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.

single in the sandpit

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!

 

little reminders

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.

sod’s law part ii

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The problem with feelings is that they don’t go away just because you do.

And thanks to the invention of WhatsApp (and to my shock AND embarrassment, Snapchat), aided by Dubai’s near constant provision of WiFi, to begin with it felt like I hadn’t gone anywhere at all.

I’m well versed in long distance relationships. Not recently, but I’ve covered off nearly four years of not residing in the same city as boyfriends in my dating past. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think it suits me: a week or two to be as reclusive or as wild as I please (because it’s usually one or the other – or more often – one as a result of the other), followed by heart-hurting longing but ultimately the sweet satisfaction of a reconnection. 

This time, connections are severed. I’m clinging onto already fading memories of jokes shared and conversations spoken, of sleep lost and chemistry felt. Memories that are unlikely to be repeated soon, if at all. It wasn’t even a boyfriend this time, but somehow I’m missing him more than anyone else I left behind.

He’s the only one I feel I’ve flown away from forever. Friends are part of my being, I just won’t be able to go on without them. I might not see them this month, or even next – but I will, and it will be again and again.

But he feels gone – or going, at least. The excitement of possibility dwindles, still leaving only ‘what if’ behind. A question that was never destined to have an answer, but one I still can’t stop asking myself.

sod’s law

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Sod’s law says that if something can go wrong, it will.

But what do you call it when you meet a guy you really like (the first one you’ve liked in ages) only days after you’ve decided to leave the country?

What do you call it when you’ve found someone rare: a decent man that actually texts back, turns up on time and makes the bed without asking? A man that you have genuine chemistry with?

What do you call it when he is the right amount of teasing, but complimentary; of silent, but talkative; of just like you, but totally not at all. 

What do you do when he says the very words you’ve been avoiding thinking for weeks, “I wonder where this could’ve gone?”

So of course, you also wonder, because it could’ve gone nowhere, but it equally could’ve gone somewhere too. You wonder if it could’ve been so much more.

But you know that it doesn’t matter what you wonder, not really. The decision to leave is done, is bigger, is still absolutely the right thing to do.

He is still amazing, it was great whilst it lasted.