Another relationship bites the dust

Yep that’s right folks – after six weeks of dating I experienced one too many little rejections which all added up to feeling like a bit of a loser to be honest.

Let me explain. This relationship started because the guy, W, sought me out after meeting very briefly at my first social Meet Up in a pub back in April. He went under my radar but he started following me on Instagram and “friended” me on Facebook and messaged me via the Meet Up chat facility asking if I wanted to attend an event in July that he was hosting. We got chatting and one thing lead to another – i.e. he asked me out on a date to the cinema.

We hit it off fine and enjoyed the film, went for drinks after before having our first kiss at the station before he had to run for his train. It was all good.

He is very active on the two Meet Up groups that he arranges events for and had a fair few things in the diary that first couple of weeks – things which I was interested in attending too and therefore our next couple of dates were kind of a hybrid of Meet Up mingling with others and time alone before and after events.

The subject of sex obviously came up – what is too soon? What is just right? I mentioned that old chestnut “The Third Date Rule”. To be honest I’m kind of a ‘go in for the kill early’ kind of girl – I can’t help it – I’ve got a high sex drive and I begin to feel very easily frustrated if I’m kept waiting! So any way, lo and behold we ended up spending the night together on our third date – a night in a hotel arranged by him because of the unfortunate fact that he is currently living with his mum and dad.

It was good – successful I’d say as far as first nights together go – it’s never going to be perfect when you don’t know the other person that way and nerves and expectations come into play, but I was happy that we had initiated that side of things.

I knew that we couldn’t keep spending money on hotels and the obvious next step would be for him to come to my house and as soon as I knew I had child free time I invited him and he agreed willingly. Until that is, right before the day when he came up with some excuse about taking his car to the garage for a quote on a scratched bumper.

Not great but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and invited him the following Sunday which again he agreed to… until the day itself when he told me that he was going to be going to a barbeque at his brother’s house. I told him to stop making excuses and just tell me he didn’t want to see me anymore but he eventually replied to say that he did want to keep seeing me, just wanted to slow it down a bit.

I felt like there was a bit of hypocrisy there considering how he jumped at the night we spent together in the hotel but again I gave him the benefit of the doubt acknowledging that we were still only a couple of weeks into things and knowing that I tend to jump into relationships at 100 miles an hour.

We actually ended up not seeing each other at all for the whole two weeks after that night. Then I decided to stump up for a babysitter just so we could get together and see each other at least once a week when the Husband was unavailable (i.e. all the time). I ended up driving the 20 minutes over to his town to the pub we’d first met in a couple of times whilst also paying a babysitter up to £20 on top.

We had one more night at the cinema and went for a meal too and he seemed really keen that time although we weren’t due to spend that night together and I ended up giving him a lift home because his train was a long wait. We had quite a frank conversation about everything that time and I told him that if we continued down the more or less platonic route then we would slip over into the ‘friend zone’.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, this past weekend (six weeks into our relationship) we had a night out which had been planned long in advance. It was another Meet Up event that he’d organised and we’d arranged, once again, for him to finally come to my house beforehand and then come back and spend the night afterwards.

I think you can probably guess what happened? That’s right, he made another last minute excuse on the day about wanting to meet in town instead and not planning to come back after due to tiredness after a stressy week at work.

I could no longer give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe for some people dating is all about taking it really, really slowly and not pushing for any kind of physical or emotional intimacy but I genuinely think that six weeks is a bit of a turning point.

I mean, I’d love to know what other people think, but even he knew that I was going to be upset this time and when we met up on our own for a pre-meal drink I did get a bit tearful and he told me he was unable to explain what made him keep pulling back the way he had been because he didn’t even really understand it himself.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to be told something that vague. I said that I didn’t think we were compatible as a couple unfortunately because I needed someone who would want to hold my hand, take the initiative, make the first move sometimes, reach out and not always leave it to me to initiate contact.

I tried to give him ways to pull it back, step it up, make up for what’s been lacking but he either deliberately or unwittingly failed to follow up on any of that, telling me that he still wanted to do the things together that we had planned – one of which was a trip up the Shard building in London on my birthday.

I told him that I was happy to stay friends and do the other event but that my birthday was a day when I want to spend time with either an old friend, a family member or a boyfriend. His response to that seemed a bit bitter – “of course you wouldn’t want to spend your birthday with me”. I told him “you’ve missed the point, I wanted to spend my birthday with you as my boyfriend”. He countered “No [Layla] I haven’t missed the point at all”.

I tried one last time to get him to give me some kind of explanation that would help me get over the sense of rejection (the whole sex thing dents me – I have a lot of my sense of identity as a woman wrapped up in who I am sexually and to have someone pull away from that whilst still wanting to remain more than friends is something I find hard to deal with or understand).

He just failed to respond at all and I decided to let it go after having a bit of a cry. I told him to forget the whole conversation because I felt like an idiot. And that’s about the end of that sad little story.

Onwards and upwards?

 

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Dating update

I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the doubts and negative feelings you might experience in the early days of dating someone come through miscommunication or just different styles of communicating.

After my last post I’ve had a few more dates with W – we’ve been to the cinema and a live comedy show and meal & drinks. We’ve had a chance to really open up and talk about what we want and need and he admitted that he had found it hard to say no when I invited him out even when he wasn’t ready to be that intimately involved that quickly because he didn’t want to disappoint me so that’s why all the last minute excuses. I told him that it was more disappointing to have a date arranged and then cancelled last minute. He seems to get that so hopefully it won’t happen again.

I need to be the one to offer dates because my time is so limited and I don’t want to feel like I never know where I stand. In that vein I tentatively invited him to be my Plus One on my Big Birthday adventure in London which probably means that I might actually have to tell some family members that he exists…

In a few days time it will have been a month since our only night together so far which is weird for me although who knows – it might be completely standard for him. To be fair things have changed because I’m a single Mum now – the restrictions on my time are huge and my last relationship lulled me into the false sense that potential partners would be willing and able to be super keen and flexible.

The difference with him was that he was on the tail end of a long term work hiatus to recover from chemotherapy when I met him meaning he did not have the stresses and pressures of a regular work schedule and making an hour’s drive to see me of an evening after my kids were tucked up in bed doable as he could simply catch up on sleep the next day.

In hindsight it’s very telling that he chose to break up with me just as he was being integrated back into full time (shift) work.

With W what I tend to find is that no matter what kind of understanding we come to in person,  after a few days where our only form of communication is text I start second guessing everything – why am I being so enthusiastic when he comes across so flat and unenthused at times? Has something happened to make him lose interest or has he just had a tiring day at work? Does he like me keeping our connection going or is it annoying him? Should I back off or take heed of the fact that he told me that his previous partner sent him a clear picture of her real disinterest by leaving a three day gap between one message and the next?

Why does it all have to be this confusing and complicated?

Maybe I just need to bear in mind that right now we are on good terms, we have dates in the diary, we have both expressed enjoyment in each other’s company on all of our dates, we enjoyed our intimacy, we’ve talked about that and both looking forward to the next time. Of course I can only vouch for my own complete openness and honesty in regards to all these feelings but I’m not sure if I have any good reason to doubt him.

These really are the standard ponderings of a fledgling relationship and we’ve just started something new too – having a conversation on the actual phone! Weirdly it hadn’t even occurred to me to do that before now which just goes to show how wrapped up we all are in our social media world. There is no substitute for real voices together engaging over the course of over an hour. Maybe it’s because it’s Friday night and he’s finally unwinding – or maybe because we know we’re not seeing each other til Monday night but it felt really good just to hear his voice for the first time in four days.

All or nothing?

Sometimes I wonder if the dating game isn’t just some kind of self-inflicted school course in self discovery. With each new person and each new experience you gain knowledge of others (in my case, men, with all their gifts and faults) but in addition, you have your own expectations and needs reflected back on you and that can be disconcerting.

The latest person to enter my life is someone who I don’t have illusions about – he’s not the man of my dreams. But he’s OK and that’s good enough for me right now. Or is it?

I know I’m not in the right place to start a long-term, meaningful relationship but I still want to have an emotional and physical connection with someone. For me, that means communicating every day, sharing both the important and insignificant moments, if not real, then virtual kisses in the morning and before falling asleep at night, regular dates both in and out of my home with no date-free hiatus during which you feel like you’re in limbo.

But perhaps this is my problem? Perhaps this is rushing in headlong trying to impose intimacy on a virtual stranger in just a few short weeks. Perhaps this is where my last relationship went wrong (although I tend to think it was the introduction to the children and family life that sparked the beginning of the end there..)

I invited him (the new one) to my house three times in two weeks and each time he said yes and then backed out with some quite feeble excuses at the last minute. The last time this happened I sent him a message saying “you don’t have to keep making excuses, if you don’t want to see me any more please just tell me”. He responded (five hours later) saying “I do want to see you [Layla], just want to take it a bit slower if that’s alright”.

The thing is, I don’t know if it is alright. I said I’d just leave him to invite me out in future but I hate not knowing when/if we will see each other again and it makes me feel like the messages and chats I regularly instigate are not worth my energy. I feel out of control of the situation and it doesn’t seem to fulfil the needs I have.

Are my needs unrealistic and out of proportion and over the top? I might be deluded but I just tend to think of myself as a pretty cool, easy-going, attractive, open, honest, loyal, generous partner and it confounds me when someone holds all of that off at arm’s length. It makes me question them (are they playing the field, are they scared by the very idea of emotional intimacy, do they think that I will turn into some kind of bunny boiler and lock them in the second they cross my threshold?)

And if you tend to agree that my ‘all-in’ attitude is too much, then how does emotional intimacy even begin? Is there this one day where everyone agrees it’s OK to expect a bit more than a sporadic get together? When it’s OK to start holding hands? When you can finally begin to think of yourselves as an actual couple?

 

It’s a no from me

So, yet more navel gazing from the frontlines of the confusing, frustrating, disappointing world of internet dating.

If you read my last post then you know that I was vaguely excited by what I’d considered a ‘good’ date yesterday. I was in the dark about how The Scot felt about me or what would happen next given hectic schedules on both sides. I needn’t have worried.

After about 8 hours I sent a brief message saying I’d enjoyed meeting him and suggesting that if he could get a night off soon then I would attempt to do the same, I got nothing back. At least not until 15 hours later when I receive the fairly lame “It was nice to meet you too, Layla. I’ll try and get a night off soon Xx”.

The first thing that irritated me about this was that, well, Layla isn’t my real name but I’ve got the kind of name that is shortened to the first three letters – always. I don’t feel comfortable if someone uses my full name – it’s not Elizabeth but if it was, and I was used to being called Liz then you can see how formal and arms length it would seem to use the long version. That’s the first thing he did.

I had said “I really enjoyed meeting you today [Scot]” and he responded “It was nice to meet you”. Not the same I’m afraid, in fact generically polite and dispassionate.

Despite these little niggles though the one thing that spoke volumes was the time scale. It quickly became clear to me that this was more than just someone who doesn’t really ‘do’ messaging. And once I had come to that realisation, I began to unpick everything – total deconstruction of the dating process, my expectations, what I want, what I need, everything.

Before I had even decided what the time lag was all about I already knew that whatever, it meant something to me – it meant that, to coin a phrase, he just wasn’t that into me. And that’s OK – disappointing initially, but OK. And actually, on reflection, I begin to see that there was something fundamentally lacking in our interaction, something which is really quite important to me: humour. There was no banter, no flirting, no naughty twinkle in anyone’s eye.

To be fair I’ve got myself in trouble before by my attraction to men who have a bit of the joker about them, and I realised that when I was scrolling through one dating website the first time I was even narrowing my search down to men who described themselves as ‘a big kid’. Then I happened to stumble across the profile of the Husband and noticed that he describes himself as ‘a big kid’. Oh dear.

Heaven knows I don’t want another child in my life but a sense of humour, the signs that the other person doesn’t take themselves too seriously, the impression that they enjoy the fun stuff whilst still being able to man up to the challenges we all face in our day to day lives and switch on a bit of depth for a real emotional connection – that’s a pretty big deal to me. Unless someone is naturally that way inclined then I find it difficult to feel truly at ease in their company.

I am a self-deprecating kind of person, I LOVE to laugh – live comedy is one of my absolute favourite things to watch. It’s part of my history, growing up as a regular audience member on the London Comedy Circuit. I would rather discuss my favourite funny films and shows than discuss politics.*

I would rather go to bed with someone who makes me laugh (not like that!) because it puts you at your ease and it’s the beginning of ‘playful’ and I like playful. All that intense Fifty Shades bullshit just makes me cringe.

So, yeah, all that to say, this whole experience has started with me feeling rejected and ended with me feeling grateful – grateful to be given the opportunity to re-assess what it is I need. Grateful that I have the ability to keep it all in perspective and not to take it personally, because I know that I would have dated this guy and I know now that it wouldn’t have taken.

  • I do talk about politics and political issues do matter to me but if I just put this out there: Ben Elton, circa 1986 and ‘a little bit of politics’… that’s the way I like it…

 

Searching for love in all the wrong places

So yesterday I decided to go ahead and meet up with the guy I’d been in touch with (Curvaceous Issues Guy – CiG). He phoned me again Sunday night and this time the call went on for three hours – again mostly with him talking non-stop. However on this phone call I got more of a sense of who he was rather than just his non-stop (frankly wacky) opinions about a range of things.

I found out that he has three daughters in their 20s each with children of their own. I asked about their mum at one point and he told me that she had died of cancer over 20 years ago.

I found out that his mum and dad split up when he was 8 and his mum bad-mouthed his dad so much over the years that he ended up disliking her.

We talked about my situation with the husband and he encouraged me to always put the children first and let them see their dad even if he leaves it to the last minute to ask.

I still knew that he wasn’t the one but I decided to meet up with him because sometimes you just crave that human connection and the novelty of going on a ‘date’.

When he approached me at the bar of the pub we’d agreed to meet at I had to do a double take because he looked nothing like his pictures. He actually looked about 15 years older than his main photo and ten years older than the one he’d put on to show his ‘ugly/hungover’ side.

I couldn’t help but consider the irony given his previous obsession with my appearance and just how honest I’d been with both photos and description. He was clearly very happy with the fact that I at least had given a truthful description of myself.

I’m almost embarrassed to say this but the date started at 2pm and didn’t end until 9.30pm (at his flat). That is mostly down to the fact that he just talked incessantly and there never really seemed to be a suitable point to end it. Come about 6pm I just cut in and told him that I was feeling hungry and would probably have to go. He seemed a bit annoyed that I hadn’t eaten lunch knowing that we were coming on a date. I told him I had eaten lunch of a bowl of soup and some yogurt at work at about 12.30pm (and obviously hadn’t realised that this date would go on for more than a couple of hours). He still seemed bemused by my desire to have an evening meal but I suggested we go somewhere – said I’d be happy with fish & chips and he offered to take me by the chippy near his home. I agreed – I just needed food.

When we got there he let me go in and buy my own food saying he’d just have some chips if there were any left over – apparently he had eaten a piece of fried bread and an egg for lunch and it was going to fuel him through to the following day (he has this dumb theory that essentially negates all received wisdom about how different food groups affect the body and swears by a sugar donut as the one thing that will fill you up and keep you full the longest. Go figure).

I found myself back at his place – the tiniest one bedroom flat with some tired looking furniture and a big flat screen TV. Again I’m not sure why I was OK with all this.

Earlier, at the pub, he had asked to kiss me and after letting him I felt like my teeth were clenched, I was shaking, I felt anxious. I told him about what had happened with the boyfriend recently and tears came to my eyes – I got quite emotional. He seemed compassionate and told me that there may have been a reason for the boyfriend to leave beyond what he had told me and that I would probably never know, but I should look on the four months we had together fondly as a lovely interlude in my life and then move on.

By 9.30 I realised that it was dark and late and I needed to go home (and have some peace and quiet). I’ve said it before but as an introvert its just so draining to be caught up in a social situation that you can’t get out of for hours on end. I felt so extremely tired but fortunately even he conceded that 7 hours was long enough for a first date and he drove me back to my car.

I was glad that I’d told him about the boyfriend and cried in front of him too because I knew that it gave me a plausible explanation to cut things off – it’s even true: I do need time to grieve; I do still burst into tears sometimes when I think about what I’ve lost; I am still so, so tempted to fire off a message and see whether I get anything back.

However it’s also true that I found some of the opinions CiG expressed to be anathema to my world view – his politics in particular. I didn’t find him physically attractive, and I felt he failed a bit at the ‘first date’ first hurdle by letting me buy the drinks and not offering to get my food for me (it was pretty cheap but it would have been a nice gesture).

His life and lifestyle seemed less than he’d portrayed – he spent a lot of time talking about various TV shows and documentaries that he watches and I think he must spend a fair bit of time vegging on the sofa watching ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!’ and eating sugar donuts.

I told him I need time to get over the boyfriend and that I would be coming off the dating website in order to concentrate on being alone for a bit. I then went on the site and blocked him so I would become invisible. I have paid for another 3 and a half weeks on there and then I’m letting the subscription lapse.

Frankly it’s been a big disappointment – he is the only person who has replied to a message I’ve sent out (bar one sweet guy who had the decency to reply and let me know that he’s just started seeing someone else) and I’m not sure if people are put off by the thought of my kids (although I’ve only approached people who have kids of their own and come across as family types); or maybe they are already seeing someone, or they genuinely don’t fancy me. The point is I’ve sent messages only to people who have spent time crafting an interesting written profile and who have clearly got a fair bit in common with me so it feels that is pretty much it. Unless I want to trawl deeper and message people who live too far away, or who I don’t really fancy, what is the point?

I immediately start thinking about Meetup groups or some other way to meet someone but the point is life is too full right now – full of parenting, struggling with the co-parenting, work, catching up with friends and family, reading, watching movies and box-sets that I’ve missed, events I am booked in to attend, play dates, a bit of blogging and the occasional brainstorm about the book I will, one day, write.

I think that pursuing a relationship with anyone right now is just a daydream. I made the mistake of letting loneliness and the sense of rejection and plain desperation get the better of me before and I ended up spending ten years with the wrong man.

This is a time to re-group, consolidate what I’ve got and tackle any challenges head on without the need to keep relentlessly pursuing some kind of love interest. If it happens, it happens without me forcing the issue.

 

To date or not to date…

So I did what I said I wouldn’t do and signed up to a dating site. I realise that I am probably inviting trouble back into my life but there is something in me that I can’t silence – this need for a partner – and it’s even stronger since experiencing (albeit briefly) life with someone who was probably the best partner I’ve ever had – kind, caring, generous, emotionally intelligent…

I’ve paid for a month (must remember to cancel subscription!) on this one site which seems to appeal to a more literate, liberal, culturally aware breed of person.

Unfortunately I think I might have just thrown £32 down the drain because only one of the 6 people I’ve messaged has responded.

On the plus side he ticks some boxes – he lives in the next town over, where I work; he’s four years older than me; he looks ok (as far as I can tell); he’s taller than me; he’s writing a novel and he is gainfully employed.

On the down side, having spent a while crafting a message that picked up on things he’d said in his profile and made the effort to get the balance right he eventually responded “hey, how’s you? :-)” which was a bit underwhelming but I forged ahead. It quickly transpired that he didn’t want to spend ages messaging and would rather speak on the phone. Fair enough. We exchanged numbers and I told him it would have to be after 9.30pm when both kids would finally be in bed asleep.

I also thought I might as well make use of the fact that my parents have got the kids Monday night and suggested that we meet up for a drink (particularly because the husband has me in limbo again with no listed dates for child contact going forwards). He agreed.

9.35pm and in came the call.

I’m sure everyone has this little fantasy in their head when someone with an ounce of potential comes on the scene: this could be the one; wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was the last date I ever had to have? You allow yourself this sliver of hope.

As soon as I heard him speak I knew that he wasn’t the one. Almost the first thing he said to me was something deep about how we’re living in an age where no one really expects to have a relationship for life and we’ll probably all just keep moving on. Bear in mind that his profile specifies that his potential partner/date should believe in “real fairytales” I have to wonder WTF is that if not a lasting relationship (with a real person, flaws and all)?

He then proceeded to talk at me for the following TWO hours 😳 during which I barely got a word in edgewise.

At one point, having prompted him a couple of times with questions about himself based on some stuff from his date profile he implied that I was a bit of a stalker to have read and remembered those things! I said isn’t that the point, that we use that information as an icebreaker and suggested that I was waiting for him to ask *me* a question.

For a minute I breathed a sigh of relief as he informed me that he had indeed picked up on something I’d written about myself. He wanted to know just exactly what I meant by describing myself as “curvaceous”. I immediately responded “hourglass” but it was no good he wanted a detailed discussion (one sided) about the ambiguity of the word “curvaceous” (which I might add, was something I got from a dropdown box). Apparently women who are maybe a bit “obese” sometimes use this word to put a positive spin on things. I pointed out that he had seen a photo of me looking relatively slim and fit but he wasn’t convinced that it was a recent picture. I assured him that it was taken just three weeks before.

In the end I had to talk him through my exact dress size only stopping shy of giving him my bra size! FFS!

It got to 11.45pm and I finally managed to break his flow gently suggesting that I may need to get some sleep before the kids jumped all over me in just over 6 hours time. He conceded and we had a brief discussion on where and when we would meet on Monday. It turns out the best option for him is for me to roll out of work at 1.30pm and meet in town then as he works from home and later on wasn’t really convenient.

Honestly it did occur to me that I could’ve spent last night watching 2 episodes of Walking Dead and perhaps my childfree time on Monday evening would be better spent doing something I actually enjoy because I can almost guarantee that this will not be one of those dates where you walk away with that buzz of satisfaction having met up with a kindred spirit. Who knows, we might have sexual chemistry and there might be that but is it worth it?

I did explain my situation with the kids and the “high conflict” ex and a recent relationship which didn’t work out so in theory I could just turn around and say I’ve decided I’m not ready for all this, but then it would be awkward if he saw that my little green light on the dating site was activated. What a minefield!

To be fair it’s probably for the best that it’s not working out because I had told myself that I need to give it a year, or at least 6 months, or at least until the divorce was finalised before putting myself out there because otherwise I would only be short changing any potential suitors (haha now I feel like a princess using the word “suitors”).

On the upside it is one helluva distraction/moving on tactic to get over the boyfriend/recent dumping.

Send wine, send help, send love…