Am I Supposed To Be Enjoying This?

When I was married, I was always grateful of being in a relationship and not having to deal with being single and the search for Mr Right (ugh, I hate myself for even using that term). It wasn’t in a smug way either, or at least I hope it wasn’t. My ex and I used to have my single girlfriends round for dinner and, despite his many flaws, he was always great at putting them at ease and making sure we had fun with great food cooked for us and our glasses kept continuously topped up. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I put up with his inappropriate behaviour for so long… (note to self, I can cook and get my girlfriends drunk all by myself).

I would empathise with my friends and admit that I would be absolutely awful at dating if I was in that world. I’d known my ex since I was 9 and had been with him since I was 19, I’d never had to do the proper “dating” thing. Back then, I also assumed I never would have to, but what is it they say about assuming? Yeah, I’m an ass.

Fast forward 10+ years and I’m now one of the only single girls in my friend group, everyone else is in their comfortable, co-habitation, marrying, baby-having stages and I’m… back to where my friends were in their twenties.

As much as the idea of dating had always seemed like torture to me, there are also tales out there of it being fun and glamorous and successful! I’m looking at you Sex And The City and every romcom ever.

Closer to home though I had friends who’d met their partners online, sat next to them at a wedding, been set up on a blind date, worked with them or – my favourite ever – met in the airport security line. So I tried as much as I could to focus on those stories and know that I was much more confident in myself than I’d ever been, I found it easy to speak to people and I loved hearing people’s stories so surely dating should be at least fun, if not easy.

Well, no.

Maybe it was the event I went to where most of the male attendees were over 50 (the top end of my age range is 40) and one, after cornering me, took to showing me pictures of his kids from his wallet, with the oldest one being 21. I was closer in age to his son than him. Dear God, is this my life now?

Thankfully, I actually ended up chatting with possibly the only decent option in the room that night and he and I set up a date. We went for drinks a week later and, while his smile still made my heart skip a beat, there was just no other sense of excitement from him. I think we lasted 2 drinks and then gave it up.

Another guy I’d met on had seemed super interesting and funny over text but when we met in person he was as wet as the Vancouver rain. He seemed bored. I was definitely bored. I think even the waitress was bored. It was a tough Sunday evening.

The next date definitely had more energy. He was from the UK so at least I knew we’d have something in common and, hopefully, a more similar attitude to drinking. I was finding the drinking lifestyle adjustment hard. I guess at home (UK home) you can count on people to just get hammered and that tends to help loosen things up but at home here (Canada home), people are more concerned about their morning yoga class. And at that stage, I still hadn’t quite got into that way of living.

The date with the Brit was more fun for sure, despite how long he’d been in Canada for he had a little bit of the Mancunian swagger still left in him from home but was maybe a little too sure of himself. The WTF moment came about when he started talking about how close he and his Mum were and how supportive she was of his dating. I didn’t expect him to finish the story with “so she always makes sure to buy me condoms before a date, like tonight”.

Hold up. A) Your mother is buying you condoms? Can you do nothing for yourself? B) Why are you presuming you need condoms on a first date? C) Why the hell is your Mother presuming you need condoms on a first date?

I can’t even remember what my reaction was, all I remember is that from that moment on I wanted the date to be done then and there. It was unfortunate that we were in a bar where the cocktails took an age to be made and we’d just ordered another round.  When we finally did get out of there, I made up some story about why I wasn’t walking the way he thought I’d be going and the direction he’d started to walk in, and instead gave him a cursory hug before going off in the opposite direction to my apartment, simply to end the date quicker.

Between those date fails and just generally not feeling a spark with anyone I’d so far met, there was definitely part of me that was starting to get a little tired of dating. It takes a lot of effort and I joke that it could be a full time job, but seriously between swiping on the apps, starting conversations, keeping conversations going, planning dates, trying to keep a calendar organised, oh and also just trying to be your most charming and date-able self at all times it can be exhausting.

Where was the fun?! Where were the first kisses that make you go weak at the knees? The incredible first dates that you’d talk about for years to come? The butterflies when you’re getting ready to meet someone? Where was the excitement?!

Mostly I was stressed. And disappointed. And weary. But all it takes is one. And until that one presented itself, at least I was amassing some really great stories and keeping my girlfriends suitably entertained. You’re welcome ladies.


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How To Turn Me Off In One Second


Amazingly second date guy from “the day of 2 dates” wanted to see me again. Did he not notice my karma induced sweats?! Regardless, it boded well for me that being a hot mess didn’t seem to put him off, so I went with it.

We texted daily, the usual “how was your day” stuff as well as getting to know more about each other – what our favourite midweek dinners were, the TV shows we were currently watching, our mutual love of sports. It was fun and easy and I was excited to see him again. Between the first date and the second date though, Easter weekend fell and he went away to see family. We kept in touch but it was during his trip that I saw the first red flag…

I don’t know if it’s still a thing but in 2016 there was this app called Dubsmash. You could record yourself lip-synching to songs or movie quotes and then send it to people or post it on your social media. On his way to his family’s place, he recorded him lip synching to Jim Carey’s lines in the police road stop scene from the film Liar Liar (Google it). It was… puzzling. I clearly missed the joke. I showed a friend, he missed the joke too. I passed it off as him being bored on the drive and sent a cursory reply text with all the laughing emojis and said no more. If only that had been the last Dubsmash.

Over the course of Easter weekend, I received 4 other Dubsmashes from him, which he’d also recruited his family for. The first was another movie scene which he and his sister acted out, then there was one of his whole family (mum, step-dad, sister, brother-in law – all adults) singing “We are family”, then one of him, his step-dad and brother-in-law singing in their garage (the song escapes me) and finally their big finish of the weekend was the three of them again in the garage but this time with instruments, matching white vests and black leather jackets singing. “The Boys Are Back In Town”.

I received the last one while at a friends party and by the reaction on my face my friends expected me to show them an unsolicited dick pic. Turns out a choreographed family Dubsmash from someone I’ve only met once gets the same return. And so his nickname of Dubsmash Dude was born.

After Easter weekend I wasn’t quite so excited about seeing him again. What can I say? Watching him “rocking out” in a white vest and lip-synching (badly) just didn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love people who know how to have a good time, and aren’t afraid to make fools of themselves to make other people smile but I’d probably need to know someone way better before I was ever going to find that funny. And it’s unlikely it would ever make someone more attractive to me. But it’s not a theory I’m willing to test out.

Add to the Dubsmashes the fact that I’d been introduced to someone on the Friday of Easter weekend who had piqued my interest and until that point, and still to this day, never sent me a Dubsmash. So by the time we were arranging our dinner date for the Tuesday night after Easter I wasn’t really into it but I figured I should give it another date, he was a nice guy and he’d put up with my caffeine shakes and sweats on the first date so it was only fair.

He invited me to go to his place and he would cook dinner. A lot about that made me uncomfortable and now, over a year later, I would never agree to it – there have been lessons learnt about being ok with your own boundaries and not agreeing to things you’re uncomfortable with just to be agreeable. But at the time, I thought it was nice that he’d offered to cook so I accepted his offer.

I thought about saying “that would be lovely and, just FYI, I don’t eat fish” but for some reason I didn’t, I figured he would check. On the day of our dinner he messaged me late morning and while confirming time and address details said “I take it you’re ok with tuna?” I politely said sorry, no.

Let’s just say his reaction was less than stellar. You can’t have known I was coming for dinner for a few days and then only on the day of decide to check if I eat what you’re planning to cook and then be put out when I say I don’t. It pissed me off. He made a fuss about having to go to the supermarket again and finished his moan with “I’ll just get another protein and hope it works in the recipe, unless there’s anything else you don’t eat”… ok then! Now I’m really looking forward to dinner!

Later that day, I made the $30 cab ride out to his place (did I mention he lives in the burbs and the burbs and I are strangers to each other?) at which point the guy I’d met on Good Friday was texting me to plan a date. Dinner with Dubsmash Dude was looking like a poor choice.

His place was dark and a bit dingy and, considering he was having someone over, not particularly tidy or clean. One of the reasons I’ve now stopped going to guys’ places, few are tidier, cleaner or more central than mine. Fact. So I was uncomfortable from the moment I arrived and as he cooked us dinner (now being made with ground chicken rather than tuna… not sure that’s the culinary substitution I’d have made but there we are…) we chatted and it was at this point I found out what one of my biggest turnoffs is.

I’d never come across it before due to my newness to dating and also because everyone I’d dated before sounded like me. You know in Friends when they talk about the words that make Chandler’s balls jump back up inside his body (Janice saying “ohhhhhh myyyyy god”)? It would appear that someone trying to do a Scottish accent does the female equivalent to me.

I tried to laugh it off and went the “wow, that was terrible, haha, never do it again hahaha, lol, lol, lol” route to which his response was to continue doing it. So more sternly I asked him to please not do that and he proceeded to tell me (still in a “Scottish accent) that he looked Scottish – he was ginger – so he could carry it off. Um, not so my friend.

All I could think was “you will never kiss me with that mouth”.

It got me thinking, especially since then as I’ve dated people from all over (my friends affectionately call me the United Nations of Dating), I would never do that, I would just never attempt to do someone’s accent. A) because I’d be shit at it. And B) because it can actually be mildly offensive.

Since moving to another country, I’ve had to get used to the whole accent conversation. Some of my other immigrant friends really hate when people comment on their accents. I don’t mind it, you have to accept that it’ll be a part of being in a different country. But I actually get told a lot I don’t have an accent. To which my reply is always “that’s impossible because everyone has an accent, even when you sound like everyone around you”.

I think what people mean is I don’t have the accent they expect. I don’t sound like the female version of the guys in Trainspotting or Gerard Butler. I had a fairly soft Scottish accent to start with and moving to the Middle East as a kid gave it an interesting International School coating, to the point where most people here take a while to hear an accent or inflection they don’t recognise and then, when they do, they think it’s Australian or Irish. Though that’s mostly because they don’t really know accents, more than me actually sounding Australian or Irish.

However, I have found myself getting slightly offended when people comment on my accent, as if somehow them saying I don’t sound Scottish makes me less Scottish. I’m an incredibly proud Scot, especially this far away from home, so it gets under my skin a little. But that’s my accent, me speaking with a Scottish lilt, not someone trying to imitate it. Someone trying to do the accent essentially for comic effect… no. Please God, no. It’s as bad as, maybe worse than, someone shouting “Freedom!” in their best Scottish Mel Gibson impression at me. Get out. Get in the bin.

I’d tried to be jokey about it with Dubsmash Dude and, honestly, if someone on a second date suggested I stopped doing something a couple of times I would probably take heed of that request. He clearly felt differently. The rest of the evening was peppered with him sporadically switching into a “Scottish” accent and me slowly losing the will to live.

After finishing dinner, which I hope for his sake was that crap because of the last minute ingredient switch and not just an indicator of his level of cooking skill, I couldn’t wait to leave and get my $30 return cab ride home, sure that I would never see him again.

If the Dubsmashes were the initial straws on the camel’s back, the repeated attempts at the accent were most definitely the ones that broke it.

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Karma is a bitch


“How the hell did I get here?!” has run through my head so many times in the last few years, and I’m not always specifically thinking about being in Canada. I always knew life had twists and turns but it still catches me by surprise sometimes. And sometimes that surprise is pleasant and sometimes… well it’s not.

One of those times was not too long after my first proper date Post-D(ivorce), when my confidence had been boosted by that experience. Though let’s keep this in context, I was still feeling like bambi on ice when it came to dating, maybe just slightly thicker ice. I think I also wanted to keep the ball rolling, so a few weeks after Crazy Sink Guy I ended up planning two first dates in one day. Which was the first part of the “how the hell did I get here?!” thought. I could barely get myself out the house for one date a few weeks prior and now I was planning two in one day. Bold.

It really wasn’t my intention to double book myself though, but I’d been chatting to both of these guys for a little while and for whatever reason hadn’t been able to meet up with either of them until this particular Saturday. So when one of them wanted to do daytime and one of them wanted to do evening, it just seemed efficient to fit both in. And who doesn’t love efficiency?

“The day of 2 dates” started off with a coffee date with a 29 year old Brazilian, who worked in the film industry. He was friendly, softly spoken, passionate about a lot of different things, including coffee. Hence the coffee date. And I went along with his suggestion because… I’m agreeable I guess? Plus I figured suggesting midday drinks might have a been a little aggressive. Canada’s drinking culture is a little different to the UK.

The one thing I didn’t mention to him was that I don’t actually drink coffee, never have. Love coffee flavoured everything, except coffee itself. But coffee shops don’t just serve coffee so it would be fine. Or at least it would have been if I hadn’t ended up distracted when I first arrived and so ended up having him order me a double macchiato…

The distraction was my fault. Well, maybe my girlfriends’ faults… going back to the team dating that had begun on the last date, every chat, every online match, every date I had was poured over by my gorgeously witty girlfriends who offered their opinions, questions and warnings. In the case of the Brazilian, while carefully studying his dating app profile pics one of them pointed out his double full arm sleeve tattoos. Despite the 8 hour time difference between half of our group chat, a ridiculously quick message was sent from the other side of the pond saying “um, I don’t think that’s tattoos, I think that’s hair”. And hence was born his nickname Hairy Tattoo Guy. Leading up to the date, it was talked about extensively.

On arrival at the super cute coffee place that we’d decided on, all I could do was be distracted by the peek of (admittedly very hairy and definitely not tattooed) forearm. Trying desperately not to stare, stifling a laugh and resisting the urge to text the team was enough to make me only be able to glance up at the menu and order the first thing I saw. Double macchiato it was.

The reason I ordered a SECOND one of these about 45 minutes later when he suggested we got another one, is beyond me. Maybe it’s part of my want not to ever feel flustered. I hate not knowing where I’m going or what to order or even that feeling when you walk in a restaurant to meet someone and you spend the first 30 seconds searching aimlessly for them. I hate it. So I’ve always just employed a strategy of “don’t hesitate and just sound/look/act like you know what you’re doing”. It doesn’t always work out. Like now.

But the coffee was good, there was a buzzy atmosphere in this local neighbourhood coffee shop and we covered a great range of topics, he was easy to talk to which is always the least you can hope for on first meeting someone.

The date finished with him walking me home and then attempting to kiss me on the street across from my apartment, which horrified me. In part because PDA’s were something I had forgotten all about and I’m not a teenager anymore, plus I wasn’t really attracted to him (nothing to do with his arms, tattooed or otherwise).

I headed back upstairs for what was supposed to be a quiet couple of hours, watching some TV, filing my date report in the group chat (obviously) and then prepping for the next date. Turns out the caffeine I’d thrown back earlier had other ideas.

Almost as soon as I sat down on the sofa, I started to feel pretty unwell. My heart was RACING. My stomach was CRAMPING. And my head was POUNDING. At first it didn’t click that it might be the caffeine. For the past year, I’d been struggling with very regular fainting spells and I thought this was maybe a next level of that. Turns out, no. It’s just what will happen to you if you drink two double macchiatos. Did I mention I was also running on a pretty empty stomach. Yah, fun times.

I won’t go into the gory details but suffice to say I now understand when people say “that coffee went straight through me”. It was grim. Did I mention I also had the sweats? Real nice. So realising I probably needed to rehydrate myself, and after talking to a friend who assured me it must be from my caffeine overdose, I set about trying to make the decision as to whether to cancel date two or not… as if there was actually any decision to be made.

Turns out by the time I’d made that decision, I realised that date two would have been on his way from where he lived. Shit. Literally. And rather than just tell him to turn around because he was about to go on a date with a sweating, jittery, loose bellied mess, I figured that the polite thing to do was just to suck it up and get on with it.

That’s when the real thought of “how the hell did I get here?!” occurred. I realised not only did I have to go on a first date feeling like this, I also had to go on a first date to a Mexican restaurant feeling like this. Now, I love Mexican food. Ordinarily I can’t get enough of guac and jalapenos and fried beans and carnitas. Today, the thought of it literally made my stomach wobble.

So enroute to the Mexican restaurant which was, thankfully, only 1 block from my apartment, I stopped in at the pharmacy across the street (yep, right where Hairy Tattoo Guy had tried to kiss me earlier) and picked up some Immodium. Probably not the normal pre-date pharmacy shopping list, if you know what I mean?

The smell as I walked into the restaurant almost turned me straight back around. I arrived first so I chugged 2 glasses of water before he arrived. He being a 34 year old Canadian (I only point out nationality as it becomes relevant later in my dating story) who worked in insurance and lived in a basement suite in a suburb of Vancouver.

He was nice, a little nervous it seemed, but engaging and funny. Meanwhile I was attempting to not sweat over the table and trying to keep my toilet trips to a minimum. The Immodium felt like it took a loooong time to kick in. I also couldn’t decide what to order and, for the first time probably ever, declined the obligatory chips and salsa. They’re called obligatory for a reason, people.

When my food arrived and I became one of those horrible dates that just push their food around their plate and doesn’t really eat. When normally, in real life, when I don’t feel like my stomach is going to fall out, I am not shy about eating on a first date or otherwise. I’m almost constantly able to eat and the words “I can’t, I’m full” very rarely pass my lips, and I’m not ashamed of it. I wanted to address with him the fact that I wasn’t at my best during the date but I didn’t really want to have to answer too many questions.

Barely an hour later I’d managed to hide some of my steak, rice and beans under the tortilla that came with it, he’d got the cheque and I was heading for the hills, aka my own bathroom. I barely even stopped to hug him properly and I may or may not have broken into a slight run as I crossed the road back to my building.

Later that evening when I was feeling better and all the water and the Immodium had taken effect, I texted him to thank him for dinner and admitted I hadn’t been feeling my best but would love to see him again if he wanted to. He replied saying he hadn’t noticed anything and if that wasn’t even me at my best then he’d love to see me again.

I wasn’t sure whether to believe him (hi there trust issues, but also I was a mess how could he not have noticed?!)  but I wasn’t about to question it so I took the compliment and vowed to myself never to plan dates with different guys in the same day again. I couldn’t help but feel there was something very karmic about it turning out the way it did. I should have been fully engaged in each date, not being half present and trying to fit them both in because it worked for my diary. And, for the most part at least, I have stuck to that vow since.

I’ve found myself in a number of situations while dating that I can’t work out if I’ve crossed the boundary of human decency, if I’m just too naive or if this is “just how it is in [insert year here]”. This was definitely one of them. I’d never dated multiple people at the same time. I’d been with one person for the entirety of my 20’s and prior to that I’d had a couple of high school boyfriends so chatting to, flirting with, or dating multiple people is not something I’d ever done before. It wasn’t something I was instantly comfortable with.

My go-to now, when I’m querying a situation like that, is “how would I feel if the shoe was on the other foot?” I can’t say I’d mind if someone had been on another date earlier in the day before going on a date with me, or vice versa, but at the end of the day no one’s going anywhere, there’s time to have dates on different days so why even put myself in a position where I question my morals and karma comes back round to kick my ass?

I never did see Hairy Tattoo Guy again, despite him enquiring about a second date. I just didn’t feel like we had very much in common, apart from maybe both moving to the city from somewhere else, but that goes for about 90% of the population here and I’m not about to date them all. And despite the mess I was on my second date of the day, I did actually go out with that guy again. The story of how that went and the birth of his nickname are up next.

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Supervision Required


I’d had the apps on my phone for a while – I’d trialled Match and Plenty of Fish then settled on Tinder and Bumble. When I eventually decided I was ready to meet someone in person, and not just mindlessly swipe and start half-assed conversations, I matched with a guy who it turned out had actually lived in my home city for a while and in fact knew a few people I did. Home is never far away.

He was funny and sweet and put me at ease in all of our chats before we met. He called me a couple of times as well, which I was told by a few girlfriends is fairly rare in this day and age.Our phone conversations were easy as well and we clearly had a lot to talk about. And so Friday night was to be date night… Holy shit, someone hold my phone while I’m sick.

It’s fair to say my girlfriends were all pretty excited – there had been a long period of them asking me when I was going to start dating. Knowing how incredibly terrified I was, one of them did the most incredible impersonation of a saint and came round after work on the Friday with a bottle of wine, outfit assistance, make up help and general nerve calming skills. If it weren’t for her presence, there would have been a real danger I wouldn’t have gone.

I was ready with some time to spare, and while she could have gone home at that point, she stayed with me and on that chilly February night actually walked me to the door of the bar. There may or may not have been an actual shove, like the attendants sometimes have to do when someone won’t jump of the platform of a bungee jump.I was genuinely like bambi on ice. I felt so out of my depth and genuinely like I was learning to walk again. I hadn’t been on a proper date in…. 12 years. HOLY HELL!

My girlfriend suggested I arrive fashionably late but my concern with that tactic is having to look aimlessly around a bar to find someone, so I’ve found I prefer to be there first so they’re the one looking for me, plus I get to choose where to sit (you’re welcome for the tip).

I was so relieved when it didn’t turn out to be horrendously awkward, we had as much to talk about as I’d hoped and it was actually fun. Something I hadn’t really considered it might be. So it was all going really swimmingly. Until… he started to do something which I know I’ve been guilty of since – being too much of an open book.

Was the story of a sink falling on him at work supposed to be funny? My actual reaction was “how are you that dumb?” However this story did give way to his eventual nickname of Crazy Sink Guy.

Were the details of him being turfed out of his old apartment (rightly or wrongly by the landlord) and him refusing to give his key back meant to impress me? Because it probably had the opposite effect.

Did I need to know that he’d just that past week gotten into a physical altercation with a neighbour who he thought was having a domestic dispute? Probably not, though it’s nice to know he feels strongly about domestic violence, I guess?!

Was I really supposed to agree with him when he told me that he’d been stabbed three times while living in my home city but “you know, that’s what happens there”? Um buddy, I’ve lived there a lot longer than you and never been stabbed, I think this says more about you than the place. Also, rude.

So the night was a bit of a mixed bag and thinking back on it now, I laugh at me letting those red flag stories go. But, at that time, I was just so enamoured by the fact that someone seemed to like me and wanted to spend time with me, because lord knows it had been a while. So I brushed them off and continued to enjoy his company for a few more dates.

However as well as his wildly inappropriate stories, he started to become pretty clingy and it all got a bit much. Eventually I realised that actually it was the idea of those seemingly “nice” things – someone paying me attention, giving me compliments and wanting my company – that I was enjoying and not necessarily him…. You’ll see this becomes a recurring theme in my dating…

Chatting it through with my friends and sense checking the situation with them – past experiences had left me questioning my own decision making ability a little – I realised it probably needed to be nipped in the bud. So, with my girlfriends’ assistance (I was the epitome of “team dating” at this point), I sent my very first (maybe ever?) brush off text. Under adult supervision.

I was desperate to be able to be honest, to just tell him I didn’t want to date him anymore, but I was told in no uncertain terms that wouldn’t work. So we came up with a polite but curt text which cut the burgeoning relationship off in its tracks, didn’t allow for much debate but left everyone with their dignity intact. And this was the beginning of my conflict with honesty being my only policy but realising that sometimes you need to make things easier for yourself… We’re still working on this.

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