As I mentioned briefly last night, a friend of mine calls me the ‘Goldilocks of Dating’, and it’s a nickname I rather like. Goldilocks knew exactly how she liked things, and she wasn’t prepared to settle.
Just weeks away from thirty, I like to think I know what I’m looking for in a suitor. Because all dating really is, is trial and error. As you grow older, and meet more people, you learn more about yourself, and what you want, (and perhaps more importantly don’t want) in a relationship.
Now, as you know, this Challenge isn’t about finding the One. When I began the @30Dates Challenge just over three weeks ago, my motive was simple. To remember how fun dating could be, and remove the awe and wonder from it all. I’d had my ‘perfect date’, and it all ended up depressingly imperfectly … So now what could possibly go wrong?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m adverse to the idea of meeting ‘The One’. After all, that’s the whole reason the Henley Boy situation excited me so much. But I’m also fully aware that the odds on me finding even ‘a One’ between now and October are extremely rare!
If there’s anything I’ve learnt about myself in the past twenty-nine years, it’s that I’m really picky!
In six months online dating, I fancied just two boys on Plenty of Fish, and only one in the flesh, and I can count the number of men I’ve kissed in the last year on just one hand.
More recently, as part of this Challenge, I signed up for Tinder, and out of every 100 profiles, I might look twice at one or two, and even then probably won’t click on anyone (even knowing I need to find dates for this challenge!).
Now, I realise those forums may provide a bit of a false economy, but I also know very few men catch my eye.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve travelled into London a fair bit for dates, and I’ve started playing a game on the Tube. I remember reading a novel years ago, where each morning on her way to work, the main protagonist would look around the train carriage she was in, and work out who she would most like to shag! On my last couple of Tube journeys, I’ve altered the game slightly, and simply asked myself if there’s anyone in the carriage that I would even consider dating. Even in rush hour, I’ve found myself coming up blank. And that’s just passing the looks hurdle …
With that in mind, I guess I’m not overly hopeful that I’m going to fancy any of the thirty random blind dates picked for me by friends, and friends of friends (and now random Twitter followers and readers of this blog!)
I appreciate attraction isn’t just about physical appearances. But I think for most people that’s the starting point of a spark, and often what differentiates between the amazing butterflies feeling, and a platonic friendship.
I realise all this may sound ridiculously superficial, but I like to think that my dating snobbery is grounded in something deeper than simple physical pretension.
I have a younger sister, and believe it or not, she’s actually pickier than me when it comes to men! And so I have a theory about where my dating snobbery comes from, and why my Perfect Man has quite so many boxes he needs to tick …
They say children whose parents are divorced, grow up to be adults who place less importance on marriage. By contrast, those children who grow up in a more united home, become adults with stronger believes in a ‘perfect relationship’.
I realise it’s a sweeping statement, and doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone … but as far as I’m concerned, maybe I have my parents to blame for my picture-perfect expectations? You see, my parents were a bit of a fairytale couple… Those of you who know the film ‘Love Actually’ … the way my parents got together was basically like Colin Firth’s Portuguese love story.
My Dad met my Mum when he was travelling around the world.
He was in his late twenties, and backpacking across Eastern Europe. He was in Hungary, and had been thinking about travelling to Bulgaria. On his travels, he met an attractive American woman, who was also travelling to Bulgaria, however she had planned a different route, via Romania, a country my Dad had never considered travelling through. Attracted to the American, Dad changed his travel plans, and on a random night in December 1972, found himself in the town of Brasov, stranded by a train, and needing somewhere to stay for the night.
I’m not completely sure of the intricacies of it all … if I’m honest, I wish I’d paid more attention to Dad’s stories when I was a kid … but the story went something like this. There were no hotels around, and Dad and the American were walking through the streets of Brasov, when they came across a couple of Romanian ladies, one of whom owned a student guest house. She led them back to the house, where a birthday party was in full swing. My mother’s 23rd birthday party.
My Mum, a Romanian girl from a simple village in the middle of nowhere, was living in the guest house while she trained to be a pharmacist. She talked politely in French to my Dad, and the American lady, who she assumed was Dad’s girlfriend, and the next day, Dad and the American continued on with their travels.
Dad went on to explore Bulgaria, and a few months later, on his return trip to Western Europe, he decided to travel back through Romania, and call in on the boarding house where he had stayed before …
At this point, I should probably point out just how unbelievably out of my Dad’s league my Mum she was! We’re talking Supermodel and Joe Bloggs!
My Mum answered the door to the boarding house, and exclaimed ‘Bobby!’
Whenever my parents told this story, Dad would marvel that Mum remembered his name, and Mum would reply ‘How could I ever forget the handsome English man?!’ At which point my sister and I would roll our eyes, and substitute her words for the phrase ‘rich Westerner!’
My parents didn’t speak the same language when they met. For their first year together, they communicated in French. They got engaged on the top of a mountain, only for Dad to have to return home alone to organise Mum’s visas. In an age where visas were expensive and difficult to organise, Dad spent a year driving lorries around Europe, to save the money to bring future bride home. Over that time, they wrote to each other constantly. Postcard after adorable romantic French postcard. Some decorated with cartoons, some filled with silly nicknames. Two years after they met, they married in a Romanian registry office, and Dad returned to England with his new bride. The rest is history … mine and my sister’s history ….
When my parents passed away, one of the first things we did was empty the loft, and we discovered a box of these postcards. I have very few nice memories from the Christmas that my Mum died, but one of the few bittersweet ones is sitting in the living room of our childhood home, translating the postcards for my sister, and laughing with her about just how awful Mum’s French was, and how unbelievably romantic my Dad had turned out to be.
My parents were together for thirty-one years. My Dad was Mum’s first and only love. The Westerner who had stumbled accidentally into her life, and whisked her away from a village of less than a hundred people to what must have seemed like the other side of the world.
Mum and Dad weren’t just eachothers’ ‘Ones’ … they were their whole worlds. When my Dad died suddenly of a brain tumour ten years ago, it came of no surprise to either me or my sister, that my mum died just months after. They fitted together like jigsaw pieces, and with one part gone, the other part just couldn’t go on anymore.
And I wonder why I’m single?! I mean, how do you ever live up to that?! How can I expect to find ‘My One’ on my doorstep, when chance and fate took my Dad to the other side of Europe to meet my Mum?!
So maybe I am a bit superficial. And maybe I am ridiculously picky. But I know what I want, and I was raised in a fairytale, fully aware that it’s a big wide-world, and that somewhere out there is a man who will fit into my life like a missing jigsaw piece.
Maybe I’ll spend the next twenty years looking for him … (I really rather hope I don’t have to!) Maybe I’ll meet him next week.
I have no idea. But what I do know, is that for now, I’m happy not settling … because if my Dad had settled, and copped off with that American lady, then I wouldn’t be sitting here blogging about this crazy 30 Date Challenge!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx