Lucy’s still away on holiday, avoiding Christmas and hopefully having a splendid time in the sunshine. So here, in her absence, is another Guest Post, this time from the lovely Hollie, who you can find on Twitter @GlobeHops.
Hollie and the Disappointment
A taste of hope
As was so wisely observed by Red in the most tear-jerking of films, The Shawshank Redemption, hope is a dangerous thing. It certainly has been for me a few times in my dating past. Somehow, hope always found a way to throw me a bone at exactly the right time. Perhaps there had been a drought, and then the promise of a beautiful flower growing in the barren desert of my romantic life. Something that seemed to be exactly what I’d been looking for, and just for a short and foolish moment, I allowed myself to believe that it was all going to happen this time.
One cold winter evening in London, I was heading out for a promising first date. And by promising, I mean that it was riddled with the possibility for vast disappointment. We had chatted for a couple of weeks already, texting close to constantly. This tends to be a bad idea, as too much communication in the digital ether prior to first meeting can mean too many expectations going in. But we’d happened upon each other on an internet message board during a busy period in both of our lives, so there were practical reasons why we hadn’t been able to meet sooner. The chemistry between us in our messages was palpable. We seemingly shared a sense of humour, a love of books and intellectual pursuits, and we had also managed to establish that our sexual appetites and preferences were very well aligned. It truly felt that we had already become friends. We were both looking for reliable fuck-buddy with the potential for more, and the fit seemed to be ideal.
An unpalatable pub
The pub I’d chosen for us to meet at turned out not to be perfectly optimal. It was an old boozer near Old Street which was famed for a great cask ale selection, and I had been meaning to check it out for a while so it seemed like the perfect choice for our after-work date. The tap range was as excellent as had been promised, but the pub itself was incredibly noisy and badly laid out, which made it seem especially ill-suited to conversation, even by central London after-work standards.
Determined to struggle on, I holed myself into a corner with a pint and awaited my date. Within a few minutes he arrived, and looked pretty much exactly like his picture; tall, slender, blonde, handsome in a boy-next-door kind of way. So far, so good. He fought his way to the bar for a drink and as he returned, the first impressions seemed positive. But as we began chatting, a thick black cloud of disappointment swept over me. It felt… flat. Not the sizzling banter from our messages. Not the intellectual attraction we had felt during our lunch-break chats. Not the heat of our late-night flirty texts. It felt like we were total strangers. It wasn’t just that I didn’t fancy him. I didn’t feel any kind of attraction to him, on any level whatsoever.
Things turn sour
I sensed he felt this disappointment too. We had agreed towards the very start of the date that we would move pubs after one beer, due to the noise of the venue. After we’d drunk our beers, he suggested a place. I was keen to see whether we could get things back on track in the next bar. Though, over the course of a rather awkward walk, I lamented the fact that I had allowed myself to hope that we might be having a little kiss by this point, had the chemistry been what we both had expected it to be.
Sadly, things did not get any better. As we settled into the new bar with our drinks, it felt increasingly like I was doing all of the conversational work, whilst he was rather withdrawn. When I tried to enliven things, this played badly. He had shared some of his views on some recent political events, which I happened to disagree with, and so I challenged him. What would have been a little healthy, perhaps even sexy, debate session with another date, suddenly turned into me feeling like I had shouted at an injured dog. He remarked that the conversation had begun to feel ‘like a battle’. I was stunned. Yes, I thought, it has been a battle just to find things to say for the last two hours, as though I’m sat here talking to myself. And now, what, I can’t even tell him that I disagree with him without him losing his shit?
I was extremely disappointed by this turn of events. We had enjoyed many a conversation in the past week in which we had debated and argued our points vigorously and passionately, and then made light of the matter and descended into flirtation again. So why was he seemingly such a different person in the flesh?
A bitter pill
Before long, awash with exasperation, we were settling up our bar tab and getting our coats on ready to head out into the night. I felt incredibly sad about how disappointing the evening had been, and as much as I didn’t like to admit it, I had partially brought on this scenario on myself. I had allowed myself to get too wrapped up in the idea of someone. I had projected onto him what I wanted him to be, and because he had never acted like a total dick, or said completely the wrong thing at the wrong time, I had thought that the connection was stronger than it was. But all it had really been was a series of messages between two people who wanted something, the same thing, and who thought that they might be able to get that thing from each other. We had both wanted to believe it, and so the fantasy had continued. But we were not kindred spirits or soulmates. We were both just tired of dating and had allowed ourselves to get carried away.
If I was to be more successful in finding dates that did not disappoint me, I’d need to stop doing this, I decided. I needed to get better at controlling my expectations. And yes, as sad as it seems, I needed to learn to hope less.
So, the epiphany was complete and the life lesson had been learned. But now, back to the matter at hand – how best to part company with this dude? I’d been in this situation a few times before, and usually I would say a friendly goodbye, and we’d agree to see each other again, both knowing that this wouldn’t happen. We would walk in separate directions, never to text one another again. So very British.
On this date, I couldn’t face that charade. I was already pissed off and frustrated, so I felt no need to try to trick myself or anyone else into thinking that the night had been a roaring success. So, I decided I would bite the bullet.
‘So, I think we can both agree that this didn’t go how we expected. You seem pretty different to how you seemed to me in your messages. I feel like I put myself across to accurately reflect how I actually am, but maybe you feel differently’.
It felt good to be honest. Now I felt hot in spite of the cold, blood pulsing through my veins in vitriolic anger as I nervously awaited his response.
He shrugged lamely. ‘I feel like you’re very intense’.
It was the first time someone had actually called me that. To my face at least.
‘Yes, I suppose I am’, I replied.
And that was that.
As I walked to the tube station, it began to spit with rain. It was a horrid, drizzly, blustery evening, but I held my head high and smiled. I had achieved something new in dating that night. I’d been honest with myself about my mistake, and I’d admitted to myself that I was wrong to have built up my hopes too soon. At that point in my life I wasn’t usually terribly good at admitting fault. To acknowledge this defeat and error – and then to forgive myself for it – felt invigorating. And maybe after another beer, a rant to a friend and a good night’s sleep, I’d be ready to get back on the dating horse and start fighting the hope monster all over again.
Hollie (@GlobeHops) writes about craft beer, brewing and travel on her blog globehops.org. She has more than a decade’s worth of dating disaster stories under her belt, and is now very happily married to her forever beer drinking buddy.
NEXT WEEK: A new man arrives in Lucy’s life, and a new story begins. Trust me, you’re DEFINITELY not gonna want to miss this one. In fact, why not subscribe now to make sure you don’t?