I SO have no intention of becoming a Bridget Jones-style diarist for my generation — not least because I can think of nothing more boring than counting calories or alcohol units. But given the undeniable link between my dating success (or lack of it) and the reason why I’m writing this blog in the first place, it seems ridiculous not to at least mention it, if only in passing.
Obviously this isn’t a dating blog. Amusing as my escapades over the last few years with a variety of ill-advised suitors may have been — and I assure you, in some cases, they’ve been bloody hilarious (although admittedly in others, more tragedy than comedy) — the stories of The Boy Who Loses Everything, Ferrari Boy, The Anaesthetist, The Music Teacher, The Irishman, The Nephrologist, Science Boy et. al. will not be making an appearance here.
But, in the style of Carrie Bradshaw, I got to thinking about dating, and it seemed that these random observations might sit quite happily here, so…
Observation 1: It’s really hard to remember the beginning of a relationship
This might sound insane, or absurdly obvious, but when your last experience of a relationship was the end of one with someone you were in love with, it’s very hard not to compare a fledgling relationship with someone you’re not yet, but might one day be, in love with, with that — and naturally find it wanting.
On those early dates, I torment myself with wondering how I really feel about this person, whether I like them enough to want to see them again, whether I’m trying to convince myself to like them because I think that I ought to, and, inevitably, with the fact that I don’t like them as much as I liked S, or O, or any other of my significant others.
And then I have to drag myself to one side — metaphorically speaking — and smack myself around the head — metaphorically speaking, I totally don’t condone violence — and tell myself…
“Of COURSE you don’t feel about this person the way you felt about [insert name of former significant other]. When you split up with [former significant other] you’d known them [insert number] years, not three poxy dates. Chill the fuck out. Give. It. Time.”
And then I try to recall how I felt about S in those early days, how I was actually really quite ambivalent about him to start with. That O hung around for about a year before I even really noticed him. And that actually, even if this feels different to how it felt at the beginning with S, or O, or whoever, well of course it does. I’m X years older, I’m a different person.
And I also try to remember my brilliant and wise friend, Dr M saying to me a gazillion years ago when I first started seeing O, and was worrying that it wasn’t right, because I didn’t feel about him the way I’d felt about my first love, H…
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel how you felt with H, because after all, it didn’t work out with H, did it?”
She was right, it didn’t matter, I went ahead and, over time, fell in love with O in a totally different way to the way I’d been in love with H. And when that didn’t work out either, and I later met S, and didn’t feel about him the way I felt about O, or H, but went ahead and, over time, fell in love with him in a way that I’d not been in love with O, or H.
So, I’m trying, REALLY trying, not to freak out, over-think, over-analyse and generally sabotage things on the dating front, but it’s HARD.
Observation 2: Kissing in public is just cringe when you’re over 30
To be honest, writing “cringe” is pretty “cringe” when you’re over 30. And I don’t know why I picked 30 as an arbitrary cut-off point. I just know that, whereas in decades gone by, that first snog was easy. Now, it’s just not. Aged 15, I had absolutely no qualms whatsoever about sticking my tongue down a boyfriend’s throat and rolling around a park with him. In my 20s, there was no shame in being pressed up against the wall of a darkened bar or club, hip to hip, and lip to lip. But now? While I honestly don’t care when I see people of any age kissing in public, I personally find it toe-curling. In the extreme.
I don’t know when it changed, I just know that at some point, I started to feel that snogging in the street was just a bit, well, teenaged. And I hate that. Because, well, for lots of reasons. I hate that I feel like I’m judging myself for being “too old” to do something. (And it’s not just street snogging, I’ve recently resigned myself to the fact that I’m probably “too old” to get away with wearing a denim dungaree dress, le sigh.) I hate that I’ve become self-conscious about something that I used to actually really revel in — that first snog can be magical (yes, it can also be horrific when you realise they’re a crap snog, but let’s err on the side of optimism), that “will we/won’t we?” moment before you kiss, that flip in your stomach, that fillip in your brain when you do, and it’s good, that sense of possibility and promise.
Where the fuck am I meant to do all that now? I don’t want to say “come back to mine” and have to explain that I’m not asking them back because I want to sleep with them, but because I want to kiss them somewhere that’s not in the rain / under the unforgiving glare of the Tube’s fluorescent tubes / on a street corner.
Maybe I just need to get drunker, then I won’t care so much.
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