Last weekend I went for a roast dinner (my first one in Dubai!) with three women I met via a meetup group (more on making friends in a new town another time). We had all met at least one of the group a couple of times before, but this was the first time we’d spent any time together as this combination of four.

Conversation was ticking along pleasantly, and about an hour in, someone asked “so, who out of us is single?” It turned out, three of us were. I was really surprised – a 75% single rate is probably the highest I’ve found in any social situation I’ve been in in nine months. It feels like everyone in Dubai is married, or at least well on their way to be. In my late twenties in London, I was always aware that I was in the minority as a single person, but as a 30 year old woman in Dubai, I feel very much like the odd one out. Women my age don’t move here on their own. They move with their husbands – either following him a few months after he’s set up here or embarking on the adventure together. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me who I’m out here with (I’m old enough not to need parental supervision), who I live with (just myself, and it is WONDERFUL), or even just as blunt as where my husband is (you tell me love, you tell me).

The relationship status question opened the floodgates. The usual topics of ‘why is Tinder so awful’, ‘why is Bumble such hard work’, ‘why are men so terrified of commitment’ (the constant million dollar question of anyone unlucky enough to fling themselves into the dating fire pit) filled the conversation. Turns out there are single men here, they just all sound they should be gracing the pages of Take a Break magazine. I kicked off proceedings with my most recent dating story, but it turns out ‘he was perfectly lovely for two months, then ran for the hills at the slightest whiff of a relationship’ pales into actually being quite pleasant when compared to:

The story of the guy who rescued the woman he was dating from a not-insignificant adventure sport accident, stayed with her in hospital, provided for her in the 2+ months she wasn’t working, persuaded her to visit him in Oman, then the day before her flight, ghosted her. Communication severed – calls unanswered, texts not replied to, just like that. Only to be spotted on Instagram a few weeks later enjoying a helicopter ride with his new beau.

The story of the guy who lied about his nationality, lied about his job… and even lied about the fact that he was going to pay half the rent of the apartment he was sharing with his girlfriend, effectively leaving her homeless at twenty minutes notice.

The story of the guy who entered a UK-UAE long distance relationship with a woman who was living here, introducing her to all his extended family via Skype (including his nephews), eventually leading (after a couple of years) to her being persuaded to quit her job and return home from the Middle East to be with him, only to discover that said nephews were in fact sons, and there was also a wife in the picture.

Wish me luck everyone, dating in 2018 is going to (continue to) be a bumpy ride!

 

Even when it was only fleeting, even when it never got a label, there’s still the little reminders that you were starting to open your heart to someone, that you were starting to let them in.

The ice cream in your freezer than he bought for you to share.

The extra towel hanging on the back of the bathroom door.

The address of his apartment in your Careem ‘saved places’.

The toothbrush head you gave him, sitting next to yours.

The Skyscanner search for the trip you were going to take together.

The bigger-than-normal bottle of milk in your fridge, now going to waste, so you could both have tea at the weekend.

The reservation reminder in your inbox for the dinner-with-a-view.

The abruptly ended WhatsApp conversation that’s rapidly descending down your Chats list.

Image in this post from the Abandoned Love series by Peyton Fulford, see more on her Instagram.

JB1

Most of the time, I like to think I’m a pretty sensible, level headed single person. I don’t freak out when spending long periods of time in my own company, I usually remember that soul mates don’t actually exist and I read articles like this one that make me realise that third wheeling can be really quite fun (and also funny). And more often than not, I feel bloody smug that I’m going home to nothing more than a green tea and my Miffy pyjamas.

But sometimes, weeks like last week happen. And last week, two things happened to not knock my balance right off.

Let’s talk about those things.

The first thing

The early part of the week marked the anniversary of the night I met the person I spent 97% of the last year madly in love with/perpetually confused by/crying over. Often I was all three at the same time. It was the most awesomely spontaneous, crazily passionate yet emotionally tumultuous relationship I’ve ever been in. And the great weekend that started it all was flashing all over my Facebook timeline, a reminder of that thing I used to have. In the words of Justin Bieber, FEELS.

The second thing

So, what else is a girl to do when moping over her ex, but to head into her iPhone for a string of disappointing and disjointed virtual conversations?

I matched with a guy on Tinder, totally my ‘type’ (y’know, the type that you think is your type, but in reality you have never dated anyone like that…) We started chatting; it’s all going well. He mentions the usual – where he lives, where he works, interests, his football team… and then the penny drops. I know that there is probably more than one Spurs season ticket holder within a 5 kilometre radius of my house, but in that moment I just knew. This guy had already been on a date with one of my friends.

I also know that the chances of this happening aren’t actually that slim – there are only so many men of a certain age, in a certain place, on a certain app at any one time. But these two things combined sent me into one of those OHMYHGOD-I’m-the-only-single-person-left-and-it’s-gong-to-be-this-way-forever panics.

In order to alleviate this panic – and also because I’m a maths-loving, curiously minded, highly analytical person (as well as a bit bored and being left to my own devices for a little bit too long), I decided to try and work out the actual chances of me and my bestie matching the same dude on Tinder.

Strap yourself in folks, stats are coming you way

Yes, I actually went on the Internet and looked up official government statistics. I’m not apologising, this was a really fun way to spend my Saturday afternoon (DORK).

Here goes.

• There are 8.2 million people in London – 4.2 million female, 4 million male

• Of these Londoners, 1.6 million people are aged 30-44 (this the closest age bracket to my own age that I could use)

• 804,000 of these people are male

• 314,000 of these men are single and have never been married

• When you add back in divorced and widowed (if you don’t mind the baggage), this goes back up a bit to 353,000

• BUT then, you have to take off people that aren’t married, but are co-habiting (SINNERS!) – this takes off quite a few, so the number drops again, leaving…

• 195,000 single men aged 30-44 living in London

• HOWEVER, this doesn’t account for men that are coupled, but not co-habiting, and also makes no assumption as to sexual orientation (both of which will drop the number further)

• Then of course, you have to take off: men that think that rugby is better than football, men that aren’t feminists, men that think that tying a jumper around their waist is okay (or whatever list of non-negotiables you’d personally like to apply to your pool of potential partners)

So, making some very, very rough estimations (this is where it turns from actual hard facts to just me guessing…) there are about 115,000 men of a certain age, in a certain place…

…but as for on a certain app? I tried to find some figures to suggest how many users of Tinder there were in London (yep, this thing went DEEP), but came up blank. Judging on my experience though, I’m going with ‘quite a lot’ of those 115,000.

So, my conclusion is this: although I have just proved to the internet that I am actually quite crazy, there is still a relatively good chance that there is at least one person that might find it at least a little bit endearing, maybe even something more.

Ahhh, thank you maths.

(For those that are interested, the number is ever so slightly lower when the same logic is applied to women. For those that are really interested, I have all the data in a spreadsheet. And I have data sources. Oh, and we should probably date.)