Relight my fire (or, Dating an ex-)

Picture the scene: it’s the Saturday of August Bank Holiday and it is a glorious day. Heat is pouring out of a festival tent on Clapham Common inside which I am (sweating profusely and) dancing, £6-gin-in-a-can in hand, with one of my #BFFs and Tom (the very same!) It’s SW4 weekend and on the stage is a band(?) I can neither remember nor probably pronounce.

As the beat drops I swing around to my right and, in one of those peculiar twists of chance, find myself about a foot away from a group of boys I’ve not seen since since we were in school. Reckless with gin-fuelled abandon, I find myself actually instigating (ever-so-slightly slurred and shouted) conversation with them, learning in the process that the man who just Happns (see what I did there) to be that same ex-boyfriend is lurking somewhere in the festival.

I KNOW.

Now, the chances of me bumping into him on a regular Tuesday (for example) are – relatively speaking – quite high. We both live in London and we have a number of mutual friends. We both work in the same area of the city and – as I discovered quite recently – I walk past his office twice a day in order to get to and from mine. (The fact that that office is next door to that of The Boy who Caused the Blogging Absence is a coincidence that I can’t even think about right now.) But we’ve both been living in London for eight years and after that length of time, you rather get used to the fact that there are enough other people in this crazy town to not see a specific one of them.

So it was a little bit of a surprise when we walked smack-bang into him upon leaving that tent.

Thankfully, Tom and this boy (let’s call him Nick for now) are familiar with each other from years back so I had a few moments to force the sick feeling back down into my stomach before I was forced to look at him. And then:

He looks exactly the same.

He’s looking at me in exactly the same way.

Is he… smiling?

This, as I’m sure you can imagine, was a problem. Throughout our not-as-brief-or-awkward-as-it-should-have-been chat, I was driven half-mad with questions. Was he flirting with me? Was I flirting with him? Were we holding eye contact for longer than is strictly necessary? Was it all the gin?! What on earth was I doing?! It felt just like before. And that was a little bit of a surprise too.

All I can say is, thank goodness for Rudimental. With just enough time to grab (what should have been) the last four gins of the night before throwing ourselves into the masses waiting for their set, #BFF and Tom gave me a loaded shove towards the bar and we headed off into the night, leaving Nick et al. to watch the other headliners. What I didn’t bargain for was the WhatsApp that arrived midway through that set from a number I’d not seen since we broke up…

A couple of weeks later we met up for a drink.

And it was delightful.

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Path-crossed lovers

You might remember (or can scroll back down the page a couple of inches to see) that back in January I said there was “absolutely no reason at all to do anything differently” when it came to Tom. What I didn’t mean was that there was no need at all to do anything else. Or anything more. January is also (more often than not) the time for taking things up (running and other such active pursuits, for example). So, in the spirit of being fair and representative of all that January offers – and keeping in mind his Tinder exploits – this is exactly what I did: I downloaded Happn.

If you haven’t ever heard of Happn, let me start by saying it’s like the Marmite of dating apps. I’ve spoken to quite a few people about their Happn experiences and all were either raving about its brilliance (including an ex-colleague who managed to find her current boyfriend in about three minutes on there) or raging app-deleters bemoaning its creepiness and complete uselessness.

Back in January, I’ll admit that my experience fell firmly into the latter category. I dutifully kept my GPS on wherever I roamed and – given that I had only dipped my toe in the online dating scene at that point – had high hopes. There were beautiful men (literally) at every turn! But a week in and I had not one single Crush (that’s what Happn calls its matches) and I’ll admit – I had been steadily dropping my standards to see whether I was aiming unrealistically high. Still, nothing.

Now, I am not the kind of girl who gives up on love easily (think: Louise from the Sex and the City movie) but nor was my self-esteem at such a low ebb that I was convinced it was me that was the problem. I started swiping on every man that appeared across my path (and we’re talking into the hundreds). Then – success! A Crush!

One of six I had in the space of about two months.

Based on those statistics, I might as well be a troglodyte. I’m not (I swear) so I too deleted the app and moved on. (More about that later. Along with the Storage Men; I’ve not forgotten about those.)

Fast forward six months and – being a big believer in second chances – I resurrected my profile.

And the first person who crossed my path was an ex-boyfriend (of four years, about four years ago). What?!