Second firsts

I met somebody on Tinder. It was never going to be a long lasting thing, but it was brilliant to have some new firsts, especially as what would have been my sixth anniversary approaches.

So.

My friend has developed a habit of swiping for me on dating apps. She’s married, and met her husband before the advent of dating apps, so it’s all a big novelty to her.

I can understand why: there’s so much weird humanity on display on Tinder. You get to view these strange little conceptions that people have made of themselves, and briefly you imagine a life with this person. You can think about what it would be like to be with a man who has a child already. Could I be a stepmother? Or a man who’s very into the gym. Would he make me more active? A woman who sings in a choir. Would she inspire my creativity? Of course there are terrible people, but there’s a little bit of the romantic in me that likes to imagine the many different lives that splinter into the horizon.

So.

My friend was swiping. She saw this man, and swiped right on him. And several others. She’s fairly indiscriminate. He and I start talking. It becomes flirty. He comes to my house one evening. That was a first for me.

But everything else that followed were second firsts. It’s exhilarating to know that someone fancied me, but also that I fancied someone. It’s exciting to kiss somebody different and notice the different feelings and emotions and sensations. It’s hilarious to have a hickey at the age of 27 and have people take the piss out of me at work.

So.

I relished the newness. I knew it would never be a long term thing. He has big grand life plans that take him far away from my brand of a quiet life in England. But again, that splintering of an alternate life was glimmering in the horizon, and I did think about following him to different countries, learning new languages and being more adventurous. Realistically, though, it’s not to be.

That first day, it revolutionised my thinking. I was so blown away that I could meet someone casually, and that it’s easy and fun and positive. It made me realise that I am an adult who can make adult decisions, and there could be more for me out there than falling into a long term monogamous relationship and firing out some babies.

Today we were talking and flirting all day. Nothing came of it, but I did ask about meeting again. To which he revealed that he’s out of the country as of Saturday.

I’d been discussing with my friends about the casual aspect of this encounter. It is great to have no commitment. I liked the way that I knew it was going to be a limited time. But I’d imagined the limited time would be a few months away and not two days away.

I’m feeling sad, presently. And I’d been so pleased with myself about all of those independent thoughts. So now to realise that maybe I liked him (or the way he made me feel) more than I’d thought is deflating.

So.

Has this been a good experience? I’ve proved to myself that I can have a different type of relationship or encounter that I’d thought. I’ve had it proved to me that I can be thought of as sexy or attractive by someone who isn’t my ex. I can have physical experiences I haven’t had for a long time.

The thing that’s troubling me is have I been used?

Or, actually, have I used someone else?

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.

New normal

It’s honestly wonderful to get to a point where I don’t know how many weeks it’s been since we broke up.

I like numbers. I like patterns in numbers, and collecting numbers and dates and amounts. So to be in a place where I’m not quantifying how long it’s been is wonderful. It’s a new normal, and it’s nice to be on this even keel.

Of course there are bits where I miss him, but as I’ve alluded to before, it’s no longer about him in the specific, and more about missing having a someone who is there for me.

My example this week is that I’ve had a cold. He was never that great about looking after me when I was unwell, but he is a kind soul who would listen to me whine about how grim I felt. So I’ve missed the opportunity to be pathetic in my minor respiratory virus, but I didn’t miss his brand of comfort specifically.

In other news, I’ve applied for a dating show. For any British person that might read this – I’ve applied for First Dates. It’s a big show, and it must of thousands of applicants. It was a fun diversion to spend a bit of time writing about who I am and who I’d like to date. It also gave me that little fix I was getting from downloading multiple dating apps – the validation of knowing that someone might fancy me, and the satisfaction that I could act upon these urges if I wanted to.

I don’t think I am particularly desperate to meet anybody at the moment. It remains pleasant to just worry about myself, although that does mean that my house is a shithole, because I’m the only one that’s been in it for weeks. And the cats definitely don’t care if there’s dirty dishes in the sink.

The one slightly tricky thing about applying for the dating show was that it asked who I’m interested in. In an effort to attempt to be a good bisexual, I chose the option of ‘looking for men and women’.

The reality of that remains scary. I went on a little extended daydream about what would happen if I were accepted onto the television show, and what would happen if they matched me with a woman in order to make good television, and what would happen if my friends and family saw that.

Of course, it’s incredibly unlikely that I would be accepted onto the show, but what if? What if?

I’m still the same person

He broke up with me on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I lounged around the house with my mother looking after me. On Thursday, I attempted to eat at a restaurant and promptly felt nauseous after every song in the background made me think of him. On Friday, I saw a light-hearted musical film and cried more than is appropriate. On Friday night, I prepared for my shift and now I’m here, on my break, eating crisps.

Crisps are an excellent thing to eat no matter what is going on in your life because crisps don’t ask you how you’re feeling.

On the Tuesday, I made a Facebook post about the breakup. It felt a bit strange to share something so intensely personal about 6 hours after it happened. But I couldn’t bear the thought that people at work would ask me about him and I would have to have the same awkward conversation about my heartbreak several times.

The upside of the Facebook post is that my wonderful, supportive, caring group of colleagues know and are treating me kindly accordingly. The downside is that for other people, this is a minor drama that they’re distantly aware of. It’s not impactful to them. It’s not important beyond the realms of quickly making sure I’m okay. This has forced the breakup to become normality, when for me, the thing that keeps gutting me is it’s new and longlasting strangeness.

I work in a team full of women. I can struggle and think of maybe a handful of single people, and one of those is because she is asexual and aromantic and has no desire to be in a couple with anybody. It’s hard to hear about people’s husbands and partners and boyfriends and girlfriends, when my best friend has left me. It’s tricky to hear stories about ‘aren’t men silly’ when my security blanket has decided not to be mine.

And I suppose that’s what this feels like. It feels like I’m exposed, and without that comfort of somebody who was ‘my person’ and dedicated to me. It really does feel like my security blanket is gone, because when you’re happily ensconced in a couple, there’s a certain amount of immunity from the bullshit that single people face.

In getting back to work, I’ve been forced to realise that I’m still the same person. I’m a health care worker, and my patients still need me and listen to me as ever before, because as far as they’re concerned, I am a concerned and available professional that’s there for them.

It feels strange to put on my uniform and put on my professionalism and embrace it like the facet of my personality that it is. It feels strange that I am changed and sad, when externally I look as I ever did before.

Ultimately, I take comfort in the fact that I can function. It’s good to know that I’m not useless just because he doesn’t love me anymore.