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. 

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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.