New Year’s resolutions typically look something like the following:
- go to the gym more
- pretend to enjoy salad
- stop eating entire bars of chocolate and hiding the wrapper under your bed
Whilst I’m sure these are all valuable ventures, I can’t say that any of them appeal to me much. In fact, I will be actively avoiding visiting the gym during January, during which it is guaranteed to be full to the sweaty brim. Secondly, why should I punish myself for eating an entire bar of chocolate?! As Amanda from ‘The Holiday’, (AKA, Cameron Diaz in fabulously beige outfits), puts it: “I wanna eat carbs without wanting to kill myself!” – I would extend this to all delicious foods.
So, rather than attempting to cling to any remaining space on the health-kick bandwagon, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution this year would be aimed at improving my dating etiquette. I vowed to once and for all stop ghosting.
Now before you judge me, have an honest conversation with yourself – have you ever received a message which you’d rather not respond to? A name pop up on your screen which made your stomach sink with pure unadulterated awkwardness? A text you’ve deleted and pretend it never existed? It’s a modern-day phenomenon that whilst we are more ‘in touch’ with each other than ever before, we can all too easily ignore someone’s existence through the screen of a phone.
After hearing stories of friends being ghosted, and suffering the same treatment myself, I realised that I was not practicing what I preached. I had left guys hanging – at times even ‘un-matched’ them on dating apps when I deemed that their conversation was not quite up to scratch. I know, I know, I’m a monster – but in my defence, a message featuring more than three ‘tongue-out’ emojis surely cannot be tolerated?!
I started out with good intentions, selecting potential ‘matches’ on dating apps with extreme caution, in order to avoid slap-dash ghosting. 2018-me would cruelly ghost unwitting suitors upon more closely their examining profiles and discovering unforgivable mirror-selfies. 2019-me had promised herself that that if she wanted to stop talking to someone, she would be polite enough to give them a reason why. This is harder than it sounds – how on earth does one inform ‘Rob from Guildford’ that he is no longer desirable due to his incorrect use of ‘your’?
On the 1st January, I had a new match. Judging from the fact that half of his photos were passable, and the other half were truly awful, he was a man with potential, but not arrogance. No toilet selfies – good. No brag about his distant relation to a C-list celebrity – very good. His bio was interesting – he didn’t brag, ramble, or use emojis relating to their corresponding word, (e.g. ‘Powder = life’ accompanied by skiing emoji – I can read thanks, Mike). So, we began to message. As per usual, I made regrettably niche jokes, but though I sat fretting over my bizarre sense of humour, he continued to respond, unperturbed. Was I onto a winner here? We soon arranged to meet for a drink – he would be passing through my area on the way to a dinner party. It all seemed to be working out perfectly.
The evening arrived, as did the inevitable flurry of panic over outfit choice. After an extended period of lying face-down on my bed, I predictably selected the Levis which I reserve for standing-only occasions, (if you sit down in them for extended periods of time, they begin to literally lacerate your midriff). I made my way to the chosen bar and spotted him through the window as I arrived – a tall, slim figure in a woollen winter coat. So far, so good.
I have this friend who, in unfamiliar social situations, remains quiet until they have accurately judged how to pitch their conversation to suit the occasion. Try as I may and try I certainly have, it would seem that I am not destined to embody this cool, collected demeanour. Oh no, it has been made apparent to me that I am a veritable ‘Chandler Bing’ when it comes to meeting new people. In other words, I blabber on until my new acquaintance is all but entirely baffled by my incessant chatter and ultimately, rendered speechless. You’ll be glad to hear that Chandler Bing certainly made an appearance that evening in the bar. However, it remains a mystery beyond comprehension that my date not only resisted silencing, but seemed to be entertained by my ramblings.
Now, my dear reader, here is a conundrum presented by online-dating: the picture doth not always representeth the man. Just like poor Henry VIII, I had found myself face to face with a beau whose pictorial depiction did not quite match their reality. Whilst I had been correct to assume that my date was not in the least self-absorbed, I had mistakenly identified his more forgiving photographs as accurate illustrations of his person. I know, I know, I’m a horrible person and there’s more to life than looks, but I can’t be blamed for not finding myself attracted to a person…can I?
As the date wound to an end, we walked along the same road to the nearest tube.
“Well,” he said, a glimmer of hope in his eyes, “would you like to do this again?”
A sharp rush of panic flooded up from the pit of my stomach to my forehead. How could I get out of this one?! I couldn’t just reject him under the watchful eye of a tubby police officer, a family of Japenese tourists and a cupcake salesman…could I?! But I needed to stick to my pact, I needed to be honest…didn’t I?! That’s when it hit me. There was simply no alternative.
“Of course!” I beamed, “I’d love to!”
With that, I smacked an overly-enthusiastic kiss on his cheek and waved to him cheerfully over my shoulder as I descended toward the Piccadilly Line.
‘Great, just great’, I thought, ‘now I’m going to have to marry this guy, wait a respectable amount of time before faking my own death, move to Fiji and start a new life as hair-braider/ wind-surfing instructor. That is the only solution which avoids any hurt, heartbreak or disappointment. I’ve really got myself into it this time.’
2018-me would have continued to weave this tale of woe for herself, perhaps even dating the unsuspecting young man for a few months before eventually facing reality and disappearing into thin air. However, 2019-me had made a promise to herself. So, with that, I took my phone out of my pocket and steeled myself to write a polite, yet firm message, declining a second date. I won’t lie and say that this was an easy feat, it really wasn’t. On top of feeling uncomfortable to my very core, the message took about seven re-drafts and a very thorough Google search. I will say, however, that the feeling after sending it was one of total relief. No hair-braiding for me.
Anti-ghosting mission: complete.