The Power of No

Jun-2017

At what point in matching with someone on a dating app do you give up your right to say no? At what point when you’re chatting with someone over text do you give up your right to say no? At what point after you’ve met up with someone in real life do you give up your right to say no? Oh that’s right – never.

I’ve written about it before and, no doubt, I’ll write about it again before my dating life is over but feeling in someway coerced into making a decision you may not have been fully comfortable with when dating, happens more frequently than I would like – which is never.

And I’m talking about everything from staying for one more drink, to kissing someone, to letting someone come up to your apartment, or asking someone who has come up to your apartment to leave. You could put it down to being too nice but, for females, it can also come down to fear.

We walk a fine line between not caring what others think of us and doing what’s right for us, and knowing all too well that a single, solitary, even unintentional, dent to a man’s ego can result in their behaviour towards you changing very quickly. We witness it as early as the school playground when if a girl doesn’t like a boy back, he’ll start being mean to her. Which, interestingly, is also the same way that he shows he likes a girl (,which is fucked up and a whole other problem for a whole other post).

Of course, I’m not talking about all men, I’m not even talking about most men, but the problem is when you’ve just met a man you have no idea if they may fall into that category. Having said that, you also hear of people that have known each other for years, never thought they were that type of person, and one day something flips.

The most WTF version of this I’ve witnessed on a regular basis is when messaging guys on a dating app. Everything’s going fine until they ask for “pics” or ask a sexually explicit question before we’ve even established the basics, and I decline. The change in their tone and language, and the quickness with which they can become incredibly angry is entirely unwarranted.

I’ve been told to “fuck off”, been called frigid, a cocktease, a time waster, all sorts. And it really affected me to begin with. I hated feeling like I’d in some way led someone on, while all the time trying to remind myself that starting a friendly conversation on a dating app wasn’t leading someone on.

But at least when it’s only in an app or over message, you don’t have to worry too much for your safety. More just his safety in case he bursts a blood vessel in anger about a girl he’s never met not wanting to send a picture of her naked body to him. Shocking.

When it’s in person however, it can be a different story. I definitely felt that way a little at the end of the night with Whistler Teacher Slash Photographer, and I remember distinctly having the thought in my head when Irish Tech Triathlete didn’t seem to want to leave my apartment.

What I’d never had was a guy so explicitly tell me I owed him something, until the night I met American East Coaster. I know it’s a very generic nickname, but he had actually been the first East Coaster I’d met up with… so we went with it.

He was 37, had not long moved to Seattle for work in some medical field or other, and was up in Vancouver for the weekend by himself just to explore because he’d heard it was lovely. He wasn’t wrong. I spent Saturday morning after we matched messaging him all the fun stuff he should do while he was here.

There had been talk of us meeting up during the day or for dinner but I had plans and it wasn’t until much later at night that he messaged me to check in on my night that I said I’d actually just got home. By this time it was after midnight and I was done drinking after a long day so didn’t want to meet up for a drink like he suggested.

Instead, I’d clearly got a second wind and suggested that we go for a walk. He was just heading back to his hotel from a bar near mine so I said we could meet up a couple of blocks away and then walk to the seawall from there.

Walking Vancouver at night is one of my favourite things to do. It’s such an incredibly safe city and, despite me living right downtown, it can also be incredibly quiet at night. So a walk wasn’t the craziest idea. Thankfully he agreed, but probably partly because I think I made it clear if he didn’t want to do that then we weren’t meeting up!

And so we did, and I got to show him Vancouver by night. And it was fun! He was a really nice guy, super chatty and kinda funny. But I didn’t find him super attractive. Still, as I was feeling with dating in general now, there’s something about just meeting people you otherwise wouldn’t, that is a win regardless of the outcome.

As we walked, he noted a couple of times that we were going in the direction of his hotel. Which I was fully aware of. I’d actually planned the route so that he’d end up back at his hotel, and I would then just finish the last few blocks to mine. Now, I’m aware dates usually end the other way, with the guy walking the girl home but given where we were walking and the fact he was the tourist and I obviously know my way about, I decided he should go home first.

But while I thought that was a nice gesture on my part, he had somehow taken this to mean that if we were going back to his hotel first then I was obviously going to also be stopping there… um, no. I had designs on bed. My own bed. By myself.

So we get to the hotel and there’s this awkward moment when he carries on walking toward the door and I hang back to initiate the goodbye. He turned around surprised “are you really not coming up?” Um, no. I explain that really was never my intention and he hits back with “well that’s not what it sounded like in your texts. Why don’t you just come up for a bit?” And this started a full on back and forth about how our night was going to end.

For every time I said “no” he either came back with something about me having intimated something else to him, or trying to convince me to. But that was how he was making me feel, like somehow I owed him a trip up to his hotel room.

In the quiet Vancouver street at 1.30am, I was glad I could see the hotel concierge from where I was standing and so firmly, for the last time said “I’m sorry you thought this was something else, it was honestly just a walk. It was lovely to meet you, enjoy the rest of your time in Vancouver.”

Rather than accept it and reply courteously, or even not accept it but at least still be polite, he told me it was bullshit, threw his hands up in the air (not in the “like you just don’t care” way though) and turned around to head into his hotel.

Before I was more than a block away my phone pinged with a message. Oh god… And right enough it was him. Again, telling me it was bullshit and asking if I was serious. As if, I don’t know, somehow that would make me change my mind and head back to his hotel for a night of wild sex? I didn’t reply, there was no point and the day had now caught up with me, so it seemed best to just go to bed, in my house, on my own, as I’d always planned.

But I can’t let messages go unanswered – I don’t know if it’s because I’m too polite or I just love a convo – so the next day I replied and just said I was sorry if he was upset, that was never my intention and, again, wished him well on his last day in Vancouver.

Rather than just replying with something civil, or even just not replying, he decided to start screenshotting me parts of our message conversation and marking them up with red lines and red circles, clearing hinting that these were the phrases that led him to believe he was picking up a sex date on the corner of the street last night, and not just someone to go for a walk with.

He actually marked them up! Took the screenshot, went into edit, chose ‘Markup’ and got busy with his virtual red marker. I was shocked but also kind of impressed by his dedication to his argument. But mostly, I was just seriously pissed off, which I hadn’t been before. Before I’d felt kinda bad, really hadn’t wanted to upset him, but knew I was in the right.

Now? Now, I was about to give him a lesson in how to treat women. Or at least I would have if he hadn’t blocked me on Bumble. So I missed my chance.

But here’s what I would have told him – even if I had explicitly said in my text “let’s meet up and have sex”, while yes there could be some surprise, or disappointment, on his part if those plans changed, I still wouldn’t have owed him the sex I talked of previously.

And I know some people will say, meeting up with a guy from a dating app after midnight, even if it is only to “go for a walk” can only mean one thing. And to that I say, fuck off. There is NO circumstance, no way of meeting, no time of day, no setting that determines that I owe a man anything.

There is power in “no” and the power is mine.

Next post…

…previous post

The Doctor Will See You Now

Jun-2017

In a summer where I was finding no shortage of dates or online dating app matches with a variety of success, his dating profile pictures were almost too immaculate. His response to my first Bumble message too smooth. His Instagram too curated. He was either a catfish or a douchebag. But seeing as he had his Instagram linked up with his dating profile, I guessed I was going to have to presume it was the second?

Regardless, I entertained his messages and intended to meet up with him, because who says I make bad choices? In our general chit chat on Bumble when I asked what kind of doctor he was – yes one of his profile pics was him in his white coat – his reply was “what kind do you need?”, it was more than a little cheesy but I didn’t hate it.  We planned to meet up before we both went away for weekend trips – him to Arizona, me to Vegas (yes, the Vegas trip I ended up chatting to Penne & Penises on – but that weeks long cold kept that from happening and, him being a doctor in training, he prescribed “lots of rest & plenty of fluids”.

It took me a while to recover from the seemingly never ending cold that impeded my Vegas fun and after a failed attempt to meet up one night, when he kept making our meeting time later and later until, eventually, I valued my sleep way too much to just say “ok” to the next half hour incremental change, finally two weekends later on a gorgeously sunny Saturday I received a speculative “what are you up to tonight?” text from him. And I figured I should just give it up and meet him.

I had actually already sort of made plans with someone else I’d just met on Tinder but Hot Doctor (maybe the easiest nickname we’ve come up with?) did fascinate me & his persistence over the last few weeks didn’t really line up with my initial douchebag presumptions. Plus those pictures… he was dark skinned with the most impossibly well kept beard, a 27 year old body that would melt butter and eyes that looked like they’d pierce your soul. In the best possible way. And this was just from his pictures…

I’d been at the beach all day, a BBQ for a friend going back to Ireland, it was a long day of drinking in the sun so the thought of getting ready to go out didn’t thrill me. Instead I suggested he come round to mine. It was a risky move, and essentially at that point the likelihood of it turning into “just a sex date” was fairly high. But, despite his chiseled good looks, I had no other designs on this meet up – he was training to be a doctor abroad, randomly in the UK, and his summer trip home to Vancouver was ending the very next day.

I also decided to have him over to mine because, I realised afterwards, I was actually intimidated by him. Annoyingly, I was intimidated by how good looking he was & how well put together he seemed. It’s ridiculous to me now – he’s human, he’s obviously not as perfect as he seems & he was obviously attracted to me in some way. So why should I in anyway be nervous to meet him, to go out in public with him?

Without realising it at the time, inviting him over to mine for wine was a way to minimise any embarrassment there might be if he got there & realised “wow, she is not what I was hoping” (although I like to think my pics are an accurate representation of me). Given all the changes I’d made to myself, both physically and emotionally, my confidence crashing and inhibiting my actions wasn’t happening as much, but there’s definitely been a few men I’ve been nervous to meet. He was one of them.

I got home from the beach, shovelled some food in my face and decided I needed a shower, to not only de-sand me but also hopefully sober me up a little. While I was in the shower my phone buzzed with a message from him. In fact, it was a picture. A topless picture. Saying he was getting ready. But the caption barely registered.. The pic was… really not bad to look at. With a Pakistani background, his skin tone was like the most beautiful coffee colour and he obviously took working out seriously.

Emboldened by the sun & the ciders, and clearly in no way sobered up from the food or shower, I decided to send one back. Not front topless but I figured a naked, tanned, toned back could work. Well, it could have worked well if I owned one of those and hadn’t been stood with my back to the sun all day getting some hefty tan lines. It wasn’t the sexy, sun kissed look I was hoping for.

Clearly more affected by the sun and ciders than I realised, I decided to send it anyway…. because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, who says I don’t make good decisions?! I made some comment about how I hoped he liked tan lines because these weren’t about to disappear in the time before he arrived and he replied saying two things: first “wow, you’re an idiot”; but followed up very sweetly with “but damn they’re cute tan lines”.

By the time he arrived I was a little jaded, the day was definitely taking its toll on me and I had to give myself a serious pep talk to look alive when he buzzed to come up. But it’s funny what a beautiful man appearing on your doorstep can do…

To say his pictures were true to real life doesn’t do justice to real life. If possible he was even more attractive. Like some model had just stepped off some photo shoot and ended up at my apartment door. But he was very softly spoken and thoughtful with his words. And, in my judgement, that hadn’t been what I was expecting.

From the get go he had a lot to say, but also a lot to ask. He wanted to know about my upbringing, my travels, moving to Vancouver – we covered a lot of ground while sitting on the balcony as the sun set. But  when I went to top up our wine glasses (cause that’s what I needed after my day of ginger apple cider) he followed me inside and, as I turned back with the replenished glasses, he stood in my way, reached for my face and kissed me.

It was soft and almost enquiring, like he wanted to test the water to see if I was on the same page. It would be fair to say I one hundred percent was, but I also had a glass of wine in each hand. Though that may have been a good thing or I might have ripped his clothes off right then and there.

We went back to the balcony for some more wine but by that point all bets were off and I don’t think either of us doubted where this was going to end up.

There was an intensity in the way he looked at me with those big brown eyes, it was so probing and completely disarming. It disarmed me of my inhibitions entirely, I no longer felt like he might not be interested in someone like me (Instagram’s a terrible thing when you can find what someone’s ex girlfriend looked like), and instead all I really wanted was to in fact get completely, entirely butt naked with him.

So that’s what we did. And it was incredible.

We had a ridiculous amount of fun. Four times actually. In between each we continued the chats from earlier on the balcony. We talked about his thoughts on dating, his failed long distance relationship as a result of his time in the UK and his ambivalence on marriage. We talked about my marriage, my divorce, and forgiveness. We discovered a shared love of the poet Khalil Gibran, who he was shocked to find out I knew of. We talked about some of our favourite quotes of his, and I always remember one of his was “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”. It spoke to me greatly.

We also laughed at how neither of us imagined we’d be having discussions that broad and deep. Knowing that often sex dates can be just that – sex – and you count yourself lucky if the sex is at least good, never mind actually feeling like there’s some connection. But not only had we fit like a glove physically, we had also really clicked personality-wise.

He left just after midnight, after a glorious amount of snuggling that pretty much had both of us asleep. But it was his last night in Vancouver and he had to go home, back to his family house where he was staying while he was back during term holidays. We knew he was leaving the next day and, despite throwing it out there that we could always fit in some afternoon fun before his evening flight, I think we both knew that was unlikely to happen. So we weren’t going to see each other again.

Texting me from the airport the next day, he made mention of making the fact we didn’t get to see each other again up to me in December, when he’d next be home for a holiday. December?! It was June… Jesus that’s a wait. But the thought was nice. He also told me to keep him updated on my tan lines, the subtext of which was clearly – send nudes.

To say I didn’t think we’d stay in touch was an understatement. Knowing it had only been one night and that pretty face of his was hardly going to make life boring for him, I figured he’d have far better things to keep him occupied. And by December, I could be in a relationship…

Next post…

…previous post

Pasta And Appendages

Jun-2017

We’ve talked about it before – someone being great on paper but then it not working out in real life. But what about being great on paper AND being great in text and then there being zero spark in person? How is that possible? Do people have ghost (text) writers?!

The week after the half marathon in June, and the awkward date with Whistler Teacher Slash Photographer, I was off to Vegas for a bachelorette weekend. And contrary to the general consensus about Vegas, I’ve never once gone to hook up. My focus is only ever on having fun with the people I’m with. Unfortunately on this particular trip I was sick as a dog with a cold, and so neither of those things were going to happen.

Just before I left Vancouver, I matched with a guy on Bumble and we started chatting the day I flew out. Turned out he was away for a boys weekend to Seattle and so via text over the course of our weekends we compared drunkenness, funny stories, mishaps and suntan progress. I hadn’t expected to hear from him as much as I did but it was kind of nice.

We both worked in tech, we lived near each other and it sounded as if we liked a lot of the same things. So far so good. He also had some pretty good banter. The night when our group’s plan was to go for an Italian followed by the Thunder From Down Under Strip show (yes, it’s really called that) he made the observation that it was going to be all “penne and penises” for us. He was then forever known as that to me. And given that he shared a (real life) name with Toronto Dimple Chin, I chose to save him in my phone as Penne and Penises also, you know, to save confusion.

As our weekends wore on and a couple of drunken nights threw up (pun intended) some drunken texts (more on his part than mine, because my cold had rendered me almost unable to drink), the messages definitely turned a little flirty. Add to that, him having started following me on Instagram and making comments about pictures of bikinis and barely there Vegas dresses, and you got yourself some fairly sexually charged conversations.

It was a risky move and I was aware of that but I like to think I’d always done my due diligence… to the extent that you can with online dating! At least been able to prove they were a real person and not some creepy old guy getting his kicks pretending to be a 27 year old hot guy.

I always find that bit weird. I’m not saying I don’t engage in it. I clearly do. But when you take a step back, it’s still odd to me that people can get to that level of “comfort” with someone who is essentially a stranger. That we can be so happy to share such intimate thoughts and details with someone whom we haven’t even met yet. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some people that would absolutely not let any dating app conversation go down that road until, maybe even well after, they’ve met someone, and I always thought I was that person too. But, as I was becoming more comfortable with my sexuality and my apparently growing sex drive, I was finding it easier to let my mind wander and open myself up to people who were still just a name and some (hopefully not false) pictures on a screen.

So yes, the texts had escalated and, by the time our weekends were over, we were pretty excited to finally be able to meet up when we were both back in Vancouver. Unfortunately, the cold was still kicking my ass, and I was rendered useless for the first week after I was home.

During that time he checked in on me everyday and asked if I needed anything brought over. But I was hardly about to have a guy I’d never met, who I thought there might be potential with, see me for the first time when I looked like a massive bag of crap.

Eventually the second Monday after we were home, I felt a tiny bit better to the point that when he said he didn’t care I was sick he just wanted to see me, I agreed that he could come over. It wouldn’t have been my first choice of first date location but I still wasn’t up to going out.

After what had, by that point, been a couple of weeks of texting we finally got to meet and I was super excited. But that excitement was put on hold when he turned up wearing a Celtic football top – Celtic are a football team from Glasgow in Scotland, and the football I’m talking about is the OG, not of the American variety. But how was he to know that my ex-husband was a die-hard Celtic fan and, in my residual pettiness, I now hated everything about them?

It wasn’t the best start, nor was the fact he looked a little heavier than the pictures on his profile. And it didn’t look like muscle. But whose weight doesn’t fluctuate at times? And I’m hardly sat here with an athlete’s body. So I didn’t let it put me off. However chewing gum the whole time we had sex, keeping his white tube socks on throughout, and the incredibly off-putting sex faces? Yeah those put me off.

And yes, I had sex on a first date. And yes, I had sex while I was still full of the cold. And yes, I’m aware none of these revelations paint me in the best light…

The spark that we’d had in all those messages was definitely not translated into real life and I remember I was really keen for him to leave as soon as possible after we’d finished the no pants (but keep the gum and white tube socks) dance.

I hoped it had just not been great because I was still sick and that maybe if we’d had a proper first date, rather than a 6pm slightly sick sex date, it would have been different. But you can’t undo what’s already done and so, arranging to go on a proper second date, I just held out hope that we could figure it out from there on out.

In between the first and second date, the texts went back to being great and, maybe unsurprisingly, even more sexually explicit given that we now knew each other more intimately. And, despite the lacklustre feeling I’d had after seeing him that first time, the spark was re-instated in our messages. So I was hopeful the second date could be an improvement and wondered if he’d been in anyway disappointed in our first meeting…

As it happened, the second date ended up occuring in the exact same way as the first one – I was still sick (and by now so incredibly sick of being sick), so he came round to mine. Albeit not wearing any reminders of my ex this time, thank the Lord for small mercies I guess. But I was even less physically attracted to him and it actually annoyed me.

It annoyed me that there could be what felt like a great connection in messages, fun, easy banter, playful flirting, all mixed in with some serious life talk but when it came to being in the same room as each other it was flatlining. And that’s not to say it’s all on him, that he was a good texter but a bad in-person person.

It’s just that’s the way we were together. It was as much about me as it was him. Dating truly is a chemistry thing. And you can get the formula right on paper, but in real life it can still fuck up.

It didn’t mean we didn’t have sex again but nor did it mean he took his socks off this time either, despite me hoping that had just been an oversight the first time. At which point I decided I definitely wouldn’t be seeing him again because, let’s be honest, when the sexts are far better than the sex, you know you should cut your losses.

Next post…

…previous post

Can I Go Now, Sir?

Jun-2017

You know when you make plans and they seem like a good idea at the time, but then when the time comes you realise you’re tired and you’d rather stay in? But you go and figure you’ll just cut the night short but then the guy you’re out with attempts to bargain with you to make you stay out and chooses to lecture you on how much you’ll regret it if you go home? Yeah that’s what happened with Whistler Teacher Slash Photographer.

I’d only gone to Whistler to run a half marathon. I had no plans of organising a date, or meeting someone but while lying in my hotel room bed awake earlier than I even needed to be with pre-race nerves, I was mindlessly swiping through the Bumble and Tinder, wondering what the usually bustling ski town of Whistler would have to show for itself on a dating app in the middle of summer.

I was pleasantly surprised, but I was also sure the majority of people were likely to be just visiting. Not that it mattered – again, I wasn’t planning to meet anyone.

My friends, who were also running the half marathon, and I had arrived the night before, just in time for a glorious carb load and then an early bed. Somehow, despite travelling with two couples, I had ended up in the huge hotel room, with a King size bed, full kitchen and dining space, corner windows and a balcony overlooking Whistler village.

As I lay swiping in that giant bed, having probably used about a third of the available space at most during the night, I matched with a few people and was surprised when at 6.03am one of the Tinder matches messaged me. At first I figured it must be someone who was just getting in from the night before but, after a few messages back and forth, it turned out that when he wasn’t being a teacher, he was a photographer and had been asked to film the race. So while I was preping myself for getting sweaty while running through the mountains, he was preping himself for filming people getting sweaty while running through the mountains.

Hs asked why I wasn’t sleeping and I said I wasn’t sure when I was in such a big, comfy bed. It was a throwaway comment that I didn’t even think about because I’d just been messaging friends back in the UK and had been telling them the same thing. But I realise that making any reference to your bed when you’re chatting with someone on a dating app, instantly sounds like an invitation for sex. It was not.

He didn’t seem to read too much into it, or at least if he did he didn’t let on. Although he did make a comment about me probably needing a massage later. I wasn’t sure if it was an offer or merely a suggestion. I chose to just take it as friendly advice and skip on over it.

As it got closer to race time, he wished me luck and said he’d look out for me on the course and hopefully would see me later as well. The first part of which horrified me, to think that a guy you’ve met on a dating app might see you for the first time midway through a half marathon didn’t bear thinking about – it’s not a pretty sight. The second part of which sounded like it could be fun.

He’d been funny and engaging and he clearly had a number of passions in his life with the teaching and photographer. He seemed like an interesting guy. So I said yes maybe we could do drinks later and left it at that.

I hadn’t actually thought I’d see him on the course, I presumed he’d be filming the people who could actually run without looking like they were having a heart attack, and those people aren’t me. But would you believe it, first corner we turn on the course having come out of the starting line area and I see a guy on a bike (as he said he would be), with a camera (as I imagined he would be) sitting in the central reservation capturing everyone as they’re going up the first stretch of road.

Despite the fact it was so early on in the race and my face hadn’t yet turned the beetroot red colour that it so loves to go after any small amount of exercise, I still decided to try and maneuver my way out of his line of sight. I wasn’t really prepared to do a whole weird, awkward “oh hi, it’s you” thing while trying not to get out of breath in the first five minutes of the race.

A very long and very sweaty two hours, fourteen minutes later and I was back in Whistler village, having enjoyed some beautiful sights around Whistler (not so beautiful were the really big fucking hills). Shortly after all my friends had gathered at the finish line area and we’d picked up all the required post-race snacks, I got a text from him to ask how I’d done and how I was feeling.

As my post-race recovery of a bath followed by brunch took place, we toyed around with the idea of meeting in the afternoon, but he then said that he’d rather do a night date so suggested we meet for drinks after my dinner.

Now two things about that: 1) a guy who “would rather do a night date” instantly makes me think that they’re in it for sex and they don’t think it’s as easy to get to sex on a date if it’s a middle of the day date. Little do they know me, I’d far rather have sex at any other time of the day than at night. 2) given that we’d both had a pretty early start and a fairly busy morning, there was a high chance that by the time I’d had dinner I’d be ready for nothing but my bed. Alone.

I should also note that by this stage in our messaging, he’d started to make more comments about my bed, following on from what I’d told him in the morning about it being massive. Coupled with his insistence that my muscles must really need a good massage and low and behold he had great massage skills, they were cheeky, flirty comments which for the most part I laughed at but didn’t entertain.

By 6pm, even getting myself up after my post-race, afternoon nap was a struggle and I had a feeling that by the time I’d stuffed myself with food I wasn’t likely to be feeling much more spritely. Alas, halfway through dinner he texted to confirm we were still on for drinks and made a plan where to meet based on where we were having dinner.

The friends I was with thought it was hysterical that I had arranged a date while only in the village for two nights and were especially excited when the date plan was that he’d come by the bar we were now in and we’d then walk somewhere else for drinks. I wasn’t sure why we couldn’t just meet there. I had Google maps.

So that was the first thing that kind of irked me, as well as the time it had taken to actually get to that plan. But he duly turned up outside the bar I was in, although thankfully stood just out of the line of sight of my friends so they couldn’t gawk too wildly.

Mercifully he looked like his pics, however, everything from that point was just a bit… blah. He’d brought his bike, presumably the same bike I’d seen him on during the race that morning, so, while we walked to the bar we were headed for, he walked with his bike. Now, if you’ve ever walked with a bike or walked with someone with a bike, you’ll know it can be awkward as hell. And this most definitely was. Add to that the fact that when we got to the bar we then had to find suitable bike parking and, to be honest, it just wasn’t the sexiest thing I’d ever encountered.

Once inside the kinda weird bar (there’s a tonne in Whistler, I didn’t know why he chose this one), he didn’t know what he wanted to drink. Oh god, I could feel my spikiness rising. Then, as I was telling him how tired I was, he told me I had no reason to be tired as I’d had an afternoon nap. Um, hey, Mr, you don’t get to decide if I’m tired or not. Again, the spikiness in me rose.

Given that by the time he’d decided what he was going to have to drink I’d almost finished my first gin, I ordered a second just to make sure I wasn’t sat there empty handed, though I was already thinking about leaving. But then he ordered a second and I could feel the will to live start to slip away from me.

The chats were fine, he was nice enough and hearing about his teaching and photography was interesting, but we were very different people. Apparently he didn’t go anywhere without that (damn) bike and never went to the city. He also apparently couldn’t take a hint that I was tired regardless of the number of times I yawned.

Thankfully the barmaid then came round and told us it was last call – I could have kissed her, I was so happy for the get out of jail card. Especially when he asked for the bill to be separate so we each paid our own way – again the paying on a date debate requires it’s own blog post, but that’s for another day.

I figured he would have caught onto the fact that a) there wasn’t really a connection and b) I was hella tired. Turns out, he’d caught onto neither so as we were leaving the bar he started to throw out suggestions as to where we could go next. When I politely declined, he started to do that reverse psychology thing of telling me what a fun night I was going to miss out on, not realising that a private show with The Killers wasn’t even likely to make me stay out at this point. Ok, I lie, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Brandon Flowers.

Just as I was saying that I’d had fun (why did I feel the need to lie about that?) but I was really tired, as we were stepping out of the bar, I realised why he’d chosen that bar – it was right opposite my hotel. So he took it as the perfect opportunity to say “ok, why don’t we just go to the liquor store and go back to your room?”

Wow. Just wow… People’s inability to read a situation is flabbergasting at times. Take a hint. Know your audience. Sense the tone. I WANT TO GO TO BED. ALONE.

After many more insistencies from me that I really was tired and I really did just want to go to bed (ALONE!), but I really had had a good time (why must we stroke the male ego simply to be allowed to do what it is we want to do?), he reluctantly started to unlock his bike from the bike rack. Then he stopped.  Was I really sure I didn’t want just one more drink? Was I sure I didn’t want him to come back to my room with me? Didn’t I want a massage? And couldn’t that big bed use a second person?

Oh good God. By this point I was done being nice. I cut him off, told him I was going and momentarily was concerned that he knew which hotel I was staying in and with it’s proximity to where we were standing, him following me wouldn’t be that difficult. Thankfully he didn’t go full batshit crazy and do that but as I was in elevator up to my room my phone buzzed and it was him. Just checking (AGAIN!) that I didn’t want another drink because I was going to regret it.

I decided to ignore it, until just as I was closing the door (and firmly double locking it) my phone rang. Of course, it was him. I answered it mostly to make the noise stop, I can never find the silent switch when a call is incoming – why is that?!

There was yet more protestations on his part that I would regret it and I’d made a poor choice., and that he was still downstairs if I’d changed my mind. At this point I just laughed. The fact that he thought there was any chance of me going back on my decision and either inviting him up or heading downstairs to meet him again, was laughable. I was already in my pjs as I listened to his sales pitch on loudspeaker.

But I was done with the entertainment of someone trying to sell themself, it was now starting to get a little degrading, on his part, so I once again cut it off and told him I was turning my phone off and going to sleep. By this time he was pretty pissed off about it and wasn’t doing a good job of hiding it. I don’t think I could have cared less.

The next morning, after a blissful sleep in my massive bed all by myself, I woke up to more texts from him. All bemoaning my choice and telling me I’d missed out on a “night of fun” and that he could have really shown me a good time. Jesus, I hope he was drunk when he sent those.

I’d definitely made the right choice but all I could think was, I wonder what he must be like as a teacher? Was he that insistent? Did he make it that difficult when a student wanted to leave the classroom? It must be a bloody nightmare if you were desperate for a pee…

Next post…

…previous post

Please Remove The Bullet – Part 2 of 2

I never thought going back would be easy, but I could never have imagined how much it would tax me. To live everyday second guessing what your partner is telling you, trying to determine if they’re lying, looking for telltale signs of the behaviour repeating itself. Meanwhile dealing with the fallout of friends who think you made a mistake by going back, or had so vociferously made their feelings clear when you were separated that now they can’t backtrack the things they said about the man you’re giving it another go with.

We went to couples counselling, well, mostly I went. I think he joined for two sessions. I was familiar with counselling already, having gone after my parents divorce and then seeing a life coach before I got married. I’m not sure how much this particular instance helped but I felt I had to go because it was the right thing to do?

It took around six months for me to stop checking his phone. I did it almost daily for the first few months, and then slowly weaned myself off. I sometimes think I shouldn’t have gone back if I couldn’t not check his phone but it seemed like the minimum viable action to allow me to be present in the marriage but to also feel a tiny bit of peace.

And peace wasn’t something that was easy to come by. My brain and my thoughts and my dreams ran wild. I was in a constant state of turmoil, feeling like I wasn’t trying hard enough to make it work, not appreciating enough that he had seemingly changed, not fully feeling like myself. I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel like her again. In fact, I’m not sure I knew who she was by this stage.

We went to Vegas with some family for his 30th birthday in the March, ten months after the whole sorry mess had come out, 11 months after we got married. My aunt commented while on the trip that it was the most relaxed she’d seen both of us in a long time and it definitely felt like a bit of a line in the sand for us.

Then in the April we were in Portugal to celebrate his parent’s (some important coloured) wedding anniversary. It fell right around the time of our first wedding anniversary and so we didn’t get to properly celebrate our anniversary which actually felt like a bit of a relief to me, I didn’t know if the first year of our marriage was worth celebrating. Sure we’d made it but at what cost?

Instead we moved through spring, past the May date that was ingrained in my head from the year before, hoping there would be no random, unprovoked argument that led to a night of horrors. Thankfully not.

The only thing for me to deal with was a hospital procedure for an abnormal smear result that had come back. Hospital visits had never been something I’d experienced in the past, pretty much since I’d left the hospital as a baby I’d had no reason to return. Yet since I’d been married I had been to hospital twice. Can we say omen?

I’d been warned that after the procedure I would potentially not feel great and may experience some pain – both of which turned out to be true, not least because my body does not deal well with anesthesia. I’d been told I wouldn’t be able to drive and probably shouldn’t go to work and I was glad for the day off. But as I lay still snoozing in bed at the time I would normally be up and in the shower and instead was listening to my husband in the shower earlier than his usual allotted time because I wasn’t going first, his phone pinged with a message.

As I had finally grown able to do, I ignored it and didn’t instantly jump to any stomach churning conclusions. But as it did the usual iPhone second ping to remind you there’s a message, I suddenly thought that it might be one of the guys from his work. He managed a removal company and if one of the workers was texting to say they couldn’t make it in or there was a problem with one of the trucks then I knew my husband would want to know sooner rather than later, as that sort of stuff could really fuck up his days.

There’s something ironic in the fact that I only looked at his phone to make sure his day wasn’t going to be fucked up and instead it fully fucked up, not just my day, but my life. Again. Damn that motherfucking phone.

Opening up a text that came from a name that could have been male or female alongside the name of his company, making me instantly think it was a work text and so continuing to open it I was faced with a picture of a women’s backside in a thong.

Just staring back at me. At 7am in the morning. Some women’s half naked arse. On my husband’s phone.

I put the phone down, rolled back over and pulled the covers over my head. I couldn’t bear to deal with it. I almost, for a split second, thought about ignoring it. I was in so much physical pain already that the thought of dealing with something that I knew already had no good outcome was really past what I was feeling up to at that precise moment in time.

Instead I waited until he was almost dressed, then half sat up in bed and said “you got a text message while you were in the shower, I checked it because I thought it might have been about work, it wasn’t, it was a girls arse, I can’t do this.”

With panic flashing across his face he picked up his phone to look and then instantly tried to excuse it away as a joke from one of the guys. But I knew all the guys he worked with and I’d never heard that name before. Then he tried to tell me it was a contact he met through work and they’d obviously sent it to the wrong number. He told me I was being ridiculous if I thought a girl would just send a photo like that to him at that time on a Thursday morning.

Again, gaslighting in full effect. With no one around to validate you and the person you love more than anyone in the world standing over you telling you you’re wrong and have made a mistake, it’s hard not to start to doubt yourself. It’s funny what the brain can do to you, even as the memory of a lace thong is still burning a hole in your eyes.

But I really didn’t have the energy to fight him on it. I told him “ok, just go to work” and I could see he didn’t trust that it was ok or that in anyway was I accepting of what he was telling me. But I just wanted him out the house. I wanted to not have to deal with it. He finally left for work, promising to come back at lunchtime. As I heard the car drive away, I called my Mum and had her come over from work and pick me and a few suitcase up.

For the second time in 14 months of marriage, I was back living at my Mum’s.

This time, I told even fewer people. I couldn’t bear the questions. The judgement. The pity. I couldn’t stand having to dissect my marriage all over again. And so I kept going to work, I avoided most social situations and instead hibernated at my Mum’s, while she wondered how on earth her daughter was going to navigate this.

The second time felt more cut and dry. All I had to go on was one picture. I didn’t have all the mounting evidence of the first time, I hadn’t seen anything else. I hadn’t witnessed any other inappropriate behaviour and his constant denials and rebuttals that it had been in anyway what I thought really made me question myself.

I moved out, he kept telling me I was wrong, didn’t give me space, begged me to go back. And while not motivated by my vows so much, this time, I couldn’t fathom not going back due to mostly logistical reasons – negative equity on our house, credit card debt, weddings we were already booked to attend later in the summer. So because of stupid financial, travel, RSVP reasons I returned to my cheating husband for a second time.

And in that moment, I knew that as much as I was being judged by others for my choice, no one was judging me more harshly than I was myself. In that decision, I lost respect for myself.

What had I become?

I moved back in sometime in August, and at first it wasn’t too bad. I felt numbed by so much of it, I compartmentalised a lot of what had happened and instead tried to focus on something, anything else. But I was different. I was incredibly tightly wound, I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t enjoy anything. Life became more and more joy-less. Where I once found joy, I would often find tears. Escaping a room full of friends laughing, I would tuck myself away in a bathroom and allow myself to silently weep. For what? I wasn’t sure.

I continued, mostly in silence for around six months, but into the new year I started to notice that the anxiety which had been rising within me was becoming unavoidable. I’ve written about it in a previous post, but that feeling of the wind being physically taken from you when you think about this being the rest of your life. The startling realisation that this “normal” could be your only “normal” for years to come was literally breathtaking to me. And not in a good way. That was happening more and more often. I had started to have panic attacks in the shower before work. I would scream tears but no noise would come. I would fold into the corner of my shower, feeling trapped in a life that I had a thought would be my forever. I needed to be rescued and I couldn’t make a sound.

By the beginning of summer, I realised I had to get help. Paranoia was driving me crazy. And I truly mean that. I was so convinced that he was still doing things behind my back that I had begun to try and catch him out. I would feign being sick at work so I could go home and be there at lunchtime to see if he came back to the house. I would make the bed a certain way, with something specifically placed in a way I’d remember to see if it had been moved when I came home from work, so I’d know if he’d been in bed with someone else. And I started sniffing the seat belt in his car every time I got in. I told you, crazy! But hear me out…

The seat belt was the thing that gave my Dad’s cheating away. I remember he picked me up from school one day, which was an unusual occurrence, and I happened to smell the seat belt as I was pulling it across myself to put it on. And it was a perfume scent I’d never smelled before. In all fairness, it was lovely, but it wasn’t any of the perfumes my Mum wore. And I remember thinking to myself, for the seat belt to smell that strongly of a fragrance, the person wearing it must have been in the car a lot. Long story short, seat belts can be the downfall of a cheater.

Mostly my husband’s passenger seat belt smelled of me but it didn’t stop me having a quick sniff every time as I got in. And with every lunchtime stakeout, precision bed making or seat belt whiff, I was slowly losing my mind. It was absolutely the start of what could have easily ended up in certifiable insanity. I can entirely understand how people go there.

After one particularly tough morning when I wasn’t even sure I could get into work, I texted my Mum and asked if we could meet for coffee. Our offices were near each other and there was a perfectly placed Starbucks in the middle.

Sitting with our coffees at a little corner table, I explained to her how bad things were, the panic attacks, the resignation to a joyless marriage, the anxiety, and she was, naturally, shocked. Everyone thought we were doing so much better and in some respects I’m glad we’d managed to create that facade, I didn’t like the thought of people having to go through this with us. But I realised that it did however mean that if/when I told people about the reality, they were likely to be incredibly surprised.

I told her that when we were in the supermarket I wanted to wring his neck, for no apparent reason. I explained that I had begun to flinch when he wanted to have sex, that it felt like a stranger. And I noted that unlike in the beginning, I no longer felt safe in his arms. It was that last part that I was finding hardest to deal with. I longed to feel secure, protected, safe.

My Mum, having gone through a tumultuous marriage and, possibly, even more horrific divorce with my father, was well placed to offer good advice, which she did. She suggested I set myself a time frame. Be it two months, ten months, whatever I felt comfortable with. And in that time, to really be aware of what was causing me to feel the way I was. Was it solely what had happened in the past, or was it other external factors, that would usually just amount to a bad day.

While she knew I’d obviously been trying like a motherfucker to make it work, she wanted me to be sure that I’d done everything I could before I called time. But she was emphatic that if I knew I’d done that and I was still feeling this way, then I had to walk away, for my own sanity. I was aware that her having to say those words to me were hard. I know she believes in the sanctity of marriage, despite her divorce, and I know she would have have done anything for us to be able to work things out and stay together, she loved both of us even after all he’d done. But her concern, ultimately, was for me.

In my head I gave myself six months. It would take us to November and I hoped that for the first time since we’d been married we could at least make it through the summer, given that the first year shit had blown up in May and in the second year it had been June.

As chance would have it, summer wasn’t to be our favourite season and on the last day of July we returned home from a weekend away with friends. Having taken the Monday off because I wasn’t sure how late we’d be home, I wasn’t in any rush to get to bed. But he needed to be at work in the morning so while he unpacked, I settled onto the sofa with our laptop to go online, having been on an island off the west coast of Scotland for the past 3 nights.

Opening the web browser, I saw an unfamiliar login screen. To an MSN account. With an email address pre-populated in the login field. It was a nickname of his (that I’d always hated) from university. Wondering why he had an email address I didn’t know about, I called him through from the bedroom to ask him about it.

Had he come through and just admitted it was his email address, I don’t know how things might have ended up. However the story he tried to spin me was… incredulous. Initially, he said he knew nothing about the email address. Then he finally (we’re talking five, ten minutes here) admitted that he had previously had that email address but he hadn’t used it since university. When I pressed him as to how it had then ended up on a login screen on our laptop he proceeded to tell me that someone must have logged into it from our computer.

When I feigned shock that he was suggesting someone had broken into our house and we should call the police, as if I was believing a single fucking lie that was coming out of his mouth, he then offered that what must have happened was someone logged onto our wifi, then hacked into our laptop which was connected to the wifi, and finally password hacked the login to an msn email address he used to have at university.

Did he hear himself? Did he genuinely think I was going to believe a single word of that? Even if I hadn’t been working in the tech industry by this stage, I’m hopeful I still would have been aware that it was a big pile of stinking bullshit.

But that was his story and he stuck by it. In fact, he still sticks by it today. It’s fascinating to me.

I gave him every opportunity to provide the true story, to backtrack on what he’d just told me with no repercussions, if he would just tell the truth. But no, he was adamant. Deny, deny, deny. To the point that he stormed out the flat after about an hour of relentless back and forth, apparently hurt by the accusations I was levelling at him.

While he was out I made myself busy hacking into the email account that he insisted he didn’t know about, until he remembered, but definitely didn’t remember the password. I went through all the security questions, had to track down the backup email account, get that reset because it was an old email he definitely didn’t have anymore, reset the security questions and, not long after he’d returned to the apartment, finally I was in.

I didn’t say anything to him about the extreme password reset skills I’d just discovered I possessed and instead gave him one last opportunity to come clean. I vividly remember looking over the back of the sofa at him and saying “I don’t think you understand how crucial what’s happening right now is going to be to our marriage”. He yet again flat out denied there was anything else he wanted to tell me and took himself to bed.

While he was likely drifting off to sleep, I genuinely don’t think he was lying awake and concerned by what was going on, I started to delve into an online world that felt dark and secret and disgusting.

It wasn’t an email account per se, it was a type of MSN account I’d never seen. I didn’t even know MSN still existed at this stage but it turns out it did and my husband appeared to be a seasoned user. All of his friends on there were female, mostly women with profile pics of them in their underwear. There were also a few names of women I knew. Friends of his sisters, a woman he worked with.

There was so much information and I was taking screenshots and trying to get timestamp clarifications on things so I could put together a timeline. It was saying February, but was I just to presume it was February of that year? What if it was from his university days?

Writing this now, I’m aware it doesn’t fucking matter! Either way, it was fucking shady, he’d clearly lied about something and I didn’t need anymore proof. But for me I wanted to be sure. I wanted to be 100% sure before I effectively blew apart my marriage. For what I knew would absolutely be the last time.

I went from looking at the MSN account to Googling how to do a deep dive on your laptop’s history. I knew you could easily wipe the browsing history but I also knew that it didn’t completely clear it. I spent hours reading all sorts of articles and doing all sorts of things in the depths of my laptop. I was truly on a mission.

As I finally discovered browsing history that confirmed my inclination that he had been coming home at lunchtime, I also discovered that while he maybe hadn’t been coming home to have sex with people (though who knows), he had definitely been coming home to go on this MSN account and had also been partaking in dating sites.

I had a chilling realisation that this didn’t even hurt me. My overriding feeling was actually one of relief. Relief that I had a final reason to walk out, that I had validation that the choice I was about to make was the right one, and that finally I was going to be able to end this on my terms.

I barely slept, and as soon as I heard his car leave the next day, I called my Mum who was already at work. I gave her a brief overview of the previous night’s cyberspace investigation and asked her to ask one of her colleagues who works in IT, that I knew, if there could be any other feasible explanation for what I found. I didn’t even care that the guy must have been like “WTF, why are you pulling me into your family drama?!”

I sent her the details of what I needed to know word for word in a text which she relayed to him, ending with “can there be any other explanation?” Her reply came back “no”.

Trying to make a relationship work after cheating can be like being shot and the bullet being lodged in you. The doctor tells you that you could probably survive. So you try, with the bullet still inside, to heal, you hope it’ll just take time.

But you find that the long term effects of having that bullet lodged in you isn’t something you can live with so you choose to remove it. You know that in the act of removing it you’re going to cause yourself far more short term pain. When that bullet’s pulled out, the vacuum it created is soon going to be flooded with blood, pain and tears, and it could well kill you.

It was that day that I decided to remove the bullet and let the flood come.

 

Next post…

…previous post

In Sickness & In Health & In(fidelity) – Part 1 of 2

The breakdown of my marriage wasn’t the biggest surprise, the biggest surprise was the timescale in which it broke down. Both in its quickness and what, to some people, felt like it’s slow painful death.

While I’ve alluded to my divorce a number of times in previous posts, I’ve never delved into the details too greatly. Partly because I was/am more focused on the present and my life now. But so much of where and who I am now was shaped by that experience that I feel it only makes sense for me to give more of that background that got me to where I am today.

Six weeks – weeks, not months, not years – after our wedding I found out my husband had cheated on me. In numerous fashions. The first being that before we were married he had slept with at least one other person. And that since we were married he had been texting a whole host of females – both known to me/him and strangers from online – with texts that would have been considered inappropriate even if he hadn’t been married.

The way I found out was… a mess. One Friday, not long after we were back from our honeymoon, and while I was still recovering from the gastroenteritis that had landed me in a Mexican hospital on said honeymoon, I got home from work and almost instantly he tried to pick a fight with me. It was so odd, it felt like it could have been a joke. He ended up storming out the house, but not before he’d changed clothes and made plans with his friends all within about five minutes flat. But what guys do you know that make plans that quickly?

Despite the unpleasantness of the whole situation, I was actually glad he was out the house because I was so confused and so it gave me time to figure out if I’d actually just completely lost my mind. This would turn out to be the first real example of gaslighting I can put my finger on.

[Gaslighting – to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.]

I didn’t hear from him all night, until he finally came stumbling in the door at around 4am. Now, I’d seen him drunk before – neither of us had ever held back in our drinking around each other, which wasn’t always the healthiest thing for our relationship – but this was next level drunk. This was incoherent, couldn’t see, couldn’t undress himself, drunk. I let him sleep on the sofa until I gave up on sleep so moved him into the bedroom so I could go into the living room.  After I moved his dead weight of a body to the bed, I undressed him and as I did so his phone fell out his jeans pocket.

I had never checked his phone before, the thought had never even entered my head, was simply never in my consciousness. Until now. His phone lay on the bedroom carpet staring up at me. I looked over at him, dead to the world and there was just something, a feeling I couldn’t explain, something felt different, something didn’t feel “right”.

So for a reason that can only be explained as gut intuition, I picked up the phone and took it with me through to the lounge.

What I didn’t know, or didn’t realise, was that what I would find would lead to the biggest shift in my world that I’d ever experienced. Even more so than when my parents divorced. Things can’t be unseen, truths can’t be untold, hurt can’t always be reversed. What is it they say? Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to?

Regardless of the outcome, I did want the answer. I hate being kept in the dark, I don’t like being made a fool of and if the choice is to know something shitty or don’t know at all, I’ll always go with the know something shitty option. My philosophy is; being blind to something doesn’t make it untrue so you may as well know the truth.

And so, sat on the sofa with the early morning Edinburgh sun (yes we do sometimes get sun in Scotland) streaming into our first floor flat, I delved into his phone and my life was changed forever.

Instantly I read texts to some girl the previous night suggesting that she travel through from Glasgow and he get them a hotel room. It was a back and forth, banterful, sexually charged text exchange which only paused at one point when she wrote “I thought you just got married? lol” and he replied with “Oh yeah, so I did”.

Can we talk about a punch in the gut? Can we talk about a stab in the heart? Can we talk about a pain you never thought words staring back at you could cause? There is no way to describe the hurt.

Over the course of the next few days I discovered about the texting and I had someone confirm they’d slept with him before we were married and they were still regularly in touch. In fact I’d only found out about that one when she sent through a very weird photo when I opportunely had his phone. Despite the number being saved under a guys name, I played along, replied as if I was him and then did the bait and switch and told her it was his wife.

He denied it all, told me none of it was true, until I would present him with yet more evidence in black and white at which point he would eventually admit it. But none of it was information he gave up easily. He made me work for every single confirmation – I had to go digging through months of texts, I had to keep his phone & text people as if I were him, I had to offer up suggestions of people he might have inappropriately texted before he would ever admit it.

And so, before the wedding photos had been seen, the wedding gift list delivery had arrived or the thank you cards had even been sent I was questioning whether I could stay married to my husband. It hit me like a train.

I moved to my Mum’s, gathered my best friends around, those same girls who had stood by me at the alter just seven weeks before, and told them what had happened. People rallied, work were understanding, he was desperately sorry, inconsolable almost. And me? I was numb. I could not understand how this was my life. How this had happened. How I could have married someone that would do that. And how I married someone that I didn’t know.

But I took my vows seriously. When my great-uncle had married us, in that cathedral in front of 131 guests, I had meant every word. Testing the strength of those vows so soon was never something I could have foreseen. But here we were and I had a decision to make. I made the decision that I personally felt was to do the only thing I felt I could do – stay and try to make it work.

The biggest difficulty I had with my decision was that in my naive days, before all of this, the days before I truly understood the depths of commitment and the extremes of life, I had always said if someone were to cheat on me there wouldn’t even be a conversation to be had, it would be over before the conversation began. I mostly said that in thinking about my parents marriage and how my mother put up with my father’s infidelity for so much of their marriage. Little did I know then that it wasn’t as simple as black or white, in or out, stay or go.

Context, feelings, emotions, logistics – they are all things that made that decision far more difficult, so much more complex and far more of a head fuck than I had ever anticipated back when I thought a cheating partner would automatically mean the end of a relationship.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Esther Perel’s ‘Where Should We Begin’ podcast recently and if you haven’t heard it, imagine being a fly on the wall at a couple’s counselling session where nothing is censored, emotions are raw and the complications of people, and relationships, and past experiences are laid bare for you to hear. It’s a brutal, often triggering, but beautiful listen.

A number of those sessions (each episode is a different couple’s session) talk to infidelity and in one of the sessions Esther says “the old shame used to be divorce, the new shame is staying when you can leave” and that smacked me in the face like a wet fish.

It’s a rock and a hard place. There’s still an element of shame tied to divorce (as I explored in this post) but Esther’s correct, there is also now shame with staying in a relationship when you’ve been cheated on. People presume you are weak of character if you choose to stay. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

With time off work for stress, I spent a lot of the weeks living at my Mum’s thinking. Questioning. Disbelieving. Talking. There was a lot of talking with people. Family, friends, work colleagues. I just remember it being turmoil. And I hated living at my Mum’s. Yes, it was comfortable and she was/is always an incredibly welcoming hostess to family or friends, or strangers, but I missed my home. I missed my bed. I missed having all my things. It was just an added layer of shitty-ness in an already shitty situation.

Eventually, lost in a world that was full of people constantly asking me how I was doing, of not knowing if I’d be able to move when I woke up in the morning because stress was taking over my body, of dreams so tormenting that proper rest was a long lost memory, of sleeping in my childhood bed but it feeling alien and unwelcoming, of people thinking they had answers for me, of me not being sure I’d ever have the answer to anything ever again, I made the decision.

My vows, my marriage, my husband deserved work. And I needed to know I’d done everything I could to live up to my vows. Mama didn’t raise no quitter and, for me, I knew going back was the right thing to do.

 

Next post…

…previous post

Accepting Defeat

It had been a rocky start to the year – with the end of Filipeen, the mess with Malaysian Persuasion and then the… I don’t even know what with English Kiwi Naval Officer. I wasn’t loving the end to what had otherwise been an incredible year of getting back into dating and fully feeling empowered and in charge of myself again. 32 had been a great year, 33 started off with a tumble of emotions experienced as if I was in a spin cycle. I didn’t love it.

I had to accept that finding someone didn’t just take me getting back into dating. It was going to take a lot more. It was going to take numerous first dates. It was going to take multiple messy situations. It would take a whole lot of tears and an equal amount of fear. I had been naive to think the only barrier to me meeting someone was dating. But when I say meeting “someone” I mean meeting someone right for me. And I was starting to realise that wasn’t as easy as I’d maybe originally thought. Who the hell said it takes just one?! So far it had taken me 32 first dates and I didn’t feel anywhere close.

Reminding myself to try and stay positive, to take the lessons from each of these first dates, from all of these new people I met, from every mess of a situation, was a daily task. I didn’t want to be that woman who lamented being single and how shit dating was but… mother of all that is holy in this world – it is an absolute nightmare sometimes.

I accepted that maybe I was getting too wound up in meeting someone, putting too much pressure on that. Maybe I needed to have more fun? Summer was coming up and if ever there was a more perfect time for having fun I didn’t know when that was. I was also getting to a place now that actually the thought of getting hurt again, of being disappointed again, of having to put up with shit for it to turn into nothing was… not that appealing. Had it been before? No. But it clearly had been palatable because it was what I’d been putting up with. Ugh.

After the multi-dating, which albeit hadn’t ended that well, I was definitely now able to see an option of dating for fun, having sex for fun, not looking at any of these first dates as potential long term partners but always being open to it if it were to happen. And, more importantly, not being disappointed if it didn’t.

It also felt easier to say “I’m not really looking for anything long term just now” when people asked – be it friends, or dates. Why is there a stigma attached to someone saying they are looking for something long term? Why does that seem to mostly invoke a response of pity, from friends, or fear, from dates?

I knew it was a form of self-protection – if I didn’t say I was looking for long term then I couldn’t be disappointed when it didn’t end up there. Casually hooking up with someone should, in theory, have less chance of causing hurt or upset. Maybe I had to accept that looking for, and actually finding, a long term relationship wasn’t where I was at that time? Maybe I would never be there…. Wait what?!

That thought scared me. More than I think it should have. More than I like to admit. More than I expected it to. At what point do you have to start being open to the prospect that maybe you have had the one great (albeit lying, cheating) love of your life and you may not find something else? Is that something you ever have to contemplate? God, I hope not, because it makes my heart break all over again to think about it. I can’t imagine it.

And so I don’t. Instead I imagine a fairytale. I remind myself how incredible those first weeks, months, years of being in love are. How it feels when someone absolutely seems to complete you. How loving and being loved are two of the most powerful emotions you will ever experience. And I know they’ll come again. I know they’re meant for me again in the future. I just don’t know when.

So for now I accept defeat in thinking all it was going to take was for me to start dating again. But I don’t accept defeat in knowing it will happen.

 

Next post…

…previous post

Gone Fishing… Catfishing

May-2017

Trusting your gut is all well and good but how do you employ that strategy when the very nature of dating, particularly online dating, is that of having to take things at face value? Where does blind faith stop and healthy suspicion take over? When should you trust and when should you question? In other words, how do you know when you’re being catfished?

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances – so says Urban Dictionary. It can also be a verb.

I’ve had a few instances of good old catfishing that I’ve caught before it got too far – tinder profiles with pics that just look too polished, too professional. A quick reverse google image search has unearthed the Instagram of a South American actor, and IMDB pics for a Pakistani Bollywood star. Neither of whom are likely to be in Vancouver looking for a tinder hookup. Neither, I’m pretty sure, was the profile using Cristiano Ronaldo’s likeness. Which is unfortunate because I’ve always been a fan of his greasy good looks.

I always wonder at what point these guys, if they are even men, think their scam will be foiled? They obviously can’t meet anyone in person, so are they just on there purely to message? Is that enough excitement for them? The phrase “get a life” has never been more apt.

But when someone agrees to meet you in person, you presume the likelihood of being catfished is null. And so was my feeling when after chatting to a 35 year old English guy who lived in New Zealand and worked for the Kiwi Navy but was coming to Canada for a possible job here.

There were a few random moments, like when he was going out on a ship with the Canadian Navy so wouldn’t be able to text. But maybe, despite all the technologies of today, they don’t have WiFi on naval ships. Shocking. I actually didn’t think I’d hear from him again after that so when he messaged me once he was back on dry land, I was pleasantly surprised.

Another source of confusion was that he had a Canadian phone number, which I thought odd considering he was hardly here for anytime & most of that he was without the ability to use it on a ship. He also claimed to have never been on Tinder before this trip, which I’m always sceptical about – it’s always everyone’s first time… apparently.

So English Kiwi Naval Officer was flying into Vancouver for the weekend at the end of his… trip? Sailing? Cruise? Whatever they call it…, arriving on a Friday night. He’d likely be coming back for a second visit in a couple of months time for a follow up on this job so I liked that it wasn’t a definitive one & done situation. And in fact could be a lot more if the job came to fruition.

We were going to meet for a drink once he’d checked into his hotel which it turned out was on the opposite side of my city block. As I was sat having an after work drink with girlfriends before I met him & relayed the details to them, they suggested I ask for a selfie, given that the story did just seem a little random. When he messaged to tell me he’d landed, I dutifully asked, more to placate them than anything. Unfortunately, his response only caused to give me concern that I hadn’t necessarily been feeling before.

He made some excuse about how he couldn’t send a pic because his phone didn’t have data enabled, and it was a work phone, and he’d send one when he had WiFi. But we all know airports have free WiFi so something didn’t quite add up…

Nevertheless we persevered because where would be the fun otherwise? And so at 8pm I walked the 50 seconds from building to the entrance of his hotel & there he was. Exactly like his profile photos, the picture of an English gent, with a relieved look on his face.

“I don’t know why I thought you were going to stand me up” were his first words to me as he came towards me with a hug.

A few drinks later at a nearby courtyard bar, while we enjoyed a warm May evening, he reiterated that it was his first time using any dating apps, thanks to his friends encouragement, and they’d warned him that people on apps can often be flakey so he should be prepared for some disappointments. Hence his opening line to me.

He definitely seemed a little green around the edges. He was maybe well versed in naval war strategy but the ways of modern dating? Not so much.

So it was all going swimmingly (does that count as a naval pun if technically they’re on a ship and not meant to be swimming?) until he was telling a story, referencing himself in the third person and used a different name for himself than that which I had known him as up until that point. English Kiwi Naval officer was obviously not all that he seemed.

He caught himself right away and tried to explain it away that it had also been suggested to him by friends that he should use a different name “for work purposes”. I mean, clearly naval strategy is fairly sensitive information but I wasn’t sure those on enemy lines were going to be scouring tinder to source state secrets.

I told him that I knew people sometimes would use another name but generally they would give their real name once they’d met someone in person, once the threat of enemy spies had been cleared, you know? Or maybe he still thought I looked like I was after his classified documents?

He laughed, I laughed, it was laughed off and I didn’t question it further. It was stupid and seemed weird but I let it go. There was something about him that seemed suitably unassuming and naive, or at least that’s what I was choosing to believe.

With the name slip up behind us, we had a really fun night. We had a lot to talk about having both moved away from the UK, we both liked sports, we both kept ourselves in pretty good shape and I enjoyed telling him about Vancouver, particularly when he could be moving here in a month or so.

From the first bar we went to another where we ended up drinking an obscene amount of gin. He was a big gin fan too and when the bar turned out to have a crazy good gin selection we jointly decided to work our way through it.

Throughout the night he was very complimentary, although the “I don’t know how you’re still single” line doesn’t always sit totally well with me. Despite that, it wasn’t the worst thing to have drinks bought for me all night by an attractive man who had definitely awoken a new interest in men in uniform within me. While I was envisaging him in his navy whites (do all navies wear white? In my mind they do so let’s go with it) he had leaned in for a couple of kisses while we were sat at the bar and there had been some suggestive hand, arm and leg touching. The name slip had long been forgotten.

We stayed at the bar until it closed around 1am and then slowly walked back towards my apartment / his hotel. I knew I wasn’t going to invite him up – it didn’t seem “necessary”. As in, despite him only being in the city for another day and a half, we had already spoken so much about when he came back on his next trip that I wasn’t in any hurry to rush things with him. And so instead he kissed me goodnight at the corner of my building and it was a really really nice kiss. A car full of guys passed as he lent in and were hollering at us but I’m not even sure he noticed. I said goodnight and turned to walk away but I was only a couple of steps away from him when he said “can you come back please?” It was so polite and serious and in his proper English accent, I kind of got a surprise. Turns out he just wanted to kiss me again and said my lips were incredible. In fact he kept going on about my mouth… It wasn’t the worst thing to hear.

As I was climbing into bed he texted me a very sweet goodnight text “Thank you for a great night. You looked absolutely incredible and I really enjoyed ‘you’ x” It was maybe the single sweetest post-date message I’d ever received. And he used grammar! We texted a little and then fall asleep.

The next day was my birthday beach day with all my friends. It had been my birthday earlier in the week (yes, the messy night that ended with tearful chats with Malaysian Persuasion) and I was celebrating it in the sunshine with a tonne of friends, snacks and booze. I had lightly invited him, in a “it’s a big group, it’s super chill, if you don’t mind some slight ribbing you’ll be fine” kind of a way. He’d said he wasn’t sure, he’d wanted to go and do some sightseeing, but would let me know. We agreed that if he didn’t come to the beach we’d do something at night anyway, provided a Saturday of sun and day drinking didn’t wipe me out.

As it turned out, he couldn’t wait until the beach or the evening, so around 8am was texting me pretty flirty and suggestive messages from his hotel room – which would have been about 200m away from where I was, also lying in bed. He said he regretted not suggesting we hung out longer the night before, which I took to mean he regretted not suggesting we hookup, given that at 1.30am there’s not a lot of other hanging out you can do?!

After an hour or so of texting, it seemed that just a hint of an invitation was all that English Kiwi Naval Officer needed to jump out of bed and be at mine in less than 5 minutes. I had already started getting ready for my beach day so was in a bikini and not a lot else. It seemed mildly inappropriate to welcome him into my home for the first time wearing so little but nothing that happened within the next 30 minutes, before I was due to be picked up by friends for pre-beach brunch, was appropriate. In the best kind of way.

All the while he still kept up an impeccable level of manners and etiquette, seemingly never wanting to overstep a boundary or go too fast. As a result, full sex was never had and in fact I barely did anything at all. It was mostly him, giving those 25 year olds a run for their money in terms of generosity in the bedroom. To say I had a lazy Saturday morning is an understatement.

When my friends texted to say they were downstairs I had a pep in my step and maybe just a little bit of bed head…

While I was enjoying a day of brilliant sunshine, incredible time with friends and some of the best Pinterest inspired boozy beach snacks I could have imagined, English Kiwi Naval Officer (yah, this nickname doesn’t roll off the tongue so much) was enjoying the delights of Vancouver by bike. He declined the invite to join the beach celebration and instead we planned for drinks later in the evening, though he kept in touch most of the day with sweet messages about how much he was looking forward to seeing me and had been thinking about our morning rendezvous a lot.

That night, the copious amounts of sun and frozen gin lemonade pouches (look them up on Pinterest) made me not good for a whole lot so instead of going out, I suggested he come over to mine for some drinks. Showering was about all I was able to manage, though it was mostly tiredness from all the fresh air and fun, so thankfully he agreed and around 9pm he arrived at my door. I was wearing more than just a bikini this time, which he was mildly disappointed by.

We had a gin each and just chatted for a while on the sofa. It’s a very candid conversation, a lot more sexually orientated after the morning’s activities, and I really enjoyed finding out more about him. We chatted relationships, kids, work, his hate of football, our want to do whatever we desire in life, sexual preferences – it’s pretty wide ranging. And we did a pretty good job of keeping ourselves off each other, until I was getting us each a whisky and he came up behind me at the kitchen counter… Things got a little heated and there was something about him that I just found incredibly sexual. Maybe it’s the navy thing, maybe it’s his age or that he’s English, I don’t know. But he just seemed like… a proper man?!

We had a fun night, chatting and starting to fool around more and then move into the bedroom. It felt super easy and safe. But it started to get late and I was exhausted. We hadn’t had full sex so I suggested he stayed over and middle of the night or morning might change that. He seemed to think about it for a while, as we were both yawning and eventually he decided to go back to his hotel. I mean it’s on the same block so I guess it made sense? He left saying he would be back first thing in the morning to bring me coffee, the joke being that I don’t drink coffee. So he left and I went to sleep looking forward to what tomorrow will bring. Or as he rightly pointed out, when he was texting from back in his room, today – i was now after 3am.

I slept like a log and woke up looking forward to a coffee and maybe a morning walk with a certain English Kiwi Naval Officer, it was a beautiful morning. Instead, I heard… radio silence. I figured we both could do with our sleep though, so stayed in bed a little longer and waited. But it was too nice a day to stay indoors, so around 10am I got up and went for a walk and waited. Knowing all the while that he was leaving for his flight around 2pm and so we were kind of on a timer.

But something was starting to feel very uneasy with me. All the little things that by themselves could maybe be explained away, when I replayed them back in my head, started to pile up into a big, questionable WTF. Him being incommunicado while he was on the ship, not being able to send me a pic from the airport, giving me a false name, not wanting to sleep with me or stay over but doing everything else, as if somehow staying over and having sex crossed some line he was trying to avoid? And now, essentially disappearing on me.

I decided to text him – if we haven’t learnt it by now, know that I do not like loose ends. They don’t sit well with me. I want them tied up and dealt with. He actually did respond with some story about how he overslept then went for a run and twisted his ankle and was now in a rush to get packed and checkout of the hotel.

Knowing how close he was staying to me, it wouldn’t have been an obscene suggestion if he offered a plan of meeting for something to eat before he headed to the airport. Instead nothing. In fact I heard nothing again until he was at the airport, when he then went to the other extreme and was texting me a tonne of stuff about how he was sorry he fucked up the morning, he’d really wanted to see me, I was the best part of his trip, he already couldn’t wait to get back to see me again, he was excited to tell his friends at home about me and he would be in touch as soon as he touched down in Auckland.

Those texts were coming right up until he boarded the plane. And then…. Nothing. I figured out roughly when he’d be landing in New Zealand… Nothing. I figured it might be a couple of days before he was caught up on work and sleep… Nothing.

As the days passed, I was playing the weekend over and over in my head and started to think I had made a judge error in judgement. The gut feeling that had deserted me for the previous couple of days was now in full force like a heavy meal sitting in the pit of your stomach. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the person I thought I’d been getting to know was not a person at all but a facade of someone he’d wanted to portray. How did I know any of it was real? How did I know he even worked for the navy? Ok well I’d seen a pic of him in a naval uniform which a quick google search confirmed was a legit NZ Navy uniform. But how did I know he was here for a potential job move? How did I know he wasn’t here with a wife and two kids tucked up in his hotel? How did I know he even left back to New Zealand?

I didn’t. I don’t. A year later, I still don’t have the answer to any of those questions and for a long time afterwards, every time I walked past the corner of the hotel he stayed at I felt physically sick. Sick that I’d maybe been made a fool of. Sick at the thought of maybe bumping into him there again. Sick that people can be so callous with another person’s feelings and time.

I had taken things at face value but my gut was now definitely telling me all was not what it seemed, though I won’t ever know the true extent of the catfishing expedition. And maybe that’s best.

Next post…

…previous post

That Age Old Question

Apr-2018

As if age hadn’t been a hot topic after the Billy The Kid incident, after dating two 25 year old’s – yes at the same time, though both in varying degrees of seriousness – it was once again at the forefront of my mind. How old is too old and, more importantly in this situation, how young is too young?

While with Frenchie it was incredibly easy, with absolutely no strings attached. Malaysian Persuasion, on the other hand, definitely brought more emotion and, dare I say, immaturity to our situation. And that in and of itself proves that the numbers making up the ages are not the concern. The number of candles on a cake is not the issue. The number of years on this earth is not the thing we should be focused on – it is the person, their motivations, their goals, their maturity (which is not directly correlated to that number) that is where you learn the most.

As I get older, and seemingly the majority of men on dating apps gets younger, the question of age appropriateness is often on my mind. Particularly as a woman. Because, of course, there’s something that makes it that much more shocking when it’s an older woman with a younger guy than an older guy with a younger woman. Oh society… how I abhor your double standards.

Friends, and I myself, have used the term “age appropriate” when talking about people I’ve been dating. And generally that’s applied to anyone a couple of years younger – at 33, it seems 30 and up is acceptable for me to date? – and then any age older. ANY! Why is a 38 year old guy (looking at you Filipeen) so much more appropriate for me to date than someone in their late twenties?

Yes, I know women mature faster and so by dating a younger guy you are potentially dating someone not only 5 years younger in age but 15 years younger in maturity. Ok, I joke, they don’t mature that slowly… But maturity can’t be assumed based on age. For either sex.

When it comes to society’s opinion, I’ve learnt not to care. I know that for me, for whatever reason, I have found more fun and more common ground with men younger than me. So I don’t care anymore, and my friends have learnt that generally when they ask the question of age in regards to someone I’m dating, my answer will start with “he’s twenty…” something. Though they did really draw the line at Billy The Kid, but to be fair, so did I.

The flip side of my comfort level with dating younger though, is how it feels for the younger guy to be dating an older woman. It’s a conversation I’ve had many times and from what I’ve experienced, issues arise because of two main factors…

The first is that there’s a misconception that because I’m a 33 year old woman I must be racing to get married and have babies. But as we all know, I’ve done the first and got the therapy bills to show for it, and I’m not entirely certain how I feel about the second… so rushing to do it? Absolutely not.

Now, yes, there are women who are desperate for those things and, for those women, that desire intensifies with age, particularly as society’s opinions (seriously, who gave society such a loudmouth?) and biology start to close in on us. But to believe that all women are looking for that and that just because your age starts with “thirty…” something means it must be the sole item on your agenda is terribly misinformed.

The second issue, and it’s one I come back to frequently, is that when you’re the younger age, you don’t know what it’s like to be the older age. At 25, I couldn’t have imagined what 33 would be like. It seemed so far away, and serious, and… old! And now, at 33, I remember what 27 felt like because it doesn’t seem all that long ago! And, yes, I’ve grown and yes, things have changed but ultimately I don’t feel that different at 33 than I did at 25. I mean I’m a little more husbandless than I was eight years ago, but same same.

And there is often a fear of the unknown. Particularly when you only consider the age. When it comes to friends of the younger guy – for them, they don’t necessarily know the old 33 year old. They just know she’s 8 years older than their 25 year old mate. They don’t take into consideration that maybe the 33 old is actually still fun and isn’t about to haul their friend down the aisle. Hell, maybe their friend actually has something(s) in common with the old lady – shock horror. But I can understand where the hesitation comes in, as misconceived as it may be.

As long as misplaced hesitation is all it is. If you take age out of the equation and there’s still something there – a connection between two people, an understanding, common interests, an attraction – then I truly don’t think the numbers matter.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you can meet a 25 year old with a tonne of life experience and maturity or you can meet a 38 year old who’s scared of commitment. And both could end up as a tale of woe on your blog so…

Next post…

…previous post

Block, Delete, Repeat – Part 3 of 3

May-2018

When honesty is your only policy and you’re put on the spot by the guy you’re dating asking if you’re sleeping with anyone else, what do you do? Do you decide now is the time to get on the train with people that think lying is better than hurting someone’s feelings? Is now a good time to pretend you’ve lost suddenly your hearing? Would it be best to somehow trigger your building’s fire alarm and get the hell out of dodge?

No. There is never a good time to lie. It doesn’t matter if you’d rather not have to tell the truth, it doesn’t matter if you know the answer isn’t likely to go down well, it doesn’t matter if the reality brings with it an uncomfortable conversation. There is never a good reason to lie. I truly believe that. I also believe you shouldn’t ask questions you aren’t prepared to hear the answers to.

I stuck to my end of the bargain, I answered truthfully. He did not stick to his end of the bargain, he was not prepared to hear my answer.

I said I had been sleeping with someone else, one other person, Frenchie. Well, I didn’t tell him it was Frenchie, that was for your benefit, dear reader. I then thought it might help to qualify the fact I wasn’t actually dating the other guy, I wasn’t going out with him, spending quality time with him. But as soon as that fact was out my mouth I realised I’d possibly just made things worse. There really was no way to dress this up. But as I pointed out to him, we hadn’t had a conversation around this. We’d never said we were exclusive.

Now, for the record, he never clarified whether he had or hadn’t been sleeping with other people as well, but clearly he wasn’t about to launch into that when he was so preoccupied by my admission. He told me he’d presumed I was sleeping with other people, which led me to think he also had, but that hearing it made it much worse. He told me he couldn’t deal with that. That when he slept with someone it meant something, which in fairness he had said to me the first time we’d slept together but I figured that was just a line he used. His feelings seemed genuinely hurt. And I felt like a big ol’ whore.

I told him the fact we hadn’t had the conversation about being exclusive, and that he had said a few times he didn’t know what he wanted meant I didn’t think there was a problem with it. What I couldn’t work out though was why I felt so bad about it… why did I feel like I’d been cheating on him? Why did I feel like I’d done something I shouldn’t have? And why did it make me feel so dirty? I definitely do not like multi player dating.

I told him if he wanted something more to happen between us, then we could do that, see how it worked out. I’d happily stop seeing anyone else. I told him I loved the fun we had together, the sex was the best I’d had and I’d rather have that than anything else.

The conversation only last about ten minutes and he said he had to leave. He needed some time. He had to try and get his head around it. He walked out saying he’d be in touch.

I felt like an absolute bag of shit when he left. Not only did I feel horrible for having caused that reaction but I had been so looking forward to our night together, despite his earlier delay tactics, and I was gutted that I was now left by myself with nothing but my thoughts and my feelings.

I barely slept. The next morning, the Monday holiday when we were supposed to have been having lots of middle of the night and early morning sex, I was awake at 4am and as soon as it was getting light out I went for a run. I needed to clear my head. I kept trying to remind myself I hadn’t done anything wrong. But that he was entitled to need time to get his head around it and decide if he actually did want us to exclusively date.

But how much time? A day? Maybe two? I tried to give him space, but four days later I hadn’t heard from him. And it was my birthday. I went to a park after work with friends and got (un?)necessarily drunk. It was messy. Turning 33 while having all of those feelings wasn’t the best way to start, or end, another year in life.

Despite my best efforts not to drunk dial, I of course did. Because if 33 years on this planet has taught me anything, it’s that I shouldn’t be left alone with my phone when I’m drunk.

Stupidly he answered. It was 10pm on a Thursday night, he should have known to let it go to voicemail. We had a conversation, I told him I just wanted to speak to him, that I thought we should meet to talk about it, that I couldn’t believe he hadn’t been in touch the whole time since Sunday night, how much more time did he need?! 33 year old me wasn’t patient.

He said he agreed we should talk and as I was about to suggest meeting up at the weekend, he said “I’ll come over now.” What?! I was sure he’d said that just to get me off the phone. He knew I was drunk and apparently I kept going silent, I’m sure it was just my signal…, so why then suggest to come over?

Come over he did, and his demeanour was one of someone who did not want to be there. So I was confused as to why on earth he’d come over, at his own suggestion. He told me he couldn’t deal with me sleeping with other people. But he also told me he didn’t want to date me. He said our lives were too different, “the age thing” wouldn’t work. Wow, that’s what you want to hear on your birthday, right?

As it turns out, “the age thing” wasn’t enough for him not to sleep with me again that night. As I was berating him for how he could be so narrow minded as to want his cake and to eat it too, he looked me dead in the eye and said “get in the bedroom.” I’m not going to lie, him taking the lead like that was incredibly sexy. So I duly followed his instruction.

The sex was great, but he left later that night, re-iterating again that we couldn’t date, and basically saying that was it. Over. Done. I was more than a little devastated. He left me as a drunken, birthday mess.

In the following weeks, I tried my hardest to convince him he was wrong. And he wasn’t always 100% convincing in his disagreement to my point. He wavered and at times I thought there was a way around it. Why I couldn’t just accept he was right, I don’t know.

The anxiety I had been left with was surprising. It wasn’t the usual hurt or upset or loneliness I’d feel after things with a guy went tits up. Maybe it was because I felt like I’d come off in a really bad light and I was desperate to change that.

I hoped he still wanted to date. I really liked hanging out with him, he was fun and funny and sweet and there was something quite calming when I was with him. The fact we had never been planning to seriously date had been quite nice, there wasn’t not too much pressure on it. And yet, somehow got to the stage where it just felt way heavier than it ever needed to or ever should have. And as a 25 year old, I’m pretty sure that was the last thing he wanted.

I also knew there were red flags he’d shown that, even if he had still wanted to date, I should consider before deciding still see him. Him going MIA, him not honouring our plans, the fact I feel like he lied about the family dinner he “forgot about”, or even just the fact he made the plans for the family dinner when we’d already made plans for that night. It was pretty shitty behaviour.

As much as I wanted to be easy breezy, I wasn’t going to be treated like shit, no matter how casual the relationship. There’s casual dating and then there’s being walked over. And whether it was because he was 25 or just a bit of a dick, I didn’t know and it didn’t matter, I didn’t want to make it ok for me to be treated like that.

But the anxiety I was feeling was also deeply rooted in the fact that I clearly disappointed him, that he then had this horrible idea of the person I am. And maybe part of me wondered if actually I was that person. Did my casual view at the time of dating and sleeping with multiple people mean that actually he wasn’t wrong if he thought poorly of me? I like to think that I get to make the choice for myself and if I’m ok with it and the people I’m sleeping with know and are ok with it then there’s no harm. But maybe that’s not the case. Maybe dating and sex and relationships (no matter how casual) deserve a little more gravity towards them, deserve to be honoured a bit more. But that only works if both parties feel the same. Frenchie didn’t need that, but seemingly Malaysian Persuasian maybe did?

There was also the fact that of course I wanted him to want me. I just wanted it to go back to the fun, casual, great sex dates we were having before I’d gone on my trip home and things got strained and complicated. I guess I knew leaving for almost a month could have had a detrimental effect but I thought it would be that he’d get bored waiting. Not that all this mess would precede it. You live and learn, I guess.

Eventually I stopped trying to perpetuate conversation. I gave it up. And between the end of May and August our texts were sporadic at best, but every now and again he’d like a photo of mine on instagram, or send me a message, as he had done on Canada Day long weekend. And the conversation would get so far, to him saying he missed me and wanted to see me, but as soon as I’d suggest meeting up, he’d back out, get cold feet, go MIA.

I finally told him he had to either strap on a pair of balls and organise to meet up or he had to leave me alone. I know I could have blocked him on instagram and on text, but it’s not my style. Why? Because I’m a glutton for punishment, maybe? After many, and I mean many rough plans being shelved because he was busy or he “just couldn’t”, we finally made plans to meet on a Sunday afternoon. I was going to a baby shower in the afternoon so we organised an early evening.

We met at a local bar and at first it was a little awkward. General catching up chit chat, work, family, holidays. But after a couple of gins he was back to his flirty and suggestive self. The afternoon progressed to more gins at the bar where we had our first date. And eventually to us buying a bottle of gin and going back to my place. And by that point, there was no difficulty telling where it was going to end up.

Despite the awkwardness at the beginning of the night, there wasn’t a hint of that when we were once again back in my bedroom. It was as great as it had always been. We remembered each other perfectly. It was, again, some of the best sex I’d ever had.

When he left later that night, I didn’t know where things stood. We’d had such a fun night, we had laughed a lot and the spark that had always been there had evidently not died. As he left though he said he’d be in touch, and then I heard… nothing.

How I stopped myself from messaging him I don’t know. In fact, I do, I occupied myself with getting out and dating again. But it was torture. I wanted to call him an asshole. I wanted to ask him what the fuck was going on. I wanted to understand how he could seemingly turn his feelings on and off.

This time I did block him on Instagram, which meant he couldn’t see anything I was doing but, almost more importantly, I couldn’t see anything he was doing. I developed an unhealthy obsession with checking the activity of people I followed so I could see which Instagram model’s posts he was liking that day. And I wanted to weep every time I saw his face pop up in the Instagram Story circle. So I did myself a favour and cut it off. I also deleted his number and deleted the iMessage thread from my phone. And my MacBook. And the WhatsApp chat. Gotta catch them all!

I managed to resist the urge to message him until one fateful night in December. I got drunk – what did I tell you about being left alone with my phone when I’m drunk? Actually technically I wasn’t alone but my girlfriend was on a phone call and I decided to take my chance with no adult supervision. And I know what you’re thinking – but you deleted his number? I did, but drunk me is a genius and remembered that in WhatsApp when you delete a thread it only moves it to the archive, which you can still always go into and find the convo. So I went in there, got the number and messaged it.

You’d think he’d have learnt his lesson from my drunken birthday night call, but no. So again, he replied. At first he was receptive to hear from me but as soon as I launched into the still underlying want to get him to want me – because who doesn’t want to date a drunken mess? – he backed off. And, well, let’s just say I didn’t take kindly to that. Add to this the fact that for the duration of the time I was messaging I had continued to drink and so by this point my texts became not only abusive but also unreadable.

Turns out he didn’t appreciate either because he stopped replying, which didn’t necessarily mean I stopped messaging him (God help me, someone take my phone away from me!!!!) and when I looked again in the morning it seemed he’d actually blocked me. Oh well, at least that was one way to put a stop to it.

But, as amusing as I actually found it the next morning, thankfully the hangover fear didn’t reach me this time, I did feel bad about being such a bitch, no matter whether he deserved it or not. Which, for the record, he did. Obviously.

I was also just about to start a new job and was trying to detox my life and start what was going to be a crazy challenging new chapter with no bad juju so I decided I had to apologise. But how, he’d blocked my number? Well, technology nowadays means there’s always a way, so the following weekend I unblocked him on Instagram, followed him again and sent him a Direct Message.

It said “hey, I wanted to apologise for my texts the other night. Despite whatever has happened before you don’t deserve to be bombarded with abuse on a Wednesday night. I guess I just really don’t like to be told no and rather than accept that maybe you’re right, that we’re not right for each other and we shouldn’t date and that, I haven’t been able to let it go since I came back from my trip in April and you let things get so weird. I’m not proud of it, but I realise now that this isn’t doing either of us any good, so I’m sorry and I wish you nothing but the best.”

It was a tense wait to see if he would even see the DM seeing as he didn’t follow each other so it would go through as a request and not straight into his main inbox and not everyone get notifications for DMs from randoms, which essentially I was at that point as far as Instagram was concerned.

Three hours later I got a reply – “Thanks, apology accepted.” I cried.

It was such a relief and it felt like truly the end of the line for this whole mess. It was a mixture of happy tears that I’d been adult enough to address my faults and take responsibility, which he accepted, but also sad tears that it really had been such a mess and now it was done. Despite my feelings towards him, all the hundreds of different ones I had, I knew I had to let this go. No good could come of it. Eight months after it started.

I replied to say thanks and that I liked to think I would hold my hands up when I’d been a dick, which invariably I had the other night. I also added that I was going to unfollow him again on Instagram, that I’d only followed him to send him the message but I didn’t think it was good for either of us to still have that connection. But it was just a precautionary measure and not meant as one final big fuck you.

He replied again laughing and saying he understood. It was a good note to leave it on. So I deleted the message thread from Instagram, went back to his profile and clicked the “Unfollow” button. If only my feelings had been able to unfollow as quickly, but I knew they’d get there soon enough.

Next post…

…previous post