The Dating Maze.

I’m utterly and completely lost.

If the dating scene were a maze, you know the ones you visit when you’re little and they seem huge, never ending and infuriatingly repetitive, then I am on the outer wall of that maze. I am against the back hedge, I’ve lost my map, it’s started to rain and I don’t even know the way to the exit let alone the middle bit where you’re greeted by a disappointing statue.

If that statue is love, I have no chance of finding it. How does anyone find love?! I look around at all of my friends, intoxicated by the exact movements and actions of how they fell in love. Hoping desperately that one day I might be able to follow in their footsteps. But for some reason, unbeknown to myself, I am hopeless at dating.

The root of the problem, I believe, is my relationship with romantic comedies and 19th century literature. I’ve spoken briefly about this before, but I grew up believing that life was a Richard Curtis film. That I would be just like Julia Roberts, someone would spill orange juice on my top and that would be it, I’d be ‘in love’. Or perhaps I would be a little more like Elizabeth Bennet, and a Darcy type would say the words “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Whilst wearing very tight trousers.

Instead I am greeted by empty promises, lacklustre romantic gestures and blue ticks with no sign of a reply. My expectations, I am aware, are high. But all I’m really looking for is gumption. Grab the bull by the horns. Like Gemma Collins, I am fed up of all ‘these games.’ I don’t want to wait an hour to reply because that’s how long he took. I simply want to wear my heart on my sleeve or maybe my head and tell you if I like you. I hate playing it cool, I’m not cool. They’re going to find out eventually, so it might as well be straight away. I’m of the mindset, if you don’t like it lump it.

This is detrimental to my progress in the maze. You can’t beat them if you don’t join them, so here I am stranded on the outside of the dating maze with no clue of how to get to the middle. Or if I even want to.

I recently met a guy. Well we didn’t really meet as such, we were thrown together in an exercise class. I found him very sexy, called him ‘Fit Jim from the gym’ to the girls. We flirted a little, whenever we had a minute between crunches or burpees. I stalked him on social media in a bid to discover if he had a girlfriend or not, we decided not. So I built up the courage to ask him to go for a drink. Why not? It’s the 21st century for fuck sake, and if he finds that intimidating or emasculating, then he’s got no chance. He agreed, we texted a little, but when it got down to logistics, nothing. ghost town. Blue ticks and no sign of a reply.

So what do I do? The map doesn’t have instructions for this? The general rule is don’t double text, don’t take it personally, he’s forgotten, he’s too busy, he’ll get back to you if he wants to go on the date. That just wouldn’t happen in a Richard Curtis film. I wouldn’t have to sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting desperately like a damsel in fucking distress. The funny thing is, I don’t even want a relationship. I just want to go on a date with a member of the opposite sex, laugh, have a few drinks, feel sexy and desired and then go home to my vibrator.

I don’t necessarily want a man. So I’m not really irked because I’m missing out on him. I’m irked because it should be easier. I’m irked because rejection doesn’t feel nice. I’m irked because I hate thoughts like ‘what’s wrong with me’, ‘why doesn’t he fancy me’ crawling into my head. Of course, there are multiple reasons why he might not fancy a date with me, reasons that I may never know. When I’m at my best, I’m able to rationalise this, live by que sera sera and note that I’m not actually that bothered. But, there is a small part of me that is amplified when things like this happen. The voice that says I’m not good enough, that I’ll never fall in love again, that all the horrible things that my exes ever said to me, are true.

I’m also afraid that I don’t really know what I want. Shackled by my imagination and my ever-growing list of qualities that I want in a partner. I’m not ready, I tell myself, I don’t want a relationship. So why am I trying to date? I just can’t deny that I want to feel wanted. I can’t deny that I want to join in on the conversation…

‘We had sex in the shower for the first time last week, loved it.’

‘We went to the nicest restaurant for dinner – 2 for 1!’

Well, I can’t eat two whole main meals (I definitely could) nor can I have sex in the shower by myself (I technically can.) You know what I mean. I don’t want a relationship but I want everything that comes with it. The excitement, the colour, the butterflies, the drama, the 2 for 1 and the sex.

Because of my complex and confused answer to the question ‘What’s your type?’ I’m left with the next ‘dead end’ in the maze. Once I get the date, once I actually start ‘seeing’ someone regularly, I’m flooded by my own thoughts. An over crowding of doubt, speculation and constant over thinking. I read in to everything. What does that text mean? Why didn’t he compliment my dress? Will my Grandma like him? Do my friends like him? Is this all going too fast? Is this going to slow? And by this stage I’m screaming ‘I’M A NIGHTMARE GET ME OUT OF HERE?!’ Praying that the maze walls fall down and I can run home, to my bed, alone.

It’s a real minefield.

There’s a boy in my life that I think likes me. Well I know he does because he tells everyone else apart from me. Is that part of the game? Have we lost the ability to stand face to face and confess love; like Romeo did after one evening of knowing Juliet? I’m not psychic for God’s sake. I’m also scared of a sudden explosion of adoration. I ended up in bed with him at the weekend and was so scared of having sex with him, due to the panic that this may excel me through the maze, I gave him a defensive blow job. What even is that? If that isn’t a sign of appeasement, a part of the female sexual experience that needs to disappear, then I don’t know what is. The worst thing about it is that he is the nicest, sweetest, kindest person who never would have expected me to sleep with him anyway. It was my default. Sex as an instrument to manoeuvre this complicated maze. I declare it here and now, I am my own worst enemy.

If I’m honest, I know what I want. I want it to be easy. I want to fall head over heels. I want them to fall head over heels. I want to be wrapped up in the security that we both ‘just know’. I desperately want to be Julia Roberts or Elizabeth Bennet. I completely understand that I have to come back to reality. I have to play the modern dating game. Sadly, one of my resolutions this years is not to settle for anything less than I deserve. This may be to my detriment in escaping the maze. But at least whilst I’m in there, I’ll be actively waiting for someone that feels the same as me. Someone that texts back, someone that asks to see me as often as possible because they just can’t get enough of me, someone that thinks I’m hot property, someone that wants to pretend that they’re in a novel with me.

We can all pretend that we love being single. Sometimes we don’t even have to pretend. Our world works in a way that puts a relationship as an end goal. Even when you’re not looking, it may be looking for you.

Until then, I’ll stay at the outer edges of that maze. Not searching for the exit. Not even searching for the shit statue. Just wandering. Trying desperately to avoid the game play. I suppose a maze wouldn’t be a maze if it didnt make you feel lost. The dating scene is the hardest maze I’ve ever entered. I think it could be years until I make it to that statue. And when I do, you get transported to the ‘relationship maze.’

Now that is a whole other ball game.

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