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If you spent your adolescence identifying with Enid from the film Ghost World you might remember her saying ‘I think only stupid people have good relationships’. Although the quote is overly judgemental and sarcastic, I wonder whether there might be some truth in it if you play with the words; ‘I think I never have good relationships because I overthink everything’.
You may or may not have read my dating manifesto where I argue that gay dating is indeed super fun and really easy, contrary to some opinion. I have spent years on the single market, making me a certified dating professional (in a non-prostitute kind of way).
Just to be clear, and I’ve mentioned this before, this does not mean I’m in any way confident or suave. Rather, I’m a really awkward skinny creature who once managed to loudly spit out the single word ‘TEQUILA!’ when asked by an attractive man what my plans were later that evening.
I wasn’t even drunk but in that moment this alcoholic Tourette’s was my body’s natural reaction. Real sentences are hard to form when faced with beautiful people right? Clearly he thought I was unhinged and swiftly disappeared.
Something I briefly touched on in the dating manifesto was that despite being a dating extraordinaire, I am failing miserably at relationships lasting longer than a third date. I’m beginning to think that my perfected dating skills are merely a rehearsed repertoire that I’ve repeated so many times it’s become scripted. And once the initial predictable dating act has finished, the backdrop changes and I tend to fall off the stage just in time for the intermission.
Equipped with an analytical mind, I can’t help but obsess over these things, and a recent realisation is that perhaps my successful dating is in fact due to me creating pseudo ‘micro relationships’.
Before branding me a pretentious douche using terms like ‘micro relationship’ please allow me to explain how I came to this conclusion. I tend to have amazingly good dates, so good that it generally doesn’t matter what the guy is like. Often there’s a succession of these, and often they involve a certain level of sex and intimacy.
What happens is that I tend to fall into a deep infatuation with the situation and not the person. Think about it, you have amazing dates with someone to the point where the actual person is almost redundant, no wonder you develop a crush! Add in a few sleepovers and it starts feeling like you’re in a mini relationship.
However after some time you realise that there wasn’t actually any real spark between you and this person, it was all just a flurry of cocktails, dinners and sex. You realise there’s no tangible substance. The curtain drops and suddenly you and this person are merely actors in a mini relationship spectacle.
For me, the art of dating has become so rehearsed and almost mechanical I fear the sex and intimacy that follows are equally so. In the past few months I’ve had more of these pseudo ‘micro relationships’ than ever before, and I’m beginning to think I really need to stop all this drama and actually attempt to nurture genuine connections with the people I date.
You’re probably thinking I’m being ridiculously self-indulgent and narcissistic. What about all these guys I’m seeing, how do they experience these micro relationships? Well, as it turns out, some of them don’t.
A few weeks ago I went for dinner with a guy I had been seeing for a while. We’ve had a few good dates, often ending up with wine and cuddles in bed. The times we did spend together felt like a relationship and I thought everything was going well.
During the aforementioned dinner we went through some of the standard lines in the dating act:
Me: How was your day?
Him: Yeah fine, work is a massive bitch, but I shouldn’t complain too much. How are you?
Me: Good thanks, went to a really nice exhibition on Sunday, what did you get up to on the weekend?
Him: Oh, I had such a nice Saturday! I actually went on a really nice date with this guy, I think it went really well!
Me: Oh… Right.
At this moment I froze – I couldn’t think of anything to say. I was lost for words, not even ‘TEQUILA!’ came to mind. I was flummoxed to say the least. The only reaction I could pull off was a nod, smile and a big gulp of wine.
He continues adding insult to injury; only hours after the amazing date they introduced each other to their respective circle of friends. Meanwhile I’d spent weeks being hidden in his bedroom with a bottle of red wine. At the time I thought of it as a sexy scene from a Godard film. But when I think back and strip out the mise-en-scène from a 1960s French film, all that’s left are two half drunken guys making out in a gritty Shoreditch rental.
Most singles with an active dating life probably date a few people simultaneously, and I’m all for this efficiency. But you never, ever, mention it to the person sat across the table in a restaurant. In the scenario described above it seems as though he didn’t even think we were dating at all. He must have thought we were just friends. Friends who have sex. This entire micro relationship was all in my head – am I really this deluded?
I finished the dinner too perplexed and flabbergasted to even bring it up. He kept telling me more about this other guy and with each sentence I was coming closer to the revelation that this entire relationship was merely an illusion.
The annoying thing is that I wasn’t even that amazingly keen on this guy. Alas, it was the haze of the nice dates, fake intimacy and imagined affection that had caused me to write such a story in my head. More importantly, this guy I didn’t even fancy had taken off his romantic hero disguise only to reveal himself as the true villain – just in time for the final act’s crescendo.
As I walked home I called a friend of mine desperate to relay one of the most dramatic dinners I’ve ever had. Well, it was only dramatic in my mind. To him it was a perfectly normal dinner with a friend who he sometimes has sex with. This particular friend has shared my struggles on the dating scene and she said something very memorable:
‘You and I are exactly the same; we always seek validation from relationships and guys we don’t actually care about. We think we are more unattractive than we really are. Add in our low self-esteem and you’ve got yourself a dangerous combination. Yeah, we’re just pretty fucked up.’