Since I joined my dating website of choice okcupid over a year ago, I have experienced some very weird and wonderful things...people...etc. The weird have been enjoyable in their own, weird way, and the wonderful were, y'know, ok, but it was inevitable that at some point I would have a genuinely rubbish experience.
This story may be about that day....
About 2 months after I moved back to Devon I visited my old flatmates and friends in London for a long weekend, during which I started messaging a man whose profile leapt out at me as one of the funniest I had read in a long while. I wasn't even bothered if he replied to me, I just wanted to tell him how funny I thought he was. I was of course delighted when he did reply to me, and we started sending messages at an alarming rate over the course of two weeks, before we finally met up on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Lesson #1 - when a man shows up 20 minutes late for a date with a raging hangover and a three day old beard, it is not uncharitable to casually wonder if he possibly has a slight drinking problem.
Our first date went quite well, and I was very keen to meet up with him again, which we did one week later. I had been dating a couple of other guys as well up until that point, but felt very strongly that this man was the one to stick with. His messages were spontaneous and funny, we made each other laugh and he seemed very keen on maintaining some level of communication at all times. How refreshing.
Lesson # 2 - when every story a man tells involves him getting drunk with his buddies at the local skeezy student pub round the corner from his flat, it is not unkind to ask yourself, purely hypothetically of course, if he maybe has a slight drinking problem.
Our second date turned into our first night together, which is absolutely fine because we had known each other for a few weeks by then, and it involved watching romantic movies and chatting about random things, which quite clearly indicates that people have feelings and stuff going on here. This is more than just getting laid guys, this is conversation.
Lesson #3 - when the first thing a man says when he wakes up is to jokingly suggest he will start the day with a drink, it wouldn't be unfair to think he might have a slight drinking problem.
We started seeing each other regularly. He introduced me to some hilarious TV shows I had never seen, and I introduced him to me enjoying new TV shows. We ate a lot of chinese food. I cooked meat for him (first time in 8 years, thoroughly impressed I didn't kill him). Life was pretty nice. Then he had to go and sit all his MSc exams so I didn't really see him for a few days.
Lesson #4 - when the man you're dating tells you he can't see you because he needs to have an early night, then posts a facebook status three hours later saying he's getting drunk in a nightclub you know to be populated with chavvy teenagers, it's ok to seriously doubt his commitment to an 80% plus level of sobriety on a day-to-day basis.
After a month of dating I went away for a weekend to work a festival, during which I did not hear from the man I was now starting to think might become my boyfriend. This was fine because there is of course limited signal at many remote camping locations around the country, and besides, I had lots of dancing, sunbathing and merriment to be getting on with. When I returned home I was initially unable to contact him due to him not replying to my messages. Eventually however I managed to get hold of him and we straightened it all out.
Lesson #5 - when the man who may in fact be your boyfriend ignores you for a week, then sends you a message saying that he can't date you anymore because he would rather drink himslef into an early grave than commit to a relationship with you, give up.
I have dated a lot of men over the past 10 years, some of whom had minor to serious substance abuse problems, as well as depression and self esteem issues. My friends have joked many times that I'm the man whisperer - I fix up lost causes and send them off to win grand nationals/get married/not snort coke off the shoulder blades of hookers, and the truth is this is exactly what I do. For ten years I have subconsciously sought out damaged men with dark pasts and commitment issues that men twice their age would be proud of. But now it's different; now I know what I'm doing wrong, and I can finally do something about it. The lesson I need to learn is very, very clear.
Date a younger, less ruined man....