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

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.

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.

Mon Grand Slack

I don’t get out of my city very often. I have a job that forces me to work weekends and I don’t get paid vacation time, so the cost of a weekend trip is often more than it’s worth.

But I said “to heck with it!” and let a friend whisk me away to Montreal for a few days for the basketball game (I ADORE basketball). I also thought it would be a good opportunity to try Tinder in a new environment – somewhere where I’d meet people with zero mutual friends; where I might get to play the tourist; where I’d get to flex my atrophied Francophone muscles.

I woke up on Saturday morning and told my friend “I want to go for brunch! Do you think I can make a Tinder brunch date happen within half an hour?”

She laughed. She’s heard all my best Tinder stories and assured me that if anyone could, it would be me.

I swiped right at anyone attractive, with text under their photos and who’d been online in the past ten minutes. I had ten matches within five minutes, but based on conversation I wasn’t especially excited by any of them. Then I saw him.

Lanky as fuck, with floppy light brown hair and enormous blue eyes. Pouty swollen Lana del Rey lips and a bio in French with the line “Parce que prendre des bières/cafés avec des inconnus c’est souvent amusant! … Also pretty decent English with classic Québec accent!” I read that to mean that he looks at Tinder as an adventure to take with strangers.

I showed my friend his picture after I swiped and matched and said “I want this one!” When Tinder is involved, I very frequently get what I want.

“Cuuute! But he looks like Catch.” She said. I shrugged. I have a type.

I sent the first message, in French, inviting him out to brunch. No preamble.

He accepted, with the caveat that he’d never met anyone on Tinder before. I promised I’d be gentle. He told me to meet him at his favourite brunch spot near the Mont Royal metro station. I hopped on the subway, a little giddy.

When I showed up, I looked around and asked the waitress in French if he’d already been seated. She brought me to him and he was even cuter in person. 6’3 with a cyclist’s physique and a pink t-shirt under a grey h&m hoodie… the same Chucks as mine but twice the size.

I said, in French, “Welcome to your first tinder date!”
He blushed, and asked me to keep it down.
I said “Oh, sorry. Oh man isn’t it cool catching up with each other for the first time since we were in jail together?”
He laughed, and I could tell he was super nervous.

We ordered, and I asked questions about his life. Between the two languages we could understand each other perfectly. We talked about travelling and math and consent and music and family. When we realised that we we’d finished our meals, we ran in the rain to a microbrewery and drank samples of every beer that they had to offer so that we could talk more.

He taught me some Quebecois curse words (all of them religious) and said that there weren’t a lot of gendered slurs. He identifies as a feminist (swoon!) and we got to talk about the power behind the word “cunt,” which was really enlightening coming from someone whose first language doesn’t have an equivalent.

We talked about online dating and how he doesn’t get many matches. I didn’t believe it, and he said “I’m not everyone’s type.” I told him he was mine. “Ahhh,” he nodded, “T’aimes les Grands Slacks.”

He explained that Grand Slack is the Joual term for a tall lanky dude. He kept gesturing to his own physique as I touched my knee to his.

He slipped his hand onto my thigh and said “You know… I don’t live far from here…”

“Oh, Grand Slack,” I said suavely, “I have a hotel room.”

His eyes flashed like goddamned sapphires as he dropped a handful of cash on the table and guided me to the bus stop. I sent a quick “clear the room please!” text to my friend and we were on our way.

As we sat down, he kissed me. Just a small stolen bisou, but it had been just long enough since I’ve had any kind of PDA that I melted into the royal blue seats.

As we walked (holding hands) from the bus stop, he sighed and admitted he didn’t have condoms. I said “It’s a good thing I’m not going to fuck you, then.” He admitted he only had an hour and as half before he was due to eat family dinner in the suburbs. I told him that just making out doesn’t take that long.

I don’t remember much about the elevator ride up to the 8th floor (I hate elevators, so it’s easier than making out in the stairwell), but I remember opening our suite’s door and throwing him onto my bed.

We kissed gently at first and I started undressing him. I asked him to be cautious of my fresh tattoo and he was very gentle; as it’s a French phrase, he joked that he’d proof-read it for me. I couldn’t keep my mouth off of his near-flawless skin, and I kissed him up and down his lean, firm torso pausing only to ask him in French about a few scars (a cycling accident in Vietnam).

When I finally saw him fully naked I kicked myself for not running to a pharmacy beforehand. We made complete messes of each other and I asked him to teach me different sexy phrases in French.

He showered quickly after we were finished and ran off to the suburbs. I have him on Facebook, but it was a beautiful novel encounter with a beautiful novel man. I invited him to chat me up if he’s ever in Toronto (I hope he does) but even if I never see him again I will look at this like the the most linguistically educational travel hookup I’ve ever had.

Grand Slack may rank with Gunner and Catch for my favourite first Tinder date, and that’s pretty great.

She’s a Marshmallow…

I’ve gone on about fifty first Tinder dates in the year I’ve had the app. That’s more than the number of times I’ve seen my lifelong favourite band in concert (though not by much). That’s more than the number of other first dates I’ve had combined.

I’ve had a lot of fun and met some truly adventurous, hilarious and interesting people, but I’ve only been limerant of two of my Tinder paramours: The first date, and the most recent.

The first, whom I’ll call Gunner, deserves a post of his own. I adored him but put him through hell because he was my first partner after Harold and I opened up our relationship; a failed experiment at his expense. He jumped through so many hoops for me in the few months we gave it a go and I like to think I helped him work through some resentment he had over his ex. It must have worked, though, because Gunner is making one of my best friends very happy – they celebrated six months together recently and I take full credit. (note: they do not give me full credit, but we all know I set them up, okay? okay.)

The second though? Ooof. I’m calling him Catch. Not just because he is pretty much an ideal person (at least on paper) but because I know that when he breaks my heart I’m going to relate way too hard to this song:

(Allie X is a treasure, btw, and you should listen to everything she’s ever done)

His profile made him sound like he just wanted to show off – he stated his (impressive) profession, his height (excessively tall), and his favourite dessert (also my favourite dessert). His pics were typical: suit pic, pouty selfie, darkly-lit guitar pic… but Catch looks like every unrequited crush I’ve ever had, from the former frontman of my favourite local cover band to my favourite basketball player with a little bit of my high school best guy friend thrown in; like Jeff Winger from Community meets Robb Stark from Game of Thrones. He is very educated in fields semi-related to mine and has one of those jobs that impresses moms. He’s well-rounded (plays guitar! and sports too!) and is as obnoxious as I am. He’s also not on social media, which is frustrating but I’ll deal with it. I’m convinced I Weird Science’d him into existence.

My profile asks people to talk to me about glasses if they need an icebreaker, and he asked me a question about stemware as a wedding gift for his sister. After dozens of “So… Tell me about glasses lol” first messages, I was all about it.

Most importantly, he likes Veronica Mars, which is possibly the most attractive quality any person can ever have.

Our first non-tinder text conversation involved covert references to favourite video games and old flash cartoons from 2002. He got every reference and we accused each other of being hired by our friends to heal us from our fairly recent breakups. He texted me the next day and said “I can’t stop thinking about you.” I felt the same way, so we met up for midnight milkshakes at a diner halfway between karaoke, his work (where he’d just finished his rotation) and his condo. We talked until 4:00 am. He offered to let me crash at his place and was a complete gentleman (though I later found out that it was because he didn’t have condoms).

The next day I texted our mutual friends who had only glowing things to say (with the exception of an ex of mine whose other ex was Catch’s roommate and remembered only bad hair and combat choreography).

We had to wait for our second date because he had to go home for a bachelor party (they played Diablo III the whole time and he texted me every time he won). I was the first person he saw when he returned and I showed him my favourite downtown parks where we exchanged Community quotations and discussed the cultural significance of The Simpsons. I got to use the “You’re more handsome than the guy who’s famous for being handsome!” line and actually mean it.

He had sent me a text beforehand saying “This is going to sound RIDICULOUSLY presumptuous… But I have not had a chance to get to a drug store or equivalent… so if sex is at all on the table… You should maybe bring something… Don’t tell me if it’s on the table though! That way I can still have the joy of being all ‘Will we? Won’t we? What if she’s changed her mind? etc.’ (Yes, I know, I’m romantic to the core).”

So we went back to his place where we had amazing, safe sex in an overwhelming number of positions. Like, the kind of sex that could ruin sex with other people. I climbed him like a tree and he gave me the best workout I’ve had since my last bike ride out to the 905.

He confessed he doesn’t generally do the casual sex thing, and I told him that I’ve been over it for a while but haven’t met anyone I’d want to date exclusively in a long time.

I spent the whole next day with a big stupid grin on my face, even if sitting down was the best kind of uncomfortable. My coworker called me on it and had no idea how to handle it; she knows that I don’t gush about my dates.

The third date happened after I received this text:

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SO Catch, in one text, made a pretty compelling case for heteromonogamy.

I took him to my favourite pizza place, we watched the movie, he insisted I spend the night…

I woke up the next morning to him sitting on his couch, playing “Odds Are” by the Barenaked Ladies on a beat-up teal acoustic guitar. I sang along and thought about how perfect that moment was.

I’m trying not to read into this too much, but I’ve always been on to talk myself out of anything good. I’m at least using this giddiness as a sign that I should pare down the less-exciting people in my harem. I don’t have time to spend making out with people who don’t make me smile like a doof every time I think about them.

But no pressure, Catch. I know how hard “ideal” is to maintain. 😉

007: You Only Live Twice

“Hi can we cool it on the hookup front? I have some feelings for someone I’m trying to work out.”

Goddamn I hate iMessage first thing in the morning sometimes.

“I’m not just going to call you in two weeks when it blows over, don’t worry.”

That’s what I would do if the situation were reversed, and I think he knows that.

I’m trying to figure out exactly why I’m bothered by this, because I am. I’ve heard it a dozen times in my life from many different people, but I’ve never been on the other side of it. I want to say it’s because I can handle casual hookups. I don’t know if that’s true, or if it ever was.

The radio played “Do I Wanna Know” as I got dressed for work. I’m glad this song wasn’t around four and a half years ago, when 007 first gave a sexual friendship a try. It was more applicable then, when I was looking to be in a relationship with him; when I thought everything he did was art. Learning that 007 is human with flaws and insecurities and a guilty conscience made me more comfortable with him. I think he liked being with me because I know how hard he works to not be the person he was back then. I’m not the same person I was at 22 either.

“Yeah, no probs.” I replied, “Hope it works out! She’s lucky, whoever she is! :)” Completely fucking honestly. He is, above all else, a completely solid friend and a dude whom I am lucky to have in my life.

I have a weird expectation for myself that I say what I mean and mean what I say. That I hate the grey areas that exist when open communication doesn’t. I am excited to spend time with 007. I am excited when we’re at a house party full of people who don’t catch us checking each other out; I’m excited when we watch episodes of TV shows he wants to share with me; I’m excited clothed, naked, eating twizzlers, drinking tea and any state in between. 007 passes Mark Manson’s Fuck Yes! test. He passed the Fuck Yes! test even when we were seeing other people and he tutored me through my academic upgrading. 

Shuffle managed to play “Heartbeat” on my commute. This is more like it. An ex of mine used to tell me that 007 reminded him of a white Donald Glover. “I’mma flirt with this new girl and I’mma call if it don’t work.” I’m guilty of that.

Every part of me is screaming “THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU, T.” And I want it desperately to work out between him and whoever the girl is.

And if it ends, I want him to take me climbing again. Because I know I’ll still be into it. I’ll still shout “Fuck yes!” Even when I find someone else with a sexual charge as strong as his, I’m going to proposition platonic baseball games or long bike rides with him, no expectations of a happy ending (of either kind).

In the meantime, I’ll be on Tinder.