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.

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

Scully Lighters Gif.gif

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

 

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.

#Solemate

Between Lindsay Lohan’s freakout over matching with her brother and that amazing Conan O’Brien video with Dave Franco, we know that there are celebrities on Tinder. Even though I live in a pretty star-studded city, it hasn’t been especially common for me to match with anyone famous in their field. The guitarists of a few buzz bands, a moderately successful male model and about a dozen fake Drake accounts are par for the course for any of my friends who’ve been on the app for more than a week. One of my favourite Tinder stories to tell involves my only famous match: A since-traded player on my local NBA team.

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.

I had my Tinder app powered up, swiping right and left based on whatever nonsense criteria were important to me at the time. That was when I saw the profile of a deep bench player (we’re talking three minutes a game, if that). I freaked out, showed Harold and took a screen shot. He didn’t say anything about his occupation or height, but the pictures on his profile included himself dressed for a game in his home jersey. I swiped right. He did not.

I was only a little bummed. My team has a reputation of being a big family-oriented group of dudes who work hard and then go home to their kids, so not matching with one who is publicly married/a dad was fine by me.

The next night, Harold and I were back at it, pretending to be okay with spending time hanging out around each other. I was swiping my life away when another NBA player popped up. This guy was as deep-bench as it gets. Like, 700 twitter followers at the time we matched. I shared the profile again with Harold and we laughed. He had a picture of him holding a fish he’d caught and one of him with his grandmother. I screencapped and swiped right.

It was a match.

“Oh my GOD, T. Can you even IMAGINE having sex with that guy? Like, having him on top of you?” Harold went into more graphic detail than I dared consider without growing really uncomfortable. “Oh my GOD think of the shame-bragging you could do.”

I had no idea what to say to this NBA player. A quick google search showed that he isn’t married or a father, so I felt okay with initiating a conversation.

“Hey,” I started. “What’s up with all these Tinder dudes holding fish? Is it a big inside joke that women aren’t in on?”

“Hey,” He replied, pretty much immediately. “I dunno lol i guess it shows were good providers.”

“Makes sense. Up to anything cool tonight?”

“Naw football in my condo. go *NFL Team* lol”

I quickly asked Harold for some quick facts about his handegg team, and briefly talked out of my element about a recently injured quarterback.

“Oh u like sports?”

“Yeah, I’m a big basketball fan.”

“Me to wish i played more often lol.”

We talked for a little bit about how difficult it can be meeting new people in this city, and I got the sense that he was another self-described lonely dude.

Why anyone would pretend to be this guy over the other more recognizable players is beyond me, but I wanted to make sure he was who he said he was. I invited him to watch a hockey game with me at a very public bar downtown – walking distance from the condos the one year contract players lease near the arena.

He told me that, as there was a noon game the next day, he couldn’t go out drinking. I asked if he wanted to change the plan to grabbing burritos.

“I like burritos :)”

“Me too,” I replied. “Is that a yes?”

To which he replied “If ud like to come and pick some up and eat them up here with me then maybe i could do some eating of my own ;)”

To reiterate: An NBA player asked me to buy him a burrito in exchange for oral sex.

It was almost DEFINITELY the highlight of my tinder experience.

“Tempting!” I replied. And it kind of was? I quickly ran through every possible scenario. What if he wasn’t who he said he was? What if I go over with burritos and things start happening and I freak out? Am I going to be assaulted? What if shit just gets weird? Would this be worth it just to tell the story?

And that was when something clicked for me: Is something worth doing only for the story? The past decade of my life has been defined by that question, and I’ve always taken for granted that an interesting story is worth more than anything else to me.

It’s why I spent my teen years archiving everything that happened. A flurry of coincidences will one day make my life interesting. I think my life is pretty interesting now, but while my current partner and I have told and rehearsed our “how we met” story to near death, it’s weird living your life in hindsight.

And that’s what this NBA player would have been. A tale of groupie conquest (not that there’s anything wrong with that) wherein your Tinderella exchanges a jumbo steak burrito for sloppy bearded oral sex from a man twice my weight and four times my muscle mass. Not even glamourous.

“Well, I have a policy about meeting Tinder suitors in a public place first. For safety reasons.”

“makes sense,” he replied. “another time mabye.”

I didn’t publish the conversation online. He seemed respectful at least of my basic boundaries, though in our second conversation he called back to the possibility of toasted Mexican goodness.

“i just saw the worst movie ever!” He sent me, in response to nothing.

“Oh? I’m curious. What are you up to now?”

“lol im in bed.”

“I’m jealous! I’ve been working for hours!”

“And u still won’t bring me food. should i sweeten the offer?”

“Did you mistake the Tinder app for the Just Eat app? :-P”

“I just love food”

I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to go for it. It started feeling really sad, and Harold was taking entirely too much joy in the thought of his primary partner burrito booty-calling a man who could easily have squatted two of us on each shoulder. I was in a stage where I wanted to do exactly the opposite of what Harold wanted.

The last message I ever sent him was when he moved to a different team. I wished him all the luck and more playing time. He never replied.

Almost immediately after that, he started posting pictures on his instagram account of a gorgeous woman using the hashtags #solemate (SIC) and #onewomanman. I believe he is now married and according to all of the groupie forums (yes, those exist and they are a cesspool for self-hating women) they are very happy.

He and I won’t show up on each other’s list of regretful Tinder hookups, but you know my motto – “Je ne regrette rien.”

Irish Toast

When I meet someone off Tinder, it usually happens one of two ways: either we decide to meet up within two days of chatting (see: Catch, BTSK and a few others), or we text forever and meet several months later when we finally have the time (Magic Mike, Gunner and many more).

Irish Toast was the latter. His profile earned a swipe to the right in part due to his dark floppy hair and that he had different facial hair in every picture, but also that his profile bragged about his fobby Dublin accent and his ability to impersonate Lumpy Space Princess.

Discussions turned to politics and Pokemon and we added each other to Facebook before he deleted his Tinder profile. I kinda forgot about him (Oops!) until he invited me to go bike-riding with him. We met up on a Sunday after my morning shift and set off west on the waterfront path.

Oh my gosh, was he funny. And charming. And geeky. He wore a subtle Pokemon t-shirt and I, knowing we’d be cycling, wore a tiny tank top. We reached our destination fairly quickly and exchanged funny, geeky stories for hours. He’s an actor, so I got to share my on-stage and on-screen experiences.

He briefly mentioned that he was moving back to Ireland, but not how soon. He has a girl there, but it’s all pretty new. As in sometime between when he added me on facebook and that day. I counted out the chances of a second date and was only a little disappointed.

When we parted ways, he just cycled off. No goodbye hug or handshake or even “Thanks for the laugh.” RUDE.

“What, no goodbye hug?” I sent him a facebook message that afternoon.
“Hugs?! While cycling? Not that I wouldn’t but in my sunburnt sweaty self/but my lack of hugs doesn’t represent a lack of positive vibes,I had a stellar time.”

Welp. We stayed in touch and sent each other pictures of our blistering sunburns (why didn’t THE IRISH GUY remind me to reapply sunscreen?! Honestly).

I invited him to my birthday karaoke and he showed up, but I was pretty far gone and between BTSK, 007 and a few peripheral others I had my card pretty full.

I texted him a few days later to thank him for showing up and he invited me to join him and some Irish bros of his for drinks. In front of his friends, he mentioned his Irish girlfriend at every possible moment. Once they left, though, he kept putting his hand on my thigh. We moved from one pub to another.

When the discussions of what we liked sexually came up, I knew he was weighing the pros and cons of taking me home. “The hardest part about long distance,” he said, “Is sleeping alone.” I have never knowingly been the other woman, but I’ve been the deceived one (even in an open relationship), and I raised these concerns. I don’t remember what he said, but he assuaged them and we started the walk back to his place.

When I drink, my own accent comes out. I’m first-generation and was raised by people with thick brogues. He and I talked about dialect coaches we’d worked with and I said my favourite word to hear uttered in any accent is “Goddamn it!” (Which I attribute to Gunner and his posh West London lilt).

Ever the show off, Irish Toast imitated him spot on. And then he imitated my Dundee-born Grandpa. Then he imitated Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Concords. He even imitated me. I said, “okay, and how do YOU say it?”

He had no idea. We walked in silence for an entire minute before he ran at a fire hydrant and kicked it. The thud rang out down Dufferin.

“God DAMMIT!” He shouted.

What a nutball, I should have thought. If only!

He limped all the way back to his place and said “Let’s watch a movie.” Usually that’s code and I thought I might FINALLY get somewhere.

He puts on Mystery Team and we watch an hour’s worth before I say “Look, I’m falling asleep. Are we going to make out or what?”
He said he didn’t have the energy, and lent me a pair of boxer shorts to sleep in.

I heard him groan appreciatively as I got undressed and we crawled into his single bed and spooned.

The next morning, he said he had an audition at noon. I asked if he wanted to get brunch and he said “Better – I’ll make it! You like French Toast and tea?”

Heck yes I like French Toast and tea and dudes who cook. He said “I don’t have syrup or sugar or anything for the toast though. I like it dry anyway. Reminds me of home.” I am not usually one of those “ASSIMILATE INTO OUR CULTURE OR GET OUT” but I’m pretty sure not putting maple syrup on French Toast is grounds for deportation. Never one to look free brunch in the mouth, though, I ate in silence before he booted me out.

It wasn’t until I was taking the bus back home that I realised he’d given me some kind of fucked up pseudo-girlfriend non-sexual date experience; that this all really probably happened because he didn’t want to sleep alone but couldn’t bring himself to cheat.

I got a text after a week and a bit of radio silence saying “Call over! We’ll finish watching Mystery Team.”

So I finish up with the Tinder date I was on (it wasn’t going anywhere, despite how much that dude looked like Israeli Bret McKenzie) and hop on a bus over to Irish Toast’s place. He’s made a veggie stir-fry (he’s not vegetarian but knows I am) and says “I’ve already eaten my bit, but I’ve saved you yours.” Again, I am all about free food, so I graciously accept.

We watch the movie on opposite sides of his bed and when it’s done he says “So… I have to get up early, but thanks for calling over.” He all but shoves me out the door.

As I leave, he shouts “Oh, I’m free next weekend too!” I looked back and said “For what?”

My first text as I’m walking down the path from his door was to 007 (this was when we were still sleeping together) and I call over to him. Hell if I have three dates in one afternoon and don’t even get laid.

I have not heard from him since, except for the occasional “LIKE” of an Instagram picture or nerdy Facebook status.

I don’t know why that happened the way it did. I don’t know why I kept thinking something WOULD happen. I am sure as heck glad nothing really did, though.

Great and Terrible Expectations

As I sat on a plush blue couch in a humid apartment in Midtown on a Tuesday night, I purposely put a partner of mine on the defensive.

“I just think it’s rude,” I said, “that say you’re going to stop seeing me altogether once you’ve found someone new even before you know if she wants to be monogamous. Like you’d drop me just for the idea of someone else.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed this. I’ve been seeing BTSK for almost nine months; he’s the longest current relationship I have, and has nicely bridged the gap between my former polyamourous ways and my new not-poly-just-single life. We met on Tinder and officially count our first meetup as the Frank Turner show where I texted to ask “Wait, are you the guy three rows behind me who looks like Michael Weatherly?” We count our first date as the night I brought him to karaoke and he blew me away with his rendition of “Wrecking Ball.” We have a standing date every Tuesday and I’ve always tried to treat those evenings as socially sacred – if we only get one day a week, we should make the most of it.

It usually plays out pretty much the same way every week – we always end up watching Parks & Recreation reruns (sometimes with popcorn) and talking him through whatever latest life choice he has to make before retiring to his room for some solid (albeit vanilla-as-heck) sex. Most recently, he’s thinking of moving back in with his parents in the suburbs. He told me he does not expect me to ever come visit him.

For a majority of the time we’ve been seeing each other, I had a primary partner in Harold. For that reason, BTSK and I have never considered each other as someone with whom we’d spend the rest of our lives. We’ve met each other’s friends (though not until Harold and I broke up) but not each other’s family. We never use terms like “boyfriend” but have acknowledged that when this ends, we’ll probably refer to each other as exes. I like to think he’d help me move if I needed him, but beyond that we are what we are.

I felt bad for a while that BTSK couldn’t do girlfriend things with me, and I know he’s been seeking, for at least the last few months, someone who could fill that role better than I can. He’s still on Tinder and on OKCupid, and I’ve never been jealous about the messages he gets. I’m not a jealous person to begin with, anyway, but especially not with BTSK.

Return to the blue couch on a Tuesday; he is talking to me about a few dates he has lined up. “This one girl? We’ve been out a few times. Get this – She’s a self-described west-end snob.”
I don’t care what else she has to offer. He can do better.
“Does she know you’re casually seeing someone?”
“Well, no.”
“Oh.”
“It’s just that she wouldn’t want to see me again if she knew.”

Monogamy has been so engrained in him that he hasn’t kissed her (or anyone aside from me) yet. That makes me nervous and a little guilty, because I made out with seven people at my birthday party alone. He’s from a small city east of here, and everything is very traditional there.

Monogamy right off the bat is an expectation in his world. I don’t deny that eventual monogamy is the end game of an overwhelming majority, and I know that having been in a long-term nonmonogamous relationship (even though it will be held up as an example of all the things that can go wrong) has made me a deviant from this.

That said, I think the presumption of monogamy is silly in the early stages of a relationship, particularly if the two of you (like dear BTSK and the West-End Snob) met on an online dating app.

Think about it: Two people meet on OKCupid or Tinder or POF or Grindr or, heck, HotOrNot IDEK. Though both of them have several cool matches worth getting to know, this one seems special. The conversation is amazing and both are attracted to each other based on the pictures. The first date goes swimmingly, and ends with a kiss. The second date is less great. Someone shows up late or reveals a weird opinion on Israel or makes a joke in bad taste about a cause important to the other. Is that enough of a faux pas to undo the fun of the first date? The third date goes better. One even deletes the app off of their phone. But it doesn’t work out. Everyone has those one-month flings that just fizzle out. Should they have to restart from the beginning? Reactivate OKC or Tinder and explain to other matches that they were less compelling than another match?

No. Eff that.

Date everyone once. Meet everyone knowing that everyone you’re meeting is also meeting other people. It gets rid of the Grass Is Always Greener mentality that is so prevalent in the early stages of monogamy. You have the chance to really get to know many people before committing to one. There shouldn’t be jealousy; there’s no expectation of commitment right away. Think of it as the sexiest process of elimination of all time!

“But T,” I hear you cry, “How ever will we know when someone WANTS to be monogamous?” Effing communication! Oversharing will ALWAYS be better than keeping things in. Say “Hey, this is great. Would you be interested in exclusivity?”

As far as I’m concerned, I can do whatever I want with other consenting adults until we have the exclusivity conversation, and I of course have an expectation of my partner(s) that they are doing the same.

After my breakup with my primary partner, everyone (including Harold) expected BTSK to start transitioning our relationship into something monogamous. I remember a few weeks after the breakup, I was lying in bed with BTSK and I said “You’ll want to know when I start sleeping with other people again, right? For safety reasons?”
He paused, and didn’t look me in the eye. “Yes, of course.”

A few weeks after that, we were hanging out again and I said, “Just so you know, I’ve started sleeping with someone else.”
“Oh. Guy or girl?”
“Guy. 007, actually.” (He’d heard of 007)
“Does this mean we have to stop seeing each other?”
“What? No! Of course not.”
“Oh, okay.”

And that was that.

Let’s return to the blue couch. I tell him that I know we’ll be ending things sooner or later, but what we have is pretty cool right now. I resent feeling like he thinks I’m disposable, and he can date anyone he wants but I won’t let him dump me unceremoniously after nine months because he feels weird about kissing two separate women in the same week. It’s rude AND nonsense.

Heteromonogamy, you guys. I don’t really get it.

Magic Mike

Though Magic Mike was the first match I received on Tinder when I first downloaded the app almost a year ago, he and I didn’t meet up for several months. He was uncomfortable with my open relationship and our schedules were incompatible – I worked 10-7 every day and he said he was a bartender. He looked like he could be cast as the male lead in a bad teen fashion drama – pretty and mischievous with an alliterative name that lends itself to Teen Choice Award ballots. “I bet you get all the tips,” I texted to him after he sent an “all dressed up for work!” picture. He simply said, “You have no idea.”

We’d send each other workout snapchats and pay hyperbolic compliments to each other’s torsos. Normally I prefer to be stronger than the men I date because feminism but I make exceptions for Worcestershire sauce-coloured curls and people who are genuinely embarrassed of bad tattoos they got in their teens.

After a few weeks of this, he responded to one of my pictures saying “You should get really thick oversized glasses instead of the ones you have.”

Record scratch

I asked if he was negging me.

“No, but it’s funny you know what that is.”

I deleted his number and unmatched with him. Everyone worth snapchatting with appreciates a good pair of FaceAFace frames, right?

Fast forward a few months.

I get a “Hey, what’s up?” text from a number I didn’t know. At that point in my Tinder career, this isn’t a rare occurrence.

“Not much – just getting ready for work.”

I ask for a pic. I recognize those strong, actually-groomed eyebrows as Mike’s right away. Nobody has eyebrow game like that except men who are paid to be pretty.

This time, he and I agree to meet up. The bar we pick is centrally located in a hip area in which neither of us live. It’s off a side street; it’s dark and dirty and the drinks are cheap. There’s a food menu but I’ve never seen anyone ever order the $6 Pad Thai. We hug hello and he seems relieved that he’s taller than I am.

We talk about our childhood and coming from big blended families before it turns to what we do for money. I start talking about glasses, and he says he’d love to be an actor. I ask where he tends bar and he laughs.

“Confession time: I am not a bartender.”

“Oh?” I lift my drink and prepare for the worst. I don’t do well with lies.

“You know *REDACTED*?”

“As in, the men’s strip club? You’re a stripper?” I take a big gulp of Strongbow.

He shrugs and gives me an aw-shucks blush.

“Cool! Can I try to guess your schtick?”

He laughs. “It’s an obvious one.”

“Schoolboy?”

“Kinda gross for a 23 year old, eh?”

Once he starts talking about how much he actually enjoys his work, I realize how charming he is. He has no qualms about answering my questions about Channing Tatum’s movie (“It’s maybe a *little* more glamourous than that…”), his clientele (“Older gay men are the kindest! There’s no entitlement there!”) or his coworkers (“We all want to be there, at least where I am.”) He even answered my most pressing question: how do patrons tip since we don’t have $1 bills in Canada? (“We get $5 or $10 tips but we do more for it!” with a wink)

He invited me back to his place, and I was curious to see what kind of condo could be rented with bundles of sweaty Lauriers.

One with a really nice view, it turns out.

His bookshelf was filled with acting guides (and yes, a copy of The Game, which was the only work of fiction I saw).

The kissing was good. The physicality was excellent. I’m still not used to partners who can overpower me but this was nice. He was very preoccupied with making sure I had a good time.

After several hours, he told me he had an audition in the morning and that he’d walk me back to the streetcar. He asked me what I was reading, and had never heard of Foxfire OR Joyce Carol Oates. He told me he didn’t really read much. I know, bro. I know.

We didn’t see each other again, but the post-workout pics still get sent. He’ll see on IG that I’m in a thrift store change room and ask for snaps of the rejected clothing. When he got cast as the shirtless male lead in a music video, I watched it four times (though it was on mute for 3.5 of them).

Recently I decided to get a manicure while waiting for a different Tinder date (no rest for the wicked) and as I was waiting for my fruit punch shellac (very uncharacteristic) to dry, I saw that the salon was playing the Magic Mike dance scene cut on a loop. As soon as I could touch my phone again, I was texting my own personal Channing Tatum. We decided we’d meet up a second time when he finished his trip home. Apparently he quit his job, but as far as Tinder stories go, Magic Mike and his eyebrows and terrible tattoo will live on in infamy. Will he be as much fun without the novelty? I guess we’ll see.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my bunk.