Which do you prefer?

Hello dear reader. I have some interesting news for you.

I’ve been re-writing the first third of my dating diaries into the first person. I’ve done this because I think it makes for a more exciting, better read. My memory has also brought up some undisclosed tidbits that I’ve added in. This first volume of three is nearing readiness for publication.

I spent time contacting agents and publishers, but to no avail. Nobody is interested in publishing a story of 450k words, not even if you’re an established author. I have no choice but to go the self-publishing route.

I’ll start off on Kindle, see how it goes then market on the other platforms. I’ll give you advance warning of when I’m launching because for the first week I’ll make it free so that you can grab a copy (and hopefully leave a helpful review).

Right now my most immediate obstacle is the all-important ebook cover. I’ve created a few variants and need to make sure that I’m going with the right one.

I’d love to have your input as to which one you prefer.

A simple “A”, “B”, etc in the comments below will suffice.

No cover is the finished product, so if you have a suggestion, then I’m all ears.

If you wish to be more elaborate then I’m keen to know your thoughts (not just about the cover but self-publishing and marketing) on greyknight@meanddating.com

So, which of these covers do you prefer?

A – From Bags to Bitches
B – Me, dating & love
C – Me and Dating
D – From Bags to Bitches
E – Did I date you?
F – Me dating love
G – Man dates love

Retro-introspective

A two year-old girl hobbles earnestly across a stony courtyard. The scratching at her feet she ignores, such is her intent. Her faithful plush penguin she drags along the ground, his face besmirched. Arriving at an open doorway she sees a man huddled over a keyboard, his fingers pressing angrily on the plastic before him. He doesn’t notice her.

“Daddy! Mummy is owie!” she exclaims.

The man snaps out of his state and rejoins the world. He stands up as the toddler deftly steps aside from the door and she leads him. A few strides later and the frowning man is in his troubled home. The love of his life is slumped at the bottom of the stairs; she’s clutching her ankle.

That is how The Artist and I resumed communication.

A few months on from that incident and a bonfire of our collective histories is ablaze in our back yard. We’ve decided to gamble our futures on a move to her native alpine homeland. It is not without its risks and drawbacks, but we believe it to be the best of our options. I consider it an eminently better environment to raise our daughter. During this time of Brexit neither of us has had any luck on the job front. I can’t see either of us foreigners being first choice for anybody in the job market in the current climate of fear and hate. When people see our surnames or hear our accents mental doors close to us; that’s how it seems. In the twenty-two years I’ve lived on this island every day people have asked me where I am from. Several times a year I’ve been told to “F*ck off back to where I come from”. This happened again a few weeks ago and was the final straw for me. Since the Brexit vote xenophobia has become socially acceptable. I don’t want to raise my daughter in such a bigoted environment.

In two weeks’ time we cram what we can into our little car and set off on a short, one-way road-trip across Europe. Our unsold, needed possessions are going into long-term storage until we have a new home. In the meantime we’re toughing it out in a thirty square metre apartment that The Artist inherited. It has no central heating, but we hope to move on before Winter. It’s in a country town where the mayor gets drunk at the harvest festival and nobody cares. The greatest danger is from fruit falling from the trees that line the few streets as Winter approaches.

Our focus will be on getting jobs and legalizing my status in our new country. If we find a bargain property we’ll buy it, but we’re not counting on that. Her heart isn’t into this move, but her head is. Our collective motivation is not as good as it needs to be to see us through the inevitable tough times that come with emigration.

This is just a continuation of what has been an unending period of constant change in my life. Things just don’t show signs of slowing down, never mind settling down. I feel totally worn out by it all. Getting through each day feels like an achievement.

It’s usually when I have my child on my lap and I’m feeding her that my thoughts wander over to what is right for her. The crap that has filled my head all my life has culminated in a fruitless dead-end. I’m concerned about what I’m going to fill her head with. I just don’t know what is right any more. I’m tasked with building this beautiful little person up while at the same time I’m in a state of deconstruction. I feel like such a hypocrite for telling her things that I don’t believe in any more. For example, I don’t believe that always doing the right thing, the good thing, will be rewarded. Karma is a deceitful bitch. I don’t believe that sharing is caring. I don’t believe that bad people will eventually be punished. Where is the evidence that supports those notions?

Through now being a father and seeing the goodness inherent in my delightful child, I see how far I have fallen. This incessantly happy, laughing little girl shows me daily just how much of a miserable old bastard I have become.

How did this sorry state of affairs come into being?

I flip through my memory bank yearning to make sense of all that has happened to me. My days of dating and dumping loom large in my psyche. It has been pivotal in me arriving at where I am. It is also a microcosm of what has ailed me all my life. I look back on it all now with very mixed feelings.

I started out dating because I wanted to feel loved. I wanted to be in love. I wanted that giddy feeling when I thought of The One. I liked my heart skipping a beat when a new message arrived. The whole mechanism of online dating slowly sucked me into a world of easy sex and careless, disrespectful treatment of and by others. The pursuit of perfection was enabled by merely clicking away or swiping on a device. We’ve all become disposable commodities. How banal.

Yet I went along with it all. I was complicit and I’m ashamed of this. My morals eroded and my perception of women worsened. I don’t think I’m a better person for it all, just a different one. “You can stay as you are or you could go online dating” might work as edgy slogan for a dating site, especially a naughty one.

Through my online escapades I came to learn of my Avoidant Personality Disorder. Working on it is proving a lengthy process. I consider its discovery as one of the greatest benefits of my dating days. It takes time to change lifelong malformed ideas. We all act out our beliefs, often disappointed that the world didn’t play along. “What’s wrong with the world?” we lament. We are our world. Instead we should be asking, “What’s wrong with us?”.

Delving deeper within myself I now know that this unsatisfying chain of events kicked off long ago when I wore a younger man’s clothes. I told myself that the woman before me was the best I could hope for, so we married. I compromised. When we inevitably divorced I was stunned to my core. In a rookie mistake I sought to fill the agonizing void in my existence and went online dating while divorce papers were still pending. Yes, I was on the rebound. I didn’t take time out to get my shit together. I met my now ex-girlfriend and she was the polar opposite of my ex-wife. It was an exciting time…initially. It wasn’t long before every day felt like a roller coaster with her; immense high and low at least once a day. After a humdrum marriage this didn’t seem so bad.

When I gained a clearer perspective and saw just how badly I had been played, I eventually moved on, albeit with an abortive initial attempt. What I did was a repeat of before. I had barely finished collecting the last of my stuff when my first online dating profile went live. I was homeless and unemployed. I needed some feel-good factor to boost my self-confidence. Again, I was on the rebound.

The slew of women I met began well enough, but I now know that this was because they were off paid-for sites. As the pool of suitable candidates on these websites dried up I moved onto the free dating sites. That is when things took a turn for the worse. My negative time on the dating scene I attribute to restricting myself to what then was the novelty of Tinder. My nadir was The MILF of Xmas, another Tinderella. Only once I switched back to using paid-for sites – which tend to enjoy a fillip in January – did I find The Artist.

But wait, there’s more. Yes, there’s a whole other layer below all of this and I consider it the crux of my existence, my malaise. It’s my working life. It’s always been a disaster. I left high school and entered a vortex of good ideas and necessary choices. Never in my working life have I taken a job I wanted; it’s was always what I needed. My love-life has always been the gauze that soothed this festering sore. My marriage had at it core a mutual desire to travel, but that was supplanted by her desire to be a mother. This was one compromise too many for me. I worked for many years as a freelancer, enjoying the higher pay and freedom to travel; that compromise seemed worthwhile.

All that has consumed time and resources that should have been better spent on following a career more to my liking. Alas, few people earn a sustainable living as a writer, so I’ve always put off going for it. Instead I whiled my time away on the next best thing. For three years it was dating all the women I did. I kept telling myself that only once I had found “The One” would things be on the right track.

Along the way I had some wild sexual encounters and chose to pass others up. The Russian Model and Lusty Lass could have been the easiest sex I ever had, but I chose to walk away and am glad for those decisions. The only date I’m disappointed to not have got intimate with was The Model. Perhaps that’s a good thing because my journey might have stopped there. Krazy Girl was the best sex I’ve ever had and still find myself remembering some of the things we did.

My knowledge about womankind is much better but still incomplete. It is good enough to appreciate The Artist for who she is. I don’t think I could do better than her. Sadly I have also learned that the person you desire does not necessarily make for the kind of relationship you need or want. My education about relationships continues apace.

I follow several female bloggers whose writing and experiences I enjoy reading. Something they have in common is that they are afflicted by one special man whose words and actions (or inactions) reduces them to quivering lumps of jelly. I understand their feelings because Baltic Babe had a similar effect on me. I was always comparing the women I met to the feelings I felt when I was with her. Doing this wasn’t fair to everyone involved.

The women bloggers have their own motivations and in a few cases I suspect that their “daddy issues” evokes a similar feeling. They know this feeling, have learned to cope with it and they might like it in a twisted kind of way. Perhaps if they realized that the man they are fixated on would only deliver a horrible relationship once living together, then they might expunge him from their systems and move on to a better proposition?

I may have been a few women’s “special man” whom they couldn’t get out of their head. Sweet Thing and Busty Blonde come to mind. It still pains me to think of the two of them. It’s a stain on my conscience.

The greatest lesson I have learned in life (courtesy of my dating days) is that there are many types of love, but the strongest, unchanging one is that of a parent for their child. All other types of love are subject to change. Perhaps Baltic Babe was right by saying “love is for fools”?

I found “The One” but today my life is a nightmare from which I can’t wake up. Most nights falling asleep I secretly hope not to wake up. It’s the thought of my not being there for my daughter that keeps me continuing this not-so-good fight.

Do you know this person?

I’m toying with the idea of getting my story to the mass-market of readers who don’t follow blogs. My first choice outlet is conventional book format, but failing that I’m prepared to pursue the ebook format, self-publishing if I can’t find someone who shares my vision and can help make it happen. I’m looking for that one person who might be a literary agent or perhaps even a publisher who might be interested in what I have written.

Do you know such a person?

Apart from that I’d welcome any ideas, tips or criticism of what I have written that you care to share with me. The more brutally honest the better.

I think my story archetypical of the modern dating scene and others might benefit from my experience. Many of you have written to me privately voicing your thoughts about finding love via online dating and how my blog has helped them. I’d like to keep this positive momentum going and maybe even get back some of the money I’ve spent on bad dates.

Feel free to drop me a message on: greyknight [at] meanddating [dot] com

Thank you, I’ve appreciated every single comment I’ve ever received. Yours will be no different.

Password request

My latest and possibly final post is password protected.

I have had to do this because of there being so many new arrivals at what is the tail-end of my story, my journey, my odyssey. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise ending of my saga by having this post being one of the first things a reader sees. I hope that you understand?

In order to read this post you need the password. All you have to do is to send me an email with ‘password’ as the subject header.

Please email me on: greyknight [at] meanddating [dot] com

I’ll respond as quickly as I can.

Thank you for following my story, I appreciate it. I hope that you’ve enjoyed it.

Protected: Adventure of a lifetime

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Date of Destiny a.k.a. The hot date

On Sunday I drive for what seems like an eternity to get to Cambridge to see The Artist. I arrive after lunch and I get to meet her friends whom I instantly like. We get in my car which she makes approving sounds about while I’m struck by how natural it feels to be with her. It doesn’t take long for the chemistry between us to be almost touchable. I’m pretty sure that we like the look of each other, but there’s a definite meeting of minds as well.

The Artist has her hair down today and she looks lovely. I even tell her so and my words seem to lift her up. I find us parking in a multi-story car park in the centre of Cambridge and there is little drama involved. I can’t help but think how with my Exgf this mundane activity could lead to an argument. Outside we instantly hold hands and it feels good to me. I think she’s a instinctive hand-holder too.

Walking and talking with The Artist feels perfect. We feed off each other’s input and the last time I had this happen was with Baltic Babe. Through the confused streets of the academic district of Cambridge we walk, but I don’t think either of us notice a thing really; we only have eyes and ears for each other. We could be anywhere, it didn’t matter, we are engrossed in each other, lost in each other.

After a while I have a strange feeling inside me, like I’m in free-fall, but I know I’m not, it’s just a strange sensation that feels good. We can’t stop holding hands and I’m pleased that it feels like a totally natural fit the way our hands and fingers entwine. I can’t help but stop occasionally and kiss her. Each time it feels like it is our first ever kiss, it’s that good and exciting for me. Her smile tells me that she likes it too.

We wander aimlessly, just enjoying doing this together. This is what I want, this is what I have been missing, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

We stop in at a museum that The Artist visits regularly as part of her work. She needs to use the ladies and upon her return says to me the words I was hoping to hear. “Come, I want to show you my favourite things.” It tells me that she wants to share her world with me and is not afraid of rejection. It could also be her testing me, but I don’t think that that is her style of doing things.

It doesn’t take long before we’re standing in front of an exhibit and I watch in awe as The Artist comes into her own before me. She starts telling me about the technique of producing what we’re looking at, explains the variations and the history of these derivations. I listen politely as she speaks, not daring to interrupt her, but marvelling at her obvious passion for what she is talking about. It’s a beautiful moment that I will treasure forever more.

After a while we move along, making our way to the exit when I spot something that presents an opportunity to show her my cultural side, to display my knowledge of history which I think gives her some kind of brain-erection. She seems suitably impressed and interested in what I have to tell her too. We are definitely an intellectual match; that’s worth a lot in any relationship.

Dusk approaches and we become hungry, so we walk back to a pub that The Artist liked the look of. Sitting comfortably at a table for two, it’s a perfect romantic setting. Conversation is still flowing like a river of sweet nectar and we can’t get enough of each other. As the meal progresses it becomes dark outside, the restaurant dims the lights and staff put candles on the tables. She even looks beautiful by candlelight.

We hold hands across the table and I decide it’s the perfect time to find out conclusively just how compatible we are. I walk her through the Magical Forest scene and at the waterfall scene she jumps straight in. Perfect; same as me. With the wolf she stood her ground, while the house she first went in then ate what she wanted. That again is very similar to me in that she doesn’t run away from her problems (I attack) and she has a zest for life, just like me. I realize that her answers are the most similar to mine that anyone has ever given me in the almost thirty years I’ve asked these questions. Inwardly I go ice-cold while my heart goes warm; could she be The One? It looks and feels like it.

I want to tell her something nice, feeling cute, I beckon to her to come closer. She thinks I want to kiss her and she smiles. The Artist innocently leans across the table towards me. I smile to myself.

Ka-woosh!

Her hair catches alight!

There’s a football-sized yellow fireball on one side of her head and it’s about to spread to her face!

The strands from one side of her tresses has fallen onto the candle in the middle of the table. She must have used hairspray on herself for our date. Before she realizes it I’m swatting her hair with my hands as the fire is slowly spreading. Luckily I’m quick about it and douse it just as she realizes from my actions, the sound and pungent smell what is happening to her.

The Artist jumps up and runs off to the ladies. I look around the restaurant to see everyone there looking at us. The waiting staff are all rooted to their spots next to the tables they’re attending to, their jaws hanging open. The patrons all have eyes like golf balls. There’s not a sound to be heard. I think bubbles in champagne flutes stopped moving too. I look away and sounds of normal life return as voices murmur, cutlery clinks and bubbles flow again.

I think that this date will end here when The Artist returns to the table. She’ll probably ask me to take her to the train station. The embarrassment might be too much for her and I might never see her again. Damn.

When I set off this morning to fetch her, I had thought of this being a hot date; this is not what I had in mind.

The Artist returns and gives me the sweetest smile. Her hair seems fine, amazingly no trace of damage. There’s just an awful smell in the air, like that of grilled excrement but we try to ignore it as we resume our conversation. To my surprise she has regained her composure and continues like nothing has happened.

I was expecting the worst, but she is obviously intent on still being with me. I know for sure now that she wants me. Any other woman would have wanted to go home, but not The Artist, no she wants to keep going. My sense of relief is followed by a sense of comforting satisfaction. I think I’ve finally found The One.

After another hour of easy conversation I ask her opinion about Californication and she hasn’t even heard of it. I wonder what she’ll make of it? I have so many questions that I crave the answer to and I suspect that she does too.

The meal ends, but we don’t want the night to end. A moonlit stroll around the deserted historied streets of Cambridge seems a good idea – it might rid us of that awful smell from her hair – but after a while it becomes too chilly for her. I need a plan and quickly too otherwise this date will peter out and before I know it we’ll be at the nearby train station. Think, dammit, think!

“I don’t suppose I can tempt you with the first few episodes of Californication back at my place?”

“That might be fun,” she says with a coy smile.

Daniel Bedingfield – If You’re Not The One

Online dating, dates, internet dating, romance, love, sex, relationships

%d bloggers like this: