boundaries

 

Let me tell you about Jamie (I asked the Insta family to suggest a name for the new guy in my life and Jamie was the winner). I have been following Jamie on Instagram for a long time, he is my son’s Godfather’s cousin and we just ended up following each other due to that connection. We both liked each other’s pictures for months but we never really connected until around 2 weeks ago when I replied to one of his Insta stories. I can’t even remember what it was, something involving him being cute with an animal I think. Anyway, that opened the door for a conversation to begin and I was very impressed from the start because Jamie actually wanted to talk to me on the phone. Talking on the phone sounds like a very basic thing, and it really shouldn’t be impressive, but lately I have found that every guy I talk to wants to get to know me on Whatsapp, and to be honest, I don’t even really feel like they’ve been trying that hard to get to know me.

I am so disappointed with the conversational skills of the people that I have been meeting. Of all the people that I met this summer, ALL NINE OF THEM, nobody even got to a first date (apart from the guy I wrote about in my last blog who gave me the ick) because of the fact that we just could not seem to make our text conversations flow. I really feel like people are losing the art of communication. It is hard to find the time to go out on dates when you have children, so I am not willing to waste that precious time unless I have established that I actually get on with someone. How can you figure out if you get on with someone via a series of daily messages about how your day has been? It needs to go deeper, and unless you are having one of those Whatsapp conversations that actually flow back and forth without hours of delays in between messages, then I really think it’s hard to get a feel of someone without talking to them. So yeah, in the DMs we both said it would be nice to go for a drink and he said ‘Well I’d love to get your number so that we can have a little chinwag before that happens’ and then he rang me within 5 minutes of me providing him with my digits.

We were on the phone for 2 hours and it was lovely. He had a deep voice, and he was curious about me and my interests. I felt myself smiling throughout the entire conversation. You know one of those ones where you walk around your house with the phone to your ear, grinning like a clown, picking up and putting down inanimate objects, and looking at yourself in the mirror. Does anyone else do that? Maybe it’s just me. I was gassed by our conversation and he was firmly on my mind after that, so I was excited for our first date the following Wednesday. We stayed in touch by Whatsapp for a few days and then last Sunday he phoned me again. My son’s Dad was having him for a week as it’s the school holidays and I had dropped him off at 5pm. Jamie and I sat on the phone for an hour at which point he suggested meeting up that night instead of waiting until Wednesday and  I was very up for that.

I wore jeans and a tight white t-shirt with heels and I felt good. We agreed to meet at a really nice pub that has a lovely beer garden. There is a covering overhead which is filled with fairy lights, they had lots of electric heaters which gave off a red glow, there were sofas with cushions and the place looked magical. It was pouring with rain and the sound of it pounding on the covering on the roof made it really romantic. I arrived slightly early and so I waited for him on one of the sofas. I got myself a G&T and I sat nervously awaiting his arrival with full on butterflies.  I didn’t fancy him massively from his Instagram pictures, I just thought he was OK, but I was pleasantly surprised when he walked in. I actually really fancied him even though he wasn’t my usual type. I usually go for very tall, slim/athletic, sharp chiselled features, whereas he is 5ft 10, round faced, and slightly chubby, with very hairy arms and chest. I found him really sexy though.

The date was spectacular, not because of anything extravagant being provided, but because we just got on so well. He told me I was beautiful several times, but he didn’t just tell me I was beautiful, he made me feel beautiful. He was so interested in me, he asked lots of questions and he really listened. He was fascinated by me and he made me feel like an absolute catch. He bigged up my achievements in a way that made me feel really proud of myself. I absolutely loved his company. I was interested in him too, I wanted to know everything, and I was pleased with what I learned. He comes from a very stable home and speaks very highly of his Mother. That kind of stuff is important, that’s not to say that you should rule out people who have had difficult backgrounds, it just gives you some indication of whether they have had to face traumas/abandonment/attachment issues/toxic mother issues – because those things can impact on relationships if they have not healed from them yet. He didn’t sound like he had much to heal from and I liked that about him. He came across as a very solid, stable guy with a lot of love to give.

We had a little kiss and cuddle at the end of the date and the fanny flutters were mad. We planned our second date for the coming Wednesday and we parted company with me feeling really excited about what was to come. We spoke a bit on whatsapp the next day and he told me what he’d had for dinner, to which I replied ‘Nice’. That was at 9pm. He didn’t read it and when I woke up the next day I was still on grey ticks. At lunchtime I remained on grey ticks and I posted about it on Instagram. At 5pm he finally got in touch, he said “Sorry I didn’t message all day, I wanted to wait until you finished work so that I didn’t disturb you”. I was totally cool with that, I thought it was considerate and thoughtful. If someone had replied to me with a simple ‘Nice’ I would not have been in a hurry to reply to them either, it’s a bit of a conversation killer, and so I was not concerned at all by his 5pm response. You lot were though! I was shocked by the amount of DMs I had saying that his reply was a red flag. The cynicism out here is REAL and I get why, we are so used to conversations fizzling out and being given half hearted attention that any sign of a break in the conversation makes us feel like ‘Here we go again….’

I would have been more concerned if he was only messaging me during the working day and then stopping at night because that is often the sign of them having a girlfriend. I did not see it as a red flag at all, in fact I saw it as a positive. I’m certain that he doesn’t have a girlfriend because of the connection to my son’s Godfather (who is also one of my best friends in the whole world) and so I wasn’t phased. Sometimes I feel that we set the bar too high with our expectations for communication. I really don’t believe that we need to be in constant contact with them from the second we start talking. Obviously it is important for conversations to flow, and it is not acceptable to be left on blue or grey ticks mid conversation for hours on end, but as long as they remain in regular contact and that contact is progressing and flowing well, then we need to chill out a bit. We need to try to not be consumed with them too early, because when we are, our whole day begins to revolve around when they last text us and minutes can feel like days. We need to see them as a bonus addition to our lives, not an essential feature and we need to stop overthinking.

Anyway, Wednesday came and we met up for our second date. This is literally a long term relationship by my current standards. I haven’t found anyone that I have wanted to have a second date with in a very long time, and if I have, they have ghosted me before even getting to the first date, so this was like a novelty to me. We went to a posh Mexican restaurant and all was good. The food was disgusting though. The tacos were inedible but he didn’t want to say anything, he was just happy to pay, I am not like that though. I think there are two types of people in the world, those who will complain at restaurants and those who won’t. I have friends who get really embarrassed when I say I’m going to say something about the shit food, they cower in fear when I call the waiter over. But I always do it really politely (unless the waiter starts being a dick) and it always gets a good outcome, money off the bill, free deserts. He was really impressed by my handling of the situation but it did make me feel like he needed to man up a bit.

Because I have been conditioned to believe that men are going to hurt me and reject me, my default position when meeting men that I like is to look for flaws. I guess that it is a form of self-defence. It means that if he leaves me I can tell myself that he wasn’t that great anyway, I never really liked him in the first place. I don’t do it consciously, my thoughts just run away with themselves, and sometimes I actually completely put myself off people by constantly looking for what is wrong with them instead of just accepting what is right. Searching for things you don’t like about someone is different to being alert to red flags. Red flags usually present themselves in their behaviours and actions, or you hear them come out in stories about their psycho exes who have stopped them seeing the kids or whatever. Red flags appear loud and clear when they are supposed to and we should not be out here searching for them, we just have to make sure that we heed them when they do appear.

So during the second date I did have to battle against my brain telling me that I didn’t fancy him, I was actually quite angry with myself for the way that I was looking at the physical stuff and trying to find flaws. Like, I really hope that nobody does that with me, because they will find many. It’s really not about looks, I fancied him regardless of the fact that he had moobs and a very thin top lip and it was ridiculous of me to place importance on his looks when the fact was that I felt super amazing when I was around him. The other thing that I got caught on was that he was too young for me. He’s 28 – I am 36. If he was 48 and I was 56 it would be irrelevant, but an age gap like that when you’re both under 40 is certainly something that you need to give consideration to. Age is more than just a number, it is a life phase. He doesn’t have kids, I do, he is eventually going to want kids, I am probably not going to want any more. So at some point, that could become an issue, but I am not going to let it become one now.

I think that the best way to go into dating someone is to  take things one day at a time. Another thing that I always do is start worrying about things that might go wrong in the future. Like, will my family like him? Will he be able to keep up or get a word in edgeways with the fiery, dominant. political women in my family? How will it work at Christmas? It’s fucking August, why am I thinking about Christmas? What is the point in predicting what might go wrong when nothing is actually going wrong? I am overcoming this by literally focusing on the here and now. Are we having a great time today? Yes. So I am not going to look beyond that, I am not a clairvoyant, I cannot predict the future, so why ruin something with what ifs? Today is good, if something goes wrong tomorrow I will deal with that at the time, but I am not going to stress myself out by focusing on made up scenarios that might never happen.

So yeah, date two went well. We laughed, the conversation flowed, he made me feel great. Although there were some pink flags in terms of his employment situation. He does one legit job that I can see from his Insta, but it’s not a full time thing and I doubt that it earns him more than about 10k a year, this job only takes place at certain times too and so the explanation of what he does the rest of the time was a little vague and I got the sense that it may not all be above board. But I decided not to ask too many questions because I didn’t really want to know. That is really the only major flag he is waving currently, and it’s not really that major. And so date three was arranged for Saturday night.

On Friday we had made our plans. He was going to come to mine to watch a film and get a take away. We had agreed on 7pm and I was excited to see him. We had kissed on both of our previous dates and I was not averse to the idea of something more happening on our third date. Maybe not full sex, but an exploration of his penis was definitely an option. On Saturday morning he messaged me and told me that he was going to watch the football with his Dad and he asked if it was OK to re-arrange for 9pm. I was OK with that, although slightly annoyed because I am a major gannet and I did not want to wait until 9pm to have dinner, but he had politely re-arranged and so there was nothing for me to be mad about. At 9pm I was all ready in my carefully chosen sexy but slouchy tracksuit with my make up done waiting for him to message me to ask for my door number (I had told him my road name already and figured that he was making his way) but at 9 on the dot he messaged me to ask me for me postcode and directions. I gave it to him and he said ‘Sweet, I’ll be about an hour’. I told him that 10pm was not what we had planned and that because he had given me no warning I felt it was a bit late. He said ‘Alright no problem, we’ll have to do it another time’. I suggested lunch tomorrow but he said he was busy and we will plan another date soon. I didn’t tell him that the next time I am child free and available will be 22nd September.

Usually, the fact that this was my last chance to see him again for over a month, and the fact that I was all ready and made up, would have made me think ‘ah fuck it, that has pissed me off but I still want to see him so I’m not going to make a big deal out of it’. There have been MANY times in my life when I have been left sitting around for hours on end for men who have told me that they are on their way at 8pm and arrived at 11. I have sat around with fresh make up on not knowing whether they are coming, or when they are coming, being told that they are around the corner and wondering which corner they are actually talking about because they were around it an hour ago and yet they have still not arrived. And all of those times that men have moved times around without explanation and have left me hanging around waiting for them, I have always just allowed them to arrive when they arrive because ultimately I wanted to see them even if they were 2 hours late, so I allowed them to take the piss, and my allowance of them taking the piss set a precedent, they knew what they could get away with.

So because I have vowed to do things differently and break my usual habits I felt that it was very important to nip this shit in the bud at the earliest opportunity. Being an hour late because you’re caught in traffic or because your washing machine blew up is OK, life happens, but I felt that it was very inconsiderate of him to think that it was OK to tell me at the time that he was supposed to be arriving that he was going to be late. He must of known he wouldn’t be here at nine by around 8.15 – so why not let me know then? It doesn’t make any sense to me. I was looking forward to seeing him, turning up at 10pm does not suggest to me that he is sharing the same excitement. What happened to not make you want to spend your whole Saturday night with me? And why didn’t you offer any explanation? It’s not a good sign. But I am happy with how I dealt with it. I am proud of myself. And I honestly do not feel hurt, angry, or disappointed in any way. If he cannot respect my boundaries then he is not the one for me, and taking the piss out of my very limited time is one of my biggest boundaries.

People on Insta were asking me if I was OK, and that really surprised me because at no point did I not feel OK. It was a mild annoyance at most, but it wasn’t something that made me feel broken and rejected. It was the third date, I have some feelings for him but they are the same as the feelings I have for  banoffee pie – like, I really like it, but I’m not going to freak out if the one in my fridge has gone off. I’ll just go out and buy another one that has a longer sell by date, it’s not the only great banoffee pie in the world. We have got to stop putting all of our eggs in one basket and placing too  much importance on people we barely know. If you cannot handle being let down after three dates, then you have some healing to do before you jump into dating. I am strong because after being deeply effected by every rejection, every failed relationship, and every situation where a man treated me like an option, I finally came to a point where I thought ‘FUCK THESE IDIOTS’ and I never looked back. They can only hurt you if you let them, so take back your control. Don’t date thinking ‘Does he want me? Does he like me? Will he want to see me again?’ Date thinking – ‘Is he what I need? Is he acknowledging my value and showing me respect? Are we having a good time? Is he worthy of me?’

We give them too much control, we always wait for them to tell us what we are, but why? Why is the ball in their court? Why do we leave it to them to decide what this relationship will be? We need to let them chase, and we need to take our power back. We need to do that by commanding respect, by not tolerating the small things like them thinking they can turn up late, and by not dating until we are in a position of feeling like we don’t NEED a man. If you feel like you need one then you are far more likely to tolerate bullshit, if you just want one but you are content with being single until you find the RIGHT one, then you are likely to be firmer about what you will and won’t accept. We have got to set clear boundaries, and by cancelling the date I did that. If I had moaned a bit about the lateness but still let him come round then that would not be giving him any motivation to not do it again. We have to set boundaries with our actions, not just our words.

It’s Sunday afternoon now and he hasn’t been in touch since last night, but I do not care. I had a lovely night watching Netflix and eating Doritos and dip. I’ve woken up and been to the gym and I don’t feel anxious about the absence of a message at all. Why should I? I know that if he is meant to be then he will be and if he has lost interest then that is no reflection on me and it does not mean that no man will ever be interested. He is one man out of billions of men. He has reminded me how incredibly lovely it is when you have great first dates, there is nothing like that buzzy feeling you get when you meet someone and you both really like each other,  but I will get it again, maybe with him, maybe with someone else, who knows –  I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride and see where the Universe takes me.