the anti-dating dating blog: booze and me

The last time I drank, it was a genuine effort on my part to have a ‘sensible’ one. It came at the end of a four week long stint of visitors, leaving dos, ladies’ nights and birthdays. I’d been drunk pretty much every Wednesday night through to Sunday morning for the best part of a month. I was done. I needed a rest. I really wanted to go to this birthday brunch, but I really did not feel like drinking – it was the perfect opportunity to put elusive moderation into practice.

Instead, after easing myself in gently by making two lager shandies last almost two hours (a feat whilst at a brunch, it must be said), I suddenly, out of nowhere, slammed my foot to the floor. From 7pm, memories get hazy. By 8pm, I’d knocked back several vodkas during a short stop-off at my friend’s apartment and I was in a taxi to a bar I barely remember being in. At 9pm, my one remaining sensible thought was that I needed to get myself home. Immediately. I fear that I thought I was being smart by leaving the night well before it got out of hand, but in reality I was already beyond gone.

The next morning, texting from my bed, my body aching with nerves and shame, my friend and I pieced together the rest of the night via time stamps, call logs and taxi change. There was my cab ride home that took 20 minutes longer and cost 30% more than it should have done. There was the call to the man I am still pining after, mere seconds of our six minute long conversation in tact in my mind. There was the text to the (very lovely, but not for me) guy I’d dated last year saying we should hang out again, even though (despite him being very lovely) I don’t really want to hang out again. Then, later that day, there was the last-minute appointment with a doctor to get antibiotics for a UTI – unfortunately that hour is crystal clear and was pretty painful.

It could have been worse. I’ve had worse nights and worse mornings. There was no vomiting. I woke up in my own bed, alone. I had all my belongings and there were no McDonald’s wrappers on my bedroom floor.

But this time, something clicked. Something that said, this is enough now.

Deep down, I’ve felt negatively about alcohol for a while. I always drink that little bit more than everyone else, or am that little bit more hungover, or have the little bit more outrageous tale to tell the next day. I have never been a two-drinks-and-home type. Those people baffle me. If I’m drinking, I am drinking. I’m getting the first round in, I’m getting the bottle because it’s a better deal than two glasses, I’m staying for ‘just one more’, I’m always the last to leave.

And it’s getting in the way of the life I want to lead.

I was asked recently to close my eyes and describe my (idealised) perfect life. The home, the location, the job, the free time. None of my answer included spending my Saturday mornings hiding from the sun whilst my insides recovered from their latest battering.

Similarly, not long ago I reviewed my Dubai bucket list – a list I started shortly after moving here, which I’ve been ticking off and adding to ever since. It’s an interesting mix of day trips, outdoor activities and cultural experiences. Again, ‘get drunk and forget stuff’ does not feature once.

And so, I think I’ve come to the conclusion it’s time to give an alcohol-free life a go. I know moderation does not and will not work for me. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again. But right now, it’s easier for me to say no thanks than I’ll just have one.

the anti-dating dating blog: calmer waters

I’ve read a piece of writing advice a few times in a few different places recently: you shouldn’t write about something whilst you’re still going through it.

After harbouring a (not so) secret dream of becoming a dating columnist for gosh-knows-how-long, and after spending the last almost five years single and doing a lot of dating, it almost seems stupid that now, at this moment in time, I would decide to start writing about dating, when I am doing precisely… none of it.

Maybe that advice is onto something. Now that I’m not knee deep in it, wading through the bullshit ocean that is dating in 2018, I feel like I can reflect upon it. Really, I should have been writing about it all this time. Since my big heartbreak (I know, yawn), I’ve acquired tales of blind dates, Tinder dates, dating my friend’s friends, dating my own friends. Amazing dates, terrible dates and a whole load of mediocre ones too.

I’m the most single I’ve been in, well forever. You might think that there’s single and there’s in a relationship, but there really are fifty shades of complicated in between, and I’ve been madly trying to find that elusive spark with someone for a long time now. I still haven’t found it – at least not a long lasting one – and I’m kinda tired. I’m tired of the emotional rollercoaster I put myself through. I build up my hopes unattainably high and then struggle to pick myself up from the self-esteem blow when they are inevitably not met. I try to force emotionally unavailable men into an availability that due to location, or timing, or sometimes just their personality, does not exist. I. Am. Tired. Of. It.

I’ve deleted all trace of myself from all dating apps. I’ve stopped asking friends if they have anyone that they can set me up with. I am actively trying (and it’s really, really hard) not to imagine a date, a sleepover, a mini-break, a holiday, a wedding… with every attractive man I come into contact with. Call it crazy if you wish, I call it being a total, and sometimes totally flooring, romantic.

To continue with the (somewhat tenuous) water analogies, I’m starting to sail on calmer waters. I’m not out there surfing, trying to catch my next big wave. I’m sitting on my sun lounger, attempting to be content. Only when I am completely and totally happy being here, being myself, for myself, will I step back out there into the ocean.