Women Can Be Assholes Too

Sep-2016

This blog of mine is in no way meant to man-bash. Despite the frustrations I may have encountered with dating, and my experience with my ex-husband, and some of the shitty things guys have done, I’m still pro-men, I’m still pro-dating, I’m still pro-relationships.

I’ve talked a number of times with my guy friends about approaches they’ve taken to dating and, of course, I know them as good guys – they’re my friends, I like them for a reason. But I also know that from some of the stories they tell me about their dating I’m like “wow, that was a dick move, but you’re not a dick”. And inherently, I know that just because a guy’s actions may make them seem like a total douchebag, that does not in fact mean they are a total douchebag.

In the case of my dates with Fresh Off The Boat Irish, I hope he remembers that too…

I remember when I first got to Vancouver, my priorities were settling into my job, finding out where to get good pizza and trying to work out the coins (loonies and toonies confused the hell out of me). For others, like Fresh Off The Boat Irish, as he became aptly known, the priorities lie with finding a date it seemed.

When I matched with him on Tinder, I was still going through my phase of going on as many dates as possible in the hope that by doing so I’d find “my person” quicker. Up until this point it had actually only resulted in meeting more wrong ‘uns quicker. But that wasn’t deterring me and so soon after my Blah, Blah, Blah & Blah dates, I set up an after work drink with this funny, rugby playing, Northern Irish guy who was full of great banter.

But from about half way through the first beer on our date, I knew this wouldn’t be going anywhere romantically. Not least because it kind of ended up being a “welcome to Vancouver” seminar presented by Yours Truly. I’m not sure if I instigated that or he did but between telling him about rent prices, how to get a phone contract, the best place to watch rugby from home, and generally an overview of life as a foreigner in Vancouver I felt like I could have been working for the working holiday visa people.

We went on a second date though, I wanted to see if maybe I’d been too quick to judge. He had a great personality and he was a lot of fun, so maybe I could get over his (lack of) height and find him physically attractive eventually? Ugh, that’s my least favourite conundrum. How to know if the guy you don’t find physically attractive will ever become appealing to you sexually… I’m yet to work this out… I feel a whole other blog post coming on about type…

Alas no, the second date really only confirmed my initial suspicions but he was a really funny guy and I know he wanted to meet people so I decided the next time I was out with my friend group, I’d invite him out thereby not only introducing him to people but also maybe giving him the indication that I saw him more as a friend and so getting me out of having to have the difficult conversation. I know, I know, I always talk about wanting people to just strap on a pair and have the goddamn difficult conversation. In this instance, I was definitely shying away from my own mantra.

So come the long Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, I was going out with a group of my friends to an Oktoberfest event that was essentially an afternoon of drinking, obviously, and I figured it was the perfect time to bring him out. However, the couple whose basement he was living in had invited him to join them for Thanksgiving dinner so he couldn’t join the beer festivities but I suggested we’d be going out after so maybe he could meet up with us then.

Unsurprisingly, the afternoon at the Oktoberfest were indeed beer soaked and as it drew to a close and we made plans for where we were going next I made sure to keep Fresh Off The Boat in the loop. He was really keen to come and meet us, he said dinner had been great but it was a bit weird being with a family he didn’t know and there wasn’t a whole lot of drinking going on so he’d love to escape to something potentially more fun. I promised him we most likely were.

The only problem was his dinner was still kind of tailing off and he was waiting for the right moment to take his leave of absence, plus he was staying out in a suburb of Vancouver that was going to take him about 45 minutes to an hour to get into Downtown from. So I kept him updated of our movements and he was going to join us when he could.

However, somewhere in the midst of him saying his thank you’s and goodbye’s and getting to downtown, the afternoon of drinking really started to take its toll on me and spending the best part of the early evening bar hopping had only compounded that. So at some point I decided to that the most sensible thing to do would be to go home. My mother would be so proud. Or at least she would have if I hadn’t already been incredibly drunk. But, put it this way, I missed the part of the night where two of my friends ended up in a bush (and that’s not a euphemism) so I’m thinking it was the right decision.

The one thing I forgot to do was let Fresh Off The Boat know that I’d called it a night and was no longer in the last bar I’d given him an update from. Oops. What didn’t help was that my phone had also completely died, which is very unlike me to let that happen given that it’s like a third hand to me. Double oops.

Fast forward 6 hours and I wake up at 4am and have 7 missed calls, 3 voicemails, and 12 texts from a progressively more angry Fresh Off The Boat. It started with the “ok, I’m out! getting in a cab and headed for downtown” through “hey, where should I meet u?” to “are u still out???” to a voicemail saying “I’m downtown, outside the last bar you said you were in, I’m looking like a bit of an idiot just hanging around, can you answer my texts?” right to “you better not have gone home and fallen asleep! Are you fucking kidding me?”

Oh. Holy. Shit.

I’m a terrible terrible person. I felt so unbelievably bad. Dicking people around like that is my least favourite thing and I can only imagine how I would have felt if it had been the other way around. And there was nothing I could say. I got drunk, I took myself home, I passed out and forgot I’d said for you to come all the way in from the burbs just to get stood up on a slightly chilly Vancouver October evening. There’s not really a way of dressing it up to make it look better. So I didn’t bother.

I texted him a few hours later when the hangover blindness had subsided and I could face the world a little more. He replied much, much later in the day saying “I can’t believe you did that” and that was pretty much all he said. I apologised a number of times, but made sure to never over-promise just to make it up to him. I had to remind myself I was trying to friend-zone him so taking him out for drinks or a dinner would for sure give him the wrong impression and maybe making him hate me by standing him up was at least one way to avoid the awkward conversation?

So there, I said it, I hold my hands up – sometimes I can be an asshole to date too and I’m not too proud to admit it!

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Second Dates Can Be As Bad As First Dates. Who Knew?

Jun-2016

Despite my resolution to move away from the quiet guy sphere after a few less than stellar dates, one of those meh dates came back for seconds and I figured maybe it was worth another try.

It was the second date guy from the Friday evening, and he asked if I wanted to go out for dinner. Even before we got to the date it was all pretty bizarre, to the point where I did wonder why I was going, more than once. He insisted we go to a specific pizza place, which was fine as their pizzas are great, and he suggested 5.30pm. Now, I’m hardly a late night rager but even that was early for me to be going out for dinner. I was going to ask if we could make it later but I realised it could work in my favour if he was still not lighting my fire I could escape without my entire night ruined. Though as one of my girlfriends queried “How old are you? What is this? Some Early Bird special?” She had a point.

One thing I didn’t mention about my first date with this guy was how it ended once I cut it short.

As is always the case when you’re wanting to get out of somewhere quickly, the server took an age to come over (one of the reasons I disliked the place he’d picked for the first date so much is the service) but when she did I was expecting the normal exchange of “can we get the bill?”, “sure, together or separate?” One thing I love about Vancouver is that splitting a bill between all parties, either in equal portions or based on what each person had, is something almost every food and drink establishment offers and it’s great for when you’re out in a big group of friends. However, it causes a little more awkwardness when you’re on a date, especially a first date, and one of you actually has to basically out loud determine who’s paying. It’s always a fun cliff hanger!

In this instance however, he cut the exchange in half by declaring “can we get the bill and we’ll pay separately”. Well alrighty then.

The ‘paying on a first date’ debate is lengthy and controversial and seemingly culturally influenced – my North American friends have a different take than us Brits – and really there’s no right answer. For me, I will always offer to pay for myself on a first date and if he declines my offer I’ll happily let him pay. After that, while you’re still in the early dating stages, I prefer taking it in turns to pay rather than splitting bills.

However, while I’m comfortable paying for my own, there is always something attractive about a guy picking up the bill, it’s not so much about the money for me but more about them taking charge, making a decision, wanting to show their values. To make it so blatantly clear he had no intention of paying the $12.60 for my two gins, it was more than a little off-putting.

For some of my friends, that would have been enough to never reply to another of his texts, never mind not even consider a second date, and meant they were openly sceptical that I was giving it another chance. I believe the phrase “By Felicia” may have been used more than once about him. I apparently love a red flag though, so happily went on a second date with a guy who was financially ungenerous and wanted to eat dinner at 5.30pm. Who says I make poor choices?

If there was ever a second date to give my friends an “I told you so” opportunity, this was it. I can genuinely say the best thing about the date was the pizza. The chat was stilted, I realised quickly just how different we were (and not in a good way), he was awkward with the server, and I always think how someone interacts with a server says a lot about them as a person. So it was less than ideal and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I made up a story about needing to go and see a friend who was in crisis afterwards. I hate lying and I was going to see a friend after but the crisis part and urgency with which I needed to get there were maybe slightly / definitely completely embellished.

Rather than have to endure a similar wait as we did on date number one, as our plates were being cleared away I quickly asked for the bill at the same time. It caught him off guard but he got himself together quick enough to shout after the waitress “she had the dipping sauce, you can put that on her bill!” Wow.

As I picked my jaw up off the floor, the waitress looked over at me as if to say “sorry if that’s your date” and when we were doing the card machine dance she pointedly said to me with a smile “ok and yours is $33.29, including the dipping sauce”. Love a bit of server collusion on a date. Before the receipt was even printed I was putting on my coat to leave. I felt rude asking for the bill so quickly and being in such a blatant rush to get out of there. I felt rude despite him really not displaying any manners of his own, I couldn’t help it. I’ve realised sometimes I’m too nice. It’s not something I ever thought I’d say about myself, but in dating I realised sometimes I needed to be a little more assertive.

To quell my (misplaced) feeling of being rude, I said yes when he asked if he could walk me to my friend’s. I’d tried to be vague about where I was going but when I pointed in a general direction he said that’s where he was going too. Well, great. We walked in awkward conversation while I was preoccupied with trying to decide how I was going to give him the brushoff, knowing I was likely going to need to do it in person, here and now.

I intimated that we were getting close to my girlfriend’s place and as I suspected he said “so can we hang out again?” (“for you to not pay again?” I finished in my head). At that point I bit the bullet and launched into the story I decided I was going to go with. I know I said I hate lying and I really do, but I had also learnt the value in knowing when it was just easier all round and he seemed like the sort who wouldn’t take “I’m not feeling it” very well.

I explained that an ex had recently got back in touch which was confusing things for me and I didn’t want to string him along (an actual event which has since taken place – I must have brought it on myself). He looked questioningly at me and said “so why did you even come on the date? When did this happen?” I said it had been over the weekend and I’d thought about cancelling but didn’t want to be rude and I know realised it would be too difficult to keep dating other people. He started asking when I’d dated this guy, what he wanted, why we’d split up, what I was going to do and finished with “so how long should I give you?”

Wait, what? No, no, this isn’t a temporary (albeit fake) situation. This is me telling you we’re done. I told him I wasn’t sure and thought it might be best for us not to see each other again. We’d come to a standstill now outside my friend’s place and as he turned to go he said “ok, I’ll check in again in a week”. Um, what? No! I said we shouldn’t see each other again. And what was this? A business meeting that has follow up tasks?!

I fell into my friend’s apartment, already spilling the story as she opened the door and Unbelieving Cheapskate, as he was now known, was talked about at length. For some reason, his questioning of my story had really shaken me. I don’t think I should be able to get away with lying, I really do hate it as a practice and yet I was affronted that he’d even dared question it. And was annoyed he’d made me lie even more with all his damn questions. Jeez, I’d built up an entire fake ex in my head by the time we were done.

My girlfriends laughed and took the opportunity to throw their “Bye Felicia” advice in my face, which I had to take. Though I still argue that knowing when something is not worth pursuing and when something maybe just needs a little bit of time is a tricky balance. They say fireworks are bad, they’ll just fizzle. They say you should be able to tell right away if there’s something there. But presumably based on that first piece of advice, it shouldn’t be with fireworks? Well I don’t bloody know what the happy medium looks like. Yet.

What I do know though is that Unbelieving Cheapskate is true to his word. 8 days after our date, I got a text “it’s been a week, is there any update?” Genuinely could have been the content of an email from my boss. For once, I did the unthinkable for me and didn’t reply. Bye Felicia.

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Am I Supposed To Be Enjoying This?

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

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

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

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

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

Well, no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Karma is a bitch

Mar-2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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