So yesterday, after almost six months away from Plenty of Fish, I returned to the popular free dating site.
Those of you who’ve followed the blog from the start will know that POF is how I met The Henley Boy. And so rather jaded with the whole experience, I ‘hid’ my profile about five months ago (so guys could only see me if I interacted with them) and then stopped using the site altogether.
However a recent conversation with The One with The Sign, and the reality that a lot of the male Experimental Daters have enjoyed a great deal of luck with POF recently made me rethink my boycott. Not every guy on the site is a Henley Boy, right? And besides, as I realised as soon as I opened up my old profile again … I’ve changed a great deal in the last six months with regards to my outlook on dating.
When I first met Henley Boy back in June of this year I was looking for a longterm relationship.
I was Little Miss Monogamy. I’d never done the f*ck buddy thing, or casually dated. Meeting someone meant having a relationship with him, and I’d spent my adult life alternating between periods of complete independence (normally when travelling) and time spent as someone’s girlfriend. Whilst I’d enjoyed both, there will always be a big part of me that just wants to be little spoon when I go to bed at night! And so I saw online dating as an interview for a big spoon!
As a result, my dating profile on POF lay all cards on the table. My awkward preconceptions of online dating, the fact I’d turned to it because (fit) male friends of mine had used POF and found success, and the honest truth that I was looking for a longterm relationship.
To be honest, looking back, I’m surprised Henley Boy even started chatting to me having read that profile. (If he ever looked beyond my photos). I’d lain my heart on my sleeve, and it was the very honest tale of an ‘older’ singleton. An honest example of someone brazenly looking for love, not just a shag!
Now, even if they are too, the majority of my single male friends would never admit that. And would probably be put off by someone spelling it out that clearly. No matter how fun and cool she sounded, or how hot she looked.
Six months later, my old POF profile made me cringe!
Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I didn’t get attention on POF. In fact I probably averaged 10-20 messages a day when I was regularly using the site – though from the content of most of the messages, it’s unlikely very many of them had ever taken the time to read my profile.
But six months on, I realised the effect the 30 Dates challenge has had on me, and my attitude to dating. It’s something my close friends and male colleagues have picked up on whenever I talk about dating these days. I’ve become a lot more like a guy in my approach to dating.
And to be honest, I’m yet to work out whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Last week I went for dinner with The Enigma, and he said the exact same thing.
Now don’t get too excited … it wasn’t a third date.
It was the first time I’d seen him since our second date, and if I’m honest I didn’t ever think we’d meet again. When he bruised my heart and my ego over the summer, I said a couple of off the cuff things on the blog – like any woman scorned, and so was really taken aback when he replied to my text asking if he’d like to write for the blog.
I won’t spoil too much by telling you about some of the things he’ll be writing about, but I’m really excited to have him join the Experimental Dating team … even if at least some part of me will always hold a small flame for him – the only guy this summer to manage to properly eclipse Henley Boy!
Having invited him to write for the blog, I felt it important we meet up again and properly clear the air. Not wanting him to get the wrong idea, I was quick to underline that it wasn’t a date. I had Groupon vouchers for the Crazy Bear restaurant, which I could only use at 9.30 at night. Knowing how nocturnal he is, I asked if he’d like to join me, and was pleasantly surprised when he agreed.
We had a great evening. And to be honest if it weren’t for all the water under the bridge, and the fact he’d told me in no uncertain terms after our second date that he’s not looking for a relationship, I would have interpreted the evening differently. The Enigma and I banter easily, and conversation was non-stop and interesting. We caught up on our summers, and enjoyed the various offerings of the Crazy Bear cocktail menu. We chatted and drank late into the night.
It’s an odd dynamic, getting on so well with a single guy, but knowing it’s not a date. Especially when arguably the dinner was more fun than any of the tens of dates I’ve been on in previous months. But we both know where we stand, and as such, I’d rather have him as a friend and co-writer than never see him again.
As part of the ‘non-date’ conversation, we discussed my current ‘love life’.
And I admitted to how much my view of dating had changed. I told him about Tyler Durden – the guy I’d known I’d never be able to date, but who I’d been happy to see casually. I told him about my recent line up of dates – Guy Fawkes, Mr Mauve, The Legal Eagle and Private Equity – all of whom had been texting me that week. And I laughed about how much I was enjoying just dating and having options.
I explained to him how previously I’d always seen dating as a search for the ‘One’, in a way that you could only ever really consider one guy at a time. How I’d never been able to fathom the whole multiple-dating scene of Sex and The City, or the way on The Bachelor TV show the guy doing the picking was able to date one girl after the next and find connections with several at one time. Kissing someone, and then hours later going on another date and kissing someone else.
That attitude to dating had always reminded me of teenage school discos, where my friends used to tally how many guys they’d snogged that evening!
How could you form so much of a connection with someone that you’d consider kissing them, and then a few days later be in the exact same position?
And yet I had found myself in that position just this month.
That week I’d had dates with Guy Fawkes, Legal Eagle and Mr Mauve, (and The Enigma!) … and dare I say it, if at the end of any of those evenings, the guy had leaned in for a kiss, I wouldn’t have considered it inappropriate.
In different ways, and on different levels, I’d had connections with the guys. Connections which would probably lead nowhere. Or more likely simply end in friendship.
But I’d clearly moved away from my monogamous mindset.
As I discussed the phenomenon with The Enigma (obviously leaving out the part where if we’d actually been on a date together I’d have happily snogged him by now!) he laughed.
‘You’ve finally begun to understand London dating!’ he exclaimed.
And perhaps I had.
It was a phenomenon which Miss 32 had tried to warn me about early on. And which I think the Enigmatic Flaneur described amazingly well in his post about TinderTown.
I was finally a full-fledged London dater. Or perhaps the City had just corrupted my previous small town wholesome dating values.
Either way, I was really rather enjoying it!
But as I look back, with my changed perspective, I can see aspects of the last six months in a whole new light.
If Henley Boy were to message me for the first time today, I’d be a completely different girl.
For a start, I wouldn’t spend my entire weekend messaging him on POF. I would still meet up for him for drinks the way we did, and have as good a first date as we did. But when he rang every evening to chat, I’d be too busy on dates with other guys, or spending time to myself at the gym or with friends, to pick up the phone each and every time.
I wouldn’t offer to cook on a second date. And I definitely wouldn’t ask him over to stay straight away. And much as I still LOVE snuggling, I’d have realised that’s something you do with someone AFTER you’ve got to the sex stage with them … NOT before.
And I wouldn’t have read so much into what I’d considered to be an amazing couple of weeks (no matter how much HB was contacting me). Because as I’ve realised from some of my recent dates, two people can view the same date in a very different light!
With The Enigma, I wouldn’t have slept over at his place on the second date. I’d still have met up with him a second time – because connections I had with some of the other 30 Dates quickly dwindled out because there’s only so long you can keep a spark alight over text message. But I wouldn’t have stayed over at his after the second date. And I wouldn’t have made it so clear that he was the only guy I’d had a spark with up until that point.
It’s funny how at 29 you can think you understand the opposite sex.
Most of my best friends are male, and hot male player types. I thought I understood boys, and how to get along with them – and I guess I do.
But the one thing I’ve never done is date like a guy.
Up until now.
It’s impossible to do 30 first dates in a three month period, and not at least begin to think more like a guy. Because most guys I know detach themselves a lot more from the dating process than my female friends do. They see the dates as fun. Not an interview for the One.
And if 30 Dates has taught me anything, it’s that shift in mindset.
And whilst I knew about that mindset change, and had witnessed my changing attitude first-hand, it was only when I re-read my Plenty of Fish profile that I realised just how much I’ve changed as a dater since my Henley Boy lesson.
It was arguably a life lesson I needed to learn. And whilst I didn’t necessarily need to learn it the way I did. who knows where I would be now if HB hadn’t ignored me for three months after what I’d considered to be an amazing couple of weeks.
And yes, I may now remain single for far longer than I might have done had HB not ever stumbled upon my POF profile in the first place, but hopefully when I finally settle down with someone in the future, I’ll know it’s for all the right reasons, and I’ll be able to look back on my time as a singleton, and know that I truly embraced and enjoyed the single experience!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx