Matching with someone on dating apps, like Bumble or Tinder, is about as meaningful as waking up with a hangover and saying you’re not going to drink again. There is no substance to it, it was probably borne out of boredom and the likelihood of you following through with it is probably 5%. So when you do match with someone who it turns out you have more in common with than just mutually liking the look of each other, it can almost feel like a small miracle. Welsh Rugby Playing Lawyer was exactly that.
If we even just breakdown his nickname it’s not hard to see why I’d think it would be a good fit. Welsh – we have the UK in common, at least for the moment (thanks, Scotland). Rugby playing – I’m a massive sports fan (and not just “for a girl”) with rugby undoubtedly my first love. Lawyer – he’s smart and likely has a good job. See, the title of this blog post wasn’t hard to come up with.
Not only were all those things solid starters but when we started to text we had incredibly similar senses of humour (undoubtedly in large part due to both being British) and spent hours texting back and forth about a Facebook account set up to rate lunch combos from a popular store back home. I’m thinking that kind of banter would have definitely fallen flat with a Canadian. We talked rugby (a lot), moving to Vancouver, friends back home, friends here – wait, we have a mutual friend here?!
Turns out a friend of a friend of mine from home, who I’d met a couple of times since moving here, played rugby on the same team as Welsh Rugby Playing Lawyer and it just so happened that when we made that discovery while texting on a Friday night, they were out together and quickly sent me pics of their smiling faces. Our mutual friend soon after texted me to tell me what a great guy Welshie was and that he thought we’d get along great. While Welshie was texting me informing me that I was “coming in hot with recommendations”. And while a friend recommendation is never a sure thing, at least it was nice to know that he wasn’t a complete lunatic before I met him. And that he was getting a good report on me.
We had been texting a little while before we finally got a time arranged to meet up and our easy and fun chat until then plus the friend recommendation had definitely made us both pretty excited about it. It was a long weekend and we decided Monday afternoon drinks on a sunny patio by the water would be ideal. Unfortunately I woke up on that Monday morning with a long weekend sized hangover and while walking over the bridge to get to our meeting point I genuinely thought I might not make it. In hindsight I probably should have cancelled but I figured showing up, even if I was hungover, made a better impression than cancelling the day of. Buoyed by how much we’d both been looking forward to it, I soldiered on.
He arrived looking fresh as a daisy, and hot as hell with incredible arms, which only made me feel more of a mess. The profuse sweating wasn’t helping. He proceeded to order a beer while I gingerly sipped on some soda and lime. He suggested food and I was almost sick in my mouth, but attempted to eat some sweet potato fries.
Thankfully we had a lot to talk about, though the arms would have been a great distraction even if we didn’t. There is something to be said for dating someone who you share cultural references with. Of course it’s nice to be able to learn about other cultures from people and share your own, but there’s something comforting and easy about have a shared life experience that you can bond over. Boarding school life in the UK, growing up playing rugby, moving from the UK over to Canada – they were all parts of our life that we could connect over.
Despite that there was something that when I look back now I wonder if I should have been more aware of at the time. There was almost a sense of him either lacking confidence, which he had never given the impression of before, or being a little bit aloof in a too cool for school way. He just didn’t seem 100% engaged, at least not in the way he had in texts.
After the food and some drinks (I eventually made it onto gin and tonic), we decided to go for a walk nearby which in my head conjured up ideas of him kissing me by the water and it all being very romantic. In reality, it ended up kinda awkward when he didn’t want to walk a certain way because it was near his work and in the end we rushed a stilted goodbye.
Crawling home in the afternoon sun to go back to bed, I really didn’t know how I’d made it through the date, I wondered if actually the hangover had really screwed me over and I’d been an impossibly nightmarish date. But I think I’d done a pretty good job of putting on a brave face, despite admitting to him that I was feeling “a little under the weather” which I knew he’d find funny being that he was British and grew up in the drinking culture of rugby clubs. And at least that’s what his reaction portrayed. I put it out my mind and decided to concentrate on feeling better for the nightmare that would be going back to work the next day – it was sure to be a two day hangover.
Over the subsequent days and weeks our texting remained fairly constant – most days and always amusing and banter-filled. Though at times I wondered if it was a bit too “matey”, especially with all the sport chat, so would throw in a flirtatious comment here and there to balance it out. Overall though I was excited about the prospect of seeing him again.
Only, that prospect didn’t really seem forthcoming.
I kept waiting for him to suggest we meet up again, but never once in our daily texts did he suggest it. My mind went back to my confusion on the date as to whether maybe he actually was a little lacking in self confidence, but that just didn’t match up at all with the rest of his demeanour. Although it is easier to mask things like that over text. So eventually I decided to take the initiative and ask. It was the 21st century goddammit and I’ll ask a guy out if I want. Side note – as I’ve mentioned before, I do believe feminism and chivalry can live side by side.
His response was enthusiastic, to a point. He said he’d love to, and made some jokey comment about the different football teams we supported, but that he was busy with exams over the next week so it would have to be after that. I gave him some space for his exams and dental work, which he delighted in giving me in-depth details about via text, and then brought it up again. Again he sounded enthusiastic but the actual planning was almost too difficult to strike me as something he wanted to do.
We ended up squeezing it in on a Wednesday night after he had been at rugby training and I had been at my work’s summer BBQ. We met at a bar that was near his house and that was on my way home from the beach where I’d been celebrating with colleagues. But from the texts he’d sent me that night I kind of started to get the impression he was hoping I’d cancel, it was very much like “don’t leave your party early” (it finished at 9pm and we were meeting at 9pm, so I was missing 15 minutes to get to where we were meeting) and “if you’re too tired…” (I’m not the one who’s been running around a rugby field in the sun).
It ended up that by the time I got there I wasn’t really expecting too much, which was probably just as well. He had one beer, was clearly tired and spoke a lot about how much he had to do tomorrow and how early he had to get up. I decided not to prolong the inevitable anymore and wished him goodnight 45 minutes after we met. There was a sense as we said goodbye that I really wasn’t likely to see him again and I was kind of irritated that he’d even bothered to show up for the date. Why not cancel if he had nothing to bring to the party? It was shocking just how badly a date could go with someone you actually had a lot in common with.
I walked home from the bar even though I was nowhere near my house but I felt like I needed a walk to clear my head, and the warmth was still lingering from a beautiful summer’s night, plus I’d eaten way too much guacamole and chips followed by ice cream earlier in the night so decided I could do with the exercise. I tried to come to terms with the fact that I’d had such high hopes for Welsh Rugby Playing Lawyer – yes I’d totally let my imagination run away with itself, it’s a bad habit – and clearly they weren’t going to come to fruition. Thoughts of me being the dutiful rugby girlfriend and how it would work going home to visit family in Wales and Scotland – like I said, I got ahead of myself.
The getting ahead of myself is something I have been (unpleasantly) surprised by since I started dating. The usual story of someone who goes through something, such as my divorce, is that they’re left never feeling like they’ll be with someone again or not feeling like they want someone in their life and thus doesn’t let anyone in or attempt to nurture potential relationships. I, on the extreme other hand, am like “COME ON IN AND SCREW ME OVER”. I get so far ahead of myself so quickly. Despite my not entirely positive (though not entirely negative) experience of marriage, I will always imagine what it would be like to be married to the person I’m sat across from on a first date. Is that normal behaviour?
My therapist and I unpacked it as my need for that with which I am familiar – a long term relationship. I’m not familiar with short term dating. At this stage I’d only been dating again for 6 months so it was all still fairly new. But that mindset was only going to get me into trouble and wind up with me getting hurt. As was the case as I made my way along the streets of Vancouver.
About 40 minutes after leaving the bar with home almost in sight, I just had to walk over the bridge that almost killed me on the day of our first date, my phone buzzed: Welsh Rugby Playing Lawyer sending me a cutesy message about getting home safely. Um… what? I’m confused. I had to really make an effort not to respond with just “WTF dude?!” and instead said something about almost being home and my legs thanking me in the long run.
He replied to my reply the next day and so our almost daily texts back and forth started up again. And, again, went absolutely no where. A week and a half later, I was sat at a baseball game with friends and was chatting to one of my male friends about it. His suggestion that I should just tell him I wanted to jump his bones because then I’d get an answer quick enough about whether he wanted the same thing, was probably not advice I was going to take and so the texts ran onto the Friday, which was a Friday of a long weekend. It had been so long since our first date that there was another long weekend – they’re months apart and we’d had two dates. The timing wasn’t lost on me.
Then it happened. In the midst of a conversation (is it a conversation if it takes place over the course of a few days?) about his camping plans for the weekend, I asked if he was going for two or three nights and…. nothing. No reply. Complete and utter radio silence. At first I thought he’d maybe already gone camping. But post-long weekend it was hard for that to still be the reason. I resisted, resisted, resisted the urge to message him and try to get a reply, much less even an explanation.
That’s not to say that my head wasn’t a mess with trying to figure out what the actual fuck had happened. There’s nothing I hate more than loose ends. I like things all tied up nicely and dealt with so I can put it away and not be haunted by it. Ghosting (“the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication”) does exactly that, it haunts you. Side note – I’m not going to go more into ghosting here but you can bet your ass I’m going to give it it’s entire own blog post soon.
But it was all so promising! At least on paper. Turns out perfection on paper was worth less than the toilet paper it was written on.
Five months later, I would be going to friends’ on Christmas Day for dinner. It was a last minute plan but it had been so nice of them to invite me and when they said it was just them I figured it wasn’t like I was crashing any pre-made plans. Except, it wasn’t just them. They were the friends of a friend who had known Welsh Rugby Playing Lawyer and as it would turn out, I ended up having Christmas Dinner sat across from him, at a cosy table for four in my friends’ apartment. Can you say “awkward”?
I thought about saying something. About asking him what the hell happened. Trying to clarify the reason for the ghosting. But it was far too intimate a setting and I didn’t want to subject my friends to it, especially not on Christmas Day. So instead I just made passive aggressive comments… because I am an adult. “More sprouts?” “I don’t know, why don’t you ask Welshie, though he’ll say one thing and do another.” “How are things going with the guy you’re dating?” “Great, he actually replies to texts and makes plans to see me.”
They were mostly said in jest, but as with all things said as a joke there’s a half truth in there somewhere. Still it made a change from the normal family drama over Christmas dinner like Uncle Dave’s inability to arrive sober, or cousin Sarah’s need to reprimand all five of her kids in front of everyone during dinner.
By this time, I was already dating Filipeen and there was something so satisfying about making my excuses to leave when he came to pick me up later that night. I didn’t need to understand the why behind the ghosting, all I knew was he’d done it so regardless of what it looked like on paper, we clearly weren’t meant to be.