As I write this, I’m a few hours away from Heathrow Airport. It’s January 7th already, but for me this feels like the true start to 2015. After six weeks away, I’m about to embark on a new job, and a new relationship.
This time last year, I was living in Pangbourne – a sleepy village between Reading and Oxford. I was working in banking, and only just beginning to understand the complications of dating a man who was studying at Sandhurst. Today I will return to a flat in SW London, and to a bed, which I bought myself as a moving to London gift. In that bed, a man is waiting. He’s not an Army officer, and he’s not one of the 30 Dates. We met on a blind date back in October, and whilst we’ve decided it’s not ‘official’ until I’m back on home soil, he’s the closest thing I’ve had to a bona fide boyfriend in the last three years.
The reason I began typing, at some God awful hour in the morning, which is afternoon in Oz, but the crack of dawn back home, is that last time I was on a long-haul flight back to the UK, it was 15 months ago, and I had just turned 30. In fact, it was the day after my 30th, and in rather fitting style, the man who had bruised my heart enough to set this very blog in motion, had dealt a final blow.
I sat on the plane home feeling miserable again about my single status. Rejected once more, despite three of the most fun months of my life. In the eighteen months I’ve been writing this blog, five other men have caught my attention to varying degrees.
First there was the Enigma – the man who captured my excitement because he saw 30 Dates as a challenge not just for me, but also for him. He wanted to ‘win’. And win he did. He was a man who I would never have looked at twice online, and yet with whom I still share a connection. We’ve met a few times in the past year, for dinner or drinks, and I’m always guaranteed a fun night, a text soon after telling me how great a time he’s had, and a niggle in the back of my mind, wondering if timing had been different, would something more have happened?
Next there was the Legal Eagle. A man who defied all my expectations of dating. He is extremely religious – something I’ve always seen as a major stumbling block in a relationship for me. However the irony was, when it came to it, his stumbling block was an inability to communicate with women. After a great first date, he took over a week to reply, and only then it was because a mutual friend had typed out the response for him!
And then of course there was Mr SC, a man who I will very vulnerably and honestly say I thought I was going to marry. I have been on a LOT of first dates, and yet I’ve never come away from one so strongly thinking I’d met my ‘One’. Yes, that may seem naïve … but he was saying the exact same thing. The whirlwhind that was Mr SC swept me up, and I spent almost all of 2014 trying to get my balance back, despite it dumping me out after just six weeks of Sandhurst reality.
Three days after I moved to London, I was swept off my feet by Captain Charm-Offensive. A man who I had bid for in a charity dating auction, and who turned up to our date at Notting Hill Tube station on a Harley Davidson, and whisked me off to a picnic in Hyde Park. Forewarned he was dangerous and a ladies man, I knew it would go nowhere, but it was one of the most fun one night stands I’ve ever had!
Which leaves the Rugby Boy … who coincidentally hates his blog nickname! Ironically the first guy to ever tell me that! I know he’ll agree when I say it wasn’t exactly love at first sight! Our first date was one of the most awkward I’ve ever been on, though by the end of it, he’d won me over enough to agree to a second. The second was equally flawed, but we giggled our way through, and two dates turned to three, which turned to four … and a few weeks later, when he popped along to meet me after drinks with friends, and we were asked which date number we were on, neither of us had a clue.
And so, around three months later, I find myself on a flight back to London, rather excitedly awaiting what comes next. The funny part is, on that last flight back to London, I was miserable about single life once again. I wanted nothing more than to be in a relationship. This time round, and my decision to start a relationship with the Rugby Boy is an extremely conscious one, and one which I thought about for a long time.
What’s changed? I have. Yes, I’m 31, and I see a future which involves marriage and children, with some one. But I’m also extremely happy with my single status, and I’ve loved the rollercoaster of dating that writing 30 Dates has provided me with. Of course there have been downs as well as ups, and I’m by no means naïve in thinking the only way is up from here, but by throwing myself into single life so strongly, I have come to really enjoy and appreciate my independence. And so it is a very conscious decision that I have decided to make a go of things with the Rugby Boy and see where they pan out.
Last year, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin made the news with their ‘conscious uncoupling’. The decision to divorce isn’t one anyone takes lightly. But equally, in recent months I’ve realised just how conscious the coupling can sometimes be too. Because if you love your life, and you’re enjoying being single, then committing to one person, and seeing how things go, is a rather conscious life change. And one, which I’m rather excited to try out!
See you on the other side! 😉
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx