What am I looking for? I ask myself that over and over this past week. What is holding me back from moving forward with my life? The effects of my ex-husband and his failure to disclose his HIV whilst still having unprotected sex with me has dug its sharp end in deeply. Broken trust at that level is not easy to move on from.
“You need to get back out there!”
“You’re an attractive woman!”
“You will feel much better if you just get some sex!”
These are the repeated bits of advice from friends, like my mental health will be improved if I spread my legs or open my heart again. But I am totally terrified.
So how do you meet someone new? for sex? for friendship? more…? I am 44 with 3 primary aged children, a more often than not full-time job and baggage so heavy i can’t see over it let alone lift it to carry with me.
Tinder! This is the response I get from several females (and one male) who have had great success on the dating APP. Two of whom are now in relationships with their ‘Tinder Man’. Tinder is not known as a forum for finding love (not that I’m looking for that in particular… or at all… am I?) but it is a way to meet someone new.
My first experience of Tinder was with a middle aged lawyer who I built the courage up to meet after 18 months of being single. He was dapper and charming, well-educated and cultured but had a penis the size of my index finger. Pointless. I didn’t get past the heavy petting following our third date. I wanted sex – I wanted to get back on the bloody bike again. After three natural births… there really was no point!
APP deleted, I return to searching my ex husband or his new girlfriends name on Facebook, torturing myself with pictures of them kissing on tropical beaches looking disappointingly happy. I wonder if she knows? I wonder if he’s told her what he failed to tell me. Facebook APP deleted. The ability for an ex to move on when you can’t is like eating dry Weetabix. Not that I want him, but the unfairness of him being able to carry on, be with new people when he was the one who broke everything with his lies really tears at my heart.
“One nail takes out the other!” was the advice my Dominican ex-roommate had given me.
After another year of no physical contact with anything, other than the Platinum Rampant Rabbit I bought at an Ann Summers party 14 years ago, I re-install the Tinder APP. Everything is still there, pics, bio, messages. I get to swiping. I get lots of matches, which is great for my fragile(ish) ego but only one gets my attention, after a bit of Tinder messaging we exchange Whats’APP numbers (this is the protocol it seems) and continue with several weeks of chat, then calls and finally video calls before I agree to a date. It started well… went well for four weeks until I became so paranoid about STD’s and HIV that I semi-sabotaged the relationship. He was not understanding in the least (even knowing my past) and I think I made a great escape – he demonstrated some cold and narcissistic traits… Red light flashing! SEE PREVIOUS BLOG
Tinder APP deleted. But not back to searching Facebook (not often anyway) so this is progress I tell myself. This is starting to move on. I immerse myself in all things related to my children. Ice skating, Drama classes, Swimming lessons, Cricket, Basketball, play-dates. New job. Move flat. Change my hair colour. Grow my hair. Stop shaving my legs.
“I am far too busy to date!” I tell myself
When the divorce papers arrive a year later, 3 years and 5 months after I left my soon to be EX husband, my depression and anxiety rears it’s unwelcome head again. I leave my new job. I switch, somewhat manically, between wanting to run away from London to live in a small town to desperately needing to be loved and surrounded by my closest people. I decide to sign up with an agency for more freedom of choice regarding work, less commitment. I find committing to anything that is not my children all but impossible since the split. I want to write! I want to write! I want to write! But i am afraid to make the change required to do so. Not sure how to ‘do so’. I tell myself this as I look at teaching posts in my local borough and agree to an interview (organised by the agent) for a September start that I don’t really want! The frustration of being so unable to control my mood at times is unfathomable if you have never suffered from anxiety, it’s not logical.
I reinstall the Tinder APP, ears ringing from the same advice to get laid, have some fun, actually go out without children. After a week of swiping I match with a gorgeous Tinder Man, tall dark and handsome with bright blue eyes. We exchange numbers and chat on WhatsAPP (this is definitely the protocol).
Date 1: Drink at a pub overlooking London. The sun is out. It’s a weekday so it’s not busy and the conversation flows. He tries to put his arm around my shoulders as we walk and I freeze then duck out of his embrace, hold his hand instead. He is not what I expected although I am not entirely sure what that is. He tells me he is not sure what it is he is looking for but that he knows exactly what he isn’t looking for.
On the way to the tube (where I drop him off) I lean over and kiss him. To see… There is a flutter of interest down below and I go in again, not heavy but just to see. I refrain from checking his groin for an exploratory grope. It is daylight and the streets are busy.
As I watch him walk away I wonder what it is I am not looking for.
featured image: René Magritte’s ‘The Lovers’ 1928