A Year Øf Flings
I recently asked my parents what would be their criteria for my husband-to-be, if they were to set me up for an arranged wedding. I still wonder what I was hoping to get out of this; maybe to figure out my value in camels or gold jewelry?
“Someone nice, with a good situation”, said mum.
Dad chipped in, “A patient man… with a backbone.”
“That’s it? You guys aren’t demanding.”
My mother laughed, “Oh we don’t care, we aren’t gonna live with him.”
Oh-kay, I guess I’m on my own on that one.
Good thing, I’ve been taking the matter into my own hands! I recently downloaded my Hinge statistics. Close to 1500 matches. If that doesn’t scream popularity? Could also yell ‘desperate men on the loose’, but I’m rolling with my first hypothesis — especially considering Toronto’s population is 52% female. Drawback is, with so many matches, I sound less credible when I blame my single status on others’ shortcomings…
Fall 2020 sounded like the perfect season to fall in love. Red leaves scattered on the floor. Weather unusually warm for the season. All of us unaware that the end-of-the-year celebrations were about to be canceled. I was ready to mingle before the jingle (bells) but didn’t know where to start my quest for Prince C.
A friend suggested searching for potential bachelors through dating apps. She recommended Hinge, but with a warning: “it’s a number’s game, hun’, don’t think you’re gonna find Prince Charming upon the first match. A few toads more likely… As long as you don’t catch crabs, you’re good.”
Thus, on September 28th, 2020, “Elle” was born. The pseudo I chose, literally meant “She” in French. A beautiful 27* years old baby with dolled-up pictures advertising my blue eyes and big boobs. *Not what my ID says, but, a fair average considering that, more often than not, I act like I’m 18.
My first season on Hinge didn’t really count. It was just a warm-up. Play-offs kinda, but ball-less. I met guys outside, often in parks. I learned about the appropriate attitude to adopt with bears depending on their color (brown: make noise, black: lay on tummy, white: someone’s already reading your eulogy), I got terrific insights about the IT departments (a pity my internal processor froze) and joked around while guzzling giant pizza slices. It was all fun and games, except that these outings didn’t feel like actual dates. One of them even departed, throwing me “peace!” with the accompanying two-fingers sign. So, no hug, bro?
Then winter came, and like the cicada who sang all fall, I hadn’t prepared. It felt very wet outside, yet very dry inside my vagina. Months of lockdown meant virtually zero dating opportunities, apart from virtual dates. I tried one; it felt like an interview for an unpaid internship. I was so bored, I fell asleep right after I hung up the Zoom call. Good thing, I was already in PJ and bed. Nonetheless, I found someone interesting shortly after with whom I developed a distance relationship. It lasted a while, but if you read my article “F. YOU, COVID!!”, you already know how it went.
NB: If you haven’t read it yet, right after finishing reading this article is a good time to catch up.
Fortunately, Spring 2021 came soon enough, along with restrictions easing up. After half a dozen in-person dates, ranking from dull to borderline weirdos, I was about to win the medal for the pickiest bachelorette in Town-ronto. That’s when I met this Argentinean guy. Fairly cute, kinda obnoxious, not particularly bright, and who showed up 45 minutes late to our first date. The conversation with the Latin lover import was okay but I was 100% certain there wouldn’t be a recall — at least from my end. However, in a couple of minutes, the colors in the sky changed. The sun sat over the lake. And in an instant, the romance in the air flipped my mood. When his lips approached mine, I let them touch. Long story short, both upper and lower lips were touched that evening. I immediately committed to this relationship. Three weeks after, he still hadn’t. I called it off when I caught him flirting with other girls on the app… Spring, the season in which the birds and the bees happily forage from flowers to flowers.
Summer is usually the best season to go out. Yet, I spent a fair amount of my summer 2020 indoors! After a few frosty weeks — and an apology for his ‘shitty behavior’ –, my spring romance’s bud surprisingly blossomed. As June came, the South American lover did too. I was so in love I disregarded the comment from my friends telling me to prepare for a hard landing. “At 22, the guy isn’t looking for anything serious.” Boy, they were so wrong about my boy… during the whole length of summer!
Unfortunately, the relationship ended up sourly as I caught another sultry text exchange between my Summer boy and a slutty ‘hooker’. Technically, a primary school teacher (at least according to LinkedIn), but, I didn’t know that — or cared — when her ‘hey sexy, when are we grabbing a beer?’ popped up on my boyfriend’s phone.
I always hated people making scenes in public. In my opinion, private affairs should be discussed in the privacy of one’s home. Too bad I exploded and exposed the drama of our mini telenovela on a Saturday afternoon, in the busy line to enter Toronto’s most popular public swimming pool. Less than a week before my birthday. Talk about a surprise!
I dealt with this betrayal thanks to a hardcore week’s detox, water fasting for 8 days in a row. Yup, 192 hours, 0 food!
The objective: getting all that rage out of my system.
The result: hyper-crankiness due to lack of nutrients paired with hug withdrawals.
=> Nonetheless, after 3 weeks of brainwashing myself with positive affirmations, I was able to hold normal conversations again, without barking at people or crying mid-sentence. Hence, I then made my return to the dating app.
The new match was a guy native from Bangladesh; a Bengali guy for my Indian summer. Let me spoil you right from the start, just like he did: it didn’t last. At first, the guy seemed to have his shit together: a workout routine, cooking skills, a clean house, and a decent job in sales. More than I’d hoped for at this point. His most praised quality: communication. Too bad, that translated into him confessing, just before we slipped in bed, that his ex-girlfriend was coming three weeks down the line for a month’s long visit. A whole *FUCK**G* month…full of *fuck**g*…between them two. And nowhere with me! Not that I would have preferred being included in a threesome, but you get the point. Bad timing. I should have left him before any sexual intimacy got involved. Actually, I did… but only to return two days later. After 24 hours together, emotional intimacy had already birthed and I didn’t want to miss out on the physical bond. Regardless, the return of his ex signed the end of my Bengali Summer. No more BS.
Autumn brought me relief, as I returned to France to visit family and friends. Over there, I met up with an old friend who was incidentally in the neighborhood. Years of flirtatious text exchanges and a hotel with a spa quickly upscaled our relationship; just like grapes turn into good wine over this same season. This short autumn recorded fairly high temperatures in Southern France… and trust my words when I say that not only did the temperatures rise high and quick.
To my surprise, banging a good friend didn’t feel uncomfortable or odd. In all fairness, the jacuzzi’s strategically placed jets made me eager to fast-forward the stages of kissing and genitalia discovery. Therefore, we were having full-blown sex before I had fully integrated what was happening. It was a different type of connection, but in the end, my bo’ nouveau and I experienced nothing else but our usual fun to be together. Only more intertwined.
If I had left Canada under warmish temperatures, it’s to a raging winter that I returned to. The weather had shifted even quicker than men in my life. I was desperate to warm both my heart and feet in bed with some quality company. Luckily, Hinge’s intricate matching algorithms, brought onto my path a Winter Hot Pick (P, not D). A sweetheart. Kind. Considerate. Gentle. Honest. Best of all: single without an expiry date.
BBC had announced a harsh winter 2021–22 for everyone, but my winter led me to announce to everyone my BBC hookup. I wish I had made a typo here and gone for BBG; G to reflect the gentlemen he is. Unfortunately, that’s not the category people browse for. Our first encounter, a painting workshop, turned into a 13-hour date, with post-workshop coffee, dinner, and dance club. To say we hit it off, was an understatement and under his charm, I totally was. A hot guy in the medical field, with perfect hygiene and good manners… Merry early Xmas -rated- present for me!
On our second date, we were already ordering a Hello Fresh Box to eat together for the week to come. My gorgeous ebony man and I were lying on the couch, selecting meal n#3 on his phone when a notification popping up made me feel like deja vu. It was seemingly from a guy but I returned the phone to my date, eyes looking away. We were in the early stages and hadn’t discussed the topic of exclusivity.
“Why’d you stop?” he asked, “I’ve got nothing to hide. Please carry on.” As the phone had turned black, he added, “Code is 2021.” My jaw dropped, and not at the shocking simplicity of the password. The excessive trust and absolute commitment unsettled me. The previous guys were so secretive. I, too, had a secret virtual garden in my phone. But apparently, not him. In total reflex mode, his openness made me open my legs, and I took him to the bedroom. My body was functioning but my soul was under an emotional thunderstorm. I held a total poker face during sex. Post coit, however, he noticed something was off.
If ejaculating hadn’t completed the job of getting him soft, my spontaneous crying surely did. It ruined the moment as much as my make-up. I felt awful for him to have to comfort me because of someone else’s actions. Summer solstice had happened a while ago, but I still hadn’t recovered from it. Him. Them.
Talking through the tears was the last thing I wanted to do, nude, next to one of the most adorable men I’ve ever encountered. Also nude. But I owed him an explanation, ‘’I’m sorry, you’re so different from the guys I dated recently. They had others…’’. The river running on my face prevented me to carry on an explanation that I hadn’t figured out anyway. He immediately got it. Burying my head in his bare mocha chest, he softly said, ‘’it’s okay, cry all you need… But I hope you’re aware good guys still exist. I’m not an asshole.’’
I can’t recall what I answered then, but I’m fairly positive I abstained from blurting out a premature ‘I love you’. I remember feeling soothed and was already looking forward to spending more than one season in his company.
Don’t hold your breath though, you know what’s coming… Nine days and a half later, Monday 6:00 AM, I bombarded him with a list of activities I was hoping he’d want to tag along. ‘Morning my favorite hot choco, let’s check out a Raptor’s NBA game this week!! D’you also wanna catch the latest Ridley Scott movie at the Cineplex, treating ourselves to the VIP experience?’…’And, how about we drive to Niagara to check out their Christmas decorations and go-kart?’.
I was so eager for us to have fun together, I didn’t realize my entertainment options appeared to BBC as extra duties to fit in his already busy agenda.
Even his breakup text was flawless, ‘I’m sorry Aurelie, this isn’t gonna work. I don’t have the energy to follow you in your adventures. You deserve someone who will be thrilled to do all these things with you. This can’t be me, but I hope you find him soon.’
I immediately switched to my besties’ group chat for a debrief and support. I was — more or less — holding it together until one of them wrote, ‘Must be hard for you to be rejected all the time.’ Bam bam bam…I guess we’re starting with Niagara falls then! I just hope my eyes will depuff in time for my first meeting of the day.
Twelve excruciating days later, I was looking as soggy and pitiful as my tub’s rug. So, I texted him. In my case, ‘once gone black, never gone back’? turned to, ‘once gone black, forever stuck in the past’. BBC kindly declined my offer to have another go. He was even too nice to pick up on my booty call. Damn.
It seemed unforeseeable to let go and restart all the process again with someone new; waiting for the bomb to blow, after the first few dates/months. And yet, I did. I threw myself into the app with the frenzy of a black Thursday’s shopper. I went on as many dates as days of the week, even doubling up over Christmas’ and New Year’s eve. If Prince C. was hiding somewhere in downtown Toronto, I was determined to find him.
I ended 2021 torn between two guys I liked. Both of them I went on second dates with. Neither I kissed. Both I interacted daily. Neither I could find much flaws with…nor fall for. My soul was longing for nothing else than to give love and be loved. Yet, I was trembling at the thought of being dumped again.
With each new romantic encounter, I bulldozered preconceived ideas and limiting principles. I bless the men in my past for that, regardless of the duration of our time together. However, forever chasing some guy — or two — to give me enough affection to heal from the previous one felt draining. Plus, as these ‘relationships’ were getting shorter and shorter, raiding Hinge furthermore didn’t seem a viable solution for the year to come.
Luckily, January 2022’s lockdown put the serial dater I had become to a halt. It gave me the opportunity to cut the — middle — men, and start giving direct love to myself. Alone in my flat, barely communicating with the outside world for three weeks, I rekindled with some beloved activities like painting or writing. I also got into a mild depression. At once, the past three breakups came haunting me (and they weren’t the only ones. More about that in ‘Possibly Covid. More likely possessed’).
I shut off the painful feelings through sugar overdose. I gained weight. Stopped going out for fresh air. Zombied in front of the TV. Avoided friend’s calls. Lowered my hygiene standards. And I blamed it all on Mercury retrograde… until I had enough. One day, I felt the urge to get better.
I took the first step and quit sugar. The rest followed intuitively. I listened to uplifting meditations and forced myself to a 20-minute yoga routine every morning before work. Went through several self-help audiobooks. Attended a couple of Overeaters Anonymous meetings. Met up with friends again. Added a 30-minute workout class in the evenings. Meditated more. Enjoyed lengthy baths. Joined Duolingo. Ate healthier. Dressed up. Took note of my progress and pride in my actions. Completed more crafts. Breathed. Prayed. Laughed. Expressed gratitude. Cried.
Through different avenues and techniques, I started to heal my wounds. And it felt goooood.
I don’t know what this year holds for me. What I do know is, whether in a relationship or single, chances are high I’ll spend 2022 basking in love… And I wish you the same.
♥♥♥ Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! ♥♥♥
Many thanks to the Annette Street Writer’s Group!