Four Reasons Not To See Your Ex

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‘Four big things have happened to me. I started working at UCL. I had a long-term relationship.’

A pause.

‘Who was she?’ I say. ‘I mean, how did you meet?’

‘Oh… through friends. It ended – I ended it – before Christmas.’

‘Why… did you end it?’

‘It had been going on for two years and it was at that point where, if it wasn’t going to be forever, then…’

‘You had to end it.’

‘Yeah. It was a nice relationship but… I didn’t feel we were on the same wavelength and I need that.’

‘Mmm.’

‘But it was very hard, ending it.’

‘It is very hard. It’s like a bereavement.’

‘It is.’

A pause.

‘What were the other two things?’

‘I bought a flat.’

‘And sold the other one?’

‘No. I’ve still got that.’

‘So another one.’

‘Yes. And I bought a yacht.’

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What I’ve Learnt From Tinder

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CC Image courtesy of TinyTall on FlickrA Super Like is what happens when you drop your phone.

You don’t bat an eyelid at names like Cyril or Bas or Champagne. OK, maybe Champagne.

You start to rely on the bug that shows you people’s profiles twice, to correct all the wrong decisions you made the first time round.

You end up in what can only be described as a phone sex worker-client relationship with a friend of a friend off Tinder. Because, y’know, it might turn into a real relationship. It doesn’t.

You’re on the verge of giving up when, one lunchtime, you open the app to find you’ve matched with The Man from Hampstead.

‘You’re the first person I’ve matched with who I’ve met in real life!’ he writes. ‘Exciting times.’

CC Image courtesy of doug_wertman on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of Debs (ò‿ó)♪ on FlickrBeatrice has just texted to say she’s got a Tinder date lined up.

‘He’s a ginger version of Rob,’ she says, ‘so that might be a problem.’

‘I think Ginger Rob is par for the course,’ I send back. ‘I’ve spent the last eight months looking for a doppelganger of Viable Prospect.’

I go upstairs to get ready. My top needs ironing and I’m contemplating washing my hair in the vain hope it will come out looking entirely different. Longer and more bouncy.

I put away the ironing board, transfer essential items to my evening bag. There’s ten minutes until I need to leave, enough time to reply to a couple of messages.

At the top right of the screen, a small number two, in red. Reminders, no doubt, of invitations unanswered. I click on the icon and feel my stomach drop.

 

Two days earlier…

Beatrice shifts in her chair. ‘It’s embarrassing.’

‘It’s not!’

I tell her about the time I almost went to see someone for the same reason. ‘But I knew a therapist couldn’t tell me what I needed to know – only he could do that. So I messaged him, and, when he stopped replying, I was finally able to move on.’

‘Do you still think about him?’

I shrug. ‘I guess I compare people to him. But I know now he doesn’t want to be with me, and it’s invaluable, knowing that.’

 

I stare at the screen a moment.

‘Fuck you!’ I say with a half-laugh. ‘Fuck you!’ I get up, pace the room. ‘You are not fucking doing this. You’ve fucking ruined enough of my fucking life already. You are not ruining my evening.’ I grab my coat and bag. ‘I am going to have a fabulous night.’

 

‘Do you want another drink?’ My date gestures towards the menu. ‘Or do you want to dance or… do you just want to get out of here?’

He’s already told me he’s not a very good dancer.

‘Err… out of here?’

‘So,’ he says, once we’re outside, ‘your place or mine?

I suppress a smile. ‘Err… yeah, that’s what I meant earlier by I think we want different things.’

‘Ah.’

 

Tubing home, my thoughts drift to another first date. We didn’t want the same things either.

CC Image courtesy of nehavish on Flickr

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What Do I Know?

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CC Image courtesy of Diamond Hoo Ha Man on FlickrIf an alien landed in London and stole my phone (it’s a big ‘if’ – I’ve got a budget Motorola) it would probably think my surname was Tinder and that I was really good at keeping in touch with my immediate family. It might also wonder why all these conversations reached fever pitch before coming to an abrupt end. It might not know how to operate a mobile phone.

After five Tinder dates in as many weeks I’ve learnt a few things:

  1. Meet. Your chemistry might be electric over text/Whatsapp but if you – or they – fail the acid test in person, that’s that.
  1. Meet on a week night. It’s much easier to curtail a mid-week date if you’re not feeling it…
  1. … which you probably won’t be. Keep your expectations low.
  1. Don’t contact your ex – especially not the one you met on Tinder – immediately after an underwhelming date. Actually don’t contact your ex, period.
  1. Split the tab, unless he absolutely insists. But otherwise, go Dutch. He’ll respect you for it and you won’t feel any guilt when there’s no follow-up. Plus, well, it’s the 21st century – why should the guy pay?
  1. You’ll decide pretty early on if the stranger who just said hello to you outside the tube station is someone you could kiss or get naked with. Whatever the verdict there is no polite way to get out of the ensuing date (see #2).
  1. After a run of average dates you might start to question your ability to know when you really like someone.

The day after date #5 I go dancing and run into an old, newly single acquaintance. He’s wearing turquoise and a broad grin and greets me like an old friend. I spend all of the next day hungover with this big dopey smile on my face.

Trust me, you’ll know.

CC Image courtesy of Pulpolux !!! on Flickr

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If You’re A Bird…

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CC Image courtesy of shaniecegooden on FlickrMatthew is in many ways the perfect crush.

1. He speaks like someone out of a period drama.  Like, the other day at work, we’re looking at guns.

‘Do you shoot?’ I say.

‘Yes.  Do you?’

‘No.’

‘Do you go out with them ever?’

Inwardly I swoon.

‘Errr… a couple of times.’

Which is stretching the truth.  I ‘went out’ with the guns once, whilst staying with my then boyfriend.  My presiding memory is of trying to convince him of my rural credentials whilst caught, literally, straddling a barbed wire fence in the middle of the Devon countryside.  Not my finest hour.

 

2. We’re soul mates, apparently.

Colleague pauses in her work.  ‘I think you and Matthew should get it on.’

I nearly fall off my stool.  ‘Why?!’

‘I was talking to him in the kitchen the other day and… he reminds me of you.  You’re quite similar, like, you’ve got the same sense of humour.  Kind of… dry.’

I laugh.  ‘OK!  I’ll see what I can do!’

A few minutes later, Matthew walks past.  I turn beetroot, my default colour whenever he’s in the vicinity.

‘Hello!’ I chirrup, my default sound whenever I speak to him.

Colleague smirks.

‘You can tell that you like him,’ she says, once he’s out of earshot.

‘How?!’

‘You go bright red!’

And I sound like a bird.  Other than that, I’m stealth incarnate.

CC Image courtesy of Wilfbuck on Flickr

3.  He’s good with children.

‘Hey…’

Matthew looks up from what he’s doing.

‘… please could you help a client lift a pram up the stairs?’

And then marry me, and we can have a baby and you can lift our pram up the stairs etc etc.

‘Yeah sure,’ he says.

We walk together towards the stairs.

‘How are you?’ I say, turning beetroot.

He looks surprised.  Beetroot is usually mute in his presence. ‘Yeah, good.  I haven’t seen you for a while.’

He’s noticed!  It’s love!  Weeeee!

‘No… I’ve been more at the other office recently.’ I grin. ‘Going up in the world.’

He laughs.

 

Pram safely delivered onto the pavement, he comes back downstairs.

‘Thanks!’ I say.

Colleague smirks.

CC Image courtesy of Marj Joly on Flickr