Another boy, another blog

I recently went on a first date with a man who told me that he’d once been on a date with a girl who wrote a blog about it afterwards. He’d read it – somehow – and although he could tell it was about him, he was somewhat perplexed as to the point of it all (not to mention his confusion about whether they had been on the same date based on her write-up…)

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t tell him about this blog. This blog is not for the men – and them reading reviews of (/stories about) their date offerings is entirely not the point. But I found it interesting that there are more of us. Veritable hordes of us, in fact! Tube-carriages full of us, if you will! Not insignificant volumes of gin-drinking twenty-something hot messes of women in London blogging about their dating experience. Because although it really is an uphill battle with moments so bleak that you want to throw yourself into the Thames and hope that the RNLI are having an off-day, there are some moments that you just have to share. Because they are spectacular. Or because they’re hilarious. Or romantic. Or just so honest and (I hope) relatable that surely someone else has been through the same thing: “I can’t possibly be the only person this has happened to, right?!”

And that’s only those of us who are writing about it. That doesn’t include the many, many more who – much like my gorgeous housemate – have been on two dates this week with two very-promising sounding men, and had to actually run away from one of them because he so lacked conversational merit. (I don’t endorse running away from dates; I’m merely pointing out that this is how she chose to deal with a dire-sounding situation.) By all accounts, we need an avenue to share these experiences – in whichever way we choose – to assure ourselves that “we’re not all mad, here” and that, actually, it’s nothing that we as individuals are doing wrong/any differently from any other girl. In fact, we’re all equally perplexed as to why the others are still single!

I promised this man that I wouldn’t blog about our date and – in my opinion, at least – that isn’t a lie: I haven’t told you his name, or what he does, or where we went. But that promise might get a bit trickier to keep if things keep going so well…

Advertisements

It’s not you, it’s me

A couple of months ago, I was *Super Liked* on Tinder by a man called Tom. My first thought? Ugh.

I’d not even opened the app to look at his profile but already I wasn’t feeling positive. A Super Like? Ha. I know that this should be taken as a compliment – and I’m sure this is how Tinder intend it to work – but every time this has happened in the past, it’s been a complete joke. I’m not sure how much you know about the Super Like feature, but – in my experience at least – it is usually reserved for men who are desperate, drunk, or unable to decipher their left from their right and feel it’s safest to just jab at the screen indiscriminately. So I didn’t have much hope.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. This man was actually good looking. Judging by the (three) pictures on his profile (none of them topless or with a sedated animal), he was a regular, good-looking man. So I swiped the good way, we matched, and then he messaged me – so we got chatting.

I should probably confess at this point that I am terrible with the Tinder chat. If I don’t immediately reply to a message (and to be honest – who does?) I more-often-than-not forget about them, meaning it’s usually several days before I get back in touch with someone – especially if that someone isn’t someone I’m desperate to meet up with. When Tom first messaged I had a hundred other things going on – including several other dates to squeeze in – and he was snowboarding in France and clearly not looking to grab a drink anytime soon.

It was only when he messaged asking whether I’d got his previous message that I decided it was worth pursuing. Look how keen he is! (At this point I’ll acknowledge that this is a turn-off for some people – me included, most of the time. But when you’ve had enough of being ostentatiously ignored… Well, you can see why this was a good thing.)

We arranged to go for a drink on a Sunday afternoon after I’d spent the morning at a quiet art exhibition at the Tate Modern. I was feeling ever-so-cultured, but also hadn’t had a conversation with another human being all day so I was hoping – mostly – that he’d be interesting. And again – I wasn’t disappointed. Equally as good looking as his best photograph and very well dressed, Tom was an absolute dream. He was funny and entertaining and educated and mostly just all-round excellent company. And there was a spark! Once again I found myself spending far too long in a pub for a Sunday evening, but when he kissed me, it was bloody brilliant. And I started to get hopeful.

Can you guess where this is going?

Because I always have a hundred other things going on – but we clearly wanted to see each other again – I agreed to meet him the following Thursday evening. The catch? I had to play netball first and wouldn’t finish until about 7.45pm. He works close to where the matches are held so he said he’d wait the two hours for me (!!!) and after a frantic turnaround to get back into normal-person clothes, we met – mind blown again! – in Starbucks. (Granted, we had one coffee before moving to the pub next door, but the intention was there!) He told me it felt like ages since he’d last seen me and that he’d be instigating the third date, and the fourth… I’ll admit it, I thought this was going well.

In short, we had a brilliant time. And then –

*poof*.

Sigh.

Although he hadn’t disappeared off the face of the earth entirely, he’d – as expected – gone quiet. When I first sat down to write this blog it had been been a week since that Thursday date and I’d heard from him, what, twice? I know that that might sound like enough – especially considering each message has been about when I’m available to see him – but, let me give some perspective here. This is a man who was messaging me multiple times per day before we’d even met. Who saw me twice within four days – and felt that that was a long time to wait. Who SuperLiked me on Tinder! Messaging twice in a week – and not in response to my date suggestion – just wasn’t cutting it. And I figured it was only a matter of time before I never heard from him again.

When I was telling all this to one of my closest friends, she said, “It upsets me that you have such low expectations for yourself.” And that really struck a chord. Because – I don’t. I don’t think I’m any less deserving of someone wonderful than any of the amazing women I surround myself with (all of whom have been put through their fair share of unwarranted shit). I don’t think that I should expect men to disappear because I’m not good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, or thin enough. I expect – or hope – that I’ll find someone who wants to be with me just as I am. The reason that I expect men to disappear is because all of the evidence suggests that they will. Because they have. Every single time. At some point it was inevitable I’d start thinking I’m the problem – and I’ve got no reason to believe otherwise. (Apart from the fact that I know deep down that it can’t be me… But that’s a tough one to maintain in the face of this happening again.)

Note: There might be some updates to this story… Watch this space. 

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.

“The best way to get over someone is to get under someone”

A couple of months ago, I found myself in a Holiday Inn Express in The North (don’t ask) glued to Ibiza Weekender, listening to that line and shaking my head woefully at the youth of today and their glorious ideals of sexual abandon. Believe me, it’s not a moment I’m especially proud of. But it is one of an increasing number of late that are reminding me that The Big 3-0 is on the horizon (albeit still quite some distance away) and marriage, children and eternal happiness are, well… not. Not that this is a problem, mind you. That’s not the point. The point is that I think – gulp – I am reaching the stage where one night stands with strangers make me feel much worse than I will imagine and so, I’ve kind of… ruled them out.

Don’t get me wrong- that’s not to say that I’ve ruled out all casual encounters. I’ve not completely lost my mind. It’s just that the strangers bit doesn’t appeal like it may once have done.

Given the world of online dating (which I’m painfully aware I’ve not really talked enough about thus far – must do better) you’d be forgiven for thinking that this might make things a bit difficult. After The Boy who Caused the Blogging Absence (are you keeping up?) I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I downloaded Tinder with the express intention of finding someone to screw myself cheerful. But I also promptly invited Tom to visit over SW4 weekend (see: LINK) and drank about 4 bottles of wine. Only one of those actions led to the desired result and I’m not at all ashamed to admit that it wasn’t Tinder. (You’re right – maybe the wine had something to do with it, but we’ll gloss over that…)

Let’s be honest here: not everyone feels the same. I’ve certainly had my fair share of seemingly charming young men disappear into the night when I’ve made it clear he wasn’t getting any as part of (or in one instance, the sole activity of) our first date. But I’m also – thankfully! – finding that Tinder isn’t a one-night-stand one-stop-shop for everyone. And, unlike Happn, it’s not through lack of matches, but rather an active choice to at least go for a drink or two first. (That almost sounds like a good decision, eh?!) Perhaps it’s that it’s still considered a bit of a taboo, to meet up with someone from the internet, for sex. It’s somehow different from taking someone home from a club. Perhaps there’s the fear that you’ll end up hooking up with someone who looks nothing like their pictures and you feel obliged to follow through? Or perhaps it’s the realisation that it’s just not going to be really good sex, is it? And surely that’s what you want, if sex is all you want?

Back in The North, as the kettle boiled for my camomile tea (!) and the Ibiza Weekender ended with a WKD-fuelled disappointment of a fumble (sigh) I realised that maybe, actually, they were right. Maybe the best way to get over someone is to get under someone. Just someone you know a bit. Someone you like. Because everyone deserves the best in life, and that includes in the bedroom. Make bad decisions to go home with inappropriate people, but not because you’re desperate to feel something. Compromising yourself and lowering your standards is the worst kind of bad decision, and the depths of self-loathing that follow are an unnecessary burden after you’ve (probably) just endured some terrible sex with a 3/10. You’re a 10.

Leaving the house at 7am on a Sunday morning is nobody’s friend, but – if I have to – I want to be walking out with my head held high. I mean, I should be walking out at midday, bad decision in tow, to grab some food before returning to the safety of the duvet, but I’m trying to be realistic. At the very least I want to wear yesterday’s makeup proudly, and not be ashamed to be on the Tube in the clothes from the night before. I want to own that bad decision, not be someone else’s.

And after the second date, they’re not a stranger anymore, right?

(I would also like to take this opportunity to confess that I woke up next to Tom on New Year’s Day. And then I showered and got breakfast and went home at 4pm. What a winner.)