After a little while of struggling on Bumble, things were starting to pick up and I was seeing move matches. P came across my screen as I was doing my evening swipe, and his bio, though short and sweet, got my attention: “Yes, all the photos are of me… it’s been a journey.”
I looked through all his photos and you would be right to second-guess whether they were all of the same person. Each photo he donned a different hairstyle – bald, short, long, and even one where he is dreadlocked. Now, seeing white people in dreads is enough to put me off entirely and, usually, would result in an instant swipe left. But, if his first picture was indicative of what he looked like now, he was no longer dreadlocked, so perhaps he had seen the error in his ways. Plus, in all of his pictures, he was laughing or doing a genuine smile, and I’m a sucker for a nice smile.
While I try to tailor each opening message to the individual, it can be difficult to think of something if someone’s bio is limited. In times like these, I opt for a slightly silly or out-of-left-field question, like “what’s your favourite kind of tree?” But this time, I open for “what’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?” (This is because I had recently decided to forgo the hairdresser for the sake of saving £30, and cut my hair myself. While most of it was fine, parts were… uneven. But nothing a strategic curling wand wouldn’t fix)
Anyway. P came back with, “I manage to burn myself a lot considering that I’ve been a chef for sometime now.” He followed it up with, “Btw, I love cats! Just thought I’d throw it out there to score some brownie points.”
One of the pictures on my profile was a “family portrait” I had taken when Sasha and Willow were tiny little kittens, and all three of us looked, quite frankly, adorable. P and I chatted about our shared love of cats for a bit, which is how I found out that in his childhood home of South Africa, he once had 22 (yes, you read that correctly, TWENTY-TWO) cats living there. And I thought *I* loved cats.
After a while longer chatting about work and life, he asked me, “Do you know what you’re looking for by being on Bumble? A relationship, friendship? Are you just bored?”
I respect a direct question because it encourages transparency – however, as you can probably imagine, it’s also quite a difficult one for me to answer. I don’t ever want to come straight out the bat with “lol I’m going on 26 dates in six months because I’m mad” – not before I’ve met someone in person, anyway. While I never went into this experiment to ~find love~, I also don’t want to close the door to any opportunity that may arise, especially if we’ve not had the chance to meet so I can charm the pants off them.
So, I kept it vague, “Not specifically – I’m just meeting new people and having fun. If it leads to something, great! If not, that’s fine too.”
“You’ve pretty much described my reasons for being on here too,” he said, “So, I like your music taste, I think you’re funny, it’s great that you have cats and I think you’re cute… would you be open to meeting up?”
“Are you keeping a list there somewhere? Sure, let’s go for a drink!”
I’ll be honest, he had me at “I think you’re funny.” Always looking for validation for my comedy, tbqh. We swapped numbers and moved onto WhatsApp to arrange a date.
I knew I’d like P straight away, because he came across very laid back and genuine. I also liked that, despite living closer into London than me, he happily offered to come down to my ends for our date. I don’t generally mind going into London, because let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot happening in Surrey. But I also don’t think I give people the chance to actually offer to come to me – I think I often inadvertently do too much to cater to others, so it felt nice for someone to cater for me.
I suggested we go to one of the nicer pubs in Epsom, and we made plans to meet up on a Sunday evening. On the day I felt… weirdly nervous. This project is a numbers game where I try and schedule as many dates as I possibly can, meaning that I try not to leave it too long to meet someone once we match and swap numbers. But because P and I had such different work schedules, we had to wait two weeks before meeting. We were messaging every day, which was nice, but it all suddenly felt a bit weird, building a kind of ‘relationship’ with someone I hadn’t met yet. What if the picture of P I had composed in my mind was nothing like what he was actually like? What if *I* was nothing like he had imagined.
I needn’t have worried. When he got to the pub (with no dreadlocks in sight, thankfully), he bought me a drink and we relaxed in a mutual familiarity. He was very easy to talk to, and we had quite a lot in common. We spent a lot of time talking about the trend of travelling (more specifically, how a lot of people on dating apps feel boasting about it counts as a personality) and AI technology (well, specifically the film I, Robot and the game Detroit: Become Human).
We made each other laugh and felt comfortable around each other. He told me that I seemed to be a positive person, and I accidentally went on a huge tangent on how I used to be depressed and now I’m in recovery and have a new job and everything is great. He opened up about his own mental health, and I told him that it was nice to have a date where you cut the small talk and speak about more stuff under the surface.
After a while longer of chatting, I could tell that we had chemistry, and it was only a matter of who would make the first move. He seemed to have adopted the British mentality of not doing so. And so, I took the initiative.
“So, I was just wondering,” I said, “when you were planning on kissing me.”
“Oh!” P smiled, and leaned in for a kiss.
The bat rang the bell for last call, and our evening had to come to an end. I decided to forgo getting an Uber home and P walked me to the station, where we kissed a little bit more before parting ways, promising to meet up again soon.
We continued texting in the days after, and he would greet me in the mornings with a “hey, sweet lady.” He told me that his brother was moving to the UK from South Africa and he was excited to have him around. But, as time went on, there was no mention of when we’d meet up for a second date. So, again, I cut to the chase and asked him when he would take me out again.
“I do really want to see you again, but it’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks.”
P managed to find some time in his schedule to meet up again, saying that he knew a great place that does Mexican food (we all know how I feel about Mexican food by now). But, the day before we were due to meet, he cancelled as he wasn’t feeling well, but asked if I had time the following week. At this point, I was the one who was getting increasingly busy, between work and travelling up and down the country for hen dos, weddings and various other events.
Communication kind of dropped off after that, and probably for the best. I liked P, we got on well, but it was clear that we were both just on different schedules, and sometimes you kind of just need to let sleeping dogs lie. Oh well, on to the next one…