All For One, and One For All

My stupid toxic type-A personality is unhealthy in a lot of ways, but the one weighing most heavily on me is that I feel like I should be emotionally ready to want to date again.

Having gone on three first Tinder dates this week, I can say for certain that I am not ready. Still. Three very different people, all the same outcome: I just wanted to bolt.

One was a perfectly nice former pro soccer player-turned SQL dev who came out to the east end because I asked him to.
One was a beautiful English woman who spent our date inviting me out to kink events and roller derby practice.

One was a bartender who was an excellent conversationalist but physically I wasn’t at all into it.

And I couldn’t wait for each one to end. I kept thinking “I could be doing anything, or nothing, with the time I am spending here being polite and making jokes about early 2000s hip-hop.” It felt formulaic, because I know how to be charming and I know all the stories to tell that aren’t ~too much~. I was antsy.

I explained to a friend (who is going through a very similar phase) that I don’t even WANT to be dating right now, I just want to know that I am capable of it just in case something amazing comes along. It’s like anything else:

I feel like I should be doing something, so I do it. I have a shit time, so I don’t want to do it. I start feeling pressure to do it again, so I get antsy until I do it. Over and over. I used to have the energy for four dates in a week. These three left me exhausted.

Of course, my friend wisely said that I shouldn’t be doing anything I don’t want to do, it just doesn’t feel that easy. For me, getting Tinder dates is easy. Getting a second date from someone who doesn’t excite me is easy. Going to a sex club and getting propositioned is the easiest thing in the world. It’s been a long time since anything easy has appealed to me.

I *hate* the thought that Eleven being a dick to me for the last six months of our relationship has RUINED sex positivity and the pursuit of sex for me. He would pursue anything that walked by, including people and situations that weren’t okay, but then would have these “We have to sit down and discuss why I’m not attracted to you; it’s because I want to fuck everything and you won’t let me” conversations.

My type, under- or unemployed skinny sarcastic jerks who call me out and come from money, is the worst type. I think a lot of my hesitation comes from knowing how awful those people are for me, but still being laser-focused on ONLY being attracted to them. That type is all I have ever dated for twelve years, and that’s probably going to be a difficult streak to break. The next five, ten, fifteen people who excite me will be some variation on it, but I would have to be excited by someone first.

I had a patient on Thursday who knocked me off my feet. The problems in that statement are super obvious, and as a licensed professional I will never be able to act on it… but I flirted in a way I haven’t since well before Eleven and I broke up. I just found him so compelling.

He is type: My height; slight; a programmer who uses an obscure language on which he literally wrote the book; comes from enough money/sold enough books that he can work on his passion project full time… but he’s older than anyone I’ve pursued before (mid-40s) and has no social media presence except a home renovation YouTube channel. In fact, the only mentions of him on Twitter are “What ever happened to _____?” I have more questions than answers, but it’s nice to know I’m not completely dead inside.

So Tinder gets retired for another week, when I visit New York with my cool buddy Javert. Will we finally successfully use Tinder Social? I’ll probably have a better time if we don’t.

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She has a system

I’ve been living in my new, single-woman apartment for a month.
I’ve been single for two and a half months.
I’ve been off Tinder for a month and a half.

For the first time in my adult life, I am actively not dating. I have too much rebuilding to do. I have to work on my professional development (I failed a huge professional exam I wrote a week before Eleven and I broke up), I have to work on my self-esteem (I derive a lot of my worth from dating weird/cool people, or feeling superior to boring people), I have to work on unfucking my body (I just started having to wear a medical device that changes the way I look; I am self-conscious about it), and I have to work on my trust issues.

That last one is going to be complicated. I’ve been cheated on, gaslighted or both in every relationship I’ve been in since 2011. Part of Eleven’s gaslighting even INVOLVED my established trust issues, saying “That’s just your trust issues talking. I don’t know why you let Harold’s behaviour dictate our non-monogamy. If you weren’t broken, you’d let me do x.” As far as I know, he wasn’t explicitly cheating on me, but he definitely kept things he and his partners did from me and was very obviously establishing a fuckit list. Being constantly told that all your suspicions are rooted in being broken is such classic gaslighting behaviour. I am still very angry at him for that.

Two weeks or so after the breakup, I was doxxed on 4Chan. I discovered that the guy behind that egregious compromise was a man I’d considered a good friend. I had attended his baby shower, his wedding and had even posed scantily-clad for some of his body-positivity projects. When we dug deeper, we learned that six of my friends (at least) had also been doxxed over the years. I felt sick. I had given him so much social capital over the years – introducing him to friends of mine who would later be compromised, retweeting his projects, laughing at his jokes… he was a ~woke feminist ally who punched up~ and seemed to care deeply for his female friends. Though he initially denied it, his fall was fast and fiery. It was well-publicized, so you probably heard about it if you follow Canadian news.

I am SO TIRED of providing social capital to mediocre, narcissistic predators who think they have a right to femme bodies, time and energy. Oddly, or perhaps fittingly, the men who hurt me and my friends have shiny progressive exteriors. They know what to say and retweet and they have female friends who’ll vouch for them. Eleven won me over initially through referrals by other feminists, most of whom still stand by him. The Feminist-to-fuck phenomenon has been documented to death, and I just trust no one anymore. A friend with a locked account tweeted this a week or so ago:

I immediately side eye ~woke poly dudes~ (and all dudes whose “feminism” is noticeably limited to “sex/sex work positivity”). Like, I see you when your “feminism” is focused on the benefit of your getting laid more.)

It’s been years since I’ve been something other than Sex Girl Who’ll Do Weird Stuff/Prude Who Gatekeeps, a particular modernization of the typical virgin/whore dichotomy. Inexperienced dudes are fascinated by my thirst and need for control. Experienced dudes are repulsed by the same. I haven’t been respected in a sexual relationship in a long time, and it’s been even longer since I’ve respected my partner sexually.

I have a tweet in my drafts that just says “Hot take: what if sex isn’t worth it?”

I don’t want to be in a relationship, and since I’m not sure that respectful sex could exist for me I am just… not bothering. That, mixed with not drinking, has saved me a lot of money and energy. I wish I could say that I’m being productive with my time – studying, running, setting up my place – but… I’ve watched a lot of X-Files. I’m not proud.

Relatedly, my DMs lit up as soon as I let it slip that I’m not dating

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(I have some Funny Quality Content 4u next time tho)

 

I dig you

I thought it would be too soon to meet up with someone from Tinder. I mean, I’m only just starting to pack up the condo I shared with Eleven. He even still has some food in the fridge that hasn’t even gone bad yet.

But, not to put too fine a point on it, I haven’t had a partnered orgasm this year.
I haven’t had someone excited by my body for significantly longer.

My friend Anastasia suggested we try Tinder Social with a friend of hers, which sounds awful, but I am a glutton for punishment (inasmuch as someone with my domme tendencies can be). I start swiping for all of us, and it’s… dire. Groups ranging in age from 21 to 45 or groups with one member who is 2165 kilometers away. I shut it down pretty quickly, but my swiping finger got itchy…

So I swiped for myself. I was picky as heck. I specifically wanted someone I’d probably never see again, because I had no idea how this would go. I live in high-tourist area, so my matches quickly filled with profiles that read “Here for a week!”

Then Rocky super-liked me. I am so torn about super-likes. They didn’t exist two years ago, which was the last time I really swiped for men, and I take them as a compliment but they aren’t going to sway me towards swiping back if I’m not feeling it. This guy, though? I was feeling it hard. Something about his huge brown eyes and stubble were extremely compelling for me. There was a bit of a BTSK vibe, which meant there was a bit of a Michael Weatherly vibe. He even had “In Toronto until Thursday for a conference” in his profile.

We arranged to grab a beer on Tuesday night, at a dark little pub walking distance from condo I shared with Eleven a fortnight ago. Prepared for the worst, I confessed via text that I had just been through a rough breakup so this could be weird. He said, “We’ll just take it as it happens.”

Rocky showed up in a slender navy suit and didn’t touch his phone all night. The conversation moved quickly. We almost immediately went for the fucked-up family TMI stories, and he shared stories of working up in northern BC (where he lives). After two hours, I invited him back to the condo. Any guilt I felt about bringing a person back to the white box I tried to make a home quickly dissipated when Rocky confessed that he has submissive tendencies.

I made him praise my body, which had only been touched reluctantly for the past year, and not at all in 2017. I made him beg me to touch him. I made him call me Ms. with a “Z” sound. I ran my fingernails so hard down his back he had raised marks the next day. I used him in a way that facilitated three orgasms for me. I was unprepared and out of domme practice, but we immediately made plans to meet up again the next night after the conference.

I washed some of my favourite toys, put on my boots and strappiest Agent Provocateur set and lounged around the condo feeling very glamourous and powerful. By 9:30, though, I hadn’t heard from him. I sent him a stern “Tell me where you are” text, and it was after 10:00 before he got back to me.

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I sent him a snapchat of my outfit, but was not going to try to convince him. He was effusive in his praise, but chose a good night’s sleep over our booty call.

I was a little peeved at the time, so I asked a few girlfriends if I could send them the picture too, and their praise and affirmation was more important than his would have been.

I don’t know if there’s a lesson here. It doesn’t really matter, I guess. It was something to get out of my system, and now I can focus on things like my move and the 5k race I’m running this week. I’ll likely never see him again, though he has texted me a fair bit since he arrived home.

I just need to keep myself further and further away from Eleven.

 

 

Plus Ca Change…

I’ve been single again for two weeks now. It’s weird and complicated and my emotions rise and fall like roller coasters surrounded by signs that scream “Not for the faint of heart or stomach.”

That simile works especially well because roller coasters are designed so that you end up right back where you started. The tracks are unchanging, and if you’ve ridden once or twice or seventeen times you learn the bumps and jolts.

I didn’t think I’d been here before. I thought that this was a new kind of heartbreak, accompanied by a new kind of disappointment and a new feeling of foolishness. Reading over my posts from my last round of life partner auditions just shows that I don’t learn from the mistakes I make. I fall for the same people – ones who excite me enough to think I can fix them, or bore me in ways that makes their inevitable rejection hurt less.

And I don’t know how to change that.

My breakup with Eleven can be summarized by quotations I’ve already written on this blog:

“At the time, I was living with Harold, and we were doing the typical things that couples do during the slow death of an unhealthy non-monogamous relationship. That night involved coming home after having eaten separately, lying on the bed and spending silent hours on our phones until either bedtime (when we’d each decide if we wanted to have sex), a stream aired a west-coast basketball game or one of us would pick a fight.”

or

“Spare me the self-flagellation, Catch. You wanted to ignore something until it went away and it’s not working out very well for you. The people in my life ALWAYS do this; the “I acknowledge my obviously shitty behaviour, point to a personality flaw upon which I can hang everything, and call myself an idiot before doing absolutely nothing to change my behaviour” thing. The men in my family PRACTICALLY INVENTED that crap.”

That might be the saddest part of all of this. It’s not the loss of the future I imagined where somehow Eleven worked as hard for us as I did. It’s not the loss of his wonderful family, or that he knows everyone and will have no trouble moving on because no one will hold him accountable.

It’s that I’ve had enough power to take myself out of these situations before, and I didn’t this time. I was so unhappy – we broadcasted what Carly Lewis calls, “the sort of chic pseudo-polyamory that conflates dishonest promiscuity with ethical non-monogamy and seems to propagate my peer group.” Meanwhile we were loveless and sexless and desperate to hide it, as if we cared what others thought. Eleven resented that he couldn’t act single while benefiting from all of my emotional labour, and I resented that he kept moving the line of what *I* had to do to satisfy him. Still, I stayed. I didn’t even PLAN to leave. I usually have backup plans upon backup plans, and the explosion two Mondays ago was especially devastating BECAUSE I was had no recourse.

What is it that Chvrches sings? “I never promised you anything I couldn’t do, and you never promised me that you would see things differently.” Lauren Mayberry, the goddess she is, says we should “Bury it and rise above.” I assumed the chorus was about putting a toxic relationship in the ground, but Genius claims otherwise.

Sorry to my fellow Scottish feminist princess, but I am sticking to my interpretation. This relationship is six feet under (and I can grieve as much as I need), but the lesson is the same: I bury it, and I rise above. I just have to fucking learn from it this time.

That’s that shit I don’t like…

I have heard my entire adult life how much it sucks being a single woman in my city, especially one who uses online dating apps like OKCupid and PlentyofFish. I was lucky in my experience with OKC: my first OKC date became a year-long relationship, my first date after breaking up with that dude was with a woman who would be my girlfriend for four months, and my first date in an open relationship with Harold (whom I met in University) was with a woman who is now a good friend.

I effing LUCKED OUT.

When I started on Tinder, the first person with whom I met up knocked me off my feet. I still haven’t posted about Gunner, mostly out of privacy for his current relationship with a very close friend of mine, but he set the “decent, handsome, communicative dude” standard on Tinder pretty high. I have met a LOT of super cool people on Tinder, and some very boring ones, but never someone who scared me or made me feel uneasy. I weed those people out pretty well, but recently one got past all my safeguards.

Walter Jr. and I had a bunch of mutual friends, and while he looked a little less clean-cut than my typical straight-laced paramours, his smile was crooked and white and infectious. He was quick to initiate or reply to messages, which was important after Catch. He was eager to get me back to his place to watch Adam Sandler movies and make out, but I was hungry and channelled the plan into dinner at my favourite vegetarian restaurant in an artsy neighbourhood.

On first glance I knew I’d never be into it. His hair was long and dirty; he was underdressed in dirty ripped jeans and a paint-stained flannel shirt that smelled like spilled beer. He twitched and mentioned male genitalia four times in the first five minutes. We walked around the neighbourhood talking about work (he’s an architect) though I evaded any specifics about where my stores are. I was ready to call it off before we even got to the bistro – I didn’t want to waste his time or mine – but the lure of vegan dumplings and homemade cream soda was stronger than my off vibes.

Halfway through the meal, he started speaking very loudly about how good my chest looks. I excused myself and went to the ladies room, rolling my eyes. When I returned, he’d taken care of the bill. Normally I’d offer cash for my half but I didn’t bother. I said I had to be up early the next morning, thanked him for the meal and ducked into the nearest subway.

He was persistent in asking for a second date, and I told him I had too much on my plate. After the second time he asked, this happened:

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What the actual fuck, Walter Jr. I gave him an out to just laugh it off and he just pushed harder for something that I’m clearly not into. With every subsequent message, my “I’m not interested”s became more blunt until FINALLY he fired off a fuming “Your loss” at me. Thankfully I haven’t heard from him since.

So many of my friends insist that this is par for the course with Tinder and OKCupid; that dudes never deal well with someone saying “No thank you.” There are blogs and instagram accounts and name+shame pages for men who are abusive towards women on Tinder. They still may be outliers but this guy is ruining the fun for everyone. What happens to Tinder when power users like me grow uncomfortable and limit their time on the app?

The next night, I received this message from another match who had looked familiar:

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I hate this. The best part of Tinder is that I can only get messages from people I approve beforehand. It helps me feel safe and welcome and helps ensure that people don’t waste as much energy as they would on other apps. Simply by matching, you know that any message is at least somewhat welcome. So why make something so ideal for both parties so hostile? Why abuse that tiny modicum of trust?

I, The North

As the only single woman at work (there are eight employees at my main place of business and four at my second job), I am the one with by far the most active social life. My coworkers ask frequently about the dates I mention and try to set me up with their single friends (no thanks). My queer coworker will take me out to lesbian dance nights and play wingwoman (to moderate success); one met her boyfriend on Tinder and is a hopeless romantic about it; the rest have been in long term relationships since the dawn of time and have forgotten about the beginning stages of modern courtship.

I’d been chatting to a fellow on Tinder about my love of basketball (one of my pictures is of me looking quite buxom in my hometeam jersey) and he invited me to join him for a game a week later. (Note: one upcoming post will be about my experience with NBA players on Tinder. You’ll love it)

Now, a few of my friends have suggested that, since I lost my share in season tickets when Harold and I broke up, that I should get guys from Tinder to take me to as many games as possible. As a girl who always insists on paying her own way, this seemed especially sketchy.

That said, I accepted this dude’s offer because the Tinder banter had been excellent and he said his employer had corporate seats. We picked a game (not against a great team but one with a star point guard, which reveals my preference for three-point shots) and he confirmed the next day that he had acquired a set of tickets. His pictures weren’t especially detailed – a group shot, a low-light guitar pic, a skydiving one – but he gave off cute vibes.

I told my coworkers about my upcoming date and they laughed and cheered me on. It was the day that I confronted Catch, though, so I wasn’t putting too much stock in anything. I certainly wasn’t my usual flirty self. When a customer came in to pick up his usual order (which he does every three months – in my industry, we’d call him a regular) I barely looked at him. He gave me his name (common) and I swiped his card. It was a typical transaction but my mind wasn’t on work.

I check my phone an hour later to find a text message from the guy who was supposed to take me to the game.

“Hey – what are the odds of you working at __________ and cashing me out just now?” I confirmed that it had been me and we briefly discussed the ethics of me going on a date with a client (if I were higher-ranking, I’d excuse myself… but I’m not).

I ran to tell my coworkers, who howled with laughter. This could only happen to me, they said. One coworker exclaimed that he is one of our best-looking customers.

Game Day fast approached and I was super psyched to watch my team play! Oh, and I guess to meet this guy. That was secondary and I felt weird about it. I texted him the day before to ask him about his day and he said he had to bail due to a last-minute work function.

I pouted and was annoyed – I hadn’t bought a ticket for myself and now all the inexpensive ones had been sold. I complained on social media and my friend (the lovely woman with whom I road tripped to Montreal) offered me hers (she’s a season seat holder and her seats are AMAZING). There was a condition (I had to heckle a player whom she knew from university) but I was happy to do it.

I went by myself and had an amazing time. I’d go out on a limb and say it was the best non-playoff game I’d ever seen. Better than any game with Harold; better than any out-of-town game; I felt so liberated because I didn’t have to share it with anyone. I could cheer on my favourite scrub player (he saw a whole minute of play!) I could hyperbolically applaud the dance team, especially the captain who is the number one exception to my “No Moms” rule. I could rap along with the pump up songs and didn’t have to share my Sprite. I had more in common with the strangers in our colour-coordinated promotional tee shirts than I have with anyone I’ve met up with in a long time.

I guess I kind of am taking that game as a metaphor right now. There are a lot of things I used to share with people I’ve dated, but I think right now I’m better off keeping them to myself, at least until I have someone special enough to appreciate it.

It’s not as much fun for my coworkers, but they’ll live.