They say we look for the familiar, that we find comfort in it. But what happens when the familiar isn’t attractive to you and, in fact, is maybe a whole lot of what you’d tried to leave behind?
Most of my dating stories, start on dating apps – such is the life we live in nowadays. And while this one started as a result of a dating app, in fact it began with a message request on Instagram. I’m always skeptical of those, it’s mostly some “bodybuilder” in India who wants to say hi or, in some instances, just gets straight to a marriage proposal. My favourite ones are men who message my blog instagram seemingly never having considered that a man harassing me in my DMs might be the exact basis of some of my stories.
This time though the message came from someone I thought I possibly recognised and as I read the message, he explained he’d seen me on Tinder and I realised that was where I’d seen the face. He said when we hadn’t matched on the app he decided to reach out to me on Instagram – this was during a period of time when I had my Instagram handle on my dating app profiles.
Sidebar – I’m in two minds about that. Part of me hates people putting their instagram on their dating profile because I feel like a lot of people just do it to get more followers. Especially the people who put their handle on but have a private account. It can be for no other reason then surely than to gain followers? But part of me likes it, and when I do have my handle on my profile, it’s because if people look at my Instagram I think it gives them a pretty good idea of who I am (all the while remembering nothing on Instagram or any social platform is every 100% accurate of real life). But in terms of my interests and a much larger breadth of pictures to see what I actually look like, I think it can be pretty helpful.
But I digress. Although another discussion point is this – if you’ve seen someone on a dating app and swiped right or liked them and you don’t match, especially if you’ve let some time go by, or maybe you’ve even seen them a few times and swiped right or liked them each time, and you still don’t match – maybe they don’t like you? So why would reaching out in another way seem like a good idea? I’ve always thought it was a ballsy thing to do. And you know, sometimes ballsy is good. We always say the men in Vancouver have no balls and never approach women, so I can’t be mad when one does I guess.
Ok, another sidebar. Is this deception – a bald man wearing something on his head for all his pics? I mean, there’s no way to talk about this without being judgey but essentially that’s what dating apps force us to be. It’s not that I care if a guy is bald, some bald guys are hot, just like some guys with hair are hot. And some are not. But, I mean, I want to see what I could be waking up next to. Although then that makes me wonder if the flip side of that argument is that women should put pictures on without make up…. But it’s not the same thing! Is it??? Now I’m conflicted. I hate double standards between men and women. I’ll need to think more on this…
Right, back to the man who seemingly always wore hats in my Instagram DMs. He said he’d seen me on Tinder, and had to reach out because he thought I was “cute” and saw that I was Scottish so thought we were kindred spirits, as he was also Scottish. Now, that sounds nice and I love having a connection to home, but I’ve always kinda liked the fact that there’s not that many Scottish people in Vancouver. I didn’t come out here to hang out with Scottish people. I could have stayed in Scotland for that.
Having said that, meeting people with the same cultural references as you, who miss the same food, and have the same understanding of what it’s like to have your family over 7000km away is always comforting to some degree. So I figured why not meet him, as he had suggested in his first message – definitely bold, definitely not from around here.
We arranged to meet at one of my favourite bars in my neighbourhood, which was close to where we both lived, and to be honest it was one of those dates I felt a bit “meh” about so I was glad not to have to travel too far for it. I was just getting ready to leave my apartment when he called to say he was running late. He got mega props for calling and not just texting, but all of those props were lost when after me saying no worries, I could meet him whenever, he then said “are you drunk?”
Maybe I was a touch blase about the whole date to the point that I didn’t care, but did that come across as drunk!? I thought it was a weird thing to say and I found it kind of offensive. Could I just cancel the date now?
I persevered, hung around my apartment an extra 20 minutes and then headed for the bar, knowing I’d get there before him so I could choose where to sit. Now he was older than I normally date, at 42, and I still wasn’t sure how I felt about the hat thing so I choose a quiet little corner where I wouldn’t be spotted if anyone I knew came into the bar. Is this a bad sign? Trying not to be seen with the guy before the date has even begun? Oh god…
When he arrived, toque (the Canadian name for a woolen hat) in place, I realised what about his pictures had put me off – he reminded me of a million men back home. Men who try to dress like they’re still teenagers, when in fact they’re middle aged. A lot of them come from the west coast of Scotland (Glasgow, I’m looking at you), shopping centres are filled with them on Saturday days and bars are busting at the seams with them on Saturday nights, and it’s something I’ve always found wildly unappealing. This all ran through my head as he walked towards me across the bar.
Despite all of those cultural generalisations I’d just made about my own people, he was very smiley, so at least there was that? And I had to try to remain open minded about it as we went in for the “hi” hug.
That would have been easier had he not recoiled mid-hug and said “wow, you’re terrible at hugging, try that again.” Um, what? I just met you. You don’t know me. We’re on a first date. Why are you trashing my hugging ability?!?
It rubbed me so far the wrong way I can’t tell you. Especially after the “are you drunk?” comment. And it was such a stupid thing, I had to wonder if part of the reason I was so pissed off about it was because something about him inherently annoyed me to begin with? I happily would have ended the date at that point, but then I figured he’d have something to say about that too.
We chatted through the usual – work, why we moved, family, why we wouldn’t move back, things we loved about Canada, things we found tough about Vancouver, and dating. When he told me he was from a place near Glasgow, I almost shouted “I FUCKING KNEW IT!” but I restrained myself and instead focused on the toque sat atop his head, while we were indoors and it wasn’t cold outside… Did I mention it was August?
It was clear from our discussions that we had a lot in common, and if you asked someone on the outside looking in if we were a good match, they would have likely said yes and probably made some comment about it being cute we were both Scottish. Ugh, puke.
I honestly couldn’t wait to get home that night, it was one of those that every five minutes sat in that bar, was five minutes lost when I could have been in my pjs at home, which was definitely the more attractive option. So when after a couple of drinks we finally got the bill, which he paid, I was grateful I only had a six minute walk home.
Talking of which, in our initial conversations we also both agreed that actually the other person being Scottish wasn’t a plus for either of us. He said he’d told his friend that exact thing before our date, while I knew it had been swirling in my head since he reached out. So it was weird to me that he had mentioned us both being Scottish when he’d initially reached out to me on Instagram as if it was a good thing. But I didn’t press him on it, because I’m not an asshole, unlike people who critique other’s hugging ability. Clearly I was so salty about that still.
After the date, which I escaped with no one I knew seeing me, I messaged him later to thank him for the drinks, as I always do when someone pays, and while I already knew I wouldn’t be seeing him again, for some reason I couldn’t be bothered to deal with that on that evening. So instead, I just let his “you’re welcome, it was really great to meet you” reply sit on my phone to be dealt with another day.
That other day was the next day. I replied to his text from the night before and just said that it was lovely to meet him but I didn’t feel the connection I’m looking for, which I usually know right from a first date. I’d expected him to do the usual “oh I felt the same” reply which a lot of guys engage and I can totally understand why they do – saves face, saves ego, saves any further discussion. I’m ok with it. But not this guy. Not “you’re a terrible hugger” guy.
Instead I got a reply from him which stated that he felt like I needed someone to help me make better dating choices and that while we may not continue dating, maybe he could be that guy for me. Are you kidding me??? I got that text while I was in the gym and I honestly almost threw a dumbell at the guy beside me. Why are men so entitled to tell women what we need and always assume they are the ones that can give it to us?????
I thought I was pissed about the “are you drunk” and “you’re a terrible hugger” comments. But this was next level. And, to be clear – I’m aware that I definitely don’t always make good dating decisions, him being a fucking case in point! But a) it is not his place to point that out and b) what on earth made him think he could help me?!
As you can imagine, my reply was less than cordial, which of course he used to suggest that I’d taken what he said the wrong way etc etc. And eventually I just had to tell him that the conversation was over, otherwise I knew it was going to spiral.
The thing was I never really wanted to date him in the first place, he kind of annoyed me before I even met him, more so when I met him and entirely after I met him. It was another proof point that forcing myself outside of what feels “comfortable” and what makes sense for me has never once worked. Even if we are from the same country, even if we have had a similar life experience in moving to Canada. We may have come from the same place but we were very, very different, and not just because I’d never tell someone I didn’t know that they were shit at hugging. See, still salty.