Tag Archives: Dating

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.

So excited

The next day, Thursday, I wake up and within seconds I feel breathless. I want her, I want The Artist. I want to be with her, look into her eyes, hear her laugh, see her smile. I want to hold her hand in mine as we walk. I want to stop, cup her face with one hand and kiss her gently. Just thinking about those things makes me tremble inside; I’ve forgotten what that feels like. In truth, I’m a little scared because it feels like I’ve lost control. This is the effect she’s had on me. A rational, logical person would say that it’s only been one date and that I shouldn’t get carried away. My instincts tell me that she’s worth getting carried away for. I wonder how she feels?

I send her a text message at 7.05am bidding her a good morning. I offer a few words of support for something she’s not looking forward to doing at work. I make fun of the fact that we’re not strangers any more so it’s okay for us to talk on the phone, suggesting that we chat later in the evening. 22 minutes later she answers with a very long message, so she must have started texting me back straight away. She thanks me for my words of encouragement and says that ‘something’ will be distracting her today. Then she says that she would ‘love to chat’ and asks if she should let me know when she’s home.

Her last sentence makes me smile; women love a man to pursue them. I don’t want to do what other men do, so I respond by suggesting that she call me when she’s comfortable once back at home. I let her know that I have an idea for our next get-together. I deliberately don’t use the word ‘date’ because it is laced with pressure in so many women’s minds. I tap into a woman’s innate desire to tie up loose ends, satisfy their curiosity, that is why I’m deliberately vague and enticing about having ‘a plan’. It works.

Nine minutes later her response arrives, again much longer than mine and it ends with “Looking forward to talking to you and hearing your plan! X

My heart swells to bursting point. She really likes me.

I struggle to function properly the rest of the day. All I can think about is her. My thoughts and feelings of when I was with her on our date had a very limited sexual dynamic to it. Yes, I felt physically attracted to her, but my focus was solely on her as a person. Now, the next day, my thoughts regularly turn to wondering what making love to her would be like. I think it would be gentle and tender. The way she kisses tells me she is about love and not lust. She didn’t once use her tongue, even though I teased a little once at the end of the evening by sending forward a probing tongue on her lips.

So far the greatest physical negative is her being on the chubby side, but I can live with that. Having seen that she can out-eat me, perhaps I can be a helpful influence in that regard, but only if she wants to lose weight.

More than anything, I want to find out what her romantic fairytale idea is and then make it come true for her.

Later that night we chat and The Artist tells me that she is visiting friends in Cambridge for a party on Saturday and staying over. My plan involving the cablecar across the Thames, a visit to the Millennium Dome followed by a meal at a South African steak restaurant will have to wait for another day. Every ounce of my being tells me that that day is going to happen.

“I don’t suppose you fancy coming to Cambridge on Sunday?” she asks.

Teams of muscular wild horses being stung by wasps couldn’t keep me away! That’s what I say to myself.

“I’ll think about it,” is what I say to The Artist.

I call her at 8pm on Friday night on the pretence of wanting to chat with her, but deep down I know I want to find out if she’s on a date. My Trust Demon is tut-tutting at my enthusiasm and he demands that I take a moment to play safe. She answers my call but is on a bus home, so I ask her to phone me when she gets home and is okay to talk. “It’ll be about half an hour til I’m home,” she says. “That’s fine,” I say. I don’t know whether it was because she was on a bus or is having second thoughts about me, but she didn’t sound too pleased to hear from me. I assume it’s the bus.

Exactly half an hour later she calls me. I appreciate someone who does what they say they will do. She’s just arrived home and immediately phones me. I take that to show serious intent on her part. We make small talk and she sounds a bit upset or grumpy to me. I coax a little bit and she opens up. “I don’t want to bore you with this, but I’ve been having a bad time at work this week,” she starts, then launches into detail about her problems at work. I just listen and it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. I guess that she has nobody to talk to this about, so I just let her vent. I’ve learned to not be the solution to whatever a woman is moaning about when it comes to her work.

Saturday 28th February 2015
I send her a text message at 8pm telling her that I hope she enjoys her party and takes embarrassing photos. I don’t expect to hear from her, the party should be well under way. Less than half an hour later she sends me a very lengthy text message that she must have started composing as soon as she read my message. She provides me with a postcode for me to find her friend’s house and suggest one-ish as a meeting time. That’s far earlier than I expected and I’m surprised and pleased.

Something I’ve learned to do is to pay attention to the length of woman’s a written response versus what I send her. If I send a lengthy message, whether it be an email or text message, and the response is short, it is an indicator that she’s not feeling particularly positively inclined towards me. If she matches the number of lines I write, then we’re in sync. If she answers with a much longer message it means she is feeling excited about me. The Artist’s very lengthy responses make me feel good. I get the impression that she’s very keen on me and struggling to hide it.

I’m battling to not come across as too keen too.

Pointer Sisters – I’m so excited

Beautiful stranger on a train

It’s been more than a week since I switched off my dating profiles, but this morning I switched them on, thinking they’re like drift-nets out at sea; maybe one day someone interesting will swim into them. Well tonight something interesting did indeed happen, but not anything like what I was expecting.

The Wanderer was visiting London and I went to meet her. We had a fun, friendly evening catching up and I went back to a major train station to get a train home.

As I walk along the platform I spot a pretty blonde sitting on a scarce seat along the wall and we make eye-contact. I like the look of her but I keep walking to the far end of the platform.

A minute later she walks over and stands next to me. We’re the only two people standing so far from the growing crowd.

Gulp.

We make eye contact a few times, then smile suggestively to each other.

I can’t help but conclude that she deliberately came to stand next to me. There was no reason for her to do so.

People start to shuffle forward to claim a spot where they think a door will be on the train as it stops.

She moves forward and I think, sod it, I shall too.

I stand next to her.

She feels my presence and turns to me. Our eyes meet and she smiles coyly before quickly looking away.

The train arrives and we all pile on. It’s a fast train, so the next stop is half an hour away. She gets the aisle seat of a two-seater while I decide to stand near the doors as I normally do.

Everyone has their seat and the train is about to depart. She looks around, our eyes meet again…and she moves over to the window seat, cramming herself into the two-seater unnecessarily.

No, fuck it, I’m going to go sit next to her and I’ll wait for an excuse to talk to her.

I go sit next to her.

We don’t look at each other.

I keep peering out the corner of my eye for an excuse to talk to her. Nothing presents itself.

After a while she sneezes.

Here’s my chance to say, “bless you” as an ice-breaker.

After that I’ll launch into my prepared cheesy, “I know this is totally random and you’re going to laugh, but I don’t suppose you’re single?”

I can’t say it.

I can’t say a word.

Something inside me has locked up tight.

I chicken out.

I’m angry and ashamed at my cowardice.

Then I realize that that is my problem.

I’m ashamed.

I’m ashamed of everything.

I’m ashamed of me. Ashamed of my life. Ashamed of my possessions. Ashamed of being unemployed.

My brain starts racing and projecting what could happen if I strike up a conversation with this cutie that might lead to a date.

I wouldn’t want her asking what I do because I have got to the point where I now fear that question.

I wouldn’t want to invite her to my home, because I’m ashamed of it.

The idea of taking her out on dates fills me with a sense of dread because I just can’t afford it.

This realization is an epiphany to me.

Not only am I not ready for love, I am also not even capable of dating at the moment.

The train gets to the first station and she stands up. God, she’s nice. Perfect-looking, in fact.

I turn my legs aside to the aisle so that she can get past. She takes her time passing me and I look up.

She’s looking down at me and she gives me a lovely smile. I watch through the misty window as she disappears into the oblivion outside.

An earlier version of me would never have let this play out like it has.

I feel like dying.

I’ve switched off all my dating profiles again.

I’m continuing to give dating a break.

This experience just reinforces my belief that the man in the mirror needs to make some changes.

Michael Jackson – Man in the mirror

Singles night

I have a dentist appointment in London in the late afternoon and just before leaving home I got an email from a dating site. It’s advertising their monthly singles evening in a pub in central London. I buy an off-peak train ticket to save money, deciding to kill time after the dentist at their ‘event’.

You can not imagine how far out of my comfort zone it is to walk into a setting like that, all those single people, oestrogen and testosterone in the air, booze-fuelled antics, all sorts of crazy people, knowing full-well that I never hit it off with anybody on that dating site, all the women off it who I had taken on a date were hard London women with clear agendas involving money.

I decided to push my boundaries as part of overcoming my Avoidant Personality Disorder. Having time to kill I tell myself that it’s okay to just sit quietly in a corner and observe the shenanigans. Treat it as research for my blog. Yes, research, there that feels better. I won’t strike up a conversation with a single woman. I’ll just sit and analyse the rabbits during mating season. I’ll leave at 7pm.

I get there just after the doors open at 5pm and there are three other women already there sitting chatting. I buy a cider from the bar and find my ideal spot where I can see everyone arriving and do my voyeur thing. I start thumbing my phone.

A few minutes later a voice asks if the seat opposite is free. I look up and there’s a cute little 30-something girly with light-brown hair blinking at me. She starts talking to me. We get along fine. She starts playing with her hair. I notice that she has a tongue-stud (which means cock-sucker extraordinaire). Despite sounding thoroughly English, she’s German. She has even lived in South Africa for a while and loves Cape Town. She wants kids. I’m actually not that attracted to her, good banter, but that’s all.

A fat, ugly English guy in a grey suit arrives and he buys a bottle of wine and stands at our table. I find that odd. The whole place is empty and he stands on top of us. He makes no effort to talk to us nor makes eye contact. Within 15 minutes he finishes the bottle of wine and goes back to the bar. The German girl says to me, “Did you see that?” and we laugh. I don’t want to spend the entire evening talking to her; it’s not what I came here for. So I decide to test something. I start telling her about my blog.

She asks me more probing questions about my blog, so I tell her, not really sure how she’ll react, but I’ve learned that women don’t like the idea of possibly being an entry in somebody’s public diary. I sense her withdrawing and it doesn’t take long before she says that she has to go home. I ask her her age and she tells me 33. By now other people had arrived and she could have tried her luck elsewhere in the room, but she left. I’m disappointed in myself that I might have ruined her evening.

As she’s leaving two other women come up to her and ask, “Are you leaving?” She says she is and they take the two seats opposite me. The one woman is a mixed race brunette and the other is a stunning milky-white-skinned brunette. The latter gives me the look women make when they fancy a man. I’m surprised. This isn’t what I came here for; I just want peace and quiet.

I ignore them and they start talking to each other. As they get seated the English guy returns with a bucket of ice and Moet champagne. Nobody says a word to him and he just stands there, but by now the place is nearly full so I excuse his presence. I notice the stunning brunette occasionally looking at me, smiling and then looking away. She is easily the most attractive brunette I have ever seen. She has beautiful blue eyes.

For more than two years all I have been interested in dating is blondes. It’s the default filter on all the dating sites that I’ve used. Now Life is teasing me with a beautiful brunette.

I’m intrigued. My people-watching idea becomes an afterthought. Has Fate handed me an opportunity here? Only one way to find out. How do I do this? A plan comes to mind.

The mixed-race friend is telling the stunner about her new boyfriend’s latest text message, complaining that she can’t figure out the sub-text to it. I see my chance.

“Excuse me, but if you would like some help in translation, I can help. I speak Man,” I say.

“Do you understand Australian Man?” The friend asks.

“Almost. I’m South African,” I respond.

“Oh my God! My best friend is South African!” exclaims the stunner.

From that moment on the three of us engage in good banter. I make a concerted effort to deliberately address the bulk of my interaction to the friend. I want to build anticipation in the stunner, who I am interested in, as well as not come across like any other guy by showering the prettiest girl with all the attention. She’s probably used to attention from men. I’m playing subtle. The friend leaves to go buy drinks and order food.

The Englishman to my left is making his way though his champagne and tries to strike up conversation with any woman who passes by on the way to the bar. I don’t know what he’s saying to them, but they all stop, pull a funny face, either say nothing or utter something short, then continue on their way.

Conversation with the two ladies in front progresses at a pace and the stunning brunette hangs on my every word. We swap names and she struggles with mine. She looks a bit young though. No more than 33 I surmise. It doesn’t matter to me as it’s not likely to lead to anything. This is just fact-finding of some kind, I tell myself. As we talk the stunner starts asking me all sorts of personal questions such as why did my last relationship come to an end, etc. I feel like I’m being interviewed for a job. I give the friend a bemused look and she just smiles knowingly.

I then turn the tables and start asking questions of my own, but being more indirect. I start guessing their nationalities because I detect an accent in the stunner. I start with the friend, making the stunner wait for my attention. I guess the Caribbean influence correctly but am off the mark; she’s quite a mixture. The stunner I initially think is Czech, which she instantly rebuffs, but I’m convinced of it. So I suggest Polish, to which she has an offended response. (Polish women have a bad reputation as sluts amongst the Eastern European women). Only someone from that part of the world will know that and react as she does, so my initial region is correct, but I still think she looks Czech. Then it dawns on me and I say it, “Slovak!” and her face lights up. The friend smiles.

I’ve been on dates with two Slovakian girls before and I found them delightful. Their culture is considered as stuck in the 1930s by the other Eastern European cultures (I’ve worked with many people from that part of the world.) I find that appealing, because my mother brought me up to be a 1950s gentleman. Only someone equally old-fashioned would appreciate my manners.

After a bit more of a grilling by the stunner do I realise that her and I are actually a good match in many ways. She doesn’t want kids, loves travel, has an intellectual/cultural bent, is amazingly 43 years old (the same as me)…and we fancy each other, but I’m trying hard to not let it show. I find my thoughts wondering if there is relationship potential here, after all, happiness is not a hair colour. The now-drunk Englishman lurches forward and says something to the friend. She pulls a quizzical face and moves back away from him. We resume our conversation.

I get a tap on my shoulder and turn to see the Englishman shouting at me, “You, sir, are a user!”

“Sorry, what?” I retort, shocked at the insanity of this intrusion.

“You’ve only had one drink the whole time you’ve been here. Look what I’ve bought in the same time. Don’t you know how to socialise?” he bellows at me at the top of his voice.

People around us are shocked and things go quiet.

“I don’t have to be drunk to have a good time. Now leave us alone,” I say as calmly as I can.

No, he won’t quit. He keeps ranting about how little I have spent compared to him. I realize that every women he has tried speaking to has rebuffed him. His ego can’t take it. His sense of failure compels him to assert himself somewhere, somehow and he’s seemingly chosen me because I’m close at hand. He keeps going on as loudly as possible about my ‘bad form’ and I can see that he’s not going to stop any time soon.

“Mate, what are you trying to do here? Are you trying to provoke me into going outside with you?” I say. That makes no difference and he keeps sounding off like a little baby sitting alone in the middle of a room all by itself. He keeps going on and on. You can’t reason with a drunk; my father taught me that.

In front of me is the type of guy who would have been a bully at school. Bullies only respect someone standing up to them. I’ve never been afraid of a bully, so I lean over into his face, our noses almost touching and say as menacingly as I know how, “I used to be a bodyguard in South Africa. You can’t imagine the things I can do to your corpse.” (Which I mean. Gore does not shock me; I’m desensitized to it from all the things I’ve seen in my life.)

I turn away from him and try to resume my chat with the two sweet women before me. Their faces portray absolute horror at this arsehole’s behaviour. I notice that people around us, men and women, have now scattered, anticipating a fight. This guy is big, but I’m taller, stronger and I’ve never lost a fight in my life because I’m always willing to go that one step further than the other guy. However, that’s not what I came here for. I’m not going to let matters degenerate into childish fisticuffs. I’m getting too old and wise for that shit.

He starts saying all sorts stereotypical rubbish about South Africans, being a bigot, revealing to all and sundry just why he is single. He’s making a complete arse of himself and some people are starting to laugh at him which makes him think twice.

People resume talking and his audience is thus gone, so he simmers down and finishes his last glass of champers. I’m keeping half an eye out for a glass or bottle coming my way from my left. I try to carry on as if nothing has happened, but the two women in front of me are in shock, their faces ashen. What was a pleasant evening for some is now destroyed. The stunner gets up and runs away. The drunk slob moves off too.

The friend says to me, “Jesus, that was intense. She’s gone off to have a cigarette now.”

My pumping heart slows down upon hearing that the stunner is a smoker.

This is how life fucks with me.

I think my facial expression showed what I was thinking and feeling because the friend says, “oh, she’s not a heavy smoker, only two or three a day.”

Her words don’t change my sense of disappointment. I make small talk with the friend, trying to calm her down which I succeed in doing. The stunner returns, reeking of smoke and visibly shaking. I succeed in calming her down too. I leave them to finish their food in peace and go to the bar to get myself another drink. While I’m standing in the queue, I feel a hand getting slapped down on my shoulder. I turn and its the drunk, argumentative Englishman; I’m ready to duck a punch.

“Mate, I just want to say, no hard feelings, heh?” he says with a bad slur.

He’s more drunk than I realized and he stammers so badly that I can’t make out anything he’s saying to me, but the tone is conciliatory. I discern him saying, “I’ll see you here in twenty years time,” which makes no sense to me, but I just smile, agree and make appeasing, passive overtones. He shoves a twenty Pound note in my hand and drawls, “Here, you’re a good chap. Buy yourself a drink on me,” to which I say thank you. He’s such a fucking idiot I may as well take his money. I don’t think he has much idea of what he’s doing or saying, but eventually he staggers off.

I return to the table and the ladies look pleased to see me. I guess they were checking out my body while I was standing in the queue. Until now all they could see was my torso and they had no idea how tall I was. The stunner gives me a beautiful smile and I look around the room of at least 200 people, mostly women and realize that she is the most attractive woman here. How lucky am I ?

Not so lucky.

To be continued…

Realizations

As I sit contemplating suicide it occurs to me that my greatest successes in life were preceded by intense struggle and total uncertainty. Each time when I had got to a point where anyone else would have given up, I made more of an effort and I broke through to the other side known as success. Perhaps I was now at such a point in my life, that now was the time to try one more time, to keep going when there seems no point.

I remember two people’s stories who have inspired me over the years: Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant. It’s not their presidencies that impressed me, but more the story of their lives before they were famous. Lincoln had lost every election he stood for before becoming president. Grant was an alcoholic failure who drifted around until he saw his time and opportunity.

Was it a case of their having true grit or just no alternative? I think it’s the latter. Courtesy of my depressed state I can clearly see that they too must have arrived at a point whereby it seems that all is lost, so there is nothing to lose by keeping on trying. If that’s the case, I can do it too!

Thus I resolve to take a deep breath, put the boxes of ibuprofen away and think things through, trying to find clarity that somewhere along the way got lost amidst an unblinking computer screen and copious amounts of sex. I switch off all my dating profiles and stay away from dating sites for days on end until I have things straightened out in my head and, more importantly, in my heart.

Over the course of a week’s focussed, intense contemplation I make a series of realizations.

Firstly, everything I have done in my adult life has been for love. All aspects of my life are layers to a pyramid that has love as its pinnacle. That might not be the best approach to life and I think it’s driven in part by my Avoidant Personality Disorder. However, I am too old to change. There just isn’t time for cognitive behaviour therapy that lasts years. Much better to just proceed as normal and hope for the best, hope for The One.

My second insight is that I’ve been looking for love in the wrong places. The type of women I have met through dating sites is not the typical woman. The typical woman I have encountered is emotionally messed up and not capable of a relationship. Very few of them have love in their hearts. These are lesser women; it’s why they’re on these sites and are there for so long. No man will put up with their craziness, bitchiness and/or selfishness.

I am now thoroughly disenchanted with online dating. It seems to be the domain of deranged, emotionally unhealthy women. It has so negatively affected my view of women that I find myself wondering if any good women exist, instead of all these self-seeking charlatans.

I review and analyze my history of dates on my dating spreadsheet that I primarily created to help me with my writing. It becomes obvious that my best dates came off the national newspaper’s dating site with my Happy Humping Ground site second-best. I realize that Plenty of Fish in particular is where the most undesirable women end up. That and other free sites is where the bulk of my bad dating experiences have come from. It has distorted my view of women.

Thirdly, reflecting on my own behaviour towards women, I feel ashamed. I am used to being better than I have been. However, some lessons have been learned. Only a man who doesn’t respect women and will therefore treat them badly, will be with a woman that he doesn’t respect. A man who respects woman will only be with a woman he respects. I can not attach value to a woman who does not value herself, a woman who cheapens herself by doing anything with any guy. I am worth a lot, I have a lot to offer and only to someone deserving, because otherwise they will only squander what I have to give them.

Fourthly, I have greater insights about women that should better prepare me for the future. I’ve learned that when a woman says that she is “fussy”, it means that she’s not seriously looking for a relationship and more than anything else is on a big ego-trip. All those men running after her and getting them to do things to please her. Wow, that must be wonderful for the ego!

From young women are told that they are the weaker sex and that they’re not as strong as men. That sets off a life-long desire for power over men in many a young mind. It’s inherent in human nature that anything gained easily is not valued. So, any man who easily gives a woman her sense of power, he is quickly discarded. Play hard to get with a woman and she wants you. I’m starting think that for a relationship to work, the woman must want the man more than he wants her.

Some women seem to think that to get a husband all they need to do is open their legs. What they don’t know is that, the sort of man who falls for that, will divorce her if she opens her mouth. To find a prince, a woman needs to kiss a few frogs, but not fuck the whole pond!

In this current younger generation of liberal democracies, girls have been told that they are the same as men and men have been told to be nice to women. So men come across as grovelling weaklings and women despise them for it. There is thus a bigger disconnect between the genders than ever before. Men are confused about their exact identity in society and women are told that they can have it all.

I watched ‘The Counselor’ the other day and Javier Bardem’s character says something profound:

Men are attracted to flawed women too of course, but their illusion is that they can fix them. Women don’t want to fix anything. They just want to be entertained. The truth about women is you can do anything to them except bore them.” ― Cormac McCarthy, The Counselor: A Screenplay

Lastly, from my own shameful experiences, as soon as a man thinks he’s being played, he takes it as permission to become a player. “Take me seriously and treat me respectfully, or I will look for someone who does and I shall treat you like a piece of meat in prison until then” is the resulting attitude. A gender difference related to this I’ve noted is that women have affairs to get back at their men, while men have affairs to get away from their women.

I’m left with a few questions bugging me. First, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever love someone else again. Second, just how many women’s lives do I want to fuck up? I suppose these questions will only be answered with time.

How am I to be from now on?

I’ve resigned myself to singledom for the foreseeable future. I’ve realized that I’m just not going to fall in love with anyone while I feel so shit about myself. I’ve based this on the understanding that I’m far more primitive than I had previously realized; I am a caveman. I only feel good about myself when my financial position is strong. The more money I have the better I feel about myself. It’s easy to dismiss this outlook as narcissistic, but the reality is far more complex. I can only feel that I am at my best, a real man, if my bank account is a source of pleasure. On the back of that I feel I shall have the confidence to be the best me I can. It’s hard to fall in love with someone else if you’re not in love with yourself first. It’s also hard to do the things in a relationship that require money when you’re worried about making the rent.

I’m so stressed about my financial situation that I have very little interest in sex right now. No desire, no urge, not a nothing. I’ve never been like this before. It’s a strange sensation. Is this what eunuchs or lesser men feel? Despite that, all this random sex with virtual strangers has got to end because it’s doing me no good. It’s been messing with my brain. I’m not going to have sex with another woman until my feelings for her are clear. Yes, the next woman I’m going to sleep with is going to be The One.

That’s it. I’m not running from myself any more. If I lose myself then it’s all been for nothing.

I need to fix my working life, get over my Avoidant Personality Disorder, look for love in the right places, not get sexual so quickly and somehow believe in a better future.

I’ve got nothing to lose, because I’ve pretty much lost everything already.

Naughty Boy – Runnin’ (Lose It All)

Sea of Love

I’m meeting The Saffa at Piccadilly Circus, annoyed with myself that I hadn’t ended it with Busty Czech. Last night was a fun disaster, but I know the way forward now. I was anticipating seeing the delight on The Saffa’s face as I delivered the little speech I had prepared yesterday about how I had ended things with Busty Czech. Now that speech is redundant. I don’t know what I’m going to tell her now.

She’s standing under the big, bright lights amidst a throng of gawking tourists. Before The Saffa spots me I notice that her body language is tense; a clenched jaw, stiff spine and folded arms tell me all. Her eyes look a little red and sore. Has she been crying?

The hello kiss is perfunctory and the atmosphere between us is frosty as we start walking to get away from the crowds of tourists. Within a minute we are standing outside the Trocadero, facing off.

“Have you ended it with her?” she demands to know.

“No, not yet,” I answer.

“That’s it! I’m out of here!” she says and starts striding away from me.

Like a little schoolboy in a playground I run after her.

“Wait! Hear me out, please,” I implore as I hook her nearest arm.

The Saffa stops, folds her arms and frowns at me. I’m only going to get one shot at getting this right. Words please don’t fail me now.

“You’re the one that I want. I went to her last night to dump her and I just couldn’t time it right. I’m going to do it tomorrow,” I say.

“What?! You saw her last night?! I don’t believe you!” she retorts.

“Like I said, it was to say goodbye in a decent manner. She doesn’t deserve a crude phone-call or text message. The most important thing is that it’s you that I want,” I reply.

“I don’t know what to do?” she says.

“You don’t have to do anything. This is my mess and I’m dealing with it. Tomorrow she’s history. I promise,” I say as emphatically as I know how. I mean my every word. It pains me but I have to dump Busty Czech by phone.

“Hmm,” she mutters.

“Look, why don’t we just try and have a nice day together? I’ll show you some sights I think you’re going to love,” I suggest, hoping that her questions have been thwarted and that I can distract her so that she calms down. I don’t like seeing her distressed like this, but it’s my fault and I need to make amends somehow.

I take a step towards Leicester Square, turn towards The Saffa and smile, hoping that she follows my lead. Will she?

She hesitates, leans forwards as if to take a step, is thinking furiously, obviously in an emotional state, then finally takes a step to stand next to me. Inside me I let off the biggest sigh of relief I’ve ever felt. That was close, but I’m not yet in the clear.

We walk onto Leicester Square, welcomed by the cacophony of entertainment parlours, bustling restaurants, noisy pubs and grumblings of fleeced tourists. After a minute The Saffa unfolds her arms and I wait a few seconds until I gently take one of her hands in mine. She doesn’t pull away. Gently does it with her today.

We do a lap of the square and then I lead her to a bus-stop. We hop aboard the number fifteen bus which follows a route that takes in most of London’s famous sights as we make our way towards Brick Lane. I play tour conductor as she starts to relax. By the time we get off the bus near Brick Lane she’s her talkative self again.

She is amazed by the sights, sounds and smells of all that is on show at this street market on this perfect Sunday morning. We walk around the colourful, exotic markets and fragrant stalls, but I don’t remember seeing much; all I have eyes for is The Saffa. She is so mesmerised by what she is seeing (she’s a magpie for silver jewellery) that she doesn’t notice my staring at her. I just want to wrap my arms around her and hug her until she cries from happiness.

After sampling food snacks from around the world I lead us to another nearby area of London. For a laugh I take her to the sex-shop on Hoxton Square, but it is undergoing a revamp so only a few things in the basement are on show; very disappointing. We sit at a bar on the square, talking, just talking, laughing often. It’s how it should be. We could have sat there until dawn. I don’t think we’ll ever lack for conversation. We do it for each other mentally. It’s a good start.

However, a part of me is still holding back, reluctant to totally let go with her. After being burned by the other false starts, a little bit of me is scared of being disappointed again. There’s no rush, is there? I’m determined to let this play out in it’s own time, in it’s own way.

At the moment we’re like two otters playing together, entwined as one, twisting and turning through a warm sea…perhaps the Sea of Love?

We go back to where she is staying and working, looking after a kindly old lady. The Saffa and I go out on the patio to share a coffee and cake, but become embroiled in a silly, pointless disagreement over a mutual high school friend. I’m ambivalent about this female friend whom The Saffa adores and she gets upset over my not feeling the same way. This altercation spoils the day a little for me.

I’m learning that the way to clear the air with The Saffa is to distract her. I ask her to come with me to my car. She’s happy to do so and we catch a bus to where my car is parked in Hammersmith and I then drive her back home. Our kiss goodnight is a passionate one and we agree to get together next Sunday.

I drive back past Hammersmith and remember all the times I came to be with Busty Blonde. I swore to myself that after I had to hurt her by saying goodbye that I wouldn’t do that again to another woman. I feel I’ve let myself down, but at the same time how do you go about dating without letting people down if you decide they’re not right for you?

I don’t remember much of the drive home to my place; my head is filled with thoughts about The Saffa…and how I was going to have to hurt Busty Czech to be with her. Someone who was sweet and kind, in a delicate frame of mind, who did not deserve pain, but who isn’t meant for me.

This dating game can be brutal, it’s the nature of the beast.

Honeydrippers – Sea of Love

Online dating profiles

I’m taking an hiatus from online dating until someone remarkable catches my eye. I’m reflecting on my two years on the dating scene. Two years of drama, craziness, varying degrees of sex, times of learning, episodes of amazement and downright determination.

I have some tips that I’d like to share with you. This is going to be the first of some of the lessons I’ve learned about modern dating. Today deals with dating profiles and the build-up to a date.

Online dating has a visual bias, there is no denying this. With just one look we can form an impression of someone, or worse, an attachment. We are likely to click on someone we like the look of because that is how we are attracted to someone in the real world too. It is no surprise then that people whose profiles have no photos included have a quieter dating life. That’s to say I’m talking about a conventional dating site and not esoteric sexual niche websites. If you are on a regular site and you never get messages, then you might get the impression that nobody likes you.

Nobody likes me.
Nobody likes me.

It might be that your profile isn’t working for you and it needs some attention and thought. A sense of rejection on a dating site should not discourage anyone or give them reason to embark on desperate measures to entice someone into their life.

Van for offine dating. Sweets optional.
Van for offine dating. Sweets optional.

Once you’ve spruced up your dating profile you’ll start to get attention and eventually somebody will seem worthwhile to meet for a date. You’re not attracted to everyone so don’t expect everyone to be attracted to you. Attraction isn’t a choice and you might be surprised by who finds you attractive. An open mind is key.

First date potential.
First date potential.

It is vital to project the correct image, so give some thought to the photos you’ll be using. Often your favourite photo might send out the wrong message if you’re not careful. Many people like to include their cherished pet in their photos in a hope to attract someone who has a liking for the same creature. Sometimes this can backfire.

A man's favourite pet.
A man’s favourite pet.

At the same time it is good practice to scrutinize the photos that someone has chosen to post on their profile. Look away from their face and see what the surroundings can tell you. You might spot a few warning signs. For example, they claim to be a non-smoker but all their photos show them holding a cigarette.

Check details in photos.
Check details in photos.

As a general rule I would advise against meeting someone if you don’t know what they look like. This applies to men and women. A look of surprise or disappointment on your face might not be the best start to the date.

Your next blind date?
Your next blind date?

Because of the nature of the internet being a relatively anonymous medium, there are people who abuse dating sites for their own ends. Occasionally you’ll encounter people who are not even the gender they claim and often they are after money.

Anybody can pretend to be somebody online.
Anybody can pretend to be somebody online.

If you’re a guy looking for a gal, with time you’ll learn that there is a code that women use in their dating profiles. Their narratives after a while start to have similar terms. With a bit of dating practise you’ll crack the code.

Women code for dating profiles.
Women code for dating profiles.

If you’re a lady then I must inform you that, sadly, not all men on dating sites are as they portray themselves to be. Men are likely to lie about their jobs, height and relationship status. This is not the norm, so don’t let a few bad apples spoil the cider.

Some men lie on their dating profiles.
Some men lie on their dating profiles.

I have noticed that there are far more attractive women then attractive men on dating sites. That can work in a chap’s favour, not because he might be handsome, but because he has the confidence that women appreciate.

Nobody is out of your league.
Nobody is out of your league.

I have it on good authority that modern online dating is also prone to some rather unusual behaviour. Sexting, the swapping of intimate photos, is becoming commonplace, so much so that some men consider it standard practice. Don’t let anyone intimidate you into doing this.

Sexting extortion
Sexting extortion

In the same vein there are women who are pretty explicit about what their needs and wants are. A camera-phone and mirror is often involved.

Lick it. Women can be explicit too.
Lick it. Women can be explicit too.

It’s a common and easy mistake to develop an online crush on someone before you’ve met them. Don’t spend too much time swapping messages and phone-calls because you might create a false impression of someone who is radically different in real life.

Not everyone on the dating scene is sane.
Not everyone on the dating scene is sane.

What matters most when going dating is having a clear idea of what you’re about and who you want to meet. Keeping that in mind should keep you out of trouble…unless trouble is what you’re looking for. 😉

Your self-perception is vital.
Your self-perception is vital.

Just please be careful not to fall for someone on the basis of just one look at their dating profile.

Happy dating!

The Grey Knight

Doris Troy – Just one look