Unhinged

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Sometimes I wish I was a musician or a poet and able to channel some of these convoluted thoughts and emotions into a beautifully crafted and considered song or poem as opposed to a rambling blog. But here we are.

Over the last 6 months I’ve dipped my toe back in to the world of dating, and because I have no idea how you do it without the aid of an app in this day and age it has revolved around swipes and likes. Two failed dates and one short term relationship later and I’m pretty sure modern dating isn’t for me and that I need to be transported back to my grandparents’ era where proper courting and love letters were the norm.

There is no better feeling than thinking someone likes you, they want to talk to you and they ask you questions because they’re interested in you rather than feeding you crumbs when they feel like it just so you can massage their ego when they need it. And even if that’s just via an iPhone screen, feeling liked by someone feels great. And maybe that’s got something deeper to do with seeking validation (I’ll discuss it with my therapist promise) but in general we all like to be liked.

Having spoken to a few people in similar boats, the key to surviving and thriving on “the apps” is apparently not taking it too seriously and to have fun. And therein lies the problem. I don’t really do non-serious. I’m not saying I expect to swipe right and be in a full blown relationship within a week. I like the flirting and the thrill of the chase but I don’t like the games. And it seems like whereas there was a time where you would find people on the same wavelength, people that just wanted to meet someone and not dick around, those people appear to be out of my grasp, or at least out of my 5 mile radius and algorithm.

Honesty and openness has always been top of my list, because that’s the sort of person I am, I don’t like feeling that I can’t be honest with someone or shouldn’t say something for fear of how that person will interpret it. It has its pitfalls as it tends to lead to heartache, but it’s not a trait I’d ever really want to trade as I think allowing yourself to be vulnerable with someone is a huge signifier. Not that it’s easy, and of course it often backfires and leaves you more vulnerable, but for me it always feels like a risk worth taking.

I’ve chatted to a couple of people over the last few months; people that seemingly liked me back, or at least in an aesthetic way anyway, and those conversations got to a point where I felt confident enough to accept their offers of a date. No mean feat. Anyone who has the misfortune to be around me the day of a potential date will vouch; I’m an absolute nightmare. I can’t eat or concentrate, and I go over and over and over the most ridiculous scenarios in my head and quite often talk myself out of said date telling myself they’ll be utterly disappointed. Again the reasons behind this are quite complex and down to previous experiences and lack of confidence etc etc, but I don’t think the notion of being nervous before a date is that bizarre?

I made the mistake of telling someone I was “a bit nervous” ahead of meeting them, thinking it was best to be honest and that they may be able to put me at ease a little. BIG mistake. Said person went on to tell me that they basically had zero time for people who got nervous and that they were not understanding or sensitive to anything like that and that they would be no use to me at all. Oh and they signed off with a “good luck sorting your issues out”. Yes, it was better to find out before the date but it left me feeling quite shit, despite only having spoken to the guy for a few days. It felt like he was insinuating I was some sort of freak and left me feeling a bit hopeless. Added to the fact that no-one seems to really want to put any effort in to speaking to you on these things anymore; it all feels a bit redundant.

I’ve been tying myself up in knots trying to figure up how to portray myself; to the point where I don’t really know who or what I am anymore. I don’t think I’m too bad a person, I think I’m kind and I’m pretty loyal but yes I do get a bit anxious and struggle with my head at times. Neither of which I’m told are exactly uncommon – but seemingly not qualities blokes want to know about in girls they want to date? It sometimes feels like despite so more much understanding around these things, people still don’t want to be confronted with it and invest time in learning about it and how it affects someone – or perhaps it’s seeing something in someone else that they don’t want to confront in themselves that’s the issue. Either way it’s quite disheartening.

So my question is, how does someone with little confidence, anxiety and zero desire to “play the game” navigate the dating world and find someone to hang out with and have fun with that doesn’t run a mile when they’re having a down day or need a bit of reassurance? Someone who is capable of putting in a tiny bit of time and effort in order to reap the rewards (must also have good taste in music and dogs obvs)? I refuse to accept that everyone is closed off to the idea of finding someone they can just be themselves with, and despite the picture perfect profiles and pithy bios, we’re all essentially a bit broken so why do we have to hide it and make those people that don’t feel aberrant?

I’ve spent a large portion of my life being told I’m too this or too that – too sensitive, too emotional, too anxious, too loving, too generous, too quick at responding to texts (a recent favourite). So what is it people want? We’re constantly told to just “be yourself” but I’m starting to think that’s the last thing people actually want….

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