Tag: friendships

on being honest

When it was still warm in mid September and I was just getting to know JR, we fell into a discussion about the masks people wear and to what extent that is a falsehood.  In our dating and even interviewing efforts to appear at our best some of us may present a picture of ourselves deemed socially acceptable.  We may even believe that that is truly who we are when in fact we are untrue to ourselves.

So when he asked me what boundaries I had, I had thought about it for a while and declared that I would not be overly upset if I discovered that someone had lied to me about themselves.  He had been rather surprised.  But it was surely not dissimilar to our wearing a mask.  And naturally on a first date we always try to present the very best sides of ourselves.  Of course it’s easier simply to be honest and it must reflect more on our insecurity the bigger the lie, but that has less to do with the person being lied to than the person doing the lying.  And so it made it easier not to feel betrayed.  We were of course talking as people who’d only just met – it had been a first date when we rambled on in search of a quieter pub or one with more seating than clients.  We ended up eventually at one at the bottom of Downshire Hill.

A few months later, I was having a similar conversation with Goran.  We had been dating since early spring this year and have developed a bond/rapport.  I’d always taken everything he’d told me at face value and yet all the same I felt last week as if he hadn’t been completely honest with me over some trivial arrangement we had made which had then been cancelled.  Eventually he conceded that he might not have been entirely truthful and I had felt a little disconcerted.  And just like that, my warm feelings towards him – and there had been an overload of this recently – have begun to cool.   It’s very difficult to continue to be excited about arrangements we might make considering that they’re likely to be postponed or cancelled and I am almost glad that this has happened to remind me that this is not a relationship that has much of a future.  And to be fair to him, he has always tried to be honest and I had known from the outset that his loyalties lay primarily with his family.  I was merely surprised that he had felt the need to be economical with the verite.

The only reliable constant I have is me and what I do and the choices I make.  Whilst it’s exhilarating to lose one’s heart over another, I should be more careful who I lose mine to next time.

Asking for the moon

I have always led a charmed existence in that going by my instincts,  steer myself down the right path, usually.  So the uneasiness that I feel over my present lifestyle unsettles me.  I struggle to identify it and can only approximate it to guilt.  Feeling guilty for enjoying myself, feeling guilty for doing things differently to others, feeling guilty because I overpaid for something, feeling guilty for not doing more than I can, feeling guilty because I’m dating four or more men at the same time.  Even though this lifestyle is no longer censured, I come across articles and news of the devastation that infidelity wreaks on relationships and realise that I am still the anomaly.  Most people I know are in or want a monogamous relationship.  Being the oddity I question my motives from time to time, and wonder if it’s due to something lacking in me that I am unable to conform.  I don’t feel guilt exactly for the way I conduct my affairs but a certain amount of uncertainty, whether there might be a better way to lead my life – these thoughts creep up on me.

The other day this guilt or whatever the unease I felt, raised its periscope and struck me again,  causing a slight breathlessness.   Over the next few days it sat forward waiting patiently to be addressed.  It had been there all along at the back of my mind, lurking, and then it was in plain sight for a fleeting moment.  One of my friends gave it a name, but we’d had quite a bit of wine that evening and I forgot to write it down and it was lost again.  I have not been able to recall it and so am unable to assess its accuracy.

I’d kept away from this dating blog long enough.   What I’m looking for might actually be within my grasp if I had courage enough to face my own shortcomings.   But then distracted I lose that strain of thought and the old cowardice returns. And whatever had surfaced a week ago returned into the depths, unidentified, unnamed.

Jan asked me from half a world away yesterday – Why do you feel the need to keep dating?  The only too obvious answer is that I’m still looking.  Looking for that answer, that name which eludes me still, that will satisfy this hunger that keeps me seeking out man after man.  And even though I’ve found one who complements me in bed and a few others who meet me on an intellectual level, yet one more with whom I can be silly and banter and watch all manner of films together and talk endlessly about what we’ve read and the world around us; perhaps I would like to meet the one with whom I will not find impossible to live and who will accept the presence of these others.

on being scrumptious

The date last week sent me a message extolling the extent of my scrumptiousness. So apparently those weren’t such innocent caresses on my hand and upper arm. Of course I’m flattered by the attention but so much time has passed and I’m not sure if I want a repeat of last year’s bumpy ride. Yes he is charming and cute and lovely but I’m warier now and even though it’s flattering to find out that he still has the hots for me – where can it lead to?

This morning I bumped into Madelaine and we chatted on the street corner. We had been mums together at the school gates in another life. Her four are also all grown up now – the eldest is 32, youngest 20. She was walking two little black poms and I my large black mutt. Suddenly she started to yell across the street to a passing driver – he had slowed down and paused to look us over – I caught the flirty tone of her voice and realised that she must have clocked him clocking us. I was suddenly full of admiration for this woman of 60 who clearly can still pull.

Haha, no darling, she laughed her full throaty laugh – he wasn’t looking at me. He didn’t stop his car because of this, pointing to her overall get up – windswept wisps of hair escaping from the scrunchy which pulled the rest of her black hair into a ponytail at the top of her head and her dark blue anorak over her short summer dress.

You’re showing quite a bit of leg there – I teased her as it dawned on me that it might be the combination of the two of us as I was in shorts and a vest top.

When we parted I mused on the fact that whilst I may have the looks and brain to attract the opposite sex, I was still nowhere closer to knowing what I wanted from them afterwards.

the entrance to the keep

I usually love the giddy experience of falling in love.  It induces a high and I’m sometimes reckless enough to risk a broken heart.  The other evening I agreed to another dinner and movie date with an ex. Some seven or eight months have passed since our break up and the only form of contact had been when he sent me a birthday text on Facebook messaging.  That had been some six months ago and things had still been a little raw.  With the passage of time I no longer feel embarrassed at the way things fell apart at our last meeting though and was curious about how R was getting on.

We met at the cinema and then went to have a meal at a restaurant next door.  The cuisine was East Asian and the whole experience felt vaguely familiar.   When we were dating last year we’d tended to have a movie and dinner date which involved going to an east Asian restaurant. He was easy company and we surprised ourselves by there not being many  more awkward moments.   In fact he had quite a few entertaining tales and we swapped anecdotes.  We decided to enter a square of green and sat down on a sunny spot.  There were parties of families dotted around the space.  One had even brought their own collapsible chairs and tables and a few were enjoying wine and pizza.  The sun was beginning its descent but the evening was warm and balmy. The sky was still clear and blue without even a hint of a stormcloud even though the forecast had been thunderstorms since the previous day.  On that patch of grass we’d sat cross legged and he made me laugh out loud with a story about the prudish establishment and a feature toilet cubicle at the top of the Shard.

He was very pleasant company and I couldn’t help wondering where this might eventually lead.  I am sufficiently wary not to want my heart broken but it would be so easy to fall in love with him all over again.  I tell myself that it would be extremely foolish to repeat the past but as we teased and flirted with each other over the course of the evening I wondered how the date would end.  We walked back to the cinema and he got us both some red wine.  I’d chosen a cushioned bench and we both semi reclined on it.  The place had been done up so that it was now concrete, glass and steel.  The cushioned seating were shades of grey and stainless steel.  It wasn’t exactly comfy but it was oh so stylish and elegant!  We lounged companionably and I let him take my hand on the pretext of showing him some of the scars the bee stings had left in the recent past.  He stroked the bumpy blemishes and I told myself that he was merely being solicitous and there was nothing suggestive in his manner.  Later in the cinema auditorium itself we settled into our sofa seats.  Throughout I was conscious of his close proximity but the film was riveting.  At one stage he stroked my upper arm deliberately with his fingers but I gave him no encouragement and after a while he stopped.

When we came out of the cinema we found the ground soaked.  It had rained and a thunderstorm was brewing.  He gave me an enormous hug and kissed the side of my cheek goodbye at the entrance to the tube station, he needing to catch a bus home. We made promises to repeat the pleasant experience and I made my way down to the platform.  Later there had been some incredible lightning flashes in the midnight sky as I walked home from the station soaked to the bone.  I wonder if we really would see each other again.  Sometimes those sorts of promises made at parting can easily be forgotten.  The fortress that surrounds my heart still stands but how close had it come to being disturbed?

an 80s musical night at the park

 

Zuiderpark, The Hague to be precise.  Last weekend it had been Hyde Park, London with Grace Jones and Kylie.  Last night it was UB40 followed by Duran Duran.  Simon still has it – the voice and moves, now sexier than ever.  To his right was John Taylor on guitar, equally hot!  I didn’t recognise the smooth sax player but some of the other band members looked familiar even though their spiky locks were now shorter and trendier, in keeping with men of a certain age.  My date had got tickets and a hotel room next to Mauritshuis which housed Rembrandts, Vermeers, Van Dycks, Holbeins, Rubens and many more Dutch and other European masterpieces.  It had been a rocking weekend with high brow culture thrown in before I boarded the Thalys at Rotterdam enroute to the Eurostar back to London.

My European date had been charming and smooth, someone I’d met as Amy.  He had sent me a text message asking if I might be interested in seeing Duran Duran live.  I had thrown caution to the wind and messaged back – sure!  would love to!  Two weeks earlier, when he had put the feelers out as to my availability for another tryst I had hinted that Amy didn’t do much sex anymore; and so I was relieved to discover when we checked into the hotel on Saturday evening that we were in a room with twin beds.  In any event by the time we had got back after the fireworks closed the show as Duran Duran waved their farewells, it had been two a.m. and we collapsed exhausted on our separate beds.  A couple of midlife lightweights.  Outside the rest of the city were still partying away as the distant muffled sounds of a rhythmic beat and whoops could be heard occasionally if you stirred in your sleep.

The following morning I woke early, showered and left him still slumbering.  I took a walk around the neighbourhood and saw that there was a beach volleyball tournament at the bottom of the street.  A few blocks away was the Binnenhof – the Dutch seat of parliament.  It was an impressive and complex enclave with a gothic style building in the centre.  I had thought it to be a cathedral but on googling it later at breakfast discovered that it was in fact a knight’s hall – the Ridderzaal.   Later we saw the recently restored Saul and David now accredited to Rembrandt.  It was a stunning painting, the tension quite palpable between the two figures, Saul, aged, paranoid, a wildness in his stare as he clutched and chewed at a curtain/wall hanging with one hand, the other grasping his spear and eyeing a young David who was demurely, with downcast eyes plucking the strings of a harp.  Mauritshuis itself was a 17th century building, previously the residence of an old, respected noble family, recently renovated with the addition of high tech smooth glass lifts which lent a smartness befitting the national treasures housed within.

When we parted my date said he might checkout the beach volleyball tournament after all.  It had clouded over and as rain threatened to pour from the heavens I supposed that from a male perspective there may be something pleasing about watching teams of women playing a ball game in wet t-shirts.

We had lunched in a restaurant perched over the high street lined with specialist shops, boutiques and department stores.  Cyclists ruled the streets and bike parks abounded.  In fact the cycling theme continued outside the city as cycle trails snaked their way along canal paths and alongside motorways.  Occasionally a couple or young family can be glimpsed from the train window, peddling in the distance.

On the train on my own I decided that it had been a fun weekend but resolved that in future I would like to see the Netherlands in more congenial company.

The evening on Saturday ended with Rio and fireworks

a quiet life

Is this what you call life after sex?

He arched an eyebrow at me.  I wondered that he might have the temerity to jibe.  We’d had rather a lot of sex last night and earlier this morning.  I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he was the only one I was having sex with now that I’d kissed off the others.  I was still self-conscious about my mid-life body, stretched and flabby with quite a bit of wobble in all the wrong places.  But when he removed his glasses and we were in bed together, his appreciation of me very plain and priapically evident I could believe that I was quite hot.

We’d also started text chatting with each other almost all the time now and meeting up practically every Friday evening.  When he suggested another Friday date I asked him if this was a regular thing now and he’d said it could be if I fancied it.  I was hesitant initially – because of course when expectations are raised disappointment inevitably follows.   I discover that the optimistically shameless hussy still lurks as I make an assignation with him midweek after 10pm.   I would not fall in love with him even as I enjoy his body.  He belongs in an open marriage and I belong to myself.

My life as a single woman now revolves around the choices I make about whom I see and date.  The other evening Jan came round and we pored over the map of Iceland, planning routes and booking ferry crossings, guesthouses, etc..  We’d gone to bed tired –  I’d fallen asleep in his arms, which was lovely but not sexy, for some reason.    We’d woken up in the morning together and then fallen into discussing Jung and dreams and being content in ourselves rather than looking for someone on whom to hang our happiness.  He echoed my sentiment that sex was not everything in a relationship.  Which caused me to wonder if he considered that we were in a relationship …  He must suspect that I see other men, although he is smoothly diplomatic and never intrusive about how I spend my time, even when I quiz him about his dates, both virtual and in the real world.   When he bemoaned the fact that we’d spent another sexless night together I rather indignantly replied that he’d not made any overtures or intimated that he might be inclined towards a romp.   We had already showered and got dressed by then and were kissing our goodbyes.  Not quite virginal kisses but very warmly and the dog had got a tad jealous again.  I went back upstairs to strip the bed and wash the bedlinen despite our chaste night together.  At the end of the week Goran was coming round for his regular date.   He had already sent me a morning text and it has become something I look forward to now.

Is your life imitating art?

Goran asked me that one evening when we were chatting on the phone.  He’d texted me earlier, rather cheekily asking if I might be interested in a booty call.  Alas, he lives an hour away from me.  Even so, earlier in the week when Lars had made a similar request I hadn’t been all that keen to accommodate him.  That evening I’d arranged to have dinner with Jan in town when we were also making more plans over our impending road trip around Iceland later in the summer.  He had had to go home after our date and so I could have gone back with him or even over to Lars’ but I decided to go back home alone.

So it wasn’t as though I was short of opportunities for more licentious encounters; I was simply not interested.  I postponed my date with the new Mr Shy in favour of an impromptu date with an old classmate passing through town.  We met for a drink and it was great catching up with her.  I met another new man but whilst he was interesting to chat to I didn’t feel very keen to continue dating him.  Liam and I had gone to see a play together recently and I feel similarly apathetic about him.

I have come to the conclusion that there is very little sex in Amy’s life at the moment and she doesn’t seem too unhappy for that.   When Goran asked me what I was working on now that the dating novella has been written, I quipped that the current project is called Life after Sex.  It is a new phase and whilst I now tend to believe that sexual infidelity has been given too much weight, my own instincts is still playing catch up.  I ask him about his previous sexual partners and want to know whether he is sleeping with anyone else.   He’s the man of the moment because he is not looking for a commitment from me and seems committed to courting only me as his previous dating attempts had not ended too happily.  Is it possible to date one or two men who themselves don’t care to sleep with anyone other than me and yet be sufficiently open-minded about the fact that I might have sex with anyone who might take my fancy … would I feel similarly about their promiscuity should it occur?

Hottest day of the year

I’d thought he didn’t want to meet again but the following morning I received a reply from Max with several more ideas.  We may meet up on Monday evening after all for a literary reading and then dinner later.

Last night Jan and I met at the Vimtry, a pub off Cannon Street – it was where I had first met him in public and his mate Gerard was there again.  His girlfriend Magda came later on and we spent most of the evening discussing Jung.  Jan is very much taken with the idea that the first three years of a child’s life defined them as an adult.  Of course none of us has any genuine recollection of those early years.  Later we also discussed the plots of Game of Thrones and how much we were anticipating the coming episodes.

The topic of conversation shifted again when Gerard remarked on the fact that Magda only had male friends.

And you don’t approve of any of them – she said.

We all turned to look at Gerard.  Why is that?  I asked.

He thinks that they’re creepy – Magda answered for him.

It’s because I think they only want to sleep with you.

I don’t want to sleep with them and I don’t think you’re right anyway.  Men can be friends with women without wanting to sleep with them.  Why does everyone think the opposite?

Because it happens to be true.  The three of us were in agreement about this but we decided not to let the debate spoil the atmosphere.  Later the young lovers went outside for a smoke and Jan leaned across the table to kiss me.  He took me to his favourite Indian restaurant nearby and although he said he needed to go back home when the meal was over, he ended up taking the tube back with me.

I had disgraced myself that evening by drinking too much and falling asleep when Jan was supposed to get off at his stop.  At Hampstead station I woke up and was so confused that I persuaded him to get off there before realising that it was the next stop I wanted.  When we eventually got home I threw up magnificently into the downstairs loo.  I decided to have a quick shower hoping that it might make me feel better but the next morning I was sick again.  Jan was quite sympathetic but he had to leave to go to work.  He kissed me on my lips and forehead and wished me better.

I went to the shops after walking the dog and got some tinned soup to have for lunch.  The sun was heating up the day and people all around me were happy that it was going to be the hottest day of the year so far.  I got a free cup of tea at the supermarket and after putting the shopping away went down to the allotment to do some bee keeping.

Goran and I messaged each other when I had finished.  He was coming over tomorrow evening to make spaghetti carbonara for us.  I told him that I was swearing off alcohol for a bit and he thought that my Asian genes did not contain the necessary ethanol tolerance which most Celts have in abundance.  Which probably explains why Jan was none the worse for wear despite his having drunk a lot more than I had.

I still hadn’t replied to Tristan and wonder if he would assume I was no longer interested.  I had told Andy by text that Amy had quit her naughty ways.  When he asked why I’d told him that I’d had enough of meaningless sex.  That was only a half truth, the real reason was that I was now in a position to be choosy about who I wanted to see, date and sleep with, and he was not among my chosen few.

Life after sex

I was having a busy week saying no to new people and goodbye to some old dates.  Normally Max and I would exchange notes but since our break-up some time back there had been no texting or emailing never mind late night chats.  After a week I felt slightly better getting back in touch with him and we resumed some email back and forth:

Dear Max

It’s only been a week since we agreed to quit sleeping with each other but feels like more.  Stella’s had awkward sex twice in the interim and just as we predicted, her dates with Marc did not end well.  I miss our chats and wonder how your dating is going.

Amy x

Hi Amy

I’ve been intending to email you hello. Stella really is struggling and I don’t think she’s even exaggerating much, though she is worrying an awful lot and ruining it by her anxiety and did go to bed with someone she doesn’t seem to share a great deal in common with. No dating from me, though I can’t keep away from trying. 

Incidentally I found out this week that at work we have a piece of equipment for feeling what the prostate is like.  I’ve not tried or seen it.

Not sure where we go from here but it’s good to be in touch. How is your dating?

M x

Hi Max

Sorry to hear you’re not doing any dating although it’s good that you’re still trying.  I have been saying goodbye to a few more people – Henry, Bill, and Jules – my dating experiment now over, book – novella length practically finished.  I’m closer to finding out what it is I want from my dates I think.  

Where we go from here – staying friends has always been something I’ve felt we could do.  Is this something you’d like?  what would you like?

Amy x

Hi Amy

That’s a lot of goodbyes. Congratulations on nearly finishing the book and dating experiment. What do you reckon you want from dates, what’s your tentative conclusion…?

Lets meet up and  see what happens, where it leads us…I never know what happens after sex….

Nothing much happening here, getting my bike fixed, getting ready for a presentation at an important event and enjoying results of a cooking spree on Sunday 🙂

M x

Hi Max

Good luck with the event and presentation – what is it?

Book is really finished now! I’m quite pleased with it – around 45,500 words!  You feature quite a bit in it … although I don’t think anyone can make the connection.  Had to come home early to catch a swarm.  Fingers crossed they’ve all gone in the box.  Putting the finishing touches to book meant I missed dusk when I meant to go down to check on them.  It’ll have to be tomorrow.

My conclusion is that sex is easy, love is trickier and I am obsessed with endings.  Ellie made a date with someone last Saturday, met them on Sunday evening and now regrets agreeing to a second date.  Aargh!

Yes let’s meet up – what should we do – forage? walk dog? tea and cake? shim sham? film? a board game? 

I’m going on holiday from mid Aug to middish Sep and also having another reunion at the end of August with some of my old schoolmates, this time we’re spending a long weekend on an island resort!

Amy x

There was a silence after that – he was busy with his presentation and event? he didn’t want to be too spontaneous with the emailing? perhaps there isn’t the incentive to email someone you know you’re not going to have sex with anymore.  I suspect the last reason is the more accurate take.

This is as good as it gets

After about a couple of months when we were both busy with other distractions, I contacted Liam again, inviting him to a film and we picked up where we left off – hanging out at a cinema, theatre or restaurant.  We’d had about three platonic dates, although there had been some hand-holding and a deeper kiss at the end of the last but one.  My tendency to imagine a romantic happily-everafter however, was finally laid to rest after last night when we talked about our dating expectations.

We met outside Camden tube station and went shopping for our tea – something simple such as chestnut mushrooms and French beans with rice vermicelli noodles.  Due to his migraine medication we eschewed alcohol in favour of tea and water.  I had green and he black.   We talked about films, books, work, colleagues, friends, my dating adventures, everything else it seems but why I was back at his flat again.   Eventually though I ventured the question and gradually, with a little more probing until finally I established to my satisfaction the basis for our re-connection.   I was good company, open, liberal and sexy.

On the other hand, Liam does not want and cannot foresee our continued dating having the sort of conventional future that dating normally results in.  Perfect, and I don’t mean that ironically – it is exactly what I’ve come to expect now.  What the last year of dating has confirmed for me was precisely this – I am only good enough and no more.   It made seeing him less complicated, as I wouldn’t have to indulge in fruitless searches for hidden motives or feelings since there won’t be any.  We confirmed our next date at a theatre in a fortnight’s time and he walked me back as far as the tube station later that evening.  We kissed our goodbyes and I headed north feeling unexpectedly happier and with a lighter step.  I’ve always liked knowing where things stand at the outset.  It made the whole dating thing less unpredictable and friendships can be forged without misunderstanding.