When it comes to dating someone new, I’m sure most of us have been guilty of rushing a little bit ahead of ourselves at one time, at least I know I have. Hell, that’s my go to when I meet someone new! But when is it flattering and when is it too much?
I matched with Ukrainian Nigerian Engineer (clearly the nicknames write themselves most of the times) on Bumble and it turned out this tall, dark skinned, well dressed 28 year old lived on the opposite corner of my cross-streets. He asked me out fairly swiftly, which I always give multiple brownie points for and he also suggested a really nice bar that was close to where we both lived. Add to that the sensibility to suggest earlier in the evening considering it was a Sunday, and I was impressed so far, though maybe I’d already mentioned to him how much of a Granny I am and love early nights?
On the night in question though the bar turned out to be closed for a private event so we ended up in a nearby, although not quite as nice, alternative. Other than that slight hiccup, it was a good first date. He was chatty, he was interesting, he told me all about his new job and the travel he might get to undertake as a result, he seemed to have a good group of friends and he was also super interested, asking lots of questions of me. Interesting and interested are two key things I look for in someone, especially on a first date.
He walked me home afterwards but we were essentially going to the same place so it was hard not to I guess. We said a very respectful goodnight with what felt like a bit of a cursory hug and I remember leaving and not really feeling like I’d got a good read on him. As easy as he was to talk to, I got the feeling he was kind of quiet and we know how I do with quiet guys… He also hadn’t really given me any strong indication about how he felt about either the date or me.
I followed up later that night with my usual “thanks for the date and the drinks” (he paid) text and over the next few days we exchanged polite chit chat about our working days before he asked if I’d like to go out on the Thursday night. He’d read about some gallery opening and suggested we go check it out and then have dinner. I love a man with a plan! And not just “drinks”. So given that I wasn’t sure exactly where things were going prior to that, I took the second date intention as a good sign.
On a pouring wet October night, he picked me up and we went to this random little gallery over on the east side of the city and checked out what turned out to be a fairly small exhibit. But it had some great pieces and the wall with artwork made entirely out of business cards provided us with plenty to discuss around the merits of modern art.
After deciding neither of us were going to be making an investment in business card art, we made our way back towards downtown and an Italian place that does great pizzas a little closer to home. And while sipping on our wine and waiting for our food to arrive, I had one of those moments when recognising something in someone else makes you realise something about yourself. I love those kind of realisations, they fascinate me!
We were discussing his background – Ukrainian, Nigerian, in Canada since he was a young child is fairly unique – and when I asked how often he goes back to Nigeria he said “I’ve only been once and to be honest I don’t think I’ll go again.” I asked if he felt a bond to the country or if it would be a heritage he would pass onto his children ,if he had a family, and he said “no” to both.
In that moment I realised that if I were ever to have children, which is still TBC, of huge importance to me would be making sure they knew they were Scottish. (This presuming I have them here in Canada. I’d hope they’d be bright enough to know that they were Scottish if they were born there…) I realised that having children in Canada would mean I would have no commonality in terms of upbringing with my children, we would have had completely different lives, they wouldn’t even necessarily understand the cultural nuances and the pop culture references of an entire part of my life.
These were all gaps I’d considered that I would potentially need to bridge with a partner if they weren’t from Scotland, but I’d never thought about having a similar disconnect with my own offspring. And I know there’s a debate around nature vs nurture (and I think there’s a lot to be said about both) but as we sat at the table I was struck by what an enormous responsibility that felt.
At the same time, I realised that his answer of not wanting to pass his Nigerian heritage onto his children was kind of disappointing to me. I know it’s likely due to the fact that he didn’t feel a connection to it himself but it just didn’t sit particularly well with me.
While I was trying to digest the nugget of self discovery I’d just unearthed, along with my incredibly delightful truffle pizza which had since arrived, it was unfortunate timing for him to tell me a story that would literally make me choke.
You know there are those times when you start telling a story, or you’re halfway through, or maybe in fact you’ve gotten right to the end of it and you all of a sudden think to yourself “why the fuck am I telling this story?” Yeah, well this obviously wasn’t one of those times for Ukrainian Nigerian Engineer cause he just kept right on telling his story while I’m pretty sure my face contorted into the exact human version of the flushed face emoji.
It turns out his new company were getting in the planning of their Christmas party early and were asking everyone to RSVP that week. His colleague who was organising it had gone up to him in the middle of the lunch room, catching him entirely off guard, and said “are you coming to the Christmas party?” and as quickly as he said yes, she then tacked on “And what’s your plus one’s name?”
Now, there are many answers he could have given to that question: “I don’t have one”’ “I’ll need to see if she’s available”; “I’m a lone wolf”; “she lives in Yemen” – I mean, so many answers. Instead he gave my name. Not only did he give my name, he then thought it was a good idea to tell me that he’d given my name and so was now essentially asking me to go to his office Christmas party.
Now, again, there are many things wrong with this, but the first one that came to my mind was that the Christmas party was on the 16th December. It was only the 27th October. And it was our second date. Holy shit balls, we were making plans for 7 weeks away… To compound my shock, I still wasn’t really getting any in-person vibes from him that he was particularly interested in me. Apart from, you know, giving my name as his plus one to his work party in almost two months time.
Having picked my jaw up off the floor and returned my eyes to their normal size, I tried to quickly end the date. The heritage discussion, Christmas party plus one invitation and also a discussion we’d had about his car while parking that sort of presented him as a little materialistic had all really turned me off.
When we said goodbye as he dropped me back off at home, I had kind of made up my mind that I probably wouldn’t see him again – so he was going to have to change his party plus one’s details – and realised the fact I could see his building from mine probably wasn’t ideal in this situation but I’d never seen him around before we’d met online so why should I now?
Because Sod’s Law, that’s why.
Of course, just over a week later I was out with friends at a bar round the corner from my apartment and as we were all sat chatting, actually about another date I’d just been on (blog post to come), some guy walking behind me just caught the corner of my eye as he stopped right over my shoulder and just stood staring, the way someone would when you want them to notice you’re looking at them.
I turn around to meet the stare and there’s Ukrainian Nigerian Engineer. I get up from the table, hoping he didn’t just hear the last comment my very crude friends just made, and try to usher him away from the group. But he seemingly had other plans and as soon as our hug was over he started introducing himself to my friends. Um, ok then.
I was really caught off guard. I never introduce people to my friends, they’re too much of a liability and now was definitely not the best time for intros considering they all knew I wasn’t planning to see this guy again.
Despite him now being ensconced in hellos with my friends, I still felt like there was someone staring at me and as I turned around again I realised the table of what I presumed were his friends are now all watching our table intently. I laughed and said “oh looks like you’re wanted, you better go” hoping it would cut short this very out of the blue meetup. But no. He insisted I go and meet his friends now also.
So I politely went over, how could I say no when they were all watching me?, and did the round of names and waved hellos but before that was even finished one of them piped up with “so I hear you’re going to the Christmas party?” Cue incredibly awkward silence from him, who had taken his seat again and left me standing like a lemon by the side of the table. Cheers.
I mumbled something about how I’ve heard engineering Christmas parties are the best (what?! I don’t know!!!) before sharing an awkward standing/seated goodbye hug with Ukrainian Nigerian Engineer and then making the hastiest of hasty retreats back to my table of friends, where I swiftly told them all to “drink up, we’re leaving.”
First the Christmas party, now the friend introductions… but yet still no real sense of intention from him. It was just slightly confusing.
We texted a little after that bar encounter but my Mum came to visit and then it was almost Christmas and eventually we just stopped all communication, which suited me fine. Until that is I bumped into him in the street one day. Of course.
We shared the usual “what have you been up to” chat while dodging weekend shoppers passing us by but when he started to go down the route of “we should catch up sometime” I stopped him before it went any further and said “I’m actually seeing someone just now”. It sounded like such a lie coming out my mouth but it wasn’t.
Regardless of who else I was seeing, and there was someone else by then, all of the interactions I’d had with him had either left me wondering if he was interested in me at all or wanting him to massively pump the breaks, there was no in between, no happy medium and in neither circumstance was I that attracted to him.
So I decided to chalk this one up to experience, appreciate the lesson I’d learnt about how important passing on my Scottish roots is to me and vow not to date anyone who lived across the street again. That last part has not held true…