The truth doesn’t have to hurt

I’m just going to come out and say it: I’ve made another bad decision. It’s one that has had unexpected consequences and one that I can’t do anything about, at least for another month or so. And it’s one that is driving me mad.

I’ve given up midweek drinking for Lent.

You might have noticed by now that I’m not usually one for giving up. The combination of being unreasonably stubborn and a hopeless optimist means that giving up – at least in the context of dating – isn’t something that I’m used to. And for the past couple of years during Lent I’ve taken something up – learning a new skill or running 5km – anything that moves me further towards that well-rounded person goal. But – alas – it appears that 2017 really is the year for making bad decisions!

One of the biggest problems with giving up midweek drinking is that it covers so many days. Despite valiant protests that midweek is really only Wednesday, my Monday to Thursday (Friday is part of the weekend: on that I will not be moved) are now resolutely alcohol-free. And, because I’m a twenty-something girl in London, this means date-free.

So I’ve taken up Sunday drinking. And Sunday dating.

I know that this is not exactly an unexpected consequence, but the realisation that I was now going to have to date on Sundays came as a bit of a shock. Sundays are for roast dinners and long walks and hangovers and almost certainly not for being at your best and meeting new people and exerting yourself (oi oi). Right? What does one do on a Sunday date?!

The answer is bottomless Sunday brunch.

Before I go any further it’s important to add this caveat: this Sunday brunch was not like my typical bottomless brunch experience (read: I did not get so wasted I had to throw up in the middle of the day). Instead, my date – Joe (another of those Tinder types) – sent me a list of the best rated brunches to choose from and we ended up in a cute little place which was all smashed-avocado-on-toast and table service (read: there is some limit to how much prosecco you can drink.) It was delightful.

I’m usually hesitant about going for food on a first date because it seems like an unnecessary amount of pressure not to drop things down yourself or get spinach stuck in your teeth or to make conversation with someone for a significant amount of time – any of those other things that you just don’t consider when you go for a drink. But brunch is different – especially when there’s a 2-hour time limit and there are cocktails involved.

There’s a second caveat to this: I also had excellent company. Joe was talkative and interesting and interested and didn’t have any terrible eating habits (win!) We managed a respectable number of drinks and then went on a hilarious adventure through the rain to find a pub that was open (I’ve found that there can never be enough drinks.) We talked well into the evening – the conversation never stopped – and then he kissed me…

…And I felt absolutely nothing.

The simple truth is that it felt like I’d been out for an afternoon with one of my closest friends.

I’d had an absolutely fantastic time and I couldn’t fault him if I tried – but there was zero romantic connection at all. Even after all of the drinks. Damn.

So I told him the truth.

If you only take one thing from reading this, I hope it’s that: I told him the truth.

I’m sure we’ve all heard that old adage: the truth hurts. But I think that’s total crap. It might be uncomfortable or unwelcome or unpleasant to hear – but it doesn’t have to hurt. Of course – I didn’t tell him the moment we broke apart. I didn’t tell him that evening. I didn’t arrange to see him again to tell him in person. I spent a long time trying to think about the best way to turn down a second date – and then I texted him the truth. I had had a wonderful time. I would absolutely enjoy seeing him again – but it would be as friends. I apologised that it wasn’t a nice message to receive but I wanted to be truthful. Because I think everyone deserves that.

And you know what? He thanked me. He thanked me for not leading him on. For not ghosting him. For not pretending to be something I wasn’t and for not leaving him in that unknown space where you wonder if there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. Because we’ve all been there, right?

If we see each other again it’ll be by chance. But it’ll be a chance reminder that there are wonderful people out there – even if they’re not meant for you. And that’s pretty good for a Sunday afternoon.

Love don’t cost 70p.

Last Monday, I met a man in a bar that was selling pints for 70p. I kid you not. It was astonishing!

And that is where the astonishment should end.

Just in case you were thinking for a brief moment that my surprise (I can’t use that word again) was over meeting a man in a bar, I should be clear that this was another Tinder date, and not that (almost impossible) natural meeting of two people in a place that serves beer. I should also be clear that the man wasn’t literally selling the pints – that was the bar (or rather, the bar staff, I suppose…) but now I’ve overthought the semantics of that opening sentence and…

ANYWAY.

This man was called Stuart. We’re using his real name this time – and if I’d have thought about it enough, the fact that he was called Stuart should probably have told me all I needed to know. (I just can’t see myself ending up with a Stuart… Can you?) He lived and worked around an hour outside London (second red flag – I don’t know what I was thinking!) but he had nice hair and a nice face and that nice pretty-boy thing going on and, well, I’m powerless to resist that sort of thing. He also messaged me first, and often, and suggested that he would come into Central London for our date, so I was – understandably –  feeling pretty confident that he wasn’t going to be Like All The Others. Then when I arrived at the bar just before 7pm and was met with the unexpected news of a 70p pint – sold! This was going to be a great night!

To give him his credit, he arrived on time – as good looking as his pictures suggested and with the added bonus of being well over 6ft tall, which – as I’d panic-texted my housemate – was much taller than I was expecting someone that good looking to be. (I have learned rather fast that there are real expectations and then there are Tinder expectations…) He bought us all of the (more expensive!) drinks and he was charming and talkative – we covered all of the usual date conversation ground and even managed to make it through a not-so-subtle-moving-in-for-a-kiss moment. Twice. At the end of the evening – after the bar staff had ushered us out of the door – he walked me to the station and told me he really hoped he’d see me again. Textbook.

When I woke up the next morning he’d sent me a text reiterating what a good a time he’d had – along with extolling the virtues of chicken nuggets (he’s not wrong) – and then he sent me a topless Snapchat asking me how my day was going. That’s two different types of getting in touch – I’m onto a winner, right?!

I’ll admit, Snapchat wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for in terms of post-date communication – and he was probably a little disappointed with the Snap he got back (who even does that?!) – but I figured he was making enough of an effort that we’d be seeing each other again. We carried on messaging…

And then he vanished.

What?!

Again?!

I’m astonished.

And not even because I didn’t see it coming.

I’m astonished because just like all the others seems to be just the way men are – and it’s baffling that so many men can spend so much time, money and energy on not getting laid.

So it turns out that love don’t cost (a thing) 70p. But at least that’s all I spent on this attempt. On to the next.