Anxiety, the problem is this. It’s not me. It’s you! This long-suffering relationship we’ve been in has to come to an end. I need you to pack your bags and leave now, please.
I’ve talked before about my own anxiety issues but I’ve never really laid it out quite straight forward just what it’s like living day to day with, what feels like, another person living inside me that is the complete and utter opposite of me. And that person is trying to gain control of my mind and my life. On the whole, I’ve managed to control my anxiety quite well. It rarely spirals. Well, I say that but lately, it’s more than spiralled.
During my adventures into online dating, it escalated to such a point that I had more completely crippling days than I’ve had all together in the past 3 years. And for those of you that have been hanging around my corner of the world for a while, you know how tough the past year has been since I was assaulted. Actually, you know how many truly tough times there have been over the past 10 years! But online dating absolutely crippled me. I’ve coped with things in the past that most people will never even dream of happening to them. But swiping right got me.
Apps Are Gone
All my dating apps and dating profiles are now gone. Done with. I had a last flutter into the online dating world last week, learnt my lesson, had yet another anxiety episode and called time on the whole thing. I made a joke that for all the time and effort I had put into this online dating lark, all I’d gotten out of it was an increased dosage of anti-anxiety medication. And as much as I was making a joke about it, it was true.
There are some things that I have learnt from this.
I’ve not encountered one single man that actually wants to date. Not one. Now in this experiment, I’ve made a fair go of chatting to a lot of men. A lot. And suggested dates with all the ones that appeared at least semi-normal and were showing an interest. Of that, I went on dates with 11. From that, the 4 that made it to the second date stage all flaked on me. Every single one. They all went from being horny little monkeys showing great signs of promise, to being complete and utter anxiety triggers.
Then there was the one I shouldn’t have even bothered with from the start. And the one I had to make a swift exit from before I nearly vomited on him. Smelly. Another told me straight up he couldn’t date because it just wasn’t for him. And the rest was just coffee.
What is the fucking point in being on a dating site if you don’t want to date!
I swear they all just wanted sexting penpals. If I wanted a penpal I’d have resurrected the one I had in junior school or written to someone on death row. At least they’d have great stories to tell!
What Are They Looking For?
I talked last week about those looking for Friends With Benefits and how the ones that said they wanted that couldn’t even get to the friends’ stage let alone the benefits. So I tried a different approach. Brace yourselves for this and remember this bit was an experiment not me being a slut. I called men’s bluff when they made it clear they just wanted sex or sent a dick pic. I said yes. I replied to their photo message with, “Looks like you need a hand with that” and asked when they wanted to meet. I offered to come over right away and help them out. Guess what? Not one bloke took me up on the offer. Not one. The ones that got to the let’s meet stage in the conversation didn’t even reply when I asked for their address so I could go round. Not that I would.
This totally disproves what many people think, that men only use these apps for sex. I offered it on a plate and didn’t get any takers. Even one of my second date blokes, I pretty much told him straight up that he was getting it, and in fairness, I was being serious. I actually quite liked him. I’d got the fanny flutters. And he still flaked on me.
I couldn’t even get a shag on a dating app!
I don’t know if this is an indication of the terrible state of men’s mental health or that society in general really has lost the art of face to face communication and it’s affecting our ability to have intimate, meaningful relationships. Perhaps in the future, all relationships will be virtual because that’s all we are capable of. Or perhaps, as my anxiety keeps telling, it’s me they don’t want. It’s me they don’t like. It’s me that’s not even worthy of a shag off a bloke on a dating app that sends out dick pics to randoms. I’ve reached that level of low point.
What Do You See
This photo was taken in the middle of one of the worst anxiety attacks I’ve had in years a few weeks ago. I posted it on my Facebook and Insta Stories and got all the usual comments back of how great I looked. I was hot/sexy/MILF/gorgeous blah blah blah. It was all bullshit. I was sitting outside because if I sat inside for too long I felt like the walls were closing in on me. I’d had several spells throughout the day of not being able to breath properly and my heart rate was going through the roof. My daughter walked for miles with me that day just to keep me doing something other than staying in bed or sitting staring at a blank screen unable to work. It was like having a panic attack that went on all day.
This was brought on by the behaviour of one of my flaky second dates. Now, in all seriousness, his behaviour was absolutely unbelievable. The few people that know properly what happened all agreed that it was very extreme. But still. It seems some people make it their mission in life to be someone else’s anxiety trigger. On reflection, he was a grade-A sociopath and would have passed that assessment with flying colours. He had no level of empathy at all to what he was doing. He used my one weak point to exploit a situation and showed no regard or remorse for the impact that would have on me. Remember I’ve said before about abusers thriving on these apps. He said sorry, via text, but then still tried to manipulate the situation. He wasn’t sorry. Anyway.
This is what anxiety really looks like. They said I looked hot. Inside I was struggling to process what was going on and somehow thinking that I was to blame for this guy’s terrible behaviour and it was something wrong with me that he flaked on me. But they said I looked sexy.
What It’s Really Like
So over the past few weeks, I’ve kept a note of some of the things that have been said to me, followed by blokes actions that didn’t match their words, and what actually went through my mind. On the outside, I appear confident, in control, got my shit together and take no shit. On the inside, this is what is really going on.
“You are so hot. I can’t believe you’d ever want to meet me. Let’s meet on Friday”
He says that to everyone. He doesn’t think I’m hot at all. He swiped on some young hot thing and realised I’m not worth the effort of even a coffee.
“We could do, blah blah blah together” (basically arranging future plans, a second dater).
“I’m not ready to have a relationship. I shouldn’t be dating.”
Later that day he’s showing as online for some time on a dating app.
I’m not good enough for him. I aimed too high. I need to lower my standards or I’ll never find anyone. I repulsed him so much that straight away he’s back looking.
“I can’t wait to smash you all over the gaff” Some blokes have a way with words. But this was the second date guy I’d pretty much told was on a promise. The same guy who had only ever met 2 women online in two years and found it hard to date.
“What time are we going out at tonight?”
“We aren’t haha” “I don’t feel comfortable with you being here” “I’ll call you later”
Ten minutes later he’s showing as online on two different dating apps and not even opened my last message. I’ve still not had that call.
He’s got loads of women on the go. He’s with one now. I’m not good enough. I’m not hot enough for him to want me. He hates my personality. Perhaps if I looked younger then he’d fancy me. Or if I wasn’t so opinionated and just stayed quiet. I need to learn to just shut up and not look needy by asking about arrangements.
“You’re really funny. I love your work. You’re really talented at what you do. You’re the full package, hot and smart.”
“Your job is going to be an issue. It’s not realistic.”
He thinks I’m thick. I mustn’t be that good at what I do. Perhaps I should give it all up and just get a proper job. Nobody respects me for how hard I work. He couldn’t take me seriously. He didn’t even fancy me.
“I really enjoyed meeting you today. Looking forward to our next date.”
“We can do whatever, whatever thing, if you’re free at the weekend.”
Weekend. “Sorry I can’t make it for blah blah blah reason”.
My reply still has two grey ticks.
He’d been on some terrible dates before and still flaked on me. I must be an awful date. Perhaps all these blokes are telling their stories about going on terrible dates with me. I should just give up and stay single.
“You’re smart, sexy, funny, beautiful and an amazing human”
He lied. I’m a horrible person who doesn’t deserve to be happy.
Whenever they call me hot/sexy/fit whatever I automatically think they are judging me on my looks, my boobs and my figure. When they flake on me or just become a dickhead my anxiety tells me it’s because they hate my personality and my looks alone can’t even get them to stick around for a date. They can’t stand being around me.
For every call that goes unanswered. Every message that isn’t opened. Every blue tick and no reply. Every pick up line that I stupidly swallow. Every person I take at face value. Every lie of them being single that I believe. It’s another chip away at my already battered self-confidence. For every slight peek of a happy moment when I think I’ve clicked with someone, to have it all dashed very quickly and the low that comes with that. There’s no balance. It’s a pure rollercoaster.
Coping With Anxiety
Over the years I’ve found ways to cope with what can be a torrent of emotions at times. I’ve even created little in-jokes about my coping techniques so those around me can pick up on the clues. My cleaning obsessions are a great indicator. If the house is absolutely spotless and I’ve stress hoovered the stairs to within an inch of their lives, then the anxiety is high. Oven cleaning Monday is a real thing. If the house isn’t that tidy and the oven isn’t clean, then I’m heading towards the depression end of the scale.
If I tell people I’m going to do something, then no matter how shit I feel, I know I have to do it. If I tell a date we’re going out on Sunday, then no matter how much it near physically hurts me to drag myself out of bed, into the shower, put some makeup on, I will be there. Even though I know, or my anxiety knows, that it’s a waste of time, the guy won’t like me and I’m always going to be single, I still turn up. I turn up knowing that tomorrow I won’t be able to get out of bed because waiting for the disappointment will be driving me mad. But still, I do it because I won’t be that flaky person that triggers someone else’s anxiety.
I cope in silence so that others can tell me I look hot in a photo that’s been taken mid panic attack.
That is my reality of dating with anxiety. And it fucking sucks.
My dating app days are well and truly over now. It just isn’t worth the mental torment and battering that comes with every swipe. Because even the swiping is anxiety fuelled. Waiting to see if they swipe back. Will they message? Will they answer your message? You can see them online but there’s no reply. Do they like the look of you? Did you pick the right photos to use? Is your profile interesting and engaging enough to spark their interest? Does anyone even read the profiles? Is it all about the photos? It’s endless and not good for anyone’s mental health let alone those of us with pre-existing conditions!
Something tells me the man of my dreams isn’t looking for me on these apps. I’ll probably have more luck in the fresh meat aisle in Tesco. Let’s face it, a man of value that will appreciate and love everything about me, including my gobshite ways, terrible singing and really shit jokes, what I do for a living and my oven cleaning, isn’t going to flake on me so he can get back on his apps for a swipe to find another penpal.
In the meantime, me and my mate Geoff are setting up our own singles nights. Granted he’s married so I’m the single one in the partnership. We’ve already got some venues lined up and the format we’ve come up with is amazing. So I can’t wait to share all that with you very soon.
But if you happen to find the man of my dreams on your travels, can you send him over to Costa for me to meet him there. I’ve had far too many bad dates in there now and I’m sure the staff have realised why I’m in there. Large latte if you will and a lemon muffin thanks.