I used to be a serial dater. I would jump from one relationship to another with amazing speed and efficiency. Following a break-up, my skill at getting back to the dating racing track would put a Grand Prix mechanic team to shame.
I felt that unless I secured my soul mate before I was 40 I would be destined to spend an eternity being a bitter old queen, with a moist tear in my eye, watching a loop of Marilyn Monroe movies and listening exclusively to Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand songs.
I was on a quest to be in the envied position of being a smug married, so a couple status had to be achieved as quickly as possible. However, I didn’t even consider if I liked the person I was dating; just to secure the nearest candidate to fill the space became the ambition. I know it shows complete and utter desperation. I was one of those sheep that just kept jumping to the next field of greener grass to chow down on.
The story arc of these relationships were.
- Find a suitable candidate on line, ditching the ones who were under five foot four and not particularly bright. However, if they were vastly cute those rules would be thrown out.
- Meet up on a date, but look at our reflections in shop windows or any other reflective surface to see if we projected smug married couple look.
- Go on every date cliche, including long walks in the country involving a cuddle and a tender kiss. Candlelit dinners and long brunches.
- After the third date have sex, then every time we’d meet up have sex again.
- After the first week communication would be on a daily basis, with calls and texts in the morning, afternoon, and nighttime. Then become “in a relationship” on Facebook by week three. By week four murmur the words “I love you” — but not really mean it.
- Introduce him to a few select friends, creating a small and intimate audience for projected smugness. Whisper and laugh at in jokes, even though you don’t find them particularly amusing (but this completes the illusion of being a smug married).
- Wedge in common-ground activities, share an interest in a TV series or favourite movie. This fills the gap where you’d really not talk about feelings and emotions. This is the part when I’d get a little bored. The niggles will begin to appear.
- Start discussing the niggles with your single best friends, who nod conspiratorially and offer advice, but are really stoking up the popcorn machine to watch the relationship melt down.
- The niggles in the relationship mean you start to avoid spending time together, you are suddenly very busy with work, and avoid meeting up. You see your single friends meet up with new dates and they regale you with stories of amazing sex and fun times. You start to get annoyed with seeing your boyfriend’s spare toothbrush in your bathroom and underwear in your laundry.
- It’s either decided by you or him that it’s not working, with comments like “it’s not the right time,” “it’s not you, it’s me.” You mourn the loss of the relationship for 12 to 24 hours. Declare your single status on Facebook, revel in all the attention of condolences. Then relaunch your online dating profiles and start back at stage one.
So what happened to me? I got sick of the treadmill of dating, and found myself in a relationship that I’d taken one step too far. I moved in with him — I still don’t understand how that happened; my brain must have been somewhere else. The relationship was volatile, argumentative, and self-destructive.
I longed to be single, solo and not to have to worry about being in a relationship. The moment I got that solo status, I looked at things with a fresh pair of eyes. Threw out the dating rulebook. I met my, now husband, by chance, through work, fancied him, told him so, met for a coffee, which turned into a fair few bottles of wine. Ended up in the sack on the first date, the earth moved, and he did too, three months later into my apartment. Within eight months of our first date we were married. We’ve been married four years now; for straight couples that’s like 40 years, three kids, and one restraining order.
Are we smug marrieds? Well, if being happy that being together, then possibly. Looking back to my behavior and dating skills as a single gay guy, I cringe, but without those years I wouldn’t be where I am now. It took the intervention of a toxic relationship to stop the cycle, but if you recognise the behavior traits in the dating plan then you can make your own intervention to change.