So I am single again after 10 years; there is something really exciting about this, something rejuvenating. It is also really scary.
The exciting part is the possibility. The fact that you get to meet new people, have fun discovering them, find pleasure discovering their bodies, create a connection, an experience, a memory of a moment in time you met someone and something could have happened.
The scary part is that I am not desensitised to the emotional connection that you form in each of these steps. I do not have the thick skin that dating requires. I have been blessed with having a long term relationship, but the down side is that it has given me a false sense of security with people. Of course I can trust someone new, as my experience so far shows that people will not hurt you. Well, live and learn.
Here is were B* enters. B was the second person I dated after S. To begin with I was completely hesitant to date seriously. I wanted to enjoy the single life and find the parts of myself that were consumed by the relationship.
I had seen B when we were both waiting at an osteopath’s waiting room*. He was with a male companion who I assumed was his boyfriend, however we kept making eye contact (until I decided that I will not be a home wrecker and buried my head in my book). I felt him looking at me again a few times, but I resisted looking back. He had a boyfriend, and that was that.
A couple of weeks later he approached me in a dating app. I reminded him of where we first met, and after an initial chat about the reasons we were seeing the osteopath (for me my tennis elbow’ for him a dodgy knee), we started talking. The male companion was his ex, current flat mate and best friend (identical situation to me really). We decided to meet for a coffee, and after a couple of hours of talking in a hip coffee house in South London, we shared a kiss and parted ways.
We started talking everyday. Good mornings, good nights, and everything in between. We saw each other a couple of days later. And then the day after that. Then the weekend.
I did not realise it at the time, but I was really vulnerable from my breakup. My friends warned me, but I would not listen. I was fine, I was ok, I knew what I was doing. Deep down I knew that I was going to get hurt, but fuck it, I wanted to experience how it was together hurt (spoiler alert: it sucks).
I ignored parts of his personality that were clashing with mine; his strong conservative views on current affairs, his total lack of empathy for vulnerable individuals, his disdain for people on benefits, homelessness or drug addiction. I looked past that, because I wanted to like him; and I started liking him. A lot. So, as the weeks kept passing, I started falling for him. On my birthday I went by his before going out with my friends, and he got me a card and baked a cake, and I was elated to see him. It was all going so well. I left feeling ecstatic. That was the last time I saw him.
After that day, our texts started getting sporadic. I would text, and even though he would be online (damn you WhatsApp with your last seen and two blue ticks), he would not respond until hours later, sometimes days later. He was on the dating apps all the time. I did not understand what was happening: how can we go from talking daily to ignoring messages from one day to the other?
During this time I kept blaming myself for this. I should have been more attentive, I should have asked him to meet, I should not have joked that time, could me mentioning that thing put him off, is it my fault? I felt sad. I felt as if I was going through a breakup all over again.
The truth is that I was not building this on new ground. I was constructing this on the ruins of my old relationship. I started building on top of it instead of finding a new ground and starting fresh.
So, I decided to protect myself. When he took two days to respond to my last text, I knew. I knew I deserved better. I deserve someone that does not play games, does not string me along, does not make me feel like it is my fault that he is being an asshole.
So, when he sent a vague ‘let’s meet sometime soon’, I did not respond. It was clearly over. He was not that into me, and I would not spend my time with someone that does not value me.
This really broke my heart. It took me time, tears and endless coffees with friends to move on and stop asking myself: why? What did I do wrong?
My skin got slightly thicker, but I have to say that I am making a conscious effort not to get desensitised. I don’t want to look at people as just another someone; I want together meet them, and if that requires a level of emotional investment, then so be it. If maintaining my humanity costs me a little heart ache every time, fine. Experience is what you get when things don’t go your way; the road will be long and I might meet a few Bs along it but I know that it will only make me stronger in the end.
One step at a time, one date at a time.
*The name and location has been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty).