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  • Ryoma Deiss

From Swipe to Nightmare:”My Tinder Date Turned Out to Be a Murderer”

© by Raisa Ganchuck, courtesy of Lulu Johnson

Navigating the myriad of the modern dating world: insights and anecdotes from an Irish writer living in Berlin about the complexities of love and relationships in a world of endless choice.

We’ve had the chance to talk to Lulu Johnson, an Irish writer based in Berlin, who has recently published her first book Dating in Berlin - Tales of Modern Love and Relationships, that delves into the frustrations of modern dating. In her book, Lulu shares her personal experiences of dating in a city where sex dominates, and choice is endless. It paints a vivid picture of a world in which the search for love is harder than ever. The book is a thoughtful and engaging read that explores critical themes, including rejection, self-esteem, confidence, toxic masculinity, and more. From toxic relationships to a date with a murderer, Lulu's dating anecdotes range from hilarious to harrowing, taking readers on an emotional journey that is both captivating and thought-provoking.

© by Raisa Ganchuck, courtesy of Lulu Johnson

“I felt I had to ask him if he was a criminal.”

Lulu’s Tinder date turned into a nightmare when she found out her date had a violent past. After meeting on Tinder, they decided to meet up in Kreuzberg. He looked just like his profile, except for a massive scar on his face. The conversation started out okay, but after a few minutes, he started calling everyone else an 'asshole'. As they strolled around the canal, Lulu asked Al the typical dating questions such as how long he had been in Berlin and how his German was coming along. He mentioned that he learned the language by watching cartoons and casually revealed that the authorities had his passport. However, their conversation took a sharp turn when her intuition urged her to ask if he had ever been to prison. He replied calmly that he had spent fifteen years behind bars for murder. Lulu pushed further and asked when the last time he was in prison. He replied that he was still 'kind of in prison'. It turned out Al had been released for good behaviour after serving a ten-year sentence for manslaughter. “When I asked him what he had done to be convicted of manslaughter, he looked me straight in the eye and proudly announced, ‘I chopped a man's head off’.

This experience led Lulu into a one-month retreat from online dating. Following which were some cautious reflections. This experience out of a nightmare would become one of her most significant take-aways of her dating experience, serving as a warning to the importance of intuition and the shadow side of the virtual world.

“If you feel something is off, listen to your body. Listen to your intuition.”

Intuition is that feeling in our gut when we instinctively know that something we are doing is right or wrong. In the world of dating, it helps us to illuminate potential red flags and to steer us away from emotional damage. Lulu has first-hand experience of this, recounting in her book her story of emotional abuse in a previous relationship. She clearly remembers the subtleties of emotional manipulation and toxicity, from gaslighting to love bombing - “Within the first weeks he said to me, ‘When we have our own place, I want to marry you'.” The warning signs initially appeared as minor behaviours, which gradually escalated until they took a toll on her emotional wellbeing. In Lulu's case, signs of aggressiveness and cheating were brushed aside, only becoming clear in hindsight when the damage had been done. The constant push and pull of highs and lows left her feeling tormented and blinded to her true potential, convincing her that she couldn't cope without her partner. "It broke my soul", she recalls. While everyone's experience with red flags is unique, the lesson remains the same: regardless of the intensity, all signs should be taken seriously. In the end, it's always better to trust one's instincts and opt out of a potentially toxic relationship than to become trapped in a pool of toxicity.

“I knew I wouldn't take that if I was living in Ireland. And it happened because I was lonely”

Loneliness can cloud our judgement and lead us down a path of unhealthy relationships. When Lulu first arrived in Berlin, she was eager to connect with others and build new relationships. However, when her friends left after the summer, she found herself feeling isolated and vulnerable. In her search for emotional fulfilment, she fell into a toxic relationship. Looking back, Lulu now realises the importance of taking time to find oneself before seeking out a partner. This can involve building a diverse network of friendships, exploring the city with like-minded people, and trying new things until one finds their place in the new environment. “Because at the end of the day, you don't want to rely on your love interest to be your only hobby.

© by Raisa Ganchuck, courtesy of Lulu Johnson

“Rejection is protection from the universe.”

The virtual shift in the dating experience has left us vulnerable to constant judgement and rejection. Whether it's through ghosting or a straightforward 'thanks, but no thanks', it's crucial to maintain a sense of self-worth. In a world where we seek validation constantly, other people's careless attitudes can feel like a blow to the gut. To combat this, Lulu stresses the importance of not internalising rejection and allowing it to affect our self-esteem or condition us to tolerate disrespectful behaviour. Instead, Lulu encourages us to approach rejection from a place of self-respect. Rather than viewing it as the loss of a relationship, we can see it as a blessing in disguise that opens up new opportunities and leads us away from dead-end connections. As her saying goes, "rejection is protection from the universe." Ultimately, rejection doesn't define our self-worth; it's simply a matter of compatibility and preference.

One revealing aspect of online dating is the illusion of perfectionism it creates. By reducing human beings to a set of criteria, virtual profiles allow us to compare ourselves to others using labels and tags. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and a tendency to dismiss potential partners, creating yet another obstacle for people, amongst others Lulu, who are navigating the world of online dating. Lulu acknowledges that she herself entered the realm of online dating with high expectations, but quickly learned to relax and treat it as just another way of meeting people. By lowering her expectations, she was able to discover new opportunities beyond what traditional romantic experiences might offer. Ultimately, the key is to focus on catering to one's own emotional needs rather than trying to fit into an existing database.

“I do feel out of all of the people that I know, no one likes online dating”

Amidst the pool of information, having all the choices at our fingertips sometimes only adds to the bewilderment. Lulu recognises the paradox of choice that comes with this abundance of options - while we have the ability to explore many potential partners, we may also struggle to commit to just one. Additionally, the virtual nature of online dating has changed the way we communicate. In her reflection, Lulu also pinpoints the trap of the disposable dating culture. Furthermore, different from in-person communication, virtual shift has reduced conversations to casual exchanges of memes, posts and careless texts. In fact, there is an observable increase in single men because women are simply not putting up with the non-communication and their prospects with nothing to offer. This calls for an ever greater need for the awareness of self-worth, because without it, we would be just a step away from falling for others’ ill-intents.

Lulu’s motivation behind writing this book extends beyond the narration of a personal story. It is a call to action - to demand better from ourselves and our partners, and to break the cycle of abuse. Her honesty and rawness with her own struggles serve as reminders that seeking help is never a sign of weakness, but a courageous act of self-care. By sharing her own journey, her words are helping to destigmatise the discussion about mental health, and to talk openly about the challenges of modern dating.

Overall, this is a book that accommodates a diverse range of audience, one that is open for anyone who wants to better understand the dynamics of healthy and unhealthy relationships. Moreover, it is a powerful reminder that we are all sources of love for ourselves and others. As Lulu says, "We need to respect each other more, be kinder, and be more open and honest." Her book is an important step towards making that a reality.

Get your own copy of the book here.

Names have been changed by the editor.


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