The Business Of Dating Or Is It The Business of Shopping?

Is online dating like going to a XL supermarket with more things on offer than you can wish for?

It definitely feels like it. You have guys who are nearing their expiry date, those, who like some vegetables, are a bit bruised and those who look way too good. And like normal grocery shopping it takes up a lot of your time. You need to have a look at what’s available, prod it and then finally you swipe your card. Honestly it’s a full time job, as I had such a really busy week online.

Remember last time when I talked about joining online dating sites? I finally took the plunge and joined Happn, My Single Friend and Fitness Singles to name a few. Hence my busy week online.

I felt I had a good start with three dates the past weeks. I planned my date looks, selected what I thought said sexy but low maintenance, Zara black leather trousers, a Joseph black cashmere jumper, killer Manolo’s and my favourite Whistles jacket.

I was good to go.

Going on my first post – break up date was always going to be hard but I had to start somewhere. I didn’t feel nervous at all, as I regularly have to meet people I don’t know as part of my job. It felt quite normal meeting a relatively perfect stranger in the heart of Soho on a wet and wild Wednesday night.

He was a nice guy, kind and really genuinely interesting but I didn’t fancy him from the outset. Nevertheless we had a good night discussing jobs, books (he was a journalist) and life and love in general over a couple of drinks. I think we both knew we’d not meet again but it was fun and just what I needed to make me realize the extent of damage done to my self-confidence by my ex. At the end of the night I was half expecting him (the ex) to be waiting outside the bar, car engine running, tapping his watch, ready to pick me up (or in other words check where I’d been) which was his fairly standard behaviour. Flattering you may say – at first my girlfriends all thought he was so sweet, that it was because he couldn’t bear to be apart from me even for a night. Now I knew differently.

It was only on the way home that the tears began, it started as a little trickle behind the eye as I hid, eyes streaked with mascara and dripping behind my Evening Standard on the tube ride. By the time I’d reached my front door it was a full tidal wave of tears. I couldn’t help myself, I felt stupid and indulgent but couldn’t help thinking that just a few months ago I was engaged! Albeit to someone who never once wanted to discuss marriage or a future once the engagement ring was on my finger. I should have been planning a wedding not out there meeting a stranger and starting dating all over again? I knew it was part of the withdrawal process, I’d been controlled by my ex for so long it was going to be a big adjustment to return to being me, and my old, happier self.

I’d re-grouped by date two. I’d arranged to meet him in Victoria. I texted my sister to let her know where I’d be just in case. I saw him at the bar when I walked in and he shot me a huge smile. Good start! We said our hellos and in his enthusiasm to get me a drink, knocked his own beer glass over, spraying the chap next to him head to toe in Stella Artois. I managed to side-step the carnage, carefully covering my prized Chloe bag for any splash back.

I’m ashamed to say we did laugh at the guy covered in beer, it was hilarious (he was less amused) so we bought him another pint, offered to pay for the dry cleaning bill and carried on our date. Two drinks for me (4 for him) turned into a meal and we were the last to leave the restaurant. I know it’s a date faux pas but we were swapping stories and after a few glasses (aheem bottles) of wine I told him some brief highlights of my last relationship. He didn’t run for the hills, instead we had a passionate kiss at the bus stop like teenagers and arranged to meet again…

As the online dating bussiness is just like going grocery shopping I decided to mix things up a bit. Whether you are swiping or liking, the basic fact is you are shopping for men. Do you always find you go to the same aisle, to the same shelves and buy the same things, or do you mix things up a bit? I know I do and as variety is the spice of life, I decided to mix things up a bit and arranged a coffee with a psychiatrist.

It’s a first for me, going on a date with a shrink. I waited for him outside the café – intrigued. There’d been a spark when we’d chatted on email and text so I plunged like a true pro into our coffee date. Fuelled with caffeine we were pretty soon telling detailed stories about our respective exes. I think it was therapy for us both, I don’t think he’d come across such an interesting case as my own, and I found it fascinating that there was a name for what I’d experienced. Although I don’t think there was any chemistry on either side I was grateful to him for his advice and I learnt from him that I couldn’t have done any more, given anymore of myself or my time to my old relationship to make it work. His view was that the moment that that engagement ring was on my finger, I literally became my ex’s property, his to control forever and that is honestly how it felt.

I’d had such a hectic week of dating (plus doing my day job and fitting in seeing my friends who wanted regular dating updates too) I had to put off a second date with Alex – the bus stop boy – until the following week – as I said it’s exhausting this business of dating…

PS: Single in the City is a new column by Miss X about being Single in the city. In case you missed, read the first two columns here.

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