The Exgf returns

What the hell does she want?! My ex-girlfriend (Exgf) only initiates contact with people when she wants something from them. Does she want me back? Not a hope in hell. It’s been over a year without any kind of contact between us and I want to keep it that way. As I sit staring at her message on my phone I realize that it’s in my interest to talk to her because I still have a lot of money invested in the house she’s living in. I want that money back. Fuck it, I have to talk to her.

It’s a beautifully warm July Saturday afternoon as I arrive at the same pub where we had met for our very first date more than six years ago. She suggested this venue and it made me laugh. I’ve come to talk about the future of what used to be our home, but I know her, there’s always something else going on in the background with her.

As I get out my car I sense her looking at me. She’s sitting outside at a table by herself. I’m always early and she’s here before me? Usually she’s late for everything and has today even bought herself a drink. Hmm, she’s keen. This makes me suspicious and I go more on the defensive. Dealing with her since I learned of her true nature feels like riding on the back of a Great White shark.

I kiss her hello on a cheek, just like I would any other date, except that this isn’t a date, I’m expecting it to be a negotiation. She’s wearing a light Summer dress and her big boobs are popping out at the top. Is that for my benefit? We exchange brief pleasantries and I go to get a drink from the bar inside. I laugh to myself at the surreal feeling that this situation has. I want absolutely nothing to do with her and yet here I find myself.

“I don’t know what to do about the house,” she says as I sit down with my drink.

“Well, you have to pay somewhere to live, so it may as well be somewhere that you have a big garden,” I retort. I immediately see through her ploy of trying to manipulate me and fend her off with what I know she likes best about the place that she won’t get anywhere else.

Round and round the conversation goes, all in a civil manner, with her throwing reason after reason to sell the house now. What’s left outstanding on the mortgage is what is the property’s current market value. The British property market needs to recover significantly for there to be any hope of me getting all my money back. We’re years away from that happening, possibly never. Selling the house achieves nothing.

It’s clear to me that she’s trying to elicit some kind of reaction out of me, what exactly I don’t know, but she’s not getting it. We keep coming back to what I said initially that she will always have to pay to live somewhere. She realizes that a stalemate has set in and that I’m not going to be led by the nose. We fall silent.

“I miss you,” she says softly.

“That’s nice,” I say and take a sip of my pint. I really couldn’t care less about her.

“I’ve been on a few dates,” she says, trying to bait me some more. I’m not biting.

“And?”

“I keep comparing them to you,” she says.

“Have you slept with any of them?” I ask, curious and brazen at the same time, expecting her to say yes. I really don’t care what she thinks or how she responds. She can storm off in a huff, I’ll laugh and stay to finish my drink.

“No, I didn’t,” she says in a way that I know is the truth, because I know how she speaks when she lies.

Her words are a rare honesty, a naked vulnerability that was largely absent during our five-year relationship. I’m glad to hear that she’s back on the dating scene, not because I’m happy that she feels ready to move on, no because it means that she’s keeping my competition busy. I have very little positive feelings for her; she already took them all.

She starts telling me about her dates, what was wrong with them, why they were unsuitable and I just listen in silence. It occurs to me that I’m in passive disinterested mode; I’m sitting back in my seat, my feet pointing away from her and I’m not saying much. She’s leaning forward, her tits almost falling out of her dress and she’s very keen to have my attention.

For the past year I’ve sublimated any feelings I’ve had about her. I think my experience with her was a poison pill that I’ve swallowed but not expelled or diluted in my system. If any of my dates said or did anything that reminded me of her, I’d lose interest in them. With her every negative word my body becomes more tense. Dormant feelings of rage start to stir inside me and they grow like an acid eating away at my insides. I keep a straight face as she talks but all the while I’m growing angrier at her. I still have unfinished business with her, I realize.

While she sits there finding fault with what are probably perfectly good, respectable men, an idea comes to me…an idea of revenge.

She’s an ideal candidate for a fuckbuddy. I always enjoyed having sex with her and now, courtesy of her sex diaries, I know exactly what she’s capable of. I know exactly how she used sex to manipulate men, myself included. She was holding out on me, putting on a good-girl act for me, meanwhile she’s the biggest slut in town. I have zero respect for her. That’s great because there is no risk of me falling in love, the timeless trap of the fuckbuddy concept. She obviously wants something from me, probably wants us to try again, so she’ll be very keen to please me. I’m in a position to exploit her, to get what other men have got out of her and for it to cost me very little. Everything it could have cost me financially and emotionally I have already paid.

Her phone rings and without asking me, she answers it. Yes, her manners are that bad. I think that there was always a gap between us when it comes to etiquette, but hey, sex is the great leveller of all social pretence. I hear her conversation with a friend, but my mind is mulling over my despicable idea: I like it.

“I have a friend in the neighbourhood coming to join us for a few minutes,” she says.

“Do I know this friend?” I ask.

“No, she’s new. She’s very useful to know because she has loads of contacts and she even got me some part-time work twice last year,” she says.

My Exgf will never change, she’ll always attach ‘usefulness’ to anybody she meets. I must have been so ‘useful’ to her. Maybe it’s time she makes herself useful to me, to my libido in particular. She uses people all the time, I think I’ll show her what it feels like.

The friend arrives and joins us after she gets herself a drink. I decide to do something naughty; I decide to flirt with the friend. This woman couldn’t be more unattractive to me: mousey-brown hair, weathered skin, flat chest, anorexic body, poor grooming and bad fashion sense.

Nevertheless I turn on active interest, I turn to face her, my feet point towards her and I initiate open-ended conversation. I’m affable, I’m interested and interesting. All my attention is directed at the innocent little friend. Yes, I was being a shit, but I don’t care.

My Exgf has never seen me like this before. I think her ego took a pounding as she watched me chat up another women right in front of her. I have no doubt in my mind that she wants me more than ever now; I can see it in her wide eyes. I know how to work her and work her I shall. The friend is enjoying my attention and starts playing with her hair. My Exgf just sits in stunned silence. I’m in complete control of the situation.

After about half an hour of flirting, the friend realizes what I’m doing but my Exgf is still oblivious. The friend makes her excuses and leaves. I turn to my Exgf and smile, knowing that she has never seen me like that because only since I left her have I been on so many dates that I now have these dating skills. She seems in a mild state of shock; I think I see her hand shake as she lifts her glass.

I don’t know what she was expecting from this afternoon, but it’s definitely not going how she planned. The less I cared, the more power I had. Maybe there is something to that nasty adage of “Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen.”

“Right, I need to go now,” she says.

“Okay,” is all I say as I stand to kiss her goodbye on a cheek.

“There’s some other things I want to talk about, so how about we meet up another time?” she says.

I say nothing and merely smile. Here, fishy fishy…

I watch her drive off, but stay to finish my drink and savour a warm feeling that has come over me and it’s not just from the sun on my back. I sit thinking about my fuckit list.

Apparently revenge is a dish best served cold. If that’s true, then I sense an unseasonal Siberian cold front heading our way…

Justin Timberlake – What goes around comes around

Adult dating sites explored

A friend at work asked me to review her profile on Sugardaddy.com. I was shocked that she was on a such a site because she was a church-going, wholesome, ladylike 33 year-old. I had heard of this site but had never been on it, so I agreed out of curiosity. I asked why she was on this site and her answer shocked me. “I want to be treated like a lady for once, even if just for a little while. All the guys I’ve dated have been poor-asses who expected me to pay half if we ever went anywhere other than a Nandos. I want to know what it’s like to go out with a guy who has money.”

I’m friends with her at work because we’re both on the dating scene and we swaps stories at lunchtimes about our experiences. She is a young woman with a very turbulent relationship history; I can’t recall a relationship of hers lasting more than a year. Despite her being a Bible-basher, I know that she had an affair with a married man at work. She is also highly-strung, demanding, stubborn, outspoken and sometimes a little bitchy. I can see why she’s single. I find her dating stories fascinating because I can see the guy’s side of the date given that I know what she’s like. If I went on a date with her I would come away thinking she’s a ‘hard-work drama-queen’ and wouldn’t want to see her again.

It took me minutes to find her profile on SugarDaddy and the photos looked nothing like her. They were older photos and she was heavily made-up. If I met her in real life once again it would be a jarring experience, like my dates of late.

From what I could make out, the way this site and the concept in general of a sugar-daddy operates is as follows. There is essentially three levels to the pyramid. The base level is for women who expect to be wined and dined on a regular basis, to be taken to stage shows and events in exchange for sleeping with a guy if they find him attractive enough. The middle, smaller layer is for women who expect to be taken away on trips abroad, to be lavished with gifts such as expensive perfume or jewellery and the occasional brown envelope stuffed with cash casually left behind. The top of the pyramid, the small pinnacle of this tower of whoredom, is the women who expect to be courtesans, old-fashioned mistresses, who are kept in a dwelling paid for by daddy, are provided with a car and a regular monthly cash allowance. Her holes are exclusively for his use, which is not the necessary the case with the cheaper sluts.

The vast majority of women on this site are base of the pyramid types and to my surprise, in the main, they are quite attractive women. Yes, there is a small minority who are tyre-biters, but the average woman is of above-average looks; their photos are at least. The two higher rungs are populated by generally the best looking, most stylish and sophisticated…and older women, 35 to 45 years old.

As I flick through page after page of search results, I start to recognize more and more faces. At least 10% of the women on this site are also on regular dating sites. Their profiles indicate when last they were on the site and about half the women had been online in the last week! Something I notice is that the vast majority of the faces that I recognise I have encountered on Plenty of Fish; I have even swapped emails with and wanted to go on dates with some of them!

I’m in a mild state of shock and I’m a little upset too. What kind of women am I surrounded by nowadays?! Or is this how women have always been and I’m blind to it?

I do a Google search for where else these pictures have been used. Unsurprisingly many of the unknown pics I choose to search for have been widely used on fashion or porn sites; so these profiles are catfish, i.e. people pretending to be someone they’re not, usually con-artists after money. Not too surprising for a site visited by rich men looking for a woman.

Some of the results lead to ‘fuckbuddy’ or ‘friends with benefits’ sites.

I kind of like the ‘fuckbuddy’ or ‘friends with benefits’ idea; it surprises me too because a year ago I would never have considered it, but my encounters with Tech Titan and Krazy Girl showed me that I can have sex with a woman without loving her. I’m realizing that it’s going to take me a long time to find Her, but I’m a man and I enjoy the feeling of a woman’s body against mine. I love falling asleep holding a woman in my arms. I love making a woman cum, hearing her sounds as she climaxes and each woman is different. Regular sex will be good for me in many ways, but especially in that it will take that sexual imperative out of meeting someone new on a date who might be The One. I don’t want to be wearing pussy-vision when I finally find Her.

Google tells me what other fuckbuddy websites are out there and I go exploring, wondering if I can find someone suitable to be my friend with benefits. I create a profile on one of these sites and within minutes I start getting messages from women. Real-time instant messages start appearing from women online who want to chat with me. Wow, that’s impressive, I think to myself. Hmm, too impressive. I become suspicious.

I go to a competitor site and just register a throwaway email address, but deliberately don’t complete a profile. Again within minutes emails from wanton lusty women flood my way. I go to a third site and repeat my ruse. Guess what? Yep, a torrent of messages, winks and obscene virtual sex toy gifts come may way, along with messages such as, “Well hello, good-looking,” and “You’ve just the look I like,” and “I bet you can go for hours.”

A blank profile gets all this attention? I make no contact with anybody on any of these sites. It’s all very suspicious, this online den of inequity.

I loiter on these sites, looking through their “members”. Something that strikes me is that the vast majority of women on such sites (if their profiles are real) are smokers. Less than half of the profiles had a photo of the woman’s face. Most had a prominent body part as their primary photo, usually saggy boobs, a tattoo or a rippled backside. Those that did show their face were, in the main, unattractive. Those are more likely to be genuine members. If I Google some of the photos I do like the look of, it occasionally returns where these images originally came from or are also used, usually a porn site.

Some small villages and hamlets a short drive from where I live seem to have every women there on a fuckbuddy site. It dawns on me that this is also an ideal channel for prostitutes to source new regular clients. The first sexual encounter with them is a freebie, then the demands start to flow and each time it becomes more expensive. (A friend of mine got involved with a woman like that and after her demands jumped from perfume to jewellery he stopped seeing her. A year later he gets a friend request on Facebook from her. Apparently her main profile picture is of her holding her new baby. He ignored the friend request.)

Many of the sites are just a different skin for the same old database; different banner and URL, but the same profiles. I find it interesting that these sites are pricier than conventional dating sites. Some charge as much as £40 (US$60) a month. For a man only interested in having a free whore – a fuckbuddy – it’s an option, so such sites might offer good value for money. I suppose if there are women giving their bodies away cheaper than a whore, then that’s their choice.

Other ‘adult dating sites’ I encounter make me shift in my seat. There are now websites that cater to married people looking for someone to have an affair with. Some of the members claim to be there with their partner’s consent, but I don’t think that that’s always the case. Another type is for ‘more mature’ women, a.k.a. cougars, looking for younger men ‘to share fun times with’. I even come across a SugarMommy site, women with money looking for boy-toys. The deeper I delve into these websites the murkier matters seem as it looks ideal for catfish, prostitutes and scammers. I wonder also if some of the profiles are ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands indulging in some revenge porn.

One of the sites that piqued my interest is something called ‘MissTravel’. Women say where they would like to travel to in exchange for being her sponsor’s sexual toy during the trip. Hey, we’re all consenting adults, so what the hell, right? I don’t work like that; I’m appalled by the premise of this site. A woman on this site has as the main feature on her profile a list of where she would like to travel to. The man is expected to foot all expenses for her trip. Prostitution with a twist really.

What strikes me is that the majority of women on the site are in their early twenties. One of the girls wrote, “I want to meet a billionaire” as her opening line. This site uses more stringent user verification so the vast majority of users are real and current. Of course you have to pay to correspond with members. If I were a rich man and not looking for love, this would be paradise.

The pictures that most women use are quite innocuous and no different than what they would post on Facebook. I can just see the scene as the photo gets taken and the camera gets lowered. The woman in the centre of the photo turns to her friends and says,”Now where was I? Oh yes. Mauritius was lovely and this guy only wanted to fuck in the mornings and I only had to blow him before he fell asleep. He wasn’t even into anal. It was the best trip yet, I hope the next ones are as easy.”

Once again I recognise faces on MissTravel, not as many as on SugarDaddy, but enough for me to have a queasy feeling in my stomach. One woman in particular shocks the hell out of me. I was supposed to meet her recently for a date, but the day beforehand she called in ill. She was genuinely ill as we had spoken on the phone before our abortive date and afterwards a few times too. I didn’t pursue her once I saw her on this site. She seemed and sounded quite normal; I would never have guessed that she could be like this.

My trust demon is sprinting around.

My faith in my ability to gauge the nature of a woman is wobbling.

My belief in women is plummeting.

LESSON LEARNED: I must get in the habit of doing a search on Google Images to see if a woman’s pictures appear on adult dating sites.

Even Hitler tried Adult Friend Finder. This is the result. (NOTE: Not Safe For Work)

Date #28 – The Angry Yank

One of the recent arrivals on Plenty of Fish was a pleasant-looking blonde American. I’ve not been on a date with an American and she seemed interesting, professing a love of travel (who doesn’t? Okay, The Deranged Dater), 80s music and all things spontaneous. She’s only 33 years old, I’m 41, but that needn’t be a problem. I fire off the first email and am surprised when in her response a couple of hours later she suggests our meeting up this coming Friday night. She seems keen, I think to myself.

Could she be The One?

It’s a sunny Friday night in mid-July 2013 and I’m on a train heading into central London. I get the idea to send my date a text message that is humorous, but is really me lowering her expectations. I’d rather over-deliver than over-promise.

I’m on a train and going to be on time. I’m looking forward to meeting you. I hope that my lisp and stutter distract you from my hunchback and limp. See you soon.

I get no response but put that down to her probably having no reception wherever she is. When I arrive at my regular spot outside Tower Hill Tube station half an hour later, she’s already there. She’s shorter and skinnier than I expected but as cute as I had hoped. I kiss her hello on a cheek and gesture towards the stairs and before I get a chance to say anything involving chickens, she says, “Is it okay if we don’t take the stairs?”

“Sure, no problem,” I say, thinking quickly about an alternate route while being disappointed at not getting to try out my sure-fire sense of humour and attraction test that also blows away a physical contact barrier.

“Right, I know a way, please follow me,” I say with a cheery smile.

As we move off, I get to see why she wanted to avoid the stairs…

She has a limp.

I think her right leg is shorter than her left and the consequent limp is quite pronounced. The words of my text message jump in front of my eyes with big red neon lights flashing around them. I want the ground beneath my feet to open up and swallow me whole. I don’t know where to look and a cold chill goes down my spine. Shit, merde and scheize.

Normally I would offer a woman my arm as we walk, but if I did so with her, would this come across as offensive? I don’t know what to do and that coupled with a sense of shock and shame causes me to say and do nothing in that regard. Instead I spark the usual small-talk and as she partakes I become aware of another emotion, that of disappointment. I realize that she’s not The One because who I seek and desire is a paragon of femininity, health and vitality. I just don’t have it in me to be with a handicapped woman. It’s not something I have thought of or even had reason to think about, but in these emotion-laden few moments this becomes clear to me. Again I am filled with a sense of shame, but this time because of my new epiphany.

Getting up the single flight of stairs at the Dickens Inn is a challenge for her and I squirm inside like a worm on a fish-hook. It dawns on me that no dating site I’ve ever used has asked about physical disability. I resolve to make the best of the evening, choosing to see it as Life stretching my emotional boundaries, teaching me a few things. Let the lesson begin.

Once seated at my favourite table on the balcony overlooking the marina, I ask my date to tell me about her job. As conversation topics go it is a logical one to commence the interaction with, but it almost always throws up a surprise or two. It does again.

“My boss has started making noises about compulsory redundancies,” she says with big blue eyes.

“Well, there’s still a recession on and it’s all the rage with employers nowadays,” I say flippantly, thinking of all my friends who have been through that experience in recent years.

“Well for me it’s a big deal because my work permit gets cancelled and I have to leave the country,” she says with a hint of anger in her voice.

Ah, is this why you’ve come onto PoF? You have a looming visa problem and a man with a European passport is the solution? I think of the Randy Russian. Perhaps American and Russian women have more in common than I had realized. What percentage of women are prepared to marry a man in exchange for a passport?

I know a thing or two about the UK visa system and make a couple of suggestions that are viable options for her to explore. Her face lights up and a previously sombre look on her face disappears. I feel better about myself for having thrown her potential lifelines.

We order pizzas and wine, then I move the conversation onto something safe: travel. I have found that this topic is great for getting to know someone, because you get to know very quickly what they like and dislike. I find out what we have in common in a non-invasive way and, most importantly, it causes my date to tap into positive memories which makes her feel good. The date instantly assumes a pleasant ambiance.

Sadly the good vibe doesn’t last long. My date catches me off-guard with a question out of left-field. I’m learning that the first questions a woman asks on a date are things that are important to her. Usually women want to know about my job, my family, my friends or my relationship history.

“Which American political party do you most identify with?” she asks.

My father was involved in politics, but narrowly failed to get elected to parliament. As a consequence of this being part of my “normal” family life as a kid, to this day I pay attention to politics, but it’s a form of entertainment to me because I know that any politician, irrespective of affiliation, would like to be a dictator.

I don’t have a particular regard for any American political party, but I know a thing or two, so I tell her the pros and cons of each side as I see it. I may as well have whipped my cock out and slapped her through the face with it. She was aghast at my having anything positive to say about the Republican party. There was no way that I could know that she was a die-hard Democrat.

At this point the date fell off a cliff. I may as well have gone with it.

She sprang forward in her seat, leaned towards me and started waving a boney finger in the air, asking me if I knew that the Republicans have said this and are planning to do that. I couldn’t give a shit about American political rhetoric, but I was stunned at the transformation in her behaviour. Was the wine kicking in? No more for you, dearie.

I knew that I would never be seeing her after this night, so I pulled out the biggest spoon in my imagination and began to stir with it.

“So what makes the Democrats plans the right ones?” I ask as innocently as I know how.

That’s all it took. Off she goes on a televangelist style monologue about the obvious benefits of her political beliefs and why everyone else is wrong. Her tone borders on aggression at times. I find her passion admirable but her ideas those of a crackpot. She is the sort of bleeding-heart left-wing liberal intent on taxing everything that moves, confiscating what can be without too much fuss and then building ornate gold-encrusted coops for orphaned and one-legged chickens called Eileen.

I want to go home now. Please can I go home?

Is she punishing me for my text message comment about a limp? Or is this why she’s single? I now start to think of her as The Angry Yank.

Despite several attempts to move the conversation on to more appealing topics, every time The Angry Yank keeps bringing it back to politics. This is her subject of choice I realize because she initiated it from the outset. She seems obsessed. On and on she would go, at times it felt like I was being lectured. My mother used to say to me, “Be careful of handicapped people. They all have a grudge against society.” I dismissed this as the ramblings of a small-minded bigot, but perhaps there is some validity to her exhortation?

I ask the Angry Yank a totally unrelated question, hoping that she gets off her soap-box, but she just ignores it and keeps on about the evil Republicans and the righteous Democrat cause. On and on she goes.

Right, I’ve now had enough of this shit date. I don’t have to put myself through this nonsense. Life teaching me lessons be damned; I have to go home to change my belly-button fluff. I haven’t really had a chance to find out if she’s a Good Girl or a Taker, but it doesn’t matter, because I just want to get the hell away from her!

I get the bill and walk with The Angry Yank back to the Tube station. All the way she prattles on about American politics. At the station I shake her hand and reluctantly give her a polite kiss good night on a cheek. All I say is,”It was nice to finally meet you. Good night,” and I walk off, trying not to trot like a horse about to be stung by a swarm of irate wasps.

My usual modus operandi is to send my date a polite text message either on my way home or the following day, thanking her for her company, saying that I do not think that we are meant for each other and that I wish her well in her search. The Angry Yank is the first date I did not do this for, such is my sense of discomfort in dealing with her.

I bet she sits alone at night wondering why she just can’t meet anyone, wonders where all the good men have gone, wonders when Hillary will be President, wonders if penguins have knees…hey, macarena!

I’m starting to think that a good heart is hard to find and that finding Her is going to take far longer than I would like. Nevertheless, I shall persevere and I shall prevail. The alternative does not bear thinking of.

LESSONS LEARNED: 1) American women can also be interested in marriages of convenience. 2) No dating site asks about physical handicaps. 3) Only discuss politics on a first date if I am sure that I don’t want to see her again. 4) There are certifiably crazy women on dating sites.

Footnote: Six months later I notice on PoF that she has changed her location to be that of her hometown in America. She’s still there at the time of writing.

Below is a cheesy tune that I could have written the lyrics for, because I’m living them…

Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart

Me and my trust issues

I am by nature a trusting person; it’s how I was born: ‘different’. Perhaps the doctor dropped me, or instead of slapping my botty he missed and clouted my head. Who knows? As a kid I was always easily tricked by other kids because I wasn’t a nasty little shit like them. I remember being six years old, in first grade and sitting on the end of a long row of tables for kids because I am left-handed. The pretty little blonde girl who sat next to me, Nicky, used to hold my hand and ask me to help her with maths. I thought she held my hand because she liked me; she liked me most during maths. The next year I was seated somewhere else. All through junior school Nicky was my girl, but of course only in my little head.

My father was a weak person and his weakness found sanctuary at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. Even as a little boy I swore to myself that I would be a stronger man than him. It wasn’t difficult. My mother never trusted my father to be alone with me. Now you know why I make a point of discovering my date’s ability to handle alcohol. I grew up in a home that was a battleground devoid of trust.

My mother wasn’t a bad mother, just an over-protective domineering one. She couldn’t handle the responsibility she felt when other kids came to play at my house. When I was nine, a little boy hurt himself at our home and my mother banned me from bringing kids home after school. I think humans are intrinsically social creatures, so in my very first act of rebellion I enticed kids to incur my mother’s wrath by offering them any of my toys if they came to play with me. I didn’t give many toys away. Unsurprisingly I wasn’t allowed to go to other kid’s homes either because my mother was terrified that something bad would happen to me. My formative socialization was disastrous. It won’t surprise you then if I told you that today I have very few friends.

My mother put her own feelings and the feelings of others ahead of mine. My father died of a heart attack when I was thirteen and I was lurched into a new world, the adult world that I was ill-equipped for. At times I went to school for three days a week and worked in a scrap metal yard the other days. Far earlier than most I began to think for myself and saw that my mother was a simple person, struggling with her own place in the world, a world that never made sense to her and everything scared her. I lost all faith that she could do what was right for me. I lost faith in her consistently flawed judgement and that eroded my trust in her.

At the end of high school I had my first serious girlfriend and she was my first love and I lost my virginity to her. It was great. I didn’t have the money for university so I had to go off to do National Service. I was posted literally a thousand miles from home and I kept in touch with my first love via weekly letters and a brief phonecall late on a Sunday night. Three months into my training she told that that she met a guy at her work and had slept with him. I was devastated. That betrayal sliced a valley though the middle of my heart. The rigours of everyday military life took my mind off what had happened to me and I realize now that I suppressed it. Let’s call that Betrayal 1. Click here to read more.

A couple of years later and I meet a sweet little brunette girl who doesn’t have the blonde aquiline look that I like, but I liked being with her. She was good, decent, honest and innocent, so I felt emotionally safe with her. She was non-threatening to me. We grew up together and we grew apart. At the end of our fifteen year relationship she said to me that she didn’t love me for the last five years of it. Again I was devastated. What bothered me the most in the longer-term fallout was that I had missed the fact that she was deceiving me. I trusted her totally, but it was my damaged faith in my own judgement that bothered me. Let’s call that Betrayal 2. Click here to read more.

The paperwork on my divorce settlement hadn’t dried when I met the person who became my Exgf. We shared a chemistry like I had never experienced before. I’m a bit of a love-fool in that I fall in love very quickly and I love totally; I hold nothing back. I revel in love, I live for love. Imagine my shock when I discovered that my Exgf had been putting on an act and had been spying on me for the duration of our relationship. She had duped me and manipulated me from day one. I felt like such a fool. Let’s call that Betrayal 3. Click here to read more.

The cumulative effect – the damage, the baggage – of these three betrayals is long-lasting. I only really became aware of it when I encountered Baltic Babe who also has trust issues. Hers stem from her parents giving her up when she was little. Being assaulted and patronised by someone else’s insecurities was not fun, but it made me realize that I am beset with a similar sensitivity, a hobbled outlook.

Like so much of human behaviour my trust issue is driven by fear. I fear being hurt again, fear being manipulated, fear feeling like a fool again and it is at the back of my head every time I meet someone new for a date. I now don’t trust my judgement when it comes to women. I instinctively still hope for the best, but am so much more in-tune to keeping an eye or ear out for this person’s ability to betray me. I know it’s not right, but the three scarred roads, the betrayals, that criss-cross my heart make the journey a little rougher than what I would like.

So what stirs my fragile sense of trust? The number one thing is anything that hints at manipulation. A smattering of lies on a dating profile about their age and old photos are quickly revealed for what they are once I meet her. Their efforts to craft an impression, to deceive me into meeting them jars from the outset and it rubs up against my wondering if they can be trusted. Trying to trick me takes me back to being a little boy being made a fool of by mean-spirited kids. Nobody appreciates being led by the nose.

That’s the obvious and superficial, but it’s the second thing that equally totally kills it for me: dishonesty. If my date reveals, usually by way of anecdote, her having to indulge in dishonesty for whatever reason, I go a little cold inside. There are people who indulge in ‘little white lies’ all day long as their way of getting through life – I am not one of them and I consider such people as weak. Weak people can not be trusted; they will eventually screw you over, then offer some excuse and make you feel bad for not forgiving them. They will say and do whatever makes for an easy life for themselves and eventually I pay the price for their weakness. That has been my life experience, whether it be in my home, the workplace, anywhere and everywhere.

I’m not saying that I have never told a lie, because I have but it really is only a couple of times a year. I’m serious. I reject the world I grew up in; I shall be the change I seek. I would rather hurt someone with the truth than deceive them with a lie – and I expect the same in return. I have no time for people who lie every day, not because of their dishonesty but because of their weakness. I’m aware that this is all a learned condition, exacerbated with adulthood experiences, but I fear that I might never un-learn it.

On a date I lead with my heart because that’s how I am. It doesn’t take too long discussing pretty much anything when ethical or moral dilemmas are mentioned. I pay careful attention to how she handled the situation. I like to know that the woman in my life won’t buckle under pressure and take the easy way out, like my parents used to. I need to know that I can depend on my woman at all times. I operate to a high standard and am best suited to someone similar in that regard. Someone who lacks self-respect and is promiscuous can not expect respect from me. If they do not respect themselves how dare they expect respect from someone else? A woman who thinks there are grounds for cheating has no place in my life. These are just other forms of weakness. Someone who has very different ideas of what is right and what constitutes wrong will collide with my trust issues.

I am pretty sure that I don’t let my trust issues show when I’m on a date. I smile, am polite, affable, interested and interesting. Someone who has never met me could not detect them; I bury it deep. I think of it as a little demon that runs around inside me; he’s hideous to look at but he’s not all bad. Lately I have managed to capture and lock him away in a tiny cage suspended from my heart by a chain. If my heart starts beating too fast, the chain down to his cage springs about and the movement wakes him. The cause of the increased heartbeat could be that I’m liking what I’m hearing or seeing, so he serves as a balancing force within me that prevents me getting carried away. Sometimes the chain moves because a woman has said something that grates against my sense of honesty and decency, so he gets woken then too. He stays on alert the whole time that I am in the presence of danger, such as with the Randy Russian, and he only retreats to his dark corner, chortling to himself, when it safe for me again. He is a little demon that I have to manage, he does not control me, but he has his uses and I shall keep him around until I feel the time has come to cut the chain that binds us because his purpose has been served.

My damaged need for trust has had the recent effect of me not becoming embroiled in relationships with women who are patently not suitable for me. A younger version of me would have pursued Krazy Girl until she became mine. She was physically perfect and her state of confusion I perceived as temporary, which appealed to my White Knight Syndrome because I felt I could fix her. However, it is my trust issues that prevented me from charging at the windmill that is her and spearing her with my lance, literally and metaphorically. My trust issues have kept me out of danger. I think of it as a shield, not the best or prettiest shield, but it does the job.

Is it not better to err on the side of caution? Some people might say that opportunity does not come along often and that embarking on a promising relationship should always be done because if it doesn’t work out you can try again. I find that avenue of reasoning to be flawed and dangerous. None of us are getting younger, past a certain age our marketability is constantly in decline and the effect of a succession of short-term relationships can not be good. You run the risk of treating each relationship like an expendable commodity and thus sabotaging it from the outset. You also use up time that can not be replaced. Furthermore I believe that we are imbued with a finite capacity for emotional damage; I call this Emotional Capital. Each failed relationship draws down on our Emotional Capital and eventually one day the thought of a relationship no longer holds any attraction. Trust in others is inevitably damaged.

My White Knight Syndrome has got me into relationships and the price has been coming away with trust issues. The irony is not lost on me that those same trust issues are now keeping me out of harm’s way, preventing a draw-down on my Emotional Capital and protecting my capacity for love. I would rather take my time and get it right, because if you don’t have the time to get it right, where are you going to find the time to do it over? We are all running out of time.

Trust in someone else takes a long time to build up, but it’s destroyed within seconds, which is very similar to respect. Both are vital ingredients for love (there are a few others too). What my travels through the Kingdom of Dating has shown me is that finding someone whom I can trust and respect is rare. That saddens me and a casual observer will point an accusative finger at me. I would suggest that they refrain until they know my entire journey, have walked in my spurs for a while.

I look forward to the day when I cut my trust demon free to drown and disappear into oblivion. My faithful little accomplice will no doubt wail and thrash about in a pitiful attempt to save his meagre existence. A part of me thinks that he might surprise me and instead grip the rusted frame of his prison one last time, press his ugly face between the bars and grin up at me, happy for me, his crimson eyes glowing bright as ever, but smiling for once as he goes under.

Billy Joel- Matter of trust

Date #27 – The W.A.T.

It’s a year to the day since I met Baltic Babe and I’m bothered by my date with The Matron last night. Was there anything in her profile and pictures that I had missed that would have alerted me to the true nature of her enormity. I go onto OKCupid to look for clues when I see a profile that had intrigued me in the past but I had not written to because she wasn’t blonde. Apparently we’re a 95% match, one of my highest.

Her profile speaks of someone my age with a similar taste in music (I’m stuck in the 80s), movies and she has travelled a fair bit. She’s pretty enough in her three photos, but the smallest one gives me cause for concern because she looks a bit older than her 39 years that she states in her profile. Just a bad photo I tell myself.

Driven by a sense of frustration I fire off an approach email to her, not really expecting a reply. I get on with analysing The Matron’s profile and come to the conclusion that I had not missed anything and that she had just flat lied about her appearance. At the end of this exercise I see that the other woman has written back. It’s lunchtime on Saturday and she’s on OKCupid? Then again, so am I, perhaps she’s had a run of bad dates too? We arrange to meet.

Could she be The One?

It’s late Sunday afternoon and I’m pleased with the speed with which we’ve agreed to meet up. Not many people are able to move as freely and quickly as me. Apparently some people have a life; I say they’re just disorganized. I’m sitting on the patio of a pub in the middle of nowhere in the English countryside that looks like it could have been used in ‘American Werewolf in London’, it’s that creepy. There’s only a retired couple inside the pub and a few bar staff. My date suggested this place because it’s close to where she lives. I didn’t mind because it’s somewhere new for me.

A text message arrives from her saying that she’ll be a few minutes late. I know what that means so I go and get a pint. Half an hour later a car arrives in a cloud of dust. She parks unnecessarily far away in the empty car park and gets out.

Is it her? I’m not entirely sure. It kind of resembles her.

Oh, fuck! Not again!

This woman also doesn’t look much like her photos! Then I remember the third photo that I was suspicious of. How old are the other two photos?!

“Sorry I’m late,” she says as I kiss her hello on a cheek, “but I remembered as I was leaving that I needed to feed my pets.”

“What do you have?” I ask, seizing the obvious conversation starter as we sit down. I like animals, you always know where you stand with an animal; with humans you can never be sure. I like dogs and I’m starting to wonder about the nature of women who like cats.

“I have three cats, two dogs and a chicken who thinks he’s human,” she says matter-of-factly before continuing. “The dogs actually belong to my ex but he hasn’t come back for them yet. It’s been more than six months now.”

“The chicken sounds like a character,” I say, playing along with this oddity.

“Yes, he likes to wait for me to come home, then jump on the front of the car and sit on the bonnet as I drive into my parking space.”

I smile, my eyes blinking furiously, I’m probably looking like a ventriloquist’s dummy.

What do you say to that? Good thing we’re not standing at the stairs outside Tower Hill Tube station and I pull my chicken joke.

“I take it you don’t live in an apartment then?” I jest.

“No, I live in a stone cottage on a big piece of land. I can’t even see my neighbours. It’s less than a mile from here,” she says.

Less than a mile away and you’re still half an hour late?!

I change the topic of conversation to a safe one that everyone enjoys: travel.

“I see on your profile that you’re a bit of a traveller. So where was your last trip to?” I ask in all innocence.

“A couple of weeks ago I went to Greenland,” she replies.

“Really? Why there?” I can’t think of a single reason to go there.

“Well, I went to be pulled along in a sled by a team of huskies,” she says with a mysterious smile.

“I get the impression that there’s something else,” I coax.

“You’re going to laugh, but I have a tickle fetish. I don’t know if fetish is the right word,” she says with a silly little laugh.

I just keep quiet, wondering what the hell I’ve got myself into now.

“When the huskies were running along at full speed, I crept forward on the sled and tickled the closest ones,” she says and looks at me with big eyes.

“And you do this why?” I have to ask.

“Because it’s fun,” she says cheerily.

“Have you done this before?”

“Yes, I’ve been to Thailand where I tickled a tiger. A proper conscious one, not one of those sleepy, sedated ones for tourists,” she says.

I think it was the expression on my face that made her take out her phone and start showing me pictures of this. Someone else was taking the photos outside a cage as she crept up to a tiger from behind and gave it a quick tickle. The photos were in slow-motion time-lapse fashion and I could see her facial expression change from mischievous delight to fearful horror as the tiger lifted its head and then it’s body, turned and lunged at her. She quickly escaped via a door.

I say nothing. I don’t have to, she’s on a roll.

“Then I went to Borneo to meet the orang utans.”

Now you and I might go all that way to see those creatures who remind me of my high school headmaster so that we can pull funny faces at them, or shake hands with them or high-five them. Not this nutcase. No, she went to tickle them. She shows me photos of her sneaking up behind an unsuspecting adult male and tickling him. He jolted upright and then stood up with a pissed off look on his face as she ran off.

I know how he feels. Maybe I should do a runner? No, I’m staying; you can’t make this shit up.

“Ah, this is my favourite,” she says, thumbing through her iPhone. Whatever next?

“Here’s the time I went to Darwin to visit a crocodile farm,” she says proudly. Surely not?

Again she shows me time-lapse sequences of her creeping up behind a big crocodile that is sunning itself with it’s mouth open. She sits on its abdomen at the rear and tickles its side. I know that the top of a croc is hard, the lower sides and under-belly is softer and fleshy in places. I don’t think that the croc felt her tickle, just the weight of her sitting on it unannounced. It spins its head around and its jaw starts slamming shut in her direction. Her face goes from childish glee to total fear in about a second. She jumps up and starts running as the croc starts turning around, intent on chasing this idiot.

Wild Animal Tickler

Sitting on the croc of the day…

I seriously need another drink now. Why can’t I meet someone normal?

“I’m getting myself a drink. What can I get you?” I ask as I stand up.

“I’ll have an Earl Grey tea, please. I don’t drink alcohol,” she says with a cheery smile.

Of course you don’t drink alcohol. Normal people do that. You don’t need a drink to do crazy shit.

I think of her as The Wild Animal Tickler. The ‘wild’ bit is apt.

I return with a pot of tea, a cup and my pint of cider. The Wild Animal Tickler – The WAT – is thumbing through her phone, giggling to herself. What would she be like if I got her drunk? Shall I spike her tea? No, there’s no need. Something tells me that there’s a whole world of kookiness still to come.

Asking The WAT about her job sets her off telling me about her demanding, stressful job in the medical industry. While she talks I take the opportunity to check her out. In her photos she has light brown hair, but today’s she’s a dark brown – her natural colour I suspect – with a hint of a few grey hairs. Nothing wrong with that, I have a few grey hairs too; it’s grey pubes that I fear. She’s slim and trim with a-cup boobies; they seem pert. Her skin has seen a lot of sun with a few blemishes on her arms and shoulders. Her throat and hands are much older than a woman of 39. I wonder how old she really is? She is quite pretty though, with expressive big brown eyes.

The WAT stops moaning about her job and at the end mentions that she was at work yesterday. I make a comment about an issue we had discussed in our exchange of emails yesterday. She stares at me blankly, having no idea what I’m talking about. My instincts tell me that something is not right here, so I fall silent, trying to figure out what it could be. After an awkward silence she speaks.

“Okay, there’s something I have to tell you,” she says.

Oh shit, now what?

“My best friend was answering my emails yesterday,” she says in a subdued tone.

“What?” is all I can say. I’m shocked.

“I was at work and I’m rubbish at writing emails, so my best friend was helping me out,” comes her explanation.

By now I’m slumped back in my seat, not feigning passive disinterest but showing active surprise. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my face easily betrays my feelings. I could never make money on the poker circuit.

“Anything else I should know?” I ask, suspecting that there’s more.

She’s leaning forward, her elbows resting on a knee and she’s thinking.

“My best friend wrote my profile. I’m not good with that sot of thing. In fact, this whole internet dating thing doesn’t sit well with me,” she says.

I’m starting to feel the same way…because of nutjobs like you!

“Anything else?” I coax, not really expecting more but just making sure.

“Yes. I’m actually forty-six, not whatever it says on my profile,” she replies.

She certainly looks good for her age, but the whole lying thing just floors me. I want to say to her, “Lady, I have serious trust issues. You can’t go doing the things you’ve done!” but I know there’s no point. She’s not The One.

Your friend must be fronting for you because you’re stark raving mad. She’s probably tired of you and this is her last roll of the dice to unload you onto someone else before she has to commit assisted suicide.

I make some more small-talk with The WAT and when I point out that it’s getting dark we decide to call it a night. I walk The WAT to her car and give her a goodbye kiss on a cheek. The next day I send her a text message of “Great to have met you. Sadly I don’t get the feeling that we’re meant for each other. I wish you the best of luck in your search.”

If I spent a night with her, I’d probably be rudely woken up by her tickling me, a cat sleeping on my clothes, a dog licking my nuts and a chicken nesting on my head. (I think the cat sitting on my clothes would be the worst bit, in case you were wondering.) Sex with her would probably be kinky and freaky. Tempting as it is to have stories to get a lifetime of free drinks with, I don’t want to be the straight character in her funny farm.

The date I have lined up for this coming Friday night with an American can only be better…surely?

LESSONS LEARNED: 1) The worst photo in a woman’s profile is what she’s likely to look like 2) Some women are not afraid to lie about their age. 3) Not all profiles are written by the person it represents; sometimes not even the emails. 4) Some women are stark raving mad. 5) OKCupid’s matching algorithm is crap.

Gnarls Barkley – Crazy

Date #26 – The Matron ( a 99% match on OKCupid )

We’re a 99% match on OKCupid and I like her profile and, yes, all her answers check out with me. The only negative is that she isn’t as pretty as I would like. She’s blonde, her photos show an average build for a 36 year-old, she’s not ugly, but her looks don’t take my breath away. You can’t have it all, I tell myself and the prospect of meeting a 99% match on OKCupid just can’t be ignored, right?

Relatively good banter via email kicks off and we quickly agree to meet up. I’m looking forward to meeting her because this surely is as good as it gets on OKCupid?

Could she be The One?

I’m standing outside Tower Hill Tube station at dusk. It’s a balmy early-July Friday evening and there’s a happy vibe in the air. The smell of frying onions from a nearby hot-dog stand is making me hungry. I’m getting excited about meeting her because everything with her has gone so well, so easily, so far. It all feels good.

Is this my last first date? I hope so because this is getting tedious now; 26 first dates in a year is a bit much. Not at any point in my life did I think that I would go on so many dates. I’m starting to feel like a veteran at this because I don’t feel any kind of negative nervousness like I used in my first outings. Is that a good thing? I think I must be part-swan or part-penguin because all I want is a great mate for life.

Other singletons waiting to meet their date are standing around too. Some of the guys look nervous, some look scruffy, some look like newly-released felons, but all have spent a lot of time on their hair; must be a British guy thing. The ladies all look well-dressed, even if they’re just in jeans and a jacket, because I can see that they have given their appearance a lot of thought. Some are smoking a last cigarette with a breath mint ready in the other hand.

I get that familiar feeling that someone is looking at me, so I look to my left and a big, fat girl is smiling at me.

Oh jeez, not again!

Yep, it’s my date. Oh, for fuck’s sake! Not another woman who doesn’t look like her photos!

She waddles over to me as all the energy drains from my body, collects in an invisible puddle at my feet and evaporates as I go cold and numb inside. Hopefully my sense of disappointment doesn’t show on my face…but what the fuck?! How old are her photos?! What is she playing at?! This is not a good start! This is not the way to start a relationship.

In her photographs she is about a size 12; nothing wrong with that. The person she is now is at least a size 18; I’m probably being kind to her and cruel to size 18 women. This deliberate deception on her part sets a very negative tone. It’s like a nuclear bomb going off at the start of a date, except that it isn’t invisible radioactive fallout that covers all around us, but custard-like lard that has splattered over everything, including the singletons standing too close, their finely quaffed hair now a hideous mess. Everybody is standing like statues, creamy splotches of lard on their clothing, on their faces and dripping off their cigarettes. Their eyes are big, nobody speaks but their faces say, “What the fuck just happened?!”

There is something in London called the Gentleman’s Tube Dilemma. On the London underground train system, known as ‘the Tube’, it is the done thing for a man to give up his seat for a pregnant woman. The dilemma stems from some women being so fat that they look pregnant. If a man offers a fat woman his seat, it is not unheard of for the heffalump to start crying. I am now confronted with the dating equivalent of this; do I stay or do I go and make a fat girl cry?

I opt to stay. The eternal optimist in me thinks that maybe I can help her shift the weight if everything else is worth the effort. She’s a 99% match after all. Let’s sexercise! My disappointment is that she doesn’t look like her photos, not her size.

I kiss her hello on a very round cheek and she beams at me…and makes the expression that women make when they fancy a man. Oh dear God; this is going to be a long night.

Standing at the top of the stairs, out of habit more than anything else, I ask her, “Do you like chicken?”

“Yes, why?”

“Better take a wing then,” I say with a fake smile.

She laughs out loud and happily hooks up with my extended arm. If she loses her balance she’s going to take me with her down these stairs. At least I’ll have a soft landing.

I get conversation flowing by asking her the usual question of, “So what do you do for work?”

“I’m in nursing, what used to be a matron,” she replies cheerily.

Guess what? I think of her as The Matron.

I would have thought that a matron would be walking around all day and thus slim and trim. This one must be chained to her desk and intravenously fed chocolate.

Once at the Dickens Inn, my usual waiter of the last few weeks attends to us and he gives me a knowing look, but tonight I’m embarrassed so I look away. Does he think I’m a male escort for the chronically lonely and now undateable? Or does he think I’m a gigolo and a public health hazard?

Without speaking he and I start heading for my favourite table outside, but The Matron grabs my arm and says, “Can we sit inside. I feel the cold very easily.”

You’re so fat and yet you feel the cold? Really? So we end up sitting inside when the balcony on such a perfectly warm July evening would have been more enjoyable, romantic even. What is she like to sleep next to in Winter? What the hell am I thinking?! My bed could never take her weight.

I can just imagine trying to shag her doggy-style, then giving her backside a playful smack, watching the ripple on her skin move away from me…then come speeding back with a greater, angry force and knocking me off of her. Not nice.

The Matron starts telling me her life-story in minute detail which, to be quite honest, I couldn’t care less about. I feel deflated and deceived. I know there is no long-term future here, I don’t need to remember it, so her detail is just noise. She prattles on and a sense of failure takes hold of me. How can I get some good out of this evening? I’ve come all this way and I’ll foot all the expense, so it’s in my interest to get something out of this.

Over The Matron’s shoulder I spot a very attractive, petite brunette. She’s sitting by herself at a table on the balcony overlooking the marina. She’s no more than 25 years old, in a white dress with matching gold necklace, watch and earrings and it seems she’s waiting for her date. Elegance and style personified. Sitting back in her seat in a very relaxed fashion, the cute little brunette is constantly fidgeting with her clothing, accessories and hair, making unnecessary adjustments here and there. Periodically she looks at her watch and frowns.

I return my gaze to The Matron and ask an open-ended question which sends her off on a monologue. She does like the sound of her own voice. She hasn’t asked me a single question so far, which actually suits me fine, I’m not feeling talkative at all. I spot movement over her shoulder.

The brunette’s date arrives. He’s skinny, on the short side and definitely under thirty given his low hairline. He’s wearing black chinos and a white short-sleeved shirt hanging over his belt. He’s not a bad looking guy, but no chiselled Greek god either and has short black hair. He kisses her hello on a cheek and then sits down, leaning back in his seat. Instantly her body language becomes tense, her shoulders are hunched and she leans forward towards him, resting her elbows on the table. I can’t hear what they’re saying but he’s speaking and she’s paying rapt attention, smiling.

I’m struck by the sudden and clear change in her body language. She’s obviously very interested in him and is totally focussed on him. His body language is the opposite of hers. He’s relaxed, looking around the restaurant and marina, one arm slung over the back of his chair, a leg crossed over one knee, feet pointing away from her, making only occasional eye-contact with her. She can’t take her eyes off of him. Visually this guy is nothing special, but obviously he has elicited a feeling in her that makes her act the way that she is. This must be their first or second date; nothing tells me that they know each other very well.

I focus on my own date and she’s still nattering on about something. I don’t feel guilty about my behaviour toward her. I feel that she has jerked me around, so I’ll do the same to her because obviously to her it’s acceptable behaviour. I ask another open-ended question and away she goes. I resume looking over her shoulder at my new-found social experiment.

There is no way of knowing what the guy is saying, but the pretty brunette is now playing with her earrings and hair. Yep, she’s totally into him and it’s not because of his looks. He’s still leaning back in his seat and she looks like she’s ready to jump into his lap and ride him. It doesn’t seem like he can lick his eyebrows, but this guy’s demeanour and words are turning her on. It dawns on me that I must have come across the same way with the Russian Model last week. My accidental passive disinterest way of being and speaking resulted in her wanting to take me home. That guy’s doing a version of what I was doing. I must do this more often if I fancy my date.

The guy says something and then gets up. The brunette quickly gathers her stuff and jumps up, following him. They’re not even staying for anything to eat or drink? I’m struck by how this guy’s effortless confidence and intransigent attitude results in this little cutie becoming his lapdog, his toy for the evening. He arrives late and didn’t even buy her a drink. He just got up without waiting to see if she agreed with what he said, he just did it…and she went along with it. A smooth operator, very impressive.

I’m now convinced that most women want a man to initiate and take the lead, but to do it in a nice way, not be a bullying, selfish arsehole about it.

I re-focus on The Matron who just finishes saying something. It hits me like cold water in Winter that our body language is almost that of the couple behind her. I’m leaning back in my seat, my feet facing away from her and I’ve not been looking at her. She’s totally focussed on me, leaning in towards me, her feet pointed at me and it seems she can’t get close enough to me. Oh shit, I’ve inadvertently gone passive disinterested on her and she totally wants me now.

We each have a pizza and share a bottle of wine while she keeps talking. The strong silent type is how I must have seemed to The Matron, but I truly am totally disinterested in her. Nothing I have heard her say elicits any kind of attraction in me that overcomes the profound effect of her obvious deception. Yes, from what she has said I can see that she is a Good Girl and a Giver, but there’s no hope for an ‘us’. Trust takes a long time to build and she destroyed it before a word was said.

She had to work in the morning so we call it a night. I pay our bill for which she thanks me. I appreciate her manners that Country Girl so sorely lacked. I escort The Matron to her preferred Tube station and give her a peck on the cheek.

I go home feeling deflated and cheated. Am I doing something wrong?

LESSONS LEARNED: 1) Even a 99% match on OKCupid isn’t all it promises; that missing 1% seems vital 2) A relaxed almost disinterested posture can cause a woman to sit up and pay attention; passive disinterest works 3) Looks mattering more to men than women is true. 4) Initiate and lead and the woman is yours.

Sade – Smooth Operator

Date #25 – The Pretty Pole

In recent weeks a plethora of potential matches has hit Plenty of Fish; I can only guess they don’t want to spend the Summer alone. One pretty blonde, thirty-five year-old lady catches my eye (amongst others), but this one seems different. The energy captured in her photos speak of someone grounded and wholesome. Her words are humble and down-to-earth.

I write an approach email commenting on something in one of her photos and it leads to good-natured banter via email between us. In her first reply she makes a point of telling me that she’s Polish. I decide to keep an open mind and forget about the Picky Pole date. She quickly agrees to meeting up for a date. Perfect; I hate email ping-pong.

Could she be the One?

It’s a Monday night after work and the sun is tingeing people’s skins outside Tower Hill Tube station. Other daters arrive and stand around, expecting to meet someone too. It’s busy and some of the women look like they could be my date. I ride an emotional roller-coaster each time I see a blonde who might be her.

Jeez, I hope that’s not her! Nope, it isn’t. Phew.
There, that one, she’s looking at me. Ah, there’s her fella.
Wow! She’s nice, I hope that’s her. Nope, that must be her parents. Pity.
Hmm, is that her? Looks a bit frumpy. Good, she’s meeting some friends.
This one looks alright. She’s kissing another girl. I think I saw some tongue there.
Oh no, I hope this isn’t her. Keep walking, keep walking, don’t make eye-contact…thank god, she walked past.

I know that the day will come when I look back on all these dates and laugh about them. More than anything I look forward to the moment when I know she’s The One, while we’re lying on our sides, legs entwined and lost in each other’s eyes, I say to her with all my heart “I knew you existed”.

Out of the corner of my eye I spot my date. She’s tall, slender, wearing a one-piece white dress and white court shoes. Her hair is straight, almost touching her shoulders and she’s a natural blonde. Her eyes are the colour of the sky above us. She is pretty and looks angelic. My heart jumps. Finally, is this Her?

I instantly think of her as ‘The Pretty Pole’.

My sense of relief at her attractiveness causes me to not notice her facial expression when she first sees me. I say her name and kiss her hello on a cheek as she smiles. She tries to say my name and gets it horribly wrong. I just laugh and tell her how to say it.

At the stairs I do my usual thing of, “Tell me something, do you like chicken?”

“Yes. Why?” The Pretty Pole says predictably.

“You better take a wing then,” I say with my best smile and extend an elbow towards her.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand,” she says with a puzzled look on her face.

“It’s just a little joke. Never mind. Would you like to take my arm as we go down these stairs?” I respond, a little disappointed that she didn’t catch my attempt at humour. She holds onto my arm as we make our way down the stairs and, like most other women, she lets go once we’re on flat ground. That’s fine, it shows me she is comfortable with me, no sign of trust issues, we’ve broken a physical barrier, so it’s all good.

As we walk to St Katharine Dock, we chat away and she’s only been in the UK for two years. When Poland joined the European Union in 2004 over a million young Poles moved to the UK in the following two years. Compared to her compatriots she’s a late arrival. I ask The Pretty Pole about this.

“I got divorced and wanted a new start. My friends here kept telling me to come over, so here I am,” she says with a heavy Polish accent. I can make out what she’s saying because I speak several languages to varying degrees of fluency, but I think a native English-speaker would struggle with her accent.

“Is my accent a problem for you?” I ask.

“No, it’s fine as long as you speak slowly,” she replies.

I endeavour to speak as slowly as I can, for both our benefits. In my job I work with a wonderfully mixed assortment of nationalities and I am often asked to address everyone as my accent is the most neutral. I’m pretty sure that my accent won’t be a problem

At the Dickens Inn the usual waiter looks at me and cocks his head sideways. I smile proudly. This is third woman he has seen me with in five days and she’s the prettiest. Once seated at “my table” on the balcony, I’m quite happy to let The Pretty Pole talk. I’ll just sit back and admire her beauty. She’s lovely. I like the look of her and especially like the vibe I’m getting off of her. She’s down-to-earth, not flighty, nor high-spirited, but a pleasant reminder of what refinement and sophistication is. She’s a true lady.

As is the norm on a first date the initial topic centres on what we do for work. I tell her what I do and she tells her line of work.

“I arrived in London not speaking a word of English and now I’m a team leader in a call-centre co-ordinating the English, German and Polish-speaking markets,” she says slowly.

I start speaking German to her and we have a brief conversation in German. She comes to life with that little interaction, but I revert to English because my German isn’t as good as hers. It dawns on me that she isn’t comfortable speaking English.

Houston, we have a language barrier. Fuck.

Speaking slowly does not come naturally to me, but I try my best. What really starts to bother me is that she just doesn’t get any of my humour. All of it is lost in translation. I crack a joke, smile and she just stares back at me, blinking and trying to understand what I just said. I can be quite punny and I don’t know if other languages and cultures incorporate puns as part of their humour; I’m starting to think not.

I’m also starting to think that humour is a vital ingredient in “chemistry”, that rare and elusive thing that when two people meet there is positive electricity between them. Baltic Babe and I were great in the humour department; I’d have her literally in tears of laughter once an hour. She’d beg me to stop because her sides were hurting. I miss that and the sound of her laugh.

Sadly I can’t tell you what The Pretty Pole’s laugh sounded like because I don’t think I heard it. After about an hour conversation has died and we both just stare out at the marina, not knowing what the hell to say to each other any more. The date pretty much died there.

It was cringe-worthy for both of us. I felt particularly bad, thinking that I hadn’t been speaking slowly enough. If only her English was better. I know that it was more than that, but I still felt bad. The Pretty Pole probably felt worse.

I could see that she was a Good Girl and that she was a Giver too. I was also feeling disappointed because in front of me sits a woman who not only looks the part, but also has the moral fibre and decency of someone whom I want to share my life with. It feels like life was teasing me, dangling what I want in front of my nose and then whipping it away.

I suppose with a lot of time, patience and effort we could teach each other languages, but even then the outcome isn’t guaranteed. In fact, it’s highly unlikely because the focus of the relationship is all wrong. The realization comes to me that I’m not in the market for a project; I’m looking for a finished product. Someone whom I have nothing to teach, but only to share with. I’d happily be with a woman who wants to teach me new things. Doing new things together is fun, it binds a couple together, but if it’s all about overcoming a communication barrier, well that’s not fun.

I pay for our wine and pizzas which The Pretty Pole politely thanks me for. Walking my date to wherever she needs to get to I shall always do, no matter how bad the date. When I kiss her goodbye on a cheek outside the Tube station, I think we both knew we’ll never be seeing each other again.

On this date communication had let us down.

Never mind, I have a date on Friday night with someone who is a 99% match on OKCupid…

LESSONS LEARNED: 1) I’m not looking for a project but a finished article 2) Laughter is key to chemistry

Spandau Ballet: Communication