A lovely guest post for you this week, thanks to Paul, who tweets at @ortski83
When Lucy agreed to let me write a guest blog for her, I was hesitant at first (after all who is really interested in what I have to say?!) but then I thought maybe some of you would appreciate a completely honest and truthful account of a former serial dater, who has treated far too many women badly in the past and why.
Yeah but who are you?
I am a 36-year-old single guy from Manchester, England who likes to think he is kind, caring, witty, and sarcastic. Not the best looking in the group – but also not the worst – with a big heart. An old romantic who wants the fairytale sold to us by the movies. I want ‘The Notebook’ love, the one that lasts a lifetime, to build a family with, to go through the good and bad with. So how did I end up being the bad guy to so many? To find the answer I will have to take you back to my childhood and into my first relationship.
The Wonder Years
Growing up was tough for me. I was the sensitive fat kid covered in freckles and I was bullied for it; this effectively killed my self esteem and my self confidence before it even had a chance to develop. I also had a father who drank a lot, most nights, and would often wake me up when he came home from the pub with his aggressive shouting matches with my mum, which gave me a fear of abandonment from an early age. As I moved into my teenage years I grew taller, I changed my diet and turned from the fat kid into a painfully thin teenager who still didn’t get any attention from girls, no dates, no kisses, just a young adult with a lot of mental issues who had convinced himself he was ugly and worthless (with the help of the years of bullying of course).
The First Girlfriend
Fast forward to 22 and somehow, I find my first girlfriend and fall madly in love. A true whirlwind of amazing emotions that made me see life in a new light, and almost gave me a reason for living and a role in life. This is what I’d always wanted. I never desired a certain career much and I never had one great passion – I just wanted to love and be loved back. I couldn’t believe it to be honest, how could this beautiful girl love me and want to be with me?! I treated her like a queen and put her first in my life above everything – I was convinced I would marry her and we would have kids one day. She was the one who made all my worries and issues with self-esteem and abandonment disappear, I would’ve gladly sacrificed my life to save hers.
Of course, just short of a year, she cheated on me and left me. I say left me, what I really mean is she crushed me, she didn’t just break my heart, she ripped it out of my chest and tore it to pieces sending me into a dark place for a long time. I didn’t live for a long time after her, I just existed. I understand everyone has a first love and heartbreaks hurt, but when it’s done to someone sensitive with body issues, no self-esteem and no confidence, it’s a whole new world of pain. Its affirmation that you weren’t good enough and it feeds the demons inside that always told you it was too good to be true.
Alcohol – it’s a helluva drug
Cut to my mid-twenties, where I discovered alcohol. I didn’t drink until that relationship ended (bar a few alcopops as a teenager with friends) because of my dad’s binge drinking. I soon realised that alcohol gave me the confidence I never had to talk to girls. Sober me would run a conversation through his mind after seeing a girl, and her imaginary response would be a rejection, so he wouldn’t bother. Drunk me didn’t give a shit and would go and say hello or dance. What an amazing revelation! Unfortunately, my heart was still with her and despite finally getting attention, dating and having sex I couldn’t ever start a relationship or see it turning into more. In all honesty, it took me 5 years to completely move on. The bad news is, this was before social media dating was invented and before I even became a serial dater.
The casual scene was never really me, I still craved that fairytale. Between 26-30 I had two relationships, one lasted just under a year, the other lasted just over two. I didn’t love either of them, but I settled, well, until my heart wouldn’t let me stay settled and I had to leave. My biggest regret from them was that I wasted my time and theirs, I knew they weren’t right, I knew it wouldn’t last, but I was scared to be by myself.
The Turning Point
At this point I am 30, and I am living in a 3 bed house by myself and I will tell you something, the loneliness killed me. It ate away at my soul. I am very sociable, I love to meet people from all walks of life and going home every night to an empty house and spending weekends alone inside drove me insane. It also drove me towards internet dating. Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish and Happn became my most used apps. I had become fitter through the gym and covered myself in tattoos, I started to gain attention and I used that attention to paper over the cracks of my loneliness, my insecurity and my low self esteem. I would line people up for the weekend, to make sure I wasn’t in by myself. It sounds selfish and cold. It was. I saw myself as a lost cause and didn’t care for myself anymore at this point believing that love had been and gone and never to return. I had turned into a massive binge drinker that frequented the cocktail bars of Manchester at any given opportunity and instead of looking towards fixing myself, I looked for the attention of girls instead. Over a four year period I think the number was easily over 200 dates. My best friend lived with me for a few months and was shocked I went on 4 dates in one week with different girls. He has never been on 4 dates his entire life.
I’ll run through some things I did, maybe you might notice the traits so you can avoid people like me and save yourself the time and effort wasted.
1/ The first thing I would do is try and move the conversation from the app to my phone. I’d want their number, it gave me validation that they liked me enough, that I was no longer competing with the rest of the pack. It pushed me up the pecking order. If a girl wasn’t keen to do that I would move on.
Lesson: Always chat on the app until you get to know them well enough
2/ Vague texts nearing the weekend – “Hey, how are you, how’s your week been?” – despite not actually texting through the week. Sometimes I would send the same text to four or five girls and see who replied, and then I would focus on the ones who replied quicker, leaving the slower responders for another time.
Lesson: Ignore vague texts, especially at the weekend. If he’s seriously interested, he will ask how your week started on Monday!
3/ Sexting. I would use flirty banter with a hint of suggestion to gauge if it would be OK to move into this. And if so, I would do as quickly as possible. Most people like sex, most girls like a guy who is confident in bed and if he can turn her mind on it’s almost a done deal at this point – unless you’re an arrogant prick on the date itself.
Lesson: Don’t sext, just don’t do it. Trust me. It will be worth the wait if it’s serious.
4/ Set Challenges. I would regularly tell girls that not many had made it past two dates with me. This is actually true, but many girls saw it as a challenge and would sleep with me on the second date. I remember one girl texting me the morning after, “So I think this means I’ve definitely got a third date in the bag!” Which was soon followed by some well deserved rants at me for what a fucking prick I was after I replied saying she was nice and I had a great time but didn’t think it would go anywhere serious.
Lesson: I’d say any kind of challenge given or spoken about, is a red flag. You shouldn’t have to meet any expectations, rise to any challenges, or compete against anyone or anything or anyone else.
5/ The ‘Honesty’ mind game. This is by far the most effective mind game ever used in dating. Usually it’s used after the first date, when you’ve turned up and proved in real life you aren’t arrogant or cocky and can hold a conversation and enjoy someone’s company. When the dates been ok but you don’t feel like it could turn into more, though you still find them attractive enough and would sleep with them. I would tell them this, always leading with the line: “I have to be completely honest with you because I don’t want to lead you on,” whilst also paying them lots of compliments.
It sounds like the guy is putting the ball in the girl’s court, but really it’s manipulation and power play. If the girl agrees then she thinks she is in control of the situation, I believe the control is given back to the guy once she does. I would take control of the next steps, I would plan the next date – don’t forget at this point I probably would’ve been texting/sexting too, and she’s probably curious to see if I can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
However now I’m free to carry on dating other girls while I date and have sex with this current one.
But it’s OK, because I was ‘honest’ and she believes she is in control because it was her decision to agree.
Lesson: Run away from any guy who does something like this and don’t look back.
The Present and the Future
So where am I at in my life right now? At 35 I fell in love again, 13 years from my first love I felt that same rush, the same emotions that were buried deep, the same kind of love where I would do anything for her. It turns out I wasn’t a lost cause, and those feelings hadn’t died, they were just smoking embers waiting to be stirred and brought back to life, I just needed the right girl to stoke the fire. Unfortunately just short of a year later and she left me, which again sent me spiralling into darkness and into therapy, to finally confront all my issues that have plagued me since childhood. I often think it was Karma, that it was my turn to be treated badly, it may well be.
Since then, my focus has only been on learning to be happy with myself, by myself. I made a Twitter account largely focused on being a Mental Health advocate and trying to help others, offer advice and generally be a positive support to people. I have downloaded Tinder and Bumble and deleted, then downloaded again and I AM looking to date, but so far I haven’t been on a single date this year and I am determined not to go back to my past habits. If it takes another 13 years to find another love, then it’s 13 years I’ll wait. Some say your 3rd Love is your final one. I do hope that’s right.
Lucy is currently taking a blogging break. If you’d like to write a guest post, please email your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org