firm in a way that radiated out to everyone around him. We talked about everything. We bonded over the difference between living at home and living abroad, I talked about how uncomfortable I often felt at home, as if it was impossibly to fully be myself. I looked over at him and he was nodding along.
“They put you in boxes, and you don’t feel like you can get out.” he said, and I knew he understood exactly.
A few weeks into dating we were spending time with his roommate Riccardo, who joked that I barely knew Filippo because we’d only been dating for three weeks. “Three and a half,” I joked. Riccardo shook his head “What are you, in high school?” he said. “Do you count the days?” Filippo pulled me close “We count the minutes,” he murmured as he planted a long kiss on my cheek.
We fell briskly and deeply. After the first five weeks we had exchanged “I love you’s.” By 4 months we had moved in together and I had met his family. 9 months in he had met mine. By month 14 we left Dublin and move to Spain, to see what adventures could be had. So far the sky is the limit -– maybe one day we will get those 5 minutes on the moon together.
One things is for sure, Bébhinn was right. The Dublin Love House worked its magic on me.