Every time you say you’re single in London you’re presented with the same response: “Have you tried [insert app name] yet?” Every day a new app, promising to be friendlier, attract more interesting people, to cut out “freaks” or select for beauty, brains, hobbies… They all seem to revolve around the same kind of swipe function, the same meaningless compatibility percentages. Everyone’s doing online dating, speed dating, whatever dating, and as is news to precisely nobody, all of this generally means that you’re thrown a bunch of total baloney along the way. But funny baloney. Like, I-might-as-well-laugh-or-I’ll-cry baloney. That kind.
Rather than bother to debate the ins and outs of dating (how one might go about it, etc), I want to focus instead on the sentences actually uttered to me at some stage or other, by men in London. Now that I’ve got the benefit of some distance, and a great relationship, I’m ready for it. Just to give you a feel. In case you didn’t already know, London is a pretty difficult place to live a normal life, and having a decent, normal relationship is no exception.
After a long stretch of hell-dating, however, I do want to reiterate that things did actually work out for me. I have an amazing partner, and an amazing relationship. So keep that in mind as you read these words — there is still hope at the end of it all. Love is still possible. And I would hear all these stupid words said to me all over again, if it meant I would end up with the man I’m with today — he is kind, generous, cultured, warm and… didn’t come from a dating app. Saying that is probably important. Dating apps, in the bin.
NOTE: I’ve deliberately not included the obvious BS things, and the good old fashioned crass ones. For hopefully obvious reasons.
Ok, cheesiness aside… here is a collection of things men have said to me while I was dating:
“You’re so guarded. Of course you’re single.”
This one came alongside the follow up, “You’re very cynical about relationships.” Actually, I’ve had some really lovely relationships, with people who I’m still friends with today. I love being in a relationship with someone who I really think is great — I know that’s not something you’re meant to say. But it’s true. Dating on the other hand, can go shove it. All the torturing of each other with indecision, “seen-zoning” texts on WhatsApp (got double blue ticks, unanswered for days? You’ve been seen-zoned, friend)… it’s not that fun, putting yourself out there and hoping for a connection.
I am a little guarded when someone hasn’t yet given me a reason to trust them. That’s how I think a lot of humans operate. Why is there so much emphasis on going all out, when you don’t really know anything about someone yet? Maybe I’m not a complete and utter masochist. What with stupid throwaway lines I’ve had mid-date like, “I think I want to marry this other girl,” (Thanks, mate. Date 3+ is so not the time for you to start mentioning this. For the first time), is it really any wonder that trust takes time? And you questioned why I wasn’t jumping over myself at your very presence? Come on, now.
I think in this case it was one of confusing my not being so keen on them specifically with what they assumed was my general attitude to all relationships. That’s quite a leap to make. But dating throws up these kinds of people — the ones who just can’t imagine why you aren’t super into them. Of course it’s hard not to be liked. But let’s all just remember that it takes two to tango, and if you don’t have a connection, you can’t fake one.
“Don’t you think you’re maybe just too old now, to find a good partner?”
Well, shit. I’ll admit, this was said not just to me, but also another woman sitting near me. She was 29 turning 30. I was 26 turning 27. Us two old biddies weren’t quite sure how to react. I believe we simply exchanged shocked faces and wondered if we’d heard right. We had. The person continued, “You know, like maybe all the people who were ‘good’ have already found each other, and we’re what’s left?” Wow, that is dark, mate. Like, really dark. Like the ‘maybe I should just dig myself a grave now and get it over with’ kind of dark.
I’m feeling zapped of energy just thinking about this. Maybe it’s true. Maybe my minute ageing, happening right now, this very moment, is making me less eligible — oh god, quick, everyone find a partner! Oh wait, no, never mind. I’ve just remembered: this person had no idea what the fuck they were talking about.
I absolutely maintain that finding love is always possible — there’s no age that precludes you from giving or receiving love. Ageism is not an appealing quality though, I find. So best to keep away from the person who seems to think that your age is a problem (especially when, like it was in this case, they’re older than you!).
“I think polyamory could be a good bit of fun, don’t you?”
No, sorry. I made this perfectly clear on every dating profile I ever had, and in person, so uttering it halfway through a date is just not appropriate in my books. I have nothing against polyamory — you do you. In fact, I respect it enough as a choice to know that if I were to “dabble” it would be an insulting attempt to recreate something that I am not cut out for. I am someone who struggles with groups of people at the best of times. The last thing I want is a group of lovers at one time. It’s just not my thing.
The person who said this, like most people with this attitude, was the sort of person who’d watched too much porn involving group sex and had decided that’s what polyamory must look like — a giant orgy at all times. I know this because he followed it up with, “I think it would just be so fun to sleep with all your friends all the time.” Is that what polyamory is really about? Clearly not. Perhaps sex comes into it, but it is a bit more complicated than that — polyamory really requires a level of communication and understanding that I think is much more demanding than monogamy, because of the number of people and emotions involved. So describing it as a “good bit of fun” doesn’t sound like the right starting attitude. I really don’t think anyone should take any notes on life, in any respect, from a pornographic film. Just a good, general, common sense rule, surely?
“You are too overanalyse.”
Shit, you caught me. Overanalysing you. It’s a thing I do, ahhhh! I mainly think the phrasing of this was perfect: you’re right, I am too overanalyse. Luckily, I’ve found someone who doesn’t seem to mind. Weird how being really interested in the world and people around you doesn’t always have to translate into ‘crazy intense person’. But I think this can happen, particularly to women, whose passion gets misinterpreted. I do analyse the world around me, and maybe this person was looking for someone ‘more chill’. I’m aware enough to admit it: I am not that person. And that’s fine!
“You’re not very cute, but I see Jesus in everyone.”
Yep. What can I say? Uttered by an American man I dated for about three seconds. When we’d initially met, he was all about how attractive he found me, but clearly something changed. I’m not sure what — I didn’t change anything about my appearance. But it seemed like he was struggling for a way out. It felt like a strange play; honesty might have been better, less confusing. But it was clearly difficult for this person to figure out how to be decent in their departure — they settled on a rather strange insult. I know it can be hard. Still. Someone, please explain this to me — in what world is this an okay thing to say to someone? At the time it felt utterly devastating, but in hindsight, I can only laugh. Right?