I know that no two blokes are the same. I am almost writing this as a disclaimer before I share my tale of online dating woe with you.
I love men. My brothers and my dad are men for goodness sake, and they are amongst my favourite people I know. My best mate is a bloke. So you know, I’m not saying they are all the same.
But my gosh, I am starting to think they are all the same.
At the end of last year, I decided to dip my toe into the pool of online dating. I know nearly everyone seems to be doing it. I have been to the success story weddings of friends who found someone online they just ‘clicked’ with – but you know, I had never swiped right or ‘love hearted’ anyone until fairly recently. I had a dalliance quite some time ago with Guardian Soul Mates but that was when you had to call a number and leave a voicemail in their inbox. Yep, I’m that old.
Here’s the thing I have discovered. Online dating is brilliant until you meet them.
The flirty texts, the fun, the winks. Then you meet them and it is a completely different story. Because we can all be whomever we want to be hidden behind a screen.
Example. This was once said to me when I met someone off tinder in real life, please note I am a size 16.
‘You look really like my ex but she was about a size 6 and cuter’
Never saw him again. Maybe I ate him.
However, recently my patience and heart was really tested by this one guy I met online. Let’s call him Jack.
Jack seemed great. A teacher with a good sense of humour and a nice way about him.
We chatted online for a while before we finally arranged to meet up. I got cold feet and cancelled, then told myself off, then rearranged for the following night.
We got on really well. I was feeling hopeful. He laughed at my jokes, didn’t mock my terrible pronunciation of the Spanish menu and seemed interested in what I had to say. He was a great conversationalist, a book lover like myself, a radio addict and loved all things Desert Island Discs. It’s fair to say it went well.
As did date number two. Date number three was dinner over my flat. By this time I knew he had a young child and had split with his ex. I mean, we are in our 40s, everyone has a past – and I’ve never thought children were baggage, but they always come with an ex attached, and that is where the baggage begins, with the break-up story and the sad eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no angel. My baggage may not be the kind you need to keep alive and save money for it to inherit, but open my closet and believe me; Highgate Cemetery has nothing on my skeletons.
By date five or six I finally plucked up the courage to tell people about Jack. Six dates seemed quite a good number, I thought. I even wrote about him on this blog. We were chatting every day, he had been over my flat, tasted my cooking, drank my wine. You get the drill.
He couldn’t see me on the weekends because he had his child, this I accepted, but when he started making excuses for me going over to the flat he said he was sharing with his brother I had to start questioning if what he was saying was actually true. Obviously not before questioning myself. (He hates me, he is embarrassed because I’m not skinny, I’m a shit person! on and on and STOP IT BRAIN.)
Once I had taken the finger off my self-destruct button I decided to call in my inner-circle. All said they thought he was still with his ex. The rose tinted glasses became clearer. I am sure you have all seen this clearer than me already.
It was over Christmas, after a lovely Christmas Eve together that I was really sure. He was edgy and hurried through our lunch. I thought maybe he was just nervous about having to spend Christmas with the family after the terrible break up he had told me about. Yep, just call me Deluded of East London.
It was on Boxing Day (thanks for that Jack) that he told me he had got back with his ex on Christmas Day and they had decided to give it another go. He then told me that actually he had been back with her for weeks. Thanks again for that.
You know the thing that gets me the most? How blatant he was about it online. He is on tinder and Happn. How can she not know?
He knew I had been ill, I told him. I opened up (only emotionally, you dirty minded lot) to him and we talked about hopes and fears. We also talked about the fact that I don’t have kids and he shared so openly about how his step mum was like his real mum. ‘There’s loads of ways to have kids these days Lorna’.
I was a listening ear when he told me all about his failed marriage. I mean, he was good. REALLY good. Let’s give him a one man show and send him to Edinburgh, his monologue of woe tinged with tragic comedy had me gripped.
We drank lots of gin, laughed loads, saw some great bands and ate lots of dinners together.
Anyway, a little more investigation tells me that it looks like he never lived with his brother at all. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if he even has a brother. If he does, I hope he has better manners than Jack.
So therein lies my tale of woe. He was married all along. I felt terrible for his wife, for me, for the whole situation. I didn’t even know he was lying, but when I kind of suspected I should’ve acted upon it, not ignored it because I liked having a so-called nice guy to go to cinema with and have fun with. I need that, but I don’t need a liar.
In November I had started chatting to another guy. He seemed nice. When I met Jack I stopped contacting him, but he would always check in. I decided to meet him after all the Jack upset. He is lovely, but now I am guarded. How do I know the same thing isn’t going to happen?
‘You just have to trust me’ he says.
He’s right. I will. I do trust him.
So now, I take back what I said at the beginning. I really don’t think all men are the same, because if I thought that, I would never date again, and do you know what? although dates can be pretty excruciating, and feel a bit like a job interview, I’m not ready to give up on them, or finding love, just yet. I don’t want to end up on my own with a cat for company – but rather a cat than a rat.
So that’s my little tale of woe. Fortunately for me, Jack hit the road, and just like the song says, don’t you come back no more.
As for my new friend. We will just have to wait and see.