I’ll be honest, dating in 2018 has been a rollercoaster … and it’s only February. I had one date with a guy who said, “There are three of us on today’s date,” and proceeded to take me to his car where I was convinced he was about to make lampshades out of my skin – only to find out he’d had to bring his dog with him as she was poorly. Googling ‘dog friendly hotels’ was not something I’d envisaged doing that evening. To be honest, that story is one for the dating book.
Or the bloke that took me for a curry, which was lovely, but he lived in a caravan. #nojudgement. And every time I said ‘caravan’, because for some reason I just found it quite funny, he got arsey and said, “It’s a chalet actually.” Mate, it’s no big deal, but it’s a caravan. His brother was in prison, he didn’t talk to his mum or daughter and his life (because that’s all we talked about) was like an Eastenders script. He blocked me on Plenty of Fish the next morning.
But today we’re talking about Fred. No pseudonym necessary because a) he’s a prick and b) we didn’t actually get to meet. I used to write about my dates a lot but then someone found his ‘review’ and let’s just say, he didn’t take kindly to it, and four years on, I’m still having to block him on my blog, POF, Whatsapp, Skype, and this week, Twitter. But bizarrely it’s because he still wants to see me … I think he has a love/hate relationship with me, which is mildly amusing but definitely stalky. And nobody got time for that. But in for a penny, I’m still writing this post today because it’s sitting heavy on my chest and I need to get it out of my system.
So I’d had a few dates this year with, let’s call him Whitstable Guy. I had had to cancel our fourth date, and to cut a long story short, he went AWOL for a few days which did not go down well, so when he got back in touch, as they all invariably do, I called it off. During that MIA period, I started to talk to Fred. He said (because I don’t know if anything he said now was true), that he was a chef and ran a few of his own restaurants. I’m now think pot washer in Wimpey, but we’ll never know.
He was 5’ 11”, shaved head, beard, Greek heritage, nice looking, and when we spoke on the phone, we instantly got on. He has two daughters he clearly had a lot of love for (if they exist), and after that initial phone call, we texted, albeit not a lot, but every day. He asked me out, but I was surprised he wanted to wait a whole week. In my experience, a first date tends to be a mid-week after-work beer or coffee, less pressure and it’s sort of … out of the way then. You’ll either know or you won’t, and you haven’t wasted a valuable weekend evening (watching Netflix in my case.)
On this occasion, I was happy to wait a week because at least I’d know one way or another about Whitstable Guy. I said I’d confirm with him nearer the time, which I did when Whitstable Guy turned into a massive melt.
The first alarm bell, and the biggest, was when, as soon as we’d fixed a provisional date to meet, he disappeared from Tinder. For those of you lucky enough to not know how Tinder works, when you match with someone, they appear in a list of people you’re actively talking to. If someone deletes their profile or unmatches you, they disappear completely. So when he suddenly disappeared from that list, I was surprised.
I called him out on it.
Righto mate, course you do. I knew he was lying, no-one deletes an app just because they’ve started to talk to someone and actually, the biggest problem with dating apps is that there is too much choice so people can, and do, have many conversations all going on at the same time. Think kid in a candy store. But no-one would delete the app, and I certainly wouldn’t expect him to, so I called bullshit straight away, he’d merely unmatched me, and I think I know why. The app shows how far away someone is from you, so I set my distance parameters to 30 miles or so, and it’ll only show me people online within that distance. But it also means that if someone is in my matched list, technically, if I could be bothered, I could go on their profile and see roughly where they were. Only insofar as ‘40km away’, not ‘sat on the loo.’ Anyway, I’ll come back to this point.
When he said that, I didn’t comment further but I knew then to be on my guard. Why did I carry on? Because there was a small chance I was wrong, and even though I know to trust my gut instinct, I want to be proved wrong! I always try to see the good in people and I honestly hate being so cynical but online dating does that to genuine people like me. Your expectations become lower and lower and you find yourself just praying that your date is sane, because to ask for anything more seems too big an ask.
The next alarm bell was a story about how he’d dropped his phone, cracked his screen, and it meant he didn’t know when we were meant to be meeting.
I don’t need a phone to help me remember the details of a date I just made … because I literally just arranged it! Nonetheless, I reminded him when and where we were meeting. Bearing in mind he wasn’t from my area, and yes, I know if you’ve got Sat Nav you can find anywhere, I found it odd he didn’t ask anything about the pub we were meeting in. Not roughly where it was, what town, was there parking, nothing. I let it go, but again, alarm bells ringing.
Something just seemed ‘off.’ And also, anyone that has to say they’re a good guy, usually isn’t.
I asked for a photo. Happened to be ‘one he took that morning’ of him just about to get in the shower (just a head and shoulder shot), but no-one takes photos of themselves like that unless they’re sending them to other people. Every morning he’d text and say, “Have a wonderful day,” one day we talked about him hiring me for website work and had a long discussion about rates, another time I called him out about not chatting much and he said, “You said you didn’t want to chat endlessly via text and I want to save it all up for our date.”
My point is, he was in touch every day. There are dozens of other texts I could show you, checking in to see if I was OK after I was ill, reassuring me he wanted to meet, telling me how I was just his type. He even, and I hope to God he didn’t make this up, threw in a sick Mum he had to collect from hospital as well. But there were times when he seemed distracted, I said if he wasn’t still up for meeting, or he’d changed his mind, that was fine. Every single time he said he still wanted to meet me.
On Friday I confirmed that I was free that evening and he went into intricate detail about his plans that afternoon:
I’ve been a parent for 23 years and the one thing I know is that when someone is lying, they go into much more detail than they need to. It’s like dealing with a toddler. All along, I’d said to my friends, “This guy is going to cancel, I know it. I’m being strung along but I want to see how it plays out,” and my friends, bless them, all said, “There’s no way he’s going to cancel. No-one would put that much effort in just for a laugh.” You see, It’s important to try and stay positive when dating because otherwise you just wouldn’t bother. But I said nope, you just wait and see.
Then he sent this and I wavered. Have I read him wrong all this time?
But then, literally right on cue, two and a half hours later, an hour before we were due to meet, the text I’d been waiting for came in:
Damn ‘shot.’ He ‘couldn’t do anything about it,’ ‘was trying to organise an agency sous chef’ blah blah blah. To those of you who don’t date, you might look at that and think it’s genuine. Sounds it doesn’t it? You could easily be fooled. But that was the last I heard from him. I could understand him not saying anything else that night, he’d know I was pissed off, but you may think he’d text the next morning. He didn’t, he was online, but never messaged again and then when I plucked up the courage to go back onto Tinder the next day, who should I come across?
That’s right, Freddo. He hadn’t deleted his profile at all. Of course he hadn’t. Suffice to say, he got a swift left swipe.
I think the reason it’s bothered me so much is that it took up my time. And my time is valuable. I knew from the outset to be wary and that we’d probably not meet, but when I think about the time I’d invested even just replying to his messages, it makes me mad or sad, I’m not quite sure. Maybe a bit of both. I’m not upset because my heart got broken, but what type of man does that? To lead someone on like that? And if he did it to me, he’s doing it to other women.
I’ve blocked him on Whatsapp so he’ll never be able to message again anyway, but when you non-daters hear me, and single people like me, talk about how hard dating is, this is why. You couldn’t possibly imagine that people are that bored/insecure/deranged to go through the whole rigmarole of what I’ve described, but they do. And not only is it upsetting, it makes it that little bit harder for genuine guys to connect with me. I’m that little bit harder, that little bit more wary each time it happens, and decent blokes don’t stand a chance really. It’s going to take a special man to get me to let my guard down, that’s for sure, and I’m not sure anyone is up to the job if I’m honest.
Anyway, I feel better for writing it all out and I will make peace with it. It could have been a lot worse, I could have met him and he could’ve strung me along in a completely different way, so I’ve had a lucky escape, but it’s tough out there, really tough. And I know I’ve said it before, but please don’t tell me that, “It’ll happen when you least expect it,” or, “Don’t use dating apps, wait for it to happen naturally.” You mean well, but it doesn’t help.
I don’t know what the answer is, just keep on keeping on I guess. One good thing to come out of this situation is that it’s further proof you should always, always listen to your gut instincts. I feel so much more in tune with myself these days that even though I was still stupid/naive/romantic enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, I knew deep down I was right. Something was off, I felt it, and it protected me.
So that’s the story of Freddo. One for the book I guess. Can I get a group hug?