Ah, Valentine’s Day, the one day in a year love is not only encouraged but capitalised through all things cringey (but cute). For many, myself included, Valentine’s Day is just a (not so gentle) reminder of our single status. Whilst I would’ve loved to be posting an update about how I spent my day with someone I love (beyond my family and my dog, which is getting a bit sad, honestly), I’m spending this Valentines Day (as with the previous ones as soon as I knew boys were a thing, I liked them and they didn’t appear to like me back…) part lamenting my current predicament and wishing I had someone to be cringey and cute with part telling myself being single is great and I ‘don’t need no man’ that isn’t trapped between the pages of paperback or on the other side of a TV screen…
What was funny about last Valentine’s Day though was the fact that I joined Tinder (an experience I wrote about here), a swarm of single (and more than ready to mingle) people looking for love or whatever else they can get. Whilst it was for research, joining Tinder also gave me the confidence I needed (and didn’t have) when it came to dating. I went to an all-girls Catholic secondary school, so the only experience of boys I had was seeing them through the fence whenever we had PE and marveling at the strange creatures (only because I’d do anything to not have to participate in sports).
I won’t lie to you..I thought, when I went to uni, I’d meet someone and fall hopelessly in love. Of course, that didn’t happen. Part because (being an English student) my course is female-dominated and part because- even minus the school uniform and plus some confidence- I hadn’t exactly plucked up the courage to talk to boys and, equally, convince them I was worth talking to.
Rather than dwell (too much) about my current relationship status (or, more specifically, lack of one), I’m going to share with you my dating experience and everything I’ve learned (and am learning) along the way.
It all started early 2018
It began as an investigative piece for a student website I’ve written for since my first year of uni, pondering what Tinder would be like on the most loved up (or, well, thirstiest) day of the year.
Turns out, Tinder was full of thirsty people (as suspected) but, in amongst the people who quite clearly want you for sex, there have actually been a few nice people.
As much as this was to dip my toe into writing more exciting pieces, joining Tinder was actually the thing I needed. I’d spent a long time wallowing in self pity because I was one of the only people in my group of friends without a boyfriend and, rather than accept it’s because I haven’t met the right person, it made me feel like it was me who was in the wrong.
I learnt that, actually, there’s nothing wrong with me. People swiped in my favour, chatted and told me I was pretty…something I wasn’t used to but it made me realise that, despite the belief I had in my head, somebody could actually like me at that kind of level.
Dating is strange
I’m a romantic, I won’t lie. I wanted the guy who holds the doors for you, awkwardly pushes your chair out before you sit, the one the movies and books tell you about. I wanted the cute first date, then the second, then the third..then the rest.
“Dating wasn’t the vision I saw from behind the rose tinted glasses”
Of course, this whole new experience has been an eye opener. I knew from the first date I went on, with the first guy I’d spoken to on Tinder, dating wasn’t the vision I saw from behind the rose tinted glasses. On my first date, I was late (thanks to traffic), nervous (so I had to wee practically as soon as I arrived) and awkward (I spilled my drink on myself in the first five minutes, which is one way to break the ice…at least).
It still went on without any horror stories, the guy (we’ll call him Z, just in case he unearths this blog and finds this post) wasn’t crazy, Z and I talked and- to my knowledge- it was a good time. It was only until the night rolled around and he messaged me “I don’t want to continue this” as he had uni work to do and would be heading back to Lincoln soon, anyway, that I realised it might not have been as good as I thought.
Fast forward a few months later and T came along. We talked a lot and I liked him, he was tall, friendly and we had quite a bit in common. So we went out and our “coffee and a walk around” turned into me not just smashing the daily step count, but doing laps around the town centre..twice. That should have been enough to put me off but, a while later, I went on a second date with him. Aside from realising (or, well, confirming) that I’m horrendous at mini-golf, I realised something else from the date
“You can go on another date, and another but there’s no point trying to force something you’re not feeling”
Needles to say, we both weren’t “feeling” it by the end of the date and (after an awkward bus ride home, in total silence) we just cut ties. It was sad, but I think we both realised we weren’t for each other and, you know what, that’s okay.
It took a while but (I thought) the ideal person for me came along
A while after Z and T were out of the picture, I started talking to O. I loved getting to know someone again and I really liked that we both liked movies (even if he did like Nicolas Cage), music and dogs.
We talked for a long time before we decided to meet up and, at first, I worried that the flowing conversation would just stop in person. Turns out, it didn’t. Even though I was late and it was raining, the date managed to go pretty well. He wasn’t an axe-wielding psychopath, he wasn’t 20 years older than he said he was, he was just an ordinary person who laughed at my (not always funny) jokes and we talked for hours.
We had a less than romantic first kiss after that (even if I, awkwardly, thought he was going in for a hug!) and I was surprised to find later, after fretting so much, he wanted to see me again.
We saw each other several times after that and I liked unpicking details about him, hanging out with him and (eventually) I even liked kissing him.
“Maybe I wasn’t crazy to think this (he) could be it”
Turns out, after seeing him six times, I found out he wasn’t “it”. The connection we’d built up over the few months we’d been seeing each other felt like something, except he never mentioned committing and (for a time) I was too nervous to. I’d noticed the connection started to fade out during Christmas and New Year, when he went home and we hadn’t seen each other for a long time. After brunch, I took the plunge and asked him the question “Where are we going?”. It was a big moment, the kind of moment you leave your phone against your chest and wait all nervous to find out the result. Turns out, he wasn’t looking for a relationship. The impression I had of him, and his intentions, had been wrong. So I cut ties, declined his friendship and went back to wallowing.
You’re allowed to not be okay
It doesn’t matter whether something lasts five days or five months, you’re allowed not to be okay. You’re allowed (as I did after O) to cry your heart out, to listen to stupid cliche songs, to let yourself feel whatever you want to feel. Whether you get to a relationship or not, any kind of “break-up” is horrible.
Unlike the other matches and dates who fizzled out over time, what happened with O really got to me. Some days I want to message him and see how he is, because I miss the connection we had, but I decided not to do this for me. I know if I start talking to him again, I’ll only want it to be like when we were dating. I won’t want him to talk to me like a friend, I’ll want him to say all the nice things he’s probably saying to someone else to me. It’s hard because, even though I look back fondly over that time, it did knock my confidence more than I expected.
I’m worthy of love
The most important lesson I’ve learned from my dating experience (so far) is that I’m worthy of love. I’m more confident after my dates, I know I can actually talk to boys. I spend a lot of my time self deprecating and thinking X/Y/Z is better looking/funnier/nicer but, you know what, I need to tell myself I’m those things as well.
Dating hasn’t been easy, but branching out and letting people get to know me has made me more confident. I haven’t got what I wanted out of this kind of dating but, if being more confident is all I get, I’m ok with that. Just because it hasn’t come from the few people I’ve seen, the love I deserve will come from someone.
So, whilst I’m spending Valentine’s Day without that special someone, I know that won’t be the case forever.
(If you’re a nice guy who likes dogs, movies and doesn’t mind dating a blogger who bakes…)
I hope, how ever you’re spending the day, it’s a lovely one.