His WhatsApp reads, “I am here. *Scared-monkey face emoji*”
My heart beats out of my chest. Is there a peeing-myself emoji?
He pulls his jet-black VW into the driveway of the Airbnb cottage I booked for us. Adrenaline shoots to my brain like electricity, numbing the almost debilitating fear filtering through my body. I see him from the balcony – I run inside and down the stairs to meet him
Meet him, meet him, that is. This guy I’ve been talking on WhatsApp with for 6 months.
Right then, I wonder what was more foolish: Meeting a total stranger for a 4-day holiday, or meeting a total stranger for a 4-day holiday in a remote part of the Swiss Alps.
Then, he was in front of me. We hug and we both smile broadly into each other’s faces.
Cuter than I anticipated. Bonus. Phew.
But this was only Day 1 of 4. And, Ted Bundy* was also a very handsome man…
We matched on Tinder last December. Originally from Brusssels, Belgium, he came to Cape Town on holiday with some friends. By the time we started chatting he’d moved on to Hermanus and was making his way through the Hemel-and-Aarde wine valley – so we couldn’t meet IRL.
Our conversation was a pleasant distraction at the time, and I was happy to play his local tour guide - suggesting some wine farms and wine shops and other places to go – all knowing that it was simply an act of ‘Tinder kindness’.
Then, a few weeks later I get a Tinder notification. Back in Belgium, it seemed this guy had some unfinished business with me.
“Can I have your number?” he asks. “I have a good feeling about you.”
From that day, we chatted almost constantly. Every day. All-day. I’d wake up at 6 am to messages from him saying “Hey babe” and go to bed at 10 pm with a “Sleep well gorgeous. *kiss emoji*”
We bonded over our likenesses: Both fresh out of long-term relationships. Both 32. Both social introverts. And both in love with travel.
Our Whatsapp-romance was thriving. Fast forward 6 months later, and we’re on a 4-day holiday together in Switzerland.
But how? You ask.
One morning, over our ritual 7 am coffee and Whatsapp chat – 13 000 km apart – I told him of my plans to travel to Europe for 3 weeks. “Belgium, maybe?” he asks.
But Belgium was not on my itinerary.
“What if I join you on your trip?”
Now, I have been on some pretty obscure and awkward first dates – even on one where the guy didn’t show up – but this was next-level risky. Travelling with some of your best friends can be complicated, never mind a stranger you don’t know from a bar of soap.
Nonetheless, I said yes, he should tag along.
At this stage of my life, I was ready for someone special. I thought maybe he could be it.
A week before I left for Europe, I met a guy in Cape Town. We went on a normal date, had some normal drinks and conversation. But it felt special. However, I decided to put him on ice, as my trip and adventure date of a lifetime were looming - and I had to see it through.
I was too afraid I’d be judged by my friends and especially my family, so I didn’t tell anyone of my extreme dating plan, i.e. volunteering myself as a lamb to the potential slaughter. I did tell my bestie, though, mainly so that she could identify my killer in the event of a “South African woman mysteriously murdered in Alps ski cabin – no leads” situation arose.
I wasn’t murdered. He too is still alive. (I promise).
But what happened after Day 1 of our first-date holiday - Day 2, 3 and 4 – wasn’t so great.
We didn’t click.
We ran out of things to talk about. He complained about the hikes, he called the herd of bleating goats strolling by a spectacular Alps mountain view “boring” and hated the beer. And even though I was more attracted to him than I initially expected – there was just nothing. Not even friendship.
The romance of our minds played out on Tinder and then Whatsapp – but ended up being just fake. We catfished ourselves. Maybe we both wanted to believe it was – or could be – real.
Taking such a leap of faith and ending up with someone so wrong was worth it, though. The risk paid off, but not in an expected way. Coming home, I got together with the Cape Town guy I’d put on ice.
My Tinder match was so wrong that he showed me who was right.
*Not his real name