So in a few of my more “advice” type posts, I’ve skated across the idea that you shouldn’t pursue people in relationships. These things are easier said than done however, so to show you why, I thought I’d share a story from my own dating life.
The story started on my 22nd birthday. I was on my gap year, volunteer teaching in Tanzania, and to celebrate myself and the other volunteers were going to an expat bar then to a nightclub in town. Unfortunately, my birthday happened to fall in the month where previous volunteers had gone home, and new volunteers were yet to arrive, so I was celebrating with two girls who don’t drink. Halfway through our uneventful time at the bar, they informed me that they didn’t want to go to a nightclub, so we were just going to stay here for a bit then go home.
Luckily, we were out with a Tanzanian guy called John who we’d met through our volunteer co-ordinator. John was going to the club, and suggested I join him. As I got hopped into a taxi and the other girls departed, my spirits lifted. I’d been badly let down, but it was my birthday, and the night was young.
As John and I danced in the nightclub, something shifted. We’d always got on, but tonight the elusive spark appeared. We head over the seats on the edge and started kissing. I’ve kissed a few people here and there since, but it’s been more of a peck, going through the motions. With John it was passionate, I just wanted to keep kissing him and even years later I could remember that kiss in vivid detail.
Just one tiny snag. John had a girlfriend. But she lived in Holland and neither had any plans to move to the other, so it was basically not a relationship.
About a year later, when I was back in the UK, he added me on Facebook. He started talking to me on messenger, and we quickly switched over to WhatsApp. I’d been on a bunch of dates from Plenty of Fish, and they’d be nice, but there was no spark, no flirting. It was just like hanging out with a friend but the conversation wasn’t as good. But with John, the sexual chemistry was so strong it zinged through the room. In conversation, I linked him to this article I’d written about being a virgin. I thought he’d respond with something negative, but he seemed to find it a turn-on, and told me he “wants a woman who respects herself”. Living in the promiscuous hellhole that is the UK, I’d forgotten that in most of the world sex is valued.
The following year, I was preparing to go back to Tanzania that summer to climb Kilimanjaro for charity. Against my better judgement, I messaged John and asked for hostel recommendations. We immediately fell into conversation again, and the spark was as strong as ever. There was chemistry, but there was also a connection. We were on the same wavelength, we liked all the same things, we had the same values. He told me his girlfriend doesn’t like Tanzania, and won’t come and visit him, he always goes to her. I sensed a potential opportunity. Over the next 5 months or so, we talked almost every day.
I was really strongly attracted to him. There was a strong sexual spark, and I fantasised about him, but I didn’t want to do anything with him while he was still with his girlfriend. But maybe we could kiss, and cuddle. He said I could stay over at his house if I wanted to, but I told him I didn’t want to “tease” him by going back and not doing anything. He said he’d be happy with that, and some guys would get angry, but he wouldn’t. I was so excited to see him. I had strong feelings for him, and envisioned him seeing sense, breaking up with his girlfriend, and we could start a new life together away from the dull, grey UK in beautiful Tanzania. Even if nothing more happened though, it would at least be nice to have someone to cuddle for the intimacy of a relationship that I was sorely missing.
When the day finally came and I saw him in Tanzania it was really awkward at first. Later on, the conversation flowed better, but somehow it wasn’t quite the same. I think I’d built it up in my mind too much.
But anyhow, we went out to that same nightclub later on in the week. We had pre-drinks at the hotel I was staying at beforehand, and had a good night out dancing. He asked if he could stay over at mine so he could use the shower (his house doesn’t have any running water), and I said that was fine but nothing was going to happen. However, when we got back there, he tried to push me into doing stuff with him, then got into a mood when I said no, and informed me he didn’t want to be with someone who’s “like a log”.
On my last night there, we hung out again at a bar. After a few drinks, we started talking about what was going to happen when I left, and he dropped a bomb out of nowhere. He told me that if he was going to leave his girlfriend for me, he would have to sleep with me first. He then launched into this tirade about how he wouldn’t commit to a woman he hasn’t slept with, how he wouldn’t wait a while before sex, how “men like experienced women” and how I was never going to meet anyone else. The argument lasted all evening, if it was anyone else I’d have cut them off, but I didn’t wait my memories of the trip to be ruined so eventually I smoothed things over.
When I got back home, I tried to remain friends with John initially, but he kept being really nasty and snappy with me. He told me he doesn’t want me, and he wouldn’t be interested in me even if he was single. He also acted like I’d somehow wronged him by not having sex with him, saying things like “WHY did you not want to proceed?”, “I was so excited about seeing you, and seeing what would happen- all that, and then NOTHING!”, accusing me of not having any sexual feelings, and being “like a dead log”. I eventually got tired of him, and stopped bothering.
John is still with his girlfriend, but the location issue doesn’t seem to have been solved.
So there you have it. I thought I’d found someone who liked me for who I am, and if only he was single we could be together… when the reality was he just wanted to have sex with me and wouldn’t be interested in me even if he was single. It’s easy to fall into the fantasy, but really, you have to look at the reality and find someone who’s free to be fully yours.