It’s a date, not marriage

It’s a date, not marriage.

Humans are pack animals seeking like-minded individuals for our friends and ultimately searching for a soul mate (for however long that might last). We interact with a vast array of people as we try to ascertain who is ‘the one’, the special individual who can compliment your life. Often it can take a number of dates to determine if someone is right for you, if they offer the future you yearn for, or the balance that makes life great. Rarely do you know from one phone call, or even one date, if a person will offer all the things you are seeking. That is the nature of dating; it’s about meeting people, getting to know them and allowing them to get to know you. Only then can decisions be made beyond the immediate here and now.

Recently I got talking to a guy on an app. I had spoken to him before but he had become affronted that I should go to bed without saying ‘goodnight’. It might seem a little extreme but he clearly had manners and deemed it impolite to simply not respond and go to sleep. For a while there was no communication, he was upset. However, he contacted me again after I viewed his profile. Although a little prickly he warmed after some light-hearted chitchat. I was out with a friend and the messages were intermittent between talking with my friend and supping beer. Despite this, the conversation did develop and he eventually asked for my number so that we could message using a different app. I agreed and we exchanged numbers. Again the conversation was easy. Later that day, as I arrived back at home I received a phone call from the same guy; he wanted to talk. The conversation ranged through an array of topics as we got to know one another – it even became jovial at times. He complimented me and requested a date the following day. I agreed.

We chose a lunch date to eat a Sunday roast – not the easiest thing to do when one of you is a vegetarian! I offered to find somewhere for lunch and agreed to meet at 1pm. After 90 minutes on the phone to a guy I had never met, it was time to bring the call to a close; besides, I had the dog to walk. With the leash in one hand and the phone in the other I went through the messages I had received from friends and those I had received on the dating app (where I had first come across the guy in question). I responded to the messages and popped the phone away only for it to buzz in my pocket: a new message. Opening the message I read: ‘Should I be offended you got straight off the phone and back on scruff?’ Clearly I was being tracked! I informed him that I had messages that I was responding to; he was unhappy, telling me ‘I’ll pass on tomorrow’ and telling me it ‘doesn’t look good’ and that he was going to ‘add [me] to the list’. I wasn’t sure if this was Santa’s naughty list and was anticipating receiving no presents on Christmas Day. I was confused. He informed me that he would ‘rather have a lie in’ (until 1pm?) and went on to tell me that ‘[I’d] let [myself] down’. I’m sorry? WTF? I’d let myself down, by what? Responding to the messages of others?

I had evidently stumbled upon one of those guys that feels that agreeing to date makes you exclusive, that a telephone call equates to an engagement and that the date would be confirmation of marriage in God’s eyes. Heck, on date two he’d probably be laying out the clothes I was allowed to wear. By date three there would be a joint bank account with tabs on what I spent and by date four I would have a tag on my leg and a tap on my phone. It sound ludicrous when you put it like this but this is how controlling men work; they seek to monitor and restrict. I had talked with a relative stranger for 90 minutes and agreed on a date but somehow, to talk on the same app where I first encountered him was deemed cheating. I tried to point out the irony as eloquently as I could but sometimes people hear what they want to hear: he accused me of taking the moral high ground. I’m sorry mate but this is a date, it’s not marriage.

Sometimes we stumble across a myriad of people, not always ideal for us, but being mindful of other positions and perspectives is paramount if dating is ever to lead to something more tangible and if we are to grow as individuals. A fixed mindset is reductive to the success of the experience and thus never attractive. Dater beware: sometimes you might be agreeing to more than you realise.


Author: Ralph

Bitter Pill

Bitter Pill

Phrase: If a person or group has to accept a failure or an unpleasant piece of news, you can say that it was a bitter pill or a bitter pill to swallow.

Relationships end. It’s a matter of fact irrespective of how we feel personally. They may end because someone falls out of love with someone, because someone cheats, because they meet someone else, because of death. Whatever happens, they end. It can take time to come to terms with the end of a relationship, particularly if you are the one who discovers that it is all over. But time is a great healer and will allow a wound to become cauterised and thus repaired.

I split up with a guy at Christmas, it was absent of fireworks; no yelling, no broken plates or bones, no accusations. It was a silent slip into nothing, into the fading credits that end the movie. I was upset and surprised, I am sure that he was too. Neither of us had encouraged the end even if it came to be an inevitable expectation. But there you have it; it ended.

After a few months I happened to be in a bar that he was in. There was the determined effort to look anywhere but in the direction of the ex, to imagine that the earth had consumed them and that they were in fact no longer there in that corner of the room. Of course imagination is very different from reality and we were both still present. He left with his friends. Later, I also left with my friends as we moved on to another bar. This time he arrived while I was in the loo; evidently he saw my friends and left. Obviously he was unable to stay in the same room as me. Perhaps the break-up had been a bitter pill for him to swallow. At this point I had well and truly come to terms with it all. I was moving on, as we all must.

After a period of time and no crossing of paths, Pride arrived on our doorstep. I had recently returned from a month of travelling and was keen to catch-up with friends and celebrate the diversity that the city has to offer. I was invited to a house party where a few friends would be and gladly accepted the invitation. Arriving at the apartment, I greeted friends in the entrance hall before heading to the kitchen to stow the chilled beers in the fridge. I stopped to speak with someone when I spotted the ex; it was now 8 months after the split – surely this was enough time to bury the hatchet? The ex was sitting beside another guy chatting and it was this guy’s actions that drew my attention; he leaned in to say something, stared at me, and returned to speak to the ex. I may have been paranoid but I had the distinct feeling they were talking about me. Oh dear! I wasn’t interested in these silly games so gave a nod and said hello. He looked awkward and gave a half grimace of a smile. I had been pleasant enough so left for the terrace to talk to friends and meet people. I was avoiding having to put either of us in an awkward position.

Passing by again as I headed to the loo, I paid little attention to where he was sat, focusing on others that I passed. Deciding to move to another room to get to know other people, I was feeling relaxed. I was forgetting the awkwardness of the initial entrance and beginning to embrace a great group of people. Whilst chatting to a friend clad from head to toe in rubber, the ex emerged at the doorway. I paid little attention, focusing on my friend and innumerable stains on his rubber; well it was Pride after all. We were laughing and chatting. I felt drawn from the conversation and looked up to see the glare of a man who clearly was unhappy by my presence and my familiarity with this guy: the ex. He left shortly after this.

Later that night I was dancing with friends in a bar when I saw the ex on the edge of the dance floor as I crossed to the bar. Once again I said ‘hello’ as I passed and received the, now customary, grimace that looks like a face is cracking. Shit! Were we really behaving like this? He was evidently not over the split and harboured a grudge against me. I tried to think about primary school and how I had dealt with such encounters – this was the last time I had experienced anything like this. Fortunately alcohol prevented clarity of thought so I went back to dance. The following day I digested the events with a friend reviewing the interactions and what had gone on. My friend suggested speaking with him and discussing how to behave when we see each other out. No. I dismissed this; I can behave like an adult and am happy with my single status. There was no need for such a conversation but it did get me to ponder, how long does it take to move from embittered ex to civil individual? In this case I am not sure it will ever happen but I am beginning to become accustomed to the scowl that meets my greeting. I think Dashboard Confessional got it right, although I certainly feel no despair and no need to glare:

‘And this bitter pill is leaving you with such an angry mouth
One that’s void of all discretion, such an awful tearing sound
With it’s measure only equalled by the power of my stare
Glaring over you and over you this feeling of despair is never wearing out’
(This Bitter Pill by Dashboard Confessional)

Author: Ralph

Life in the old dog yet

Life in the old dog yet

We live in a world where people like to pigeonhole and categorise, to place things and people in compartments in order to understand them, to dismiss them, or simply to judge them. It’s a sad fact that we take the external or the briefest of interactions to make such generalised assumptions.

Recently I was chatting to a guy online; I remember reading his profile but can’t remember if I saw his age. He was older than me but was keen and attentive in his interactions; he was humorous and polite. He was worth a punt, so I let him know which bar I was due to be in with friends that evening. Unfortunately we were late from dinner and I only passed him briefly at the door of the bar – me going in, him coming out. We exchanged a hug, a hello and a quick peck of greeting. The one thing that lingered in my mind as I sipped my drinks was how defined his back had felt and his very open smile. He sent messages that I responded to intermittently between busting a groove across the dance floor.

Emboldened by the whisky sours and my friend’s encouragement I found myself in the back of a cab travelling to his apartment. I was taking a chance on a guy I had chatted to for a couple of days and who I had briefly hugged. Arriving at his apartment, I was greeted once again with his disarming smile and warm welcome. I was a little drunk but sober enough to have made a conscious decision to meet this man at his apartment. Stripping in front of each other I remember thinking what a great body he had, and a nice cock. He was a catch. We had sex before I eventually succumbed to the exhaustion of 5 hours sleep in 36 hours; I was knackered. I remember that each turn in bed was met with an embrace from the guy; he cuddled me all night and it felt natural and welcomed. That morning we had sex again before talking and getting to know one another. He worked in travel, swam semi-professionally, gymed regularly and had a passion for history. He imparted facts I knew and those that intrigued me; he was an intriguing guy. He also revealed that he was in his 60s.

Registering that fact in my head brought back the innumerable drinks of the night before. I couldn’t quite comprehend that this guy was more than 20 years my senior. He was buff all over without a hint of the sagging glutes that can affect people in older age. I was envious of his physique. On reflection he could have taught my last boyfriend a thing or two; at half his age and twice his weight, he had none of the toned torso of this guy. All I could think was that I needed to hit the gym harder.

Despite a month out from lifting weights, my awkwardness, and my need to leave my hotel that morning, he wanted to see me again. As I travelled back to my accommodation doing a walk of pride rather than shame, I received an invitation to join him at a football match. I tried to play it cool and take some time to respond but I was eager to accept. This guy was bloody gorgeous. That day as I explored a foreign city and got familiar with the sights and geography, my mind continuously returned to the guy; his smile and body lingering in my head, the conversations cycling as if on a loop in my mind. Football was great, an opportunity to see him in an environment where he felt comfortable. The match may not have rivalled the excitement of European matches but I was glad to spend the time with him. We grabbed drinks afterwards before I returned with him to his place once again. Like a drug I was becoming addicted to the silver haired fox who had hugged me at the door of a bar. I liked his casual style, he easy ways and his attention.

Sitting thousands of miles away from a fleeting romance with the guy, I can still picture him clearly. I vividly remember the intimacy we shared, the conversations we had and connection that was made. I still hear from him each day and am enjoying taking the time to get to know more about him. Grateful that he shares the same feelings it brought a smile to my face when he disclosed that he was ‘smitten’, good, I am not the only one.

Had I compartmentalised him by the grey hair, had I chosen to impose a rigid age restriction on those I communicate with, I would have never got to know the French Canadian who captured my heart in a weekend. I would have restricted myself from two days of bliss and a body that has made my gym motivation far greater. Shit! There is not only life in the old dog there is a vigour to rival men half his age. By boxing people into convenient categories and assumed understandings we risk restricting ourselves from really appreciating others and living a life that is enriched by others. I know that I’ll never look at the age of a guy again – it’s just numbers.


Author: Ralph