Not so easy

It’s been about two weeks since I had the first date that I thought was successful, and four days since we last spoke. There still exists a little glimmer of hope within me that this dude will message again, but as time goes on, I think I just need to come to peace with the fact that I was used for sex.

That sounds so dramatic. It was completely consensual and fun. It was a choice and it was enjoyable. In a lot of ways, I like the fact that I’ve now slept with more than one person in my life (wow, 3!) because there’s less mystique around the whole concept.

I don’t like the fact that he was less chatty after we slept together. I don’t like the fact that it felt like it could have gone somewhere. I don’t like the fact that I feel easy and guilty and I’m still checking my WhatsApp – just in case he might have messaged and I didn’t see it.

My relationship with my ex boyfriend started in such a linear way, so I think I’ve expected any subsequent relationship to be easy as well. With the ex, we had four dates before we kissed. He asked me to be his girlfriend a week later. We slept together after. We were together for five years. Granted, we didn’t do the whole ‘marriage and babies’ thing. But the beginning at least was very straightforward.

So I think this has skewed me. I’d never had to do the serial dates and the little disappointments and the mini heartbreaks.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s been less than a year since I was dumped. I don’t need to find my next person so swiftly. I can enjoy this stage or dating and meeting lots of people. I can enjoy the sleeping with people. (If only I could get rid of this stupid guilt).

A friend at work said that she likes this feeling. She likes the uncertainty that occurs before the mundanity sets in.

But maybe I’m just a mundane person.

Using and used. Chasing and chased.

I’m embarrassing myself.

I hate feeling needy, or like I need someone else for validation. I don’t want to depend on someone else’s words or actions to make me feel better, or pretty, or interesting.

So I had the successful date nearly a week ago. It’s mad that it’s already nearly a week ago, and it’s gone so quickly. We saw each other on the Friday, slept together on the Saturday, and have had boring surface level conversations since Sunday.

I was sad about this. I was telling friends about how I felt sad, and how it was upsetting me that the content of his messages had changed. It had moved from ‘Hey beautiful :)’ to ‘Hello, how’s work?’

God, even writing that down I feel petty. I feel embarrassed. I feel petty and embarrassed that I care what someone who, ultimately, I’ve met twice thinks about me. Or how he makes me feel. I’ve told friends about this. The advice varies from ‘just sleep with a lot of people’ to ‘this probably means you’re soulmates, keep messaging him’.

I feel a subtle shift in the content of his messages, and I don’t like that. There’s only so many times I can ask to meet again, or to try and be funny and engaging with little response before I think maybe this isn’t it.

I still have this guilt about having slept with two new people. I firmly believe that if a friend told me she’d slept with half of the world’s population, I wouldn’t judge her. But because it’s me, I feel like I’m being slutty or wrong. There’s also a part of me that feels used, because that’s now two men who’ve slept with me and then been cold in further messages.

But, if to some degree I was using them for validation, or attention, or sex, does it matter that they’re using me too? Do I care that I’m an adult having short, adult, casual relationships following the end of a long term relationship?

I think the issue remains that I’m stuck in the mode of long term relationships. I’m used to having someone to message and care about. Someone who wants my attention, and will provide me with some validation.

So maybe I do need to sleep with a lot of people. Maybe I need to break this current mindset.

Or maybe I just need to find one long term partner and live happily ever after.

Watch this space.

Responsibility and friendship

I think the brief fling is over. I think it probably was a fling in the truest sense of the term because it is over.

I had a little spate of checking to see if he’d messaged me on WhatsApp. I had muted the notifications from him because I thought that it meant I’d have less anxiety about each time the WhatsApp icon popped up. In truth, it meant that I was checking the app all the time to see if there were messages I was missing.

So I had my little obsessive phase. A little blink of time where I thought about him and what it would be like to be together and what it would be like to kiss him again when he’s back in the country. But now that’s gone, and genuinely that’s pretty okay.

(This may have been helped along by the event of me trying to show his profile on Tinder to a friend and realising that his new profile information was asking for kinky kinky sex in the city he’s in.) (Which isn’t something for me, but I don’t mind that it is for him.)

So the journey of post break up continues. It’s not sad anymore, and having a fling has proved to me that I’m capable of touching another person. I might have a date coming up which is always a little exciting.

There’s always going to be that little tie to my ex. My first everything. Someone I think of as a friend, even if friendship right now means sending each other memes on Instagram.

The other day we were chatting about how his band is probably going to break up. He was sad about it and feeling quite defeatist, and then he mentioned that it was karma. Having spent five years with this man, I knew that this was something I was supposed to explore with him.

I briefly thought about responsibility. Is it my responsibility to cheer him up and give pep talks when he’s feeling so down, now? But then, if we’ve made this dedication to friendship, I think it still is. I just won’t give him a snog afterwards.

So. Karma. He tells me it’s karma for how bad he made me feel when he dumped me. Something he feels guilty about ‘at least once a week’. I phoned him – it’s very hard to have an emotional chat through text.

We chatted. I told him how the break up was necessary. How we weren’t perfect for a long time. Things that I’ve thought and written about here, but finally finally got the chance to actually say. I told him how he shouldn’t feel bad for being the one to end things. How I appreciated that on that day, he stayed with me until I asked him to leave. How I appreciated that he kissed me on the forehead. That I was looking to the future a short time later, because it was right to break up.

I got to tell him something that pissed me off about the break up. The one thing he said that’s always gotten under my skin. He didn’t apologise, but that’s okay – I said it. I let out this irritating little bug that’s been sat in my brain for nearly a year, and it was so cathartic.

He told me he was proud of us for being friends. And truthfully, so am I.

Loved

As much as there’s a big part of me that believes my ex boyfriend was never truly ‘in love’ with me, I know that he did love me.

Let me explain what I mean.

To me, ‘in love’ means that you’re intoxicated by a person. You think they’re wonderful and brilliant and exciting, and you’re blinded to their imperfections. You think they’re devastatingly attractive. The sun shines out of their arse. ‘Love’, by comparison, I see as accepting someone for who they are, acknowledging the things about them that aren’t perfect, but caring for them anyway. I think other people think of this as ‘lust vs love’, or ‘the honeymoon period’.

I loved him, and was in love with him. It’s only now with some time and distance, that I can see some of the sacrifices and compromises I made. While those aren’t bad things, I’m appreciative now that I don’t have to make those same sacrifices and compromises.

But I don’t think he was ever in love with me.

And maybe that’s my insecurities, maybe that’s not a realistic way for anyone to ever view another person. Maybe that feeling is only ever short term – ephemeral and therefore beautiful and prized. Maybe, just maybe, he was.

He did love me. He wanted to be near me. He liked to hold my hand. He was willing to drive to see me, and bring me food. He made me music. He trusted me to listen to his deepest feelings, and actively wanted to hear mine.

This short term, casual, friends with benefits, fuck buddy situation I currently have throws my previous relationship into stark relief. As much as I enjoy the fun of this physical relationship, I do miss the feeling of being loved. It’s exciting to feel sexy and physically wanted, but this weekend I’ve felt the heaviness of not having that best friend that I used to have.

What would have been our sixth anniversary is coming up. It feels like a big deal, and it is strange not to have planned something to mark it as I had done the last few years of my life. I think that when that has passed, the date will have less significance to me and I should hopefully feel a lot lighter.

The most important thing is that I don’t miss him (although I do continue to feel that he’s a good person, and I’m glad he’s still somewhat in my life). I miss feeling loved.

Saying no and being picky

So I’ve been on a date. There was a little bit of ‘it’s not him’, but mainly a lot of ‘I don’t think I find you attractive’. He was a brilliant person, bright and funny and friendly. But just not for me.

We had a second date. Bright and funny and friendly. But I was able to say no thank you – politely, kindly, succinctly.

It was revolutionary. I don’t often say no to anybody. With the ex, he was my first ever date and then we were together for five years. In being the dumpee, I had no power in the breakup. Looking back, I had more concerns than I’d ever even articulated to myself. But by being dumped, I wasn’t able to process that. I was only able to feel grief.

So I said no thank you to this lovely man. It was the right decision, but with predictable anxiety, I’ve managed to stress over the decision in the weeks following.

It’s good to know that these things can be amicable. I have a baseline fear of being spoken to rudely or angrily, and I was so grateful that he took my decision with grace. I think I’ll need to unpick at a later time why I might be so scared of being shouted at.

The Internet dating continues. Lots of people are a bit weird. But then again, so am I.

An advert for Bournemouth

I was in Bournemouth yesterday. It’s a place where we went when we were first dating. I remember pretty vividly (we would have only been a few months in) he knelt down to tie his shoelaces and made a joke that he wasn’t proposing to me. Then, I probably would have followed him to the moon if he’d asked, so it was a little bit of a stab, but it didn’t matter. We went to the oceanarium and saw otters, which is probably the best part of that memory. We played mini golf and I let him win because he complained that he was doing so poorly.

We were in Bournemouth on his 24th birthday. We walked up and down a pier and he talked about how it wasn’t his best birthday ever. We went to a music shop and I offered to buy him a piece of new equipment. He couldn’t choose anything, but we left the shop hand in hand and felt like we had a pleasant enough day.

We were in Bournemouth for his 26th birthday this year. We ate lunch in a restaurant which overlooked the sea. He didn’t enjoy his food much, but had a couple of pieces of my fish and chips. We went to the amusement arcade, and I wonder if I’ll ever go to an amusement arcade without thinking of him.

In writing all of this down, it sounds like I don’t have particularly fond memories of him and Bournemouth, but I do. It feels like he’s all over that place.

I’ve been several other times. Once for a particularly boring hen do, once for an afternoon tea with two friends. Yesterday I was there for a comedy show. I like the aviary that’s in the public gardens. I like the seafront. I like the cat cafe in Bournemouth, and its policy of hiring staff from diverse backgrounds.

But I was still thinking of him a lot. Which is shit, because I’m so much less sad about him, to the point where the sadness feels unfamiliar and intrusive, rather than my default.

I’m supposed to be seeing him in two days (not in Bournemouth). We had a short text conversation about an hour ago and arranged a time to meet up. I’m wondering just now, however, what I want to get out of seeing him.

On the one hand, he’s probably the only person in the world who would understand why I feel sad. He has all of those memories too, and probably has even more that I can’t think of. He’s recently been to Amsterdam, so it would be pretty cool to hear about his trip there. I could tell him about this comedy gig I saw, and about how much my mother’s been irritating me.

But then there’s the question of what I get out of this. Why do I need to see him and have these conversations, when really all I’ll feel is a sense of missing him and a big question mark over why we needed to break up.

I could ask him some things about the break up, some of the things he said. Would that give me closure? I could ask him if he ever wanted to move in with me and build a life, but I think I probably know the answer to that one.

So now, at almost midnight on a night before a 13-hour shift, I feel like I want to enter into a goodbye text conversation.

I want to tell him that I loved him, and that I’ll always be fond of him. I would tell him that I genuinely hope he has success in his music and his career. I would tell him that despite how petty I sometimes feel, I want him to meet a person who completed him in a way I never could.

And then I would want to tell him we shouldn’t meet up any more. It doesn’t give us anything, and they’re occasions that are platitudes as a shadow of when we would talk about the world.

But I can’t do that over text at midnight. So maybe I’ll have to tell him at lunch on Sunday.