October 14, 2017

The newly-single friend (Part 6)

By now you're probably all familiar with the ongoing drama with Lucy's newly-single friend Amir.

If you're not, you can read from the beginning here (you might need a cuppa and a comfy chair for that though).  If you'd prefer a quick recap, the most recent post is here.

In a nutshell, after weeks of crazy flirting, Amir finally asked Lucy out on a date.  But then, a few days before the thrilling day in question, he cancelled the date with barely an apology and vanished. 

Since then, Lucy has been finding tenuous excuses to contact him, in the hope that if she reminds him of her existence, he might actually get round to asking if they can reschedule the aborted rendezvous.

Most recently, she rang him with a (semi) genuine work-related question.  He didn't answer his phone, so she left a message which she hopes sounded nonchalant and not at all needy and desperate. 

But three days later, he hasn't called back, and Lucy has been forced to solve the work problem by herself.  

Amir, of course, has no idea she's done that. For all he knows, she could be desperately struggling without the answer.  Some fucking friend he's turning out to be. 

So since she still has a legitimate excuse, she gives him a gentle nudge.

And again he vanishes.

Diary of a ghosting 

Lucy is driving herself insane with wondering.  What the fuck happened?  A few weeks ago he was full of smiles and compliments, texting all the time, flirting furiously.  They had a date in the diary. It was all finally going right.

And then he cancelled the date, with barely an apology, and since then has been remote at best, and basically a dating app fuckboy at worst.

She doesn't understand.  Did she do something wrong?  What the fuck happened?!

Lucy has a sneaking suspicion she knows exactly what's happened.  Her spidey senses can feel it, and she's learning that her spidey senses are right more often than not.

It seems that all of it, ALL OF IT, all the flirting and the heart-eyed emojis and the 'I have a thing for your hair's and 'You're awesome's and the 'You're stunning's... all of it, meant nothing.  He was just using her.  Getting reassurance and a boost for his fragile ego, which has been bruised by the ending of his relationship.  He was never really interested in her, which is why he was so flaky about asking her out on a date. It wasn't because he was shy, or afraid of ruining the friendship, or uncertain of her feelings.  He was just never really that interested.  He simply wanted to be reassured that he isn't going to be single forever, that he still 'has it'.

In other words, he was fucking using her.

And now that he's discovered Bumble, he no longer needs her.  He's off swiping and flirting with other girls, girls who are more interesting because they are mysterious and new and he hasn't seen them cry, or with 3-day hair, or bedraggled from getting caught in the rain, or any of the other things he's seen Lucy do over the course of their friendship.

This realisation makes her deeply disappointed.  For a few weeks she has allowed herself to get her hopes up that this could be something real.  The possibility of - whisper it - an actual relationship with a great guy.  And not just any guy - one who knows her, who knows her crazy, who's seen her at her worst, and still thinks she's great.  After many years of swiping, and dating, finally she thought she might be able to put it all behind her.

But it was all an illusion.  And the injustice of it all is driving her crazy.  If he were just another stranger off a dating app, it'd be easy enough to let it go.  But he's not a stranger.  He's her friend. And for him to start ghosting her is completely unacceptable.

She needs to speak to him.

But she mustn't, she can't.  Must. Resist.

Her resolve lasts a couple of days, but eventually, after a few drinks on a Friday night, her twitchy texting finger gets the better of her.

Literally the second she's hit send, she regrets it. But it's too late now. It's out there.

Not that it really matters, since yet again Amir doesn't reply.

After two more days of silence, Lucy texts her friend Lily for a rant.  She replies in the concise and practical way only Lily can.

The longest week

On Monday, he still doesn't reply.  Lucy is starting to seethe with indignation.

Over the course of the day she checks WhatsApp a few times. He's been online regularly, so he's definitely not dead.

Maybe he's just busy. But it's been over a week.  No one is that busy!

On Tuesday, he doesn't reply.

Lucy's sadness has turned to full-blown anger.  She's aware that she should just let it go. But she can't.  She is SO ANGRY.  He promised he wouldn't ghost her.  She's not some random girl on a dating app. She's LUCY!  Supposedly his friend. Supposedly the woman he thinks is 'stunning' and 'a beauty' and who 'gets hotter every time he sees her'.  So why can't have the FUCKING DECENCY TO FUCKING REPLY?!

She needs to know if the reason he's gone silent is because he's met someone else. So she comes up with a cunning plan.  She decides to call Rick, Amir's best friend and godfather to his children.  Lucy's known Rick for almost as long as she's known Amir, when they all worked together.  If anyone can shed any light on this, it's him.

So in an effort to get her blood pressure back down to normal levels, she invents a totally-made-up work-related question Rick will know the answer to, and calls him.   He solves the fictitious problem immediately.

"Thanks!" Lucy says.  "You know we should totally get together for a drink soon. It's been ages!"
Rick agrees that it has, and they should.
"We should get Amir to come too," Rick adds.
"Ok," agrees Lucy, though she's not sure how she feels about this now.  "Only I think he might be busy," she adds. "I sent him a message the other day, and he hasn't replied.
Rick unhelpfully agrees that Amir might indeed be busy, but says he hasn't spoken to him in a while, so doesn't really know what's going on.
"But I think he might still be having issues with Julie," he adds.

Could this be it?  He's withdrawn because of ongoing issues with his ex-partner?

"But last time I saw him he seemed ok," Lucy tells Rick. "He was asking for advice about online dating.  How's that working out for him?"
"I think he might have been on a few dates.  I think there was one girl he saw a few times.  I don't really know."

You don't really know?!  What kind of best fucking friend are you anyway, Rick?!

Men are useless. Why does anyone even bother?

Rick's wife is due to have her first child in a matter of weeks.  He tells Lucy it'd be nice to meet up for a drink before the baby comes, so they agree to go out next week.  He offers to call Amir and invite him too.

Lucy's not too sure about this.  Does she even want to see Amir after this?  Unlikely.  Not that the drink is likely to happen anyway - these boys are just too fucking flaky.  And even if Rick manages to show up, will he bring Amir?  Seems doubtful.

On Wednesday Amir still hasn't fucking replied to the messages.  By now, like one of the stages of grief, Lucy's anger has subsided to resignation and acceptance.  But she's still hurt and mystified.  Why would he lead her on like that, only to drop her so resoundingly?

It bugs her all day.  It bugs her so much that she realises that it will continue to bug her unless she does something about it.  So she calls him.

She knows she's not supposed to. She knows it's breaking all the rules. But the game is already lost, that's clear. So it doesn't matter any more.  She's no longer playing to win, she just wants answers.

The call goes to voicemail.  She leaves a message, trying to keep her voice as light as possible.

"Maaaate! S'Lucy! Just calling to check up on you, cos, y'know, you seem to have vanished! Which is a bit weird, cos you're normally pretty good at replying!  So I'm thinking either you're dead, or I've done something to upset you... in which case I'm sorry! Either way, call me and let me know! Ok bye!"

Afterwards, she feels better.  But it's a temporary fix.  She knows if he doesn't respond soon, the whole cycle of fury will begin again... only ten times worse.

On Thursday he doesn't reply, but instead he casually likes one of her photos on Instagram.  Lucy nearly bursts a blood vessel.

By Saturday the anxiety and stress has returned.   She goes to a spinning class and feels like she might have a heart attack. With nothing to distract her mind, only pedalling, her over-active brain starts going into overdrive trying to figure out what to do. Should she call Rick and ask him to investigate? Should she call Amir and leave a frank and honest message about how hurt and upset she is?  In her head she starts imagining what such a message would say... and as she does she can feel her blood pressure and heart rate going through the roof.  Her chest feels tight and she starts finding it hard to breathe - and she's pretty sure it's not just because she's in an exercise class.

On Sunday he still hasn't replied.  Lucy wishes she could calm down and let it go, but it's impossible.  She knows that contacting him again would only let him know how much he's affected her - and why should she give the fuckboy that satisfaction?  It will only make him think she's crazy.  Which perhaps she is.

But she can't let it go.  She needs an explanation.  So she takes a deep breath and calls him - and this time there is no playing it cool.  Her pulse is racing and she tries to keep her voice steady.

"So, hey, it's me again.  Listen, you still haven't got back to me, so clearly there is something going on. Maybe you're just too busy, but no one is so busy they can't reply to a simple message in over a week.  Plus you weren't too busy to like one of my pictures on Instagram.   So clearly there is something going on.  And I know things seem to have got a bit weird between us, but I wish you would just talk to me, because we've been friends for a long time, and you promised me you wouldn't ghost me. When I said I'd give you 6 months before you became a dating app fuckboy, you said you wouldn't, but already you're exhibiting typical fuckboy behaviour.   So please, mate, just talk to me, because I'm getting pretty upset about this now.  Ok, bye."

By the time she gets to the end she can feel herself starting to tear up and her voice is beginning to shake.  She hangs up quickly.

About a minute later he texts back.

And that is all.  She doesn't reply.

An hour later, her phone pings again.

Fuck.  So now she looks like the crazy one who has massively overreacted.  But has she? Lucy doesn't think so.  But there's a decent chance she's so blinking barmy she wouldn't even realise.

Sometimes Lucy just wishes she could get the fuck out of her own head.

But at least he's replied.  And now the ball is firmly back in her court, Lucy can stop stressing, and wondering, and getting upset.  Instead of being powerless, now she has the power.  And she's not afraid to use it - by giving him a taste of his own medicine.  Let him see how he likes being ghosted.

The meeting

A few days later, Rick gets back in touch, wanting to know if she's still up for that drink.  Lucy would love to see him, but she definitely doesn't want to go if Amir will be there.
"Will he?"
"No, he's away with work."
"Oh what a shame," Lucy lies.  "Just you and me then!"

Lucy's hoping Rick can shed some light on the whole situation.  She wonders if Amir has said anything to his mate about what's been going on with her,  or whether there is something else going on she doesn't know about.

And as if his sixth sense knows he's going to be the hot topic of conversation, that very afternoon Amir calls her.  Twice.

Swiftly followed by this...

Lucy ignores him.  She wants to speak to Rick first and find out what's going on.  But how can she do this without saying too much and having it all get back to Amir?  She needs to play it cool, do a little bit of gentle digging, and try not to overshare too much.  

Lucy is totally deluded if she thinks that's possible.

In fact she lasts precisely one and a half glasses of wine before the floodgates open and the entire sorry saga comes pouring out.  Rick, bless him, listens patiently as she unloads the entire lot onto him like a tidal wave - even showing him some of the text messages Amir sent her and the Bumble chat. 

He's shocked.  Well, either that, or he's acting shocked because he's a good friend and he knows that's what he's supposed to say.

"That's really not on," Rick says.  "He can be so fucking needy sometimes without realising the effect he might be having.  Looks like he was just using you to boost his fragile ego."
"I KNOW!" says Lucy. 
"You know he really is very needy.  I probably shouldn't tell you this but Julie is getting pretty annoyed with him too - he's not pulling his weight with the childcare and he messages her constantly.  I guess he still needs to get over the fact that it was her that ended it."

It was Julie that ended it?  Lucy did not know this.  She'd been led to believe it was a mutual decision. 
Rick continues: "And I guess he was just enjoying flirting with you but didn't realise it might mean something to you.  And now he doesn't need you any more because he's got a girlfriend."

WTAF?  He's got a girlfriend?  Al-fucking-ready?! The guy has only been on dating apps for, like, a nanosecond, and he's already got a girlfriend?  So Lucy has been looking for a nice man for basically her entire fucking life, and Amir just does, what, two swipes and finds someone?  How is that even remotely fair, in any way, shape or form?!

The wine is making her even more furious.  But calm and patient Rick is handling it well. 

While they're chatting about Amir, he texts again.  It's as if he knows he's being discussed (which to be fair, he probably does).

Again, Lucy doesn't reply. 

At the end of the evening, Lucy gives Rick permission to say whatever he likes to Amir.  She doesn't give a fuck any more, and she's done with playing it cool.  He needs to know, and it might even be easier if he hears it from someone else. 

But what should she do now?  Wait for the message to filter through?  Or reply? And if so, when, and what should she say?

And the messages keep on coming...

To be continued...?

October 11, 2017

The newly-single friend (Part 5)

Lucy has been flirting for weeks with her friend Amir, who recently came out of a long-term relationship.  

(If you missed it, you can read from the beginning here, or catch up on last week here).

The flirting has made Lucy realise she has feelings for Amir.  In fact, quite frankly, she fancies the pants off him.  But in spite of some Grade A flattery and many, many hints at the possibility of a date, so far it's been a case of over-promise, and spectacularly under-deliver.

Until now.  Finally, he's asked her out. And of course she couldn't say yes fast enough. 

But since this is Lucy we're talking about, it wasn't just a case of 'Would you like to go for a drink?" "Why yes, as it happens, I would!"  Noooo, of course, not, that would be far too normal.

In reality the circumstances were more dysfunctional and thoroughly British than a Richard Curtis movie.  Lucy only managed to get Amir to ask her out on an actual date by advising him to join the Bumble dating app, waiting until he matched with her, and then pretending that she didn't know him. 

I kid you not - you seriously can't make this shit up.

So now the date is in the diary, and everything is rosy, and Lucy is in Spain with work.  It's been a few days since she last heard from Amir, so she drops him a cheery text.


He doesn't reply.  This is annoying - but she guesses she can live with it.  Maybe he didn't think she really meant for him to answer her direct question.  Maybe he's just busy.  He'll reply soon, I'm sure, she thinks.  

But after a week of silence the anxiety is starting to surface.  Although Amir is a great guy, he does have a tendency to be a little flaky.  It's understandable - he has a demanding job and an ex-partner and two kids to deal with, so he can't always be available, but she would like some reassurance that he's not going to cancel their date.  And the fact that his messages have completely dried up makes her worried that this could be a possibility.  Surely if he was as excited to see her as she is to see him, he'd have replied by now.

The problem is, he has form - he's flaked on her before, more than once.  But surely this is different.  Before, that was just friends meeting for a drink.  This is a DATE.  Please God, PLEASE don't let him cancel.  

And Lucy's not even fucking religious. 

To prevent the doubt and insecurity driving her up the wall, she decides to message him to double check.

And there it is. She knew it. Just knew it.  Her spidey senses were tingling, and with good reason.  

Lucy is properly, properly gutted.

Too keen?

It's impossible to know.  Half the time Lucy worries that she's not encouraging him enough - that she's stuck to the 'we're just friends' line so well that he'll think she's not interested and give up. The other half of the time she worries she should be playing harder to get.  Men like the chase, don't they?

Maybe she should have made him chase her, because now he doesn't reply.

So he's cancelled the date with no apology - and no suggestion that they reschedule.  This does not bode well.  She knows she should be angry, but she's mostly just upset, and can't stop checking her messages to see if he's replied.  She tries to distract herself with work, going to the gym, and randomly swiping on Bumble, but every time she logs in there she sees his profile at the top of her matches.  It's bloody infuriating.

The next day, Lucy hears some bad news that she knows will have indirectly affected Amir.   Her immediate instinct is to get in touch with him, to see if he's ok, but now she's not sure if she can do that.  She can't double text him, can she? That really would be breaking all the rules.

It may also just be possible that the news isn't all that bad, and it would be fine not to contact him, and Lucy might just be looking for an excuse.  Maybe.

On the other hand, she tells herself, he's a friend.  If he's received bad news, she should offer support.

So like the kind, caring person she is, she selflessly puts dating rules aside and messages him again.

The little heart-eyed emoji gives her a burst of hope, but Lucy's also not a total idiot (most of the time).   She knows these are breadcrumbs: she can feel him slipping away, and her instinct is to reach out and grab him.   To stop him, make him stay. 

So a few days later, when a work question comes up, she contacts him again.  She knows she shouldn't, but things are already starting to spiral a little out of control.  

And anyway, she tells herself, he'll know the answer. It's totes legit to call him.  If I don't, it'll take me ages to solve the problem by myself.  Why would I bother with that, when one quick call to Amir will sort it out in seconds?  He'll never know it was just an excuse to speak to him.

So she picks up the phone.  It goes to voicemail, and she leaves a cheery message asking for his advice on the work thing.

Three days pass and he doesn't call back.

By now Lucy is in full wrath mode.  Why the fuck did he not respond to her voicemail? He could have texted the answer, and he didn't even bloody bother to do that!  

What's happened? Did she do something wrong?  A couple of weeks ago he was full of compliments and flirting, but now, overnight, the heat has been snuffed out of this relationship.  Someone who was as interested as Amir seemed to be would have called back for sure.  And a good friend would have called back to help solve her problem.  He did neither. 

Lucy is starting to think that Amir is not one of the Good Ones after all, but actually a total cunt.

(To be continued...)

October 07, 2017

The newly-single friend (Part 4)

Lucy has been having a promising flirtation with her charming, handsome and funny friend Amir.

To read what happened last time, click here.

Lucy and Amir have been mates for over 5 years, but since he broke up with his partner last Christmas their friendship has become increasingly flirty. Amir regularly tells her she's gorgeous, and hints at the possibility of a date - but in spite of the endless compliments, he so far hasn't quite managed to get to the point of actually asking her out.  Lucy is finding it both exhilarating and also mindfuckingly infuriating. 

Last time they met, Amir asked Lucy for advice on how to create a good profile for the dating app Bumble. This put Lucy in a tricky position.  Obviously she'd rather be grabbed by the pussy by Donald Trump than help Amir hook up with another woman - but technically at the moment they are still just friends. So she had no choice but to agree to help.  

She hopes her advice turns out to be a big pile of useless crap.

Since that last meeting it's been a couple of weeks without any word from Amir.  Then out of the blue he pops up again late one evening - in a pretty spectacular fashion.

Lucy is on a work trip, asleep in a German hotel, and the vibrating of her phone wakes her up.  She reaches over blearily to silence it, and as she does so she sees the message.  For a moment she's not sure if she's awake or dreaming.

Stunning mildly crazy beauty?!  What a message to receive in the middle of the night!  He thinks she's stunning AND a beauty?  As for the mildly crazy, while that might seem rude, it's really just gentle teasing.  Lucy sometimes jokes that all women are a bit bonkers, but she's definitely less bonkers than most, and Amir tells her he likes her brand of crazy because it's cute and funny. So what he's really saying is that he thinks she's gorgeous and amusing.

This is definitely not the sort of message a friend would send. 

Since it's the middle of the night, Lucy goes back to sleep.  Let him wait.  But it appears he's a bit impatient, because early the next day he messages again.

At this point Lucy is in a meeting, so it's definitely not the right time to be getting into what could potentially be a flirtatious conversation.  Anyway, he vanished for over a week, so it might do him some good to have to wait a while.  Plus it'll make Lucy seem important and unavailable, which can only be a Good Thing.

She finally replies at the end of the day with a message that she hopes will make her sound both hardworking and modest.

(In other words, get the fucking hint, Amir!  Ask for a fucking date already!)

The next day, Lucy flies back to London. Barely has her plane touched the runway than she fires up her phone, swiping furiously on Bumble in search of his profile.  To make sure she has every chance of finding it, she even widens her distance settings to show her every guy in the right age range within a 20 mile radius.  She's determined to make damn sure he doesn't slip through the net.

This has the unfortunate side effect of showing her dozens of potential new matches, all of whom she has to reject in the hunt for the one she's looking for.  Lucy swipes left continually all the way through the passport control queue, where the fierce lady supervising the automatic gates looks at her as though she might be a terrorist and makes her put her phone away.  She carries on swiping through baggage reclaim, where for the first time ever Lucy is annoyed when her suitcase comes out first.  She barely acknowledges her taxi driver as he takes her bag and leads her to the car, all the time swiping, swiping, swiping... and just occasionally experiencing a small pang of regret as she bypasses someone who looks like he might be nice.  Sorry love, not now.  Right now she's only interested in one man.

And then suddenly, there he is.

This might have been one of those terrible moments where, with the left-swipe action firmly established, Lucy could have rejected Amir by mistake before she could stop herself.  And maybe, with hindsight, it would have been better if she had done just that. 

But she doesn't. She stops and looks at his photos. The main one is one she's seen before, on his WhatsApp profile, and it makes him look smiley and rather young.  The others are more accurate reflections of what he really looks like, a little grizzled around the edges, but sexier.  He hasn't used the one she took of him in the bar last time they met. 

That's fine, she thinks. I'll keep that one just for me.

She takes a deep breath, and swipes right.

BOOM! It's a match.

Lucy exhales in relief.  After all the flirting - and his message - it would have been extremely odd if Amir hadn't swiped right on her profile, but all the same, you never know.  Men are fucking weird sometimes and Lucy really has no clue how their minds work.

Now they've matched, Lucy has a new problem. The rule of Bumble is that women have to make the first move - guys can't message until the girl has.  This means that Lucy has to compose an engaging opening message.  OH THE PRESSURE!

Normally she'd send something brief but hopefully witty that shows she's looked at the guy's profile. Nothing too long in case he doesn't bother to reply and it turns out to be a waste of time.  Nothing that sounds like it might have been copied and pasted from another chat (even though, yes, she'll admit it... sometimes it is).

But this is different, she thinks.  This is Amir. He's not a random stranger.  She doesn't need to start with a friendly question because she already knows loads about him.

But then she has a brainwave.  What if she were to pretend that she doesn't?  If the fact that they're friends is getting in the way of him asking her out on a date, maybe removing the friends aspect will solve the problem.

Time for a little role play action...

And then she waits for a reply.  And waits.  And fucking waits.

Hours go by and there is no response.  The suspense is driving her bonkers.

According to the rules of Bumble, Amir has just 24 hours to reply to her message before the match expires and the connection will vanish.  The clock is ticking like an incredibly stressful episode of Countdown where the prize isn't just bragging rights but the chance for love and happiness.  Lucy feels like Cinderella: she has just a few hours left to win her prince before the spell is broken and she'll turn back into a pumpkin.

So why hasn't he replied?  Is he busy? Playing it cool?  Has he lost interest?  What if he isn't checking his messages?  FFS!

Lucy weighs up the options. Given his attention so far, it seems pretty unlikely that he's suddenly lost interest.  No, she thinks, he must have notifications turned off, so he won't know he has a match or have seen her message.  This is a nightmare!  What if he doesn't check? What if the match expires?!

Calm the fuck down woman, she thinks.  It's only a dating app.

But still, it seems like she is finally on the cusp of something brilliant.  She simply can't let the opportunity slip through her fingers.  Not now she's come this far.

So she sends him a message via WhatsApp.

Lucy doesn't get a chance to reply to his text, because the next moment, he also pings her a reply on Bumble.

And she's back in the game.

What's more, he's taken the bait.  The we-don't-know-each-other role play is ON. Things are about to get interesting... 

And just like that, Lucy's stomach falls through the floor.

What. The. Actual. Fucking. Fuck?!

Is this really what this whole thing has been about?  All that teasing, all that flirting, for weeks... it was all just in the hope of getting into her pants?

Surely not.  It can't have been.  Could it?

The shock and disappointment make Lucy feel slightly nauseous.  She doesn't know how to respond. Is he fucking serious?  Or is this just part of the role play: they're pretending to be two strangers on Bumble, so he's ably playing the role of the typical dating app fuckboy.  It must be a joke!

Yes... it MUST be a joke, albeit a fucking crap one.  Amir could get a casual hookup anywhere, if that's what he wanted.  Surely he wouldn't be so stupid as to ruin their entire friendship for a meaningless shag?  He's even told her about getting propositioned recently, but he turned the girl down because 'that's not what he's looking for'.

But if his comment was a joke, why didn't he follow it up with a winky face emoji, or a 'just kidding' like he did before?  Arrrrggggghhh! FFS!

No, it must be part of the role play. Surely she knows him well enough to know that he wouldn't seriously proposition her like that.  Doesn't she?

She decides to give him the benefit of the doubt and carry on playing.

This is better, she thinks.  Though the creeping doubt is still there, nagging her in the back of her mind. 

But at least he's asked her out now.  A date! An actual date! Break out the champagne!

This is much better, Lucy thinks.  A bit of humour, a few choice compliments, and he's even showing off his excellent use of English.  It must be said Lucy does like a guy with a large... vocabulary.

From the comfort of her sofa Lucy smiles to herself.  Well it WAS a good line.  This conversation is about as much fun as Lucy has had on her own in a very long time.

She just needs to give Amir a bit more encouragement.

The Quantum Leap reference makes Lucy laugh out loud.  She absolutely loves that Amir is on exactly the same wavelength as her - cracking jokes that she finds hilarious and making slightly obscure pop culture references that only certain geeky kids of the 90s would get.

Lucy once told Amir that she'd kissed a guy who wasn't very good because his rhythm was too mechanical.  Clearly he was paying attention.  So he's a good listener too.

But the fact that he's suddenly brought up kissing is an interesting new development.  Is that what's on his mind?

The idea makes Lucy's imagination stray to places she's not sure it should go.  Things are so up in the air with Amir that she really doesn't want to get her hopes up.  But oh how she'd love to find out if what he's just said is true.

How to respond, though?  Is this his way of bringing the subject back round to sex - trying to see if she'd be up for a shag?  Or is it just a joke (the emoji suggests it is)? Should she encourage him by flirting back?  Lucy must admit she's pretty tempted - she wants to see where such a conversation might end up...

But hang on a tick, she thinks.  This is a role play. They're pretending they've never met.  So she should say the same thing she always says to total strangers who get a bit too carried away:

And the moment is gone.  Immediately Lucy is disappointed.  Did she shoot him down too soon?  Is she giving off the right signals?  Maybe she should have let the subject run a little and see where it led. 

I'm so mind-blowingly useless at this, she thinks. No wonder I'm fucking single

But there is no point rushing into things with Amir.  He's only just come out of what was essentially a marriage. She needs to take things slowly and find out what his intentions really are towards her.

This is interesting.  He doesn't say he's looking for anything serious - but what man fresh out of a 10-year relationship would ever say that anyway.

But now the conversation has lost its fizz.  Before it was sparky and light-hearted, and now it seems to have fallen flat.  This is my fault, Lucy thinks. I shouldn't have shot him down.  Why the fuck did she do that?  

Lucy wishes she could get the banter back. She needs Amir to think of her as fun and sexy, not needy and serious.  And more than anything, she needs to bring him back round to this date idea.

Lucy's confused. Did he not just suggest cocktails?  But now he's proposing a meal.  Or about a dozen other things.  Which is it?  This seems to be typical of Amir: he spends a lot of time coming up with great ideas for dates - but never actually makes good on the promise.

Well this time, she's determined to make sure he does.  And THEN they can have a few drinks together and let alcohol nature take its course.

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, they manage to agree a to meet up the Sunday after next. 

Lucy's not sure why Amir thinks she's being high-maintenance, but she doesn't care.  She's just thrilled beyond words that they've got a date in the diary. This is the BEST Bumble chat EVER! 

Obviously it sucks that it took a stupid role-play on a dating app to get to this point, but Lucy's not complaining. They have a date! An actual date! AND he promises he won't ghost her because she's awesome!  

And Lucy's sure he won't ghost her because he's not a typical dating app fuckboy.  He's one of the Good Ones. 

Of course she'll let him touch her hair. And anything else he wants to touch for that matter.

And he's gone.   Now Lucy will have to somehow manage to get through the next two weeks before she can see him. That's assuming he doesn't cancel on her again like he did last time.  She's really not sure she'd be able to bear it if he did...

(To be continued...)

September 30, 2017

Friends with Benefits (part 2)

Lucy has a 'date' with Peter, her new Friend With Benefits.

To find out how on earth a woman as utterly-crap-with-men as Lucy managed to bag herself an actual FWB, click here (this takes you back to the very beginning). Or click here to catch up on what happened last time.

Lucy and Peter have only met a few times, but already they've settled into an entirely practical arragement which is only nominally about Friendship and mostly just about the Benefits.

So when Peter texts and asks Lucy if he can take her out for lunch this time, she's a bit confused.  Does he want to actually take her on a date?  Or is he just hungry?

They meet on a Sunday.  That morning, in preparation, Lucy has been to the gym, washed her hair, and epilated her legs and bikini line.  For the uninitiated, this means using a device containing a rotating wheel of about a thousand pairs of sharp tweezers to violently rip each hair out by the root from the most sensitive part of her anatomy.  It sounds like a plane taking off and probably wouldn't be out of place in a torturer's toolkit.

This might make it sound as though Lucy is hard as nails (and yes, it fucking hurts), but honestly choosing to epilate her bikini line is mostly about laziness.

After The Ex left, and she was thrown back into the dating pool, Lucy worried about what she was supposed to do about her lady garden.  She came of age in an era where women were actually allowed to have body hair.  Back then, a bikini line was so-called because you only needed to remove the bits that peeked out around the edges of a substantial pair of bikini bottoms.  Certainly none of the men she dated in her 20s or early 30s ever commented or complained.

But in 2015 times had changed.  Women were going crazy with Hollywoods and Brazilians and Vajazzling and God Knows What Else that made Lucy deeply anxious.  Was this the sort of thing that single men were expecting now?  Would they run for the hills when she stripped off in front of them and they discovered that she had actual pubic hair?

She even consulted a couple of single male friends on the subject, who assured her that by the time a girl is getting her knickers off, the guy is probably so delighted he doesn't even notice.  So Lucy went back to her low-maintenance tactic of just grabbing the epilator once in a while and nipping out the strays around the edges.  It's far cheaper, less messy, and less time-consuming than going to get waxed.   Even if it does burn with the pain of a thousand knives.

So this is what she does the morning of her date with Peter.  Well, you've got to tidy up before inviting visitors in, don't you?

For the first time, Peter is punctual.  He bounds up the stairs like an enthusiastic puppy and gives her a proper, serious snog on the landing.  It's been a while since Lucy has had one of those; it makes her (and her lady bits) wish she hadn't agreed to go for lunch.  She'd much prefer to spend the restricted hours she has with Peter doing the sort of things she currently can't do with anyone else.

But he wants to take her for lunch, so lunch it is.

They head to a gastropub round the corner.  As you might expect, the menu is full of typical sturdy pub meals: burgers, Sunday roast, sausage and mash.  Lucy, who hasn't had any breakfast, is starving.  She's about to go for the roast before she realises that immediately after eating she is going to have to take all her kit off and get physical.  Don't they say you're not supposed to eat just before exercise?

This is a Dilemma. Yummy Sunday roast and a food baby, or salad and a flat stomach?

But Lucy's not really one to let anything get between her and food. Fuck it, she thinks, and orders the roast.

Over lunch, Peter asks her about how the dating is going.  Lucy finds this a bit odd.  Yes, they are supposed to be Friends as well as With Benefits, and certainly neither of them is under any illusion that this is an exclusive arrangement, but all the same... It feels a bit inappropriate to talk about other guys with a man whom she is about to take home and get frisky with.

"Why do you want to know so much?" she asks.  "Isn't this a bit weird?"
"Oh My God... is it?" Peter asks.  Lucy's noticed he says Oh My God a lot. "I just want to know how much longer I'm going to have you for before I lose you to someone else."
"Don't worry," she assures him.  "There's nothing on the horizon at the moment.  Of course if I did meet someone who was going to become a boyfriend, this would have to end.  I wouldn't sleep with more than one person at a time.  But you're safe for now, and for the foreseeable future for that matter. Is that ok?"
"Hundred Per Cent." Another of Peter's little catchphrases.
"If I did meet someone, would you be jealous?" she fishes.
"Actually... yes.  I would be jealous if you sleep with someone else and ditch me."

But he doesn't ask her not to.  So Lucy lets it go.  She doesn't want to be in a relationship with Peter anyway: he's the perfect fuck buddy, and she wants to preserve that easygoing, hassle-free arrangement for as long as possible.

She pops to the loo, and when she comes back he's requested and paid the bill.
Cute, she thinks.  Lucy likes it when a guy does that. No debates, no arguments, just decisive and chivalrous in one stroke.
It's also about bloody time.  Lucy would normally never sleep with a man before he's bought her dinner.  Things have been all about-face with Peter, but happily order is now restored.

They head back to hers, where Peter starts removing her clothes before the door has barely even shut behind them.  Lucy has to concentrate on holding her stomach in but the roast beef and potatoes are making it even trickier than usual.

But she has a cunning plan.  She kneels in front of him and gets busy with her mouth.   Guys like this - and the flattering angle will mean he won't be able to see her belly.  Lucy makes a big play of looking up, making eye contact, and pretending to be sexy.  Hopefully the distraction technique will do the trick.

It seems to work.  Peter responds perfectly, making appreciative noises and telling her how amazing she is.  Lucy has never been entirely sure about this, so it's nice to have reassurance.

Lucy's actually fairly ambivalent about giving blowjobs.  It's not exactly her favourite thing to do, but she doesn't mind as long as the guy has washed and trimmed.  The beauty of the arrangement with Peter is that because it's all planned, he always arrives fully prepared - no messy spontaneity or inconvenient surprises.  So she's happy to reward him with a little treat - he's been extremely generous in that department anyway, so it's only fair that she returns the favour.

He pushes her onto the bed and starts getting down to business.  But first he has a request.  He'd like to - just briefly - have a go without using protection.  Just for a moment, he says.  Just so he can feel the connection of skin on skin.

Lucy isn't a huge fan of condoms either.  To be fair, they have their uses - obviously the no-pregnancy/no-STI's thing is a big plus, and also they make sex a whole lot cleaner and tidier, which for a practical girl like Lucy is a great advantage.  But the issue is with the chafing.  Go at it for a while with a condom on and a girl can soon start to feel the sort of raw that would have a marathon runner reaching for the Vaseline.

So Peter's request is tempting - but it's also frightening.  Girls have it drummed into them from a young age that you can still get pregnant even if the guy doesn't, you know, finish.  And Lucy definitely doesn't want to get pregnant.  She also doesn't want to catch anything, and she doesn't know where else he's been.  Can you catch an STI from just a few seconds' condom-free penetration?  Probably.

It's a risk. But Lucy's a little fed up of always being well-behaved.  She's never done anything remotely naughty or dangerous - and she's thirty-fucking-eight. It's about time she found out what all the fuss is about.

So she lets him - just for a moment.  He's the first man to have done this since The Ex, and it feels gooooood.  But much as she's enjoying the connection, there's a problem.  The annoying little goody-two-shoes voice in her head - the one that always bloody ruins the fun - is nagging that she shouldn't be doing this.  

Lucy tries to tell the uptight little sissy to shut the fuck up, but as usual the preachy voice has already ruined whatever fun was to be had.  So Lucy stops Peter, reaches for the bedside drawer, and safety is restored.

He gets back down to business with renewed vigour.  If anything, a little too much vigour - after all, it's been a while for both of them so he's particularly energetic - and for a shorter guy Peter is surprisingly generously endowed (proving that you never can tell).  Lucy starts to find his enthusiastic pumping rather bruising.

Amir is short.  Lucy finds herself wondering if there's any correlation.  Probably shouldn't be thinking about Amir right now, though.

But it's too late. The moment is lost.  Now all she can do is wait for Peter to get to the end, hopefully as soon as possible before the chafing starts.  She starts making encouraging sexy noises, and in return Peter resumes his running commentary - a blow by blow description of what's going on punctuated with frequent 'Oh My God's.

This isn't how it's supposed to be.  Maybe Lucy is not cut out for the carefree FWB lifestyle after all.

To be continued...?

September 23, 2017

Friends with Benefits (part 1)

With all the goings-on with Al and Amir, you've probably forgotten all about Peter, the guy who works in radio who was only interested in Lucy for One Thing.

If you're new here (in which case, welcome!), or you'd like to refresh your memory, you can read from the beginning here.

Lucy is absolutely fine with their relationship being only about that One Thing.  Peter, as it turns out, is quite good at it, and certainly wasn't at the back of the queue when endowments were being handed out (if you know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more).   And since Lucy seems to spend her entire fucking life going on mediocre dates that never lead anywhere, or lusting after men that aren't interested, or going on promising dates with guys who then vanish before things can progress to the getting naked stage, it does help to have a safe, skilled pair of hands (and other body parts) to fall back on when she's got an itch that needs scratching.

So while she's waiting to see if things might go anywhere with first Al, and then Amir, she's stayed in touch with Peter.  Just in case everything goes tits up and she needs a consolation shag.  Hey, don't judge, we all have needs.

Peter is the perfect Friend With Benefits.  He's nice but definitely not future husband material, he's enthusiastic in bed, and when they're not together he leaves her alone until she calls on him.

Though sometimes Lucy thinks its a bit strange how completely he vanishes for weeks between hookups.  And when she chats to Lily about it, it occurs to her that maybe there's a reason for that.

Could it be that Peter isn't single after all?

As Lily points out, it's a bit suspicious.  For one thing, he always comes to Lucy's.  He says this is because he rented out his flat for a while and is currently staying with his mum until the tenancy expires - but what if it's actually because he has a wife at home?

Also, he only ever visits in the afternoon and is gone by 6 pm.  His excuse is that he works very early shifts and needs to go home and sleep - but again, what if that's a lie?

Lucy doesn't want Peter for herself, but she's totally Not Cool with shagging another woman's fella. So after a couple of weeks of silence, she decides to challenge him.

Is Peter actually annoyed that he spotted her on a dating app?  He's never made any suggestion that he'd like to be anything more than just fuck buddies, so it's a strange thing to bring up.

They arrange to meet the following weekend.  Lucy is looking forward to it - it's been ages since she had any action and she's starting to feel like she might have some sort of embarrassing public outburst for no reason if she doesn't get some physical contact soon.

So when he cancels on her a few days later, she's pretty fucking pissed off.

It's poor English (and spelling) like this that is exactly why Peter is definitely not husband material.

But Lucy is also intrigued by his comment that he may 'lose' her (not 'loose', Peter you fuckwit).  She's made it clear to him that she's dating other guys, and that if she meets someone their happy little arrangement will have to cease.  So could it be that Peter is getting just a teensy bit jealous?

Regular readers of this blog will correctly guess that the mate in question is none other than Amir, with whom Lucy is still embroiled in a weird situation where she has to carry on acting as though they are just good friends who gossip about their dating experiences, even though she would actually like nothing more than to be having those dating experiences with Amir himself.

'You do really respect me?' Lucy thinks. What the actual fucking fuck?  Does that really need to be said in this day and age - like there might be some doubt that a man could respect a woman just because she wants to have sex with him?!

Happily, a sarcastic tone of voice doesn't translate into texts:

However since Peter does respect her after all (Yay! Go Peter the Modern Man!), and since he swears he's definitely single, they rearrange the 'date'.  But this time Peter has an unusual request.  He wants to take Lucy out to lunch. 

This is odd, since until now their previous encounters have been rather functional.  Peter turns up at Lucy's house in the early afternoon, they have a drink and a chat, then have sex, and he leaves by 6pm to go home to bed ahead of his 5am shift.  Lucy, meanwhile, can have a shower and go out for the evening.  It's all terribly, satisfyingly practical.  

But now he wants to take her out for lunch.  Is this an actual date? But why?

The only possible conclusion Lucy can come to is that her genuine lack of interest in Peter as anything more than just a fuck buddy is like a red rag to a bull.   She's entirely chilled around him, she tells him about the other guys she's dating (so he knows about Al and Amir), and she doesn't make any kind of effort when he shows up.  Apart from a minimal defuzzing of her ladybits, of course.  Lucy does have some standards.

Clearly this don't-give-a-fuck attitude is what's now attracting Peter.  And it's probably what first attracted Amir, back when they were just mates and she was able to be herself because she wasn't hoping to get in his pants.

Lucy makes a note-to-self to try to recapture fake that same attitude in her future dealings with guys she likes.

As for Peter, it remains to be seen what his intentions are.

(To find out what happened next, click here)

September 16, 2017

The newly-single friend (Part 3)

Lucy is meeting her friend Amir for a drink.  Except now that Amir's broken up with his long-term partner, she's not sure if they are still friends, or something more.  This might be a sort-of-date, and she's nervous.

(To read the story from the beginning, click here)

It's Sunday evening.  Lucy is on her way back to Brighton and has a suitcase in tow, so they agree to meet at Victoria station so she can hop straight on the train afterwards.  Amir arrives first, and texts to say he's waiting in the seating area opposite the departure boards.

Lucy spots him as she crosses the concourse.  He's wearing grey jeans and a black shirt, and is looking down at his phone.  Just seeing him sitting there makes her blood pump a little faster.  Holy fucking crap, she thinks.  This is a proper, honest-to-goodness, schoolgirl crush now.  Shit, I'm in trouble.

As she approaches she wills him to look up and spot her, so he'll clock the full effect of the hour she spent getting ready.   But clearly he's far too busy swiping on Tinder or texting some other girl, because he bloody doesn't. FFS.

He doesn't actually notice her until she's standing right in front of him.  His hair is mussed up, he hasn't shaved, and his jawline is softened by grizzled stubble.  His brown skin looks slightly sallow, and his dark eyes - so deep dark you could drown in them! - are tired.

Chrissakes, she thinks. I sound like a fucking Mills & Boon erotic novel. Get a grip, woman.

 He stands up and gives her a long hug.
"You look knackered!" Lucy teases.
"Thanks. You look hot."
So the effort was worth it - hurrah!  "Well, so do you.  Hot but knackered."
Amir takes her suitcase (tick) and they head for a nearby bar where he buys her a drink (two ticks).

"So how's the dating going?" he asks.  Always so interested in Lucy's dates. Is that because he's her friend or because he's jealous?

Lucy tells him about a recent date, in which the only event of note was that the waitress was so awestruck by Lucy's curly hair she asked if she could touch it.
"Well your hair is amazing," Amir says.  "Now I want to touch it!"

Lucy has always been convinced that her bouffant blonde curls make her look like a middle-aged saddo who hasn't changed her style since the 80s and is still hoping that legwarmers and neon are going to come back into fashion.  But if Amir likes her hair, then he's more than welcome to touch it.  In fact, he'd be most welcome to touch any part of Lucy he likes.
He reaches over and plays his fingers through the curls.  "It's so soft!"
Lucy leans closer.  The experience of having her crush touching her makes her tummy feel funny.

Are they having a moment?  Lucy hasn't drunk nearly enough yet to know what to do.   She takes a gulp of wine to speed up the process.

"I'm going to start going on dates soon," Amir says.  "But I have no clue.  Might need your help."

In no way whatsoever does Lucy want to help Amir find dates online, but they are still in the dreaded Friend Zone, so she basically has no bloody choice.

Against her better judgement she therefore spends the next twenty fucking minutes showing him Tinder, Bumble, Happn and the rest, explaining how they work, and giving him the critical dos and don'ts of guy dating profiles.
 "No mirror selfies, no topless shots, and write something in your bio, " she advises.  

Idiot.  Should've told him that girls like crotch shots, gym shots, and pictures with other women in them.  Anything to ensure he gets as few matches as possible.

"But I don't have any good photos of me at all," he complains.
"Why don't I take one for you now?"  What did you say that for?  No wonder you're single, you fucking twat.
She pulls out her phone and snaps a picture.  Amir is resting his head on his hand and looking down the lens with a slight smile.  His hair is messy and he has a day's worth of stubble, but he looks sexy AF.  
This can't be far off what he looks like first thing in the morning, she thinks, wistfully.  And the photo will be something pretty to look at on the train journey back to Brighton. Not to mention every morning, noon and night until the End Of Fucking Time.

She texts him the picture and puts her phone away.  "So anyway," she continues, "the main rule of online dating is: don't be a dick."
"I'm not a dick."
"I know you're not NOW, but after 6 months of online dating, with all the different women that you'll encounter, you'll probably become one."
"No I won't."
"Six months. Tops."
"Show me your profile?" he asks.
She shows him.  Obviously making sure she lingers over the photos that make her look her best. 
"You look gorgeous," he tells her.  Score.
"Well if you join Bumble you'll probably see me on there... depending on how you set your search settings.  But you might only want girls under 35, in which case you won't see me."
"What if I'm searching for gorgeous confident, over-35s with amazing hair?"
"Well I guess then you'd find me!" she grins.
"I'd definitely swipe right if I did. Would that be ok?  Can I do that?"
"Well I'd swipe right to see if you had, and then if we didn't match I'd be offended.  So you'd better bloody swipe right. I know where you live, remember?"

If the only way she can get a date out of Amir is to match with him on an app, Lucy is going to fucking kill herself.

"Thing is, I won't want to match with anyone because I'd have to go on a date and I won't know what to do," complains Amir.
Fuck's sake mate, this is getting a bit whiny now.
Lucy dredges up some patience for yet another pep talk. "Of course you will. It's just chatting to a stranger.  You do it all the time."
"Maybe we should go on a date."

And there it is.

Or is it? Lucy blushes, looks away.
"OK, sure," is all she can manage.
And then the waitress comes over and the moment is gone.

Later, she berates herself.  WTF happened there?  Did he ask me out or didn't he?  She should have looked him right in the eye and said "You want to go on a date with me?"  Then waited for him to give her a proper answer.
But she fucked it up like a stammering teenager with a crush and now she is going to spend the next week (month? year?) overanalysing that moment and what might have happened if...

Over dinner of arancini balls and pasta at a little Italian, Amir talks about his relationship history, and Lucy learns some unnerving things.

He cheated on Julie once.
"I'm not proud of it," he tells her.   "We were going through a rough patch, and she'd gone away to try to figure stuff out, and I got drunk and slept with a girl from work."

It's hardly Ross and Rachel on a break, Lucy thinks.  Does making Friends references mean I'm officially old now?

Amir also very recently nearly had a fling with a work colleague.  This was after the break up, but the work colleague is (a) married and (b) still very much in the picture.
"Work was really intense at the time, we were doing long hours and we got very close.  Then one night we got drunk and she missed the last train. She asked if she could stay at mine.  I knew if I let her come back stuff would happen, so I told her to get a hotel."

This is Not Good.  He cheated on his ex. He fancies his married colleague too much to trust himself alone with her.
This is what's bound to happen if you date a charming, attractive guy. There will always be other women snapping at your heels.  Fucking bitches.

Lucy needs to find herself someone boring and ugly.

For the rest of the evening Amir is full of compliments and offers of ways they can spend time together. He invites her round to meet his kids. He offers to cook her dinner.  He suggests they meet up another weekend and spend an entire day hanging out together.

But Lucy's not sure she trusts any of it.  He seems to be full of promises but will he ever deliver? She's beginning to think he's just twitchy about being single and looking for reassurance.  Why does everything have to be so difficult and complicated?

They walk back to Victoria Station together and he waits while she buys a ticket. The next train is in ten minutes.
"You don't have to wait," she tells him.  Hoping he'll insist anyway, of course.  Ten minutes is enough time for a snog.
But he doesn't.  He gives her a long hug and then walks away across the concourse.  Lucy watches him go.  He doesn't look back.

FML, thinks Lucy.

She boards the train. It's rammed but she manages to find a seat opposite a filthy bearded man with a beanie on pulled down low over his eyes.  He stinks of unwashedness and booze and is probably homeless.

She gets her phone out and texts Amir.

This conversation is SO fucked up.  Lucy wants to strike a balance between being flirty and encouraging Amir, while at the same time still maintaining the veneer of friendship.  But now she seems to be weirdly encouraging him to date other girls, which is not what she wants at all!

Time to reel it back in.  

But it seems Amir responds better to abuse than he does to compliments...

This kind of chat is definitely not Friend Zone territory.  Is he drunk?  He only had a couple of beers and a cocktail so he can't be.  But then why the actual fuck doesn't he just ask her out properly?

"I'm allowed to say that aren't I?"  Amir clearly knows he's crossed a line, and Lucy is happy to encourage him to take little baby steps ever further across it.  But her patience is already starting to wear thin.

Then there is silence.  He must have gone to bed.

And Lucy hasn't heard from him in over a week.

(To find out what happened next, click here)

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