Dating, Eleven Times Two

The grass is greenest where you water it

Are you single right now? If so, when was the last time you were out somewhere, a bar, the gym, the supermarket, on the train – anywhere, where you saw someone that you thought was so attractive that your face went warm? Can you remember? If you can – what did you do about it? Did you bite the bullet and say hello, or even smile at them? Or did you let them pass you by and watch them walk out of your life forever, kicking yourself as they went? I’m hedging my bets on the latter for the most part, right?

I’ve been ‘officially’ single for a year next week, and give or take 8 months of ‘trying again’ (I use the term loosely as the only thing that was trying was the situation) I’ve actually met up with and dated 5 people since. Some lasted a few weeks, some didn’t get past the first date, and as you all know by now – one lasted 43 minutes. This is not taking into account the COUNTLESS matches, WhatsApp messages, ‘subtle’ liking of everything posted on social media, slides into DM’s and snatched kisses and swapped phone numbers on nights out. Where has it gotten me? Well – a lot further than you might think.

This week I made a decision – to come off all dating apps and use my precious time more productively. I’ve come off them before of course, and always for the same reason – in my opinion, they don’t work. For some, they might, but for me, a traditionalist and eternal optimist at heart, they are most certainly not the way forward for me.

It’s fucking depressing. This is not how I want to meet the love of my life. When you are on a dating site or app you are literally one of perhaps 50 to 100 right swipes, and THOUSANDS of left – instantly writing you off as a ‘no’. This works both ways of course, and when you do match there’s that little spark of excitement… then mostly nothing. BECAUSE NO-ONE FUCKING SPEAKS! No-one wants to ‘submit’ and make the first move. There’s way too much pride involved. Will I look desperate? Will they reply? How long should I wait? Should I ask for their phone number? What if they don’t look like their profile picture? What if they’re a mong? What if they’re a serial killer?

NOPE. Sorry, that shit is not for me. If I like someone – they know it. I’m the person that smiles, I’m the person that will position myself next to you at the bar and strike up a conversation. I am the person that will text first. I am the person that takes that chance – because what exactly have I got to lose by doing so? You get out of life exactly what you put in. So if you think that you’re so fucking special that people should be falling at your feet with little to no effort on your part, then kindly step aside. I have no time for you.

Unfortunately – this attitude seems to be something of an epidemic in 2017. Effort is non-existent, ‘Ghosting’ is such a strong phenomenon that it actually has a name and the art of conversation is reduced to WhatsApp messages that can easily be misconstrued and can cause you to stare at your phone wondering why they haven’t replied for 20 mins, when they were texting back faster than you can left-swipe a man in a hat for most of the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I have met some brilliant people on dating apps, my ex being one of them – but the fact that none of them have actually worked out, in the long run, makes me reconsider whether this millennial approach to relationships is all it’s cracked up to be. I want to meet someone organically – someone that catches my eye, or me his and we simply have to speak to one another before we disappear forever – you know like our parents and grandparents had to do it. Those relationships last – because the very foundation on which they were built was REAL, and required effort, commitment, and perseverance. When did this stop being a thing? And how can we bring it back?

My attitude toward love and dating took a massive shift when I went to LA. I went for a week, on my own, and the second the plane touched the tarmac and I caught sight of the giant LAX sign – I knew this was the place I would one day call home.

One week I was there, and in that time I was asked out 3 times and went on a date that was one of the best I’ve ever been on. Their approach, attitude, and outlook is SO spot on that it physically hurts me to think that people elsewhere are so different. Los Angeles is the city of dreamers, of go-getters and opportunists. It’s the city where people know what they want and they go after it, with everyone around them cheering them on. I had a busker break into ‘All The Small Things’ because I passed him wearing a Blink 182 top. I had a man say hello in Starbucks, then pay for my cup of tea on the sly without me even knowing or waiting for me to acknowledge his kind gesture. I had a guy stop me in the middle of the street to say “sorry to bother you, I just wanted to tell you I think you’re beautiful. Have a great day.” I had a guy chase me down the road to ask for my phone number because he’d seen me in the audience of ‘Mike and Molly’ and had been waiting for almost 3 hours to speak to me…

The date I went on? How’s this for a story… I was taking myself off on a hike up to the Griffith Observatory, and I got SPECTACULARLY lost in one of the more affluent areas of the Hollywood Hills – somewhere near Bruno Mars’ house by all accounts. A car drove past and pulled into a driveway just as I was running out of pavement. As he got out, I asked him where the observatory was, as I was clearly lost. He was GORGEOUS. He told me to go back the way I came, turn left through Los Feliz and take a left at the entrance to the park. I said my ‘Thank You’s, did an about turn and headed down the hill. A few minutes later, a car pulled up next to me (different from the one before) and the same guy wound the window down, and said: “listen I’m going that way, I don’t want you getting lost again so can I drop you off on the way?”

This is clearly every parent’s worst nightmare, as it’s drummed into us from a very early age not to get into a car with a stranger. But I knew in my gut that this guy was genuine, and so I gladly accepted. He told me his name was PJ, he’d lived in LA for 4 years (he was Australian) and asked me about myself and my trip so far. When we got to the entrance to Griffith Park, he pulled up and said – without the slightest hint of cheese or smarm – “Take my number in case you want picking up later – or if you fancy doing something before you go home because I’d love to take you out”.

Can you imagine that happening in Birmingham? Or England? Or anywhere else in the world you have been? More to the point – where else in the world would you get into the car, take the number and say yes to a date? PJ was awesome. It was never going to go anywhere as we went out the day before I flew home. I got back from cocktails at Chateau Marmont 45 minutes before my middle of the night taxi was due to pick me up to take me to the airport, and I literally floated on air all the way home.

This is how it should be.

I’ve tried every dating site and app known to man. PoF, Tinder, Bumble, Match (I got a refund – twice), Zoosk – even ‘Rock Music Lovers’ (the people on there are exactly as you would imagine them to be. I got another refund) and I have met a whole plethora of different guys. Like the one who:

  • Cut our date short so he could get home in time to have his protein shake
  • Had a foreign Facebook name, 3 phones and largely undeliverable WhatsApp messages (then told me I had trust issues, mate – you think?)
  • Said he didn’t want to go and see Linkin Park because “what’s the point? I have their CD.”
  • Popped up on Facebook a week after our date with a profile picture that clearly displayed him lovingly holding hands with another man
  • Was STUNNING – but was a raving coke-head
  • Wanted to make me his phone screensaver after one night (it wasn’t even a date – just met him. Wow!)
  • Bragged “I earned over a grand this week, this glass of rose is on me” (gee thanks, bab)
  • Refused to accept it when I ended things because (and I quote verbatim) – “You feel like we should break up, so to you we have, but I feel like we shouldn’t, so we’re not.” WHAT?! How do you argue with that logic?
  • Had “never been out with a black woman and wanted to add it to his list…” First of all, I’m clearly not black, second of all, WTF?!
  • BLATANTLY ignored me when I bit the bullet and said hello via a Facebook message after weeks of liking each other’s stuff. Now he’s commenting and liking my Instagram posts as, of course, he’s been deleted.
  • Lives in Los Angeles
  • Was hilarious, told me he loved me after a month then just stopped texting.

And of course, the one who broke my heart into a billion pieces, and made me the woman I am today.
I look back at every single one of these and yet still I have a smile on my face. Why? Because I’m really fucking happy. I am 32 years old, and for the first time in my life I’m not panicking that I’m running out of time, I’m not latching onto every conversation envisaging a future together, I’m not looking for it and I sure as hell am not settling.

I know – blah blah blah the same old shit every thirty-something women churns out to prove that they’re strong, independent bitches who ‘don’t need no man’. Here’s the difference – I mean it when I say I’m happy as I am. I have my shit together, I own my own home, I have two beautiful little kittens (cliché – and what?) I have a job I love, time to see and spend with my friends and loved ones and so many plans on my iPhone calendar that it makes me a little dizzy! Do I want to find love? Of course I do, who doesn’t? I’d love to meet that person that makes my heart skip a beat every time his name appears on my phone, who I can be truly myself with and who makes it all seem so fun and easy – like it should be, and he will come. However he won’t ‘complete me’, or be my ‘other half’, he will be a wonderful bonus to a life that I’m already head over heels in love with.