casual dating

That time my dating life was an Instagram meme

3 weeks ago, I was chatting with ICB, asking him how his day had been. “Not bad, I went to see a friend. We had a bunch of shit we needed to talk through and clear up. I’m glad we did, we both feel better now”. Oh really? Now, in French, there are feminine and masculine declensions for nouns. Ami and amie are both friendly peeps, but one of them has a penis and the other boobs. Amie is the boob-variety type. So ICB went to see a female friend in order to have some sort of argument. Well then. To my brain, it was a slam dunk: he used to fuck this Amie and this argument was to clear up that they weren’t headed to a relationship. OB-VI. I mean. Come on. Don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Athletico, Beaut and Hickster all shared the same fuckboy dictionary. Amie is synonymous with non-platonic fuck friend. (The “non-platonic fuck” is silent #properpronunciation.) 3 guys, 3 series of devastating surprises, 1 definition.

I didn’t lose my shit on ICB. It was tempting, but instead I did breathing exercises, cried a little bit, did some more breathing exercises, told myself I had no reason not to trust him. Just because he had been fucking her before didn’t mean he was fucking her now. It sounded in fact like this was a talk to really wrap things up, distill any situationship type uncertainties. That was a good thing, the kinda thing I’d come to expect from ICB who’s never disrespected me. I was ok with the Amie. I didn’t need to ask questions that were none of my business.

10 days later I asked ICB questions that were none of my business.

It turns out that their fight had nothing to do with them fucking, and everything to do with worrisome self-destructive behaviour she was engaging in. Oh. No fucking? No fucking, why? Lalalala I didn’t hear your question, let’s move on. No fucking. Why?!

So I explained that the word Amie is forever tainted. My brain is aware of the Merriam-Webster definition of friend, but my body and my heart know the fuckboy version of friend. It’s a physical reaction. It’s an unfair one, but it’s the result of 5 years of gaslighting. I can’t fight it. But Vanilla, I’m not them. I’m me. ICB. I’m not them, you can’t react to them, you have to react to meBruh, you’re right. I’m trying.

It was bound to happen, I suppose.

Yesterday I noticed a girl commenting on one of ICB’s posts, using a term of endearment that just happens to be the same one I call him. So I clicked on her profile, and down the rabbit hole I went. Pretty: check. A model: check. Good at selfies: check. Professional pics where she looks beautiful: check. Pics with no makeup where she looks even better: check. Tasteful sideboob: check. ICB like every single one of them. I stopped checking when I got as far back as July.

Do I think they are fucking? No, not really. She isn’t all over his page, yet. But… ICB hasn’t liked a single one of my instagram pics. The funny ones. The sexy ones. The photography ones. Nada. I am pretty sure the last time he liked one of my Facebook posts was in July. I don’t think he has ever liked one of my blog posts, even tho he dutifully reads wtv I send him. But he had time to like 3 month’s worth of pics of some girl’s IG profile.

The hurt was nauseating. All the symptoms that were common with Hickster resurfaced. The shaking hands, the uncontrollable crying, the urge to howl away my pain, the dread of a coworker walking by and seeing my miserable anguished meltdown.

After my last fight with Hickster, a 45 minute screaming match during which I lost my voice from yelling in a busy downtown metro station in the middle of rush hour, I’ve cut all ties with him, completely. Deleted and blocked him and most of his friends from my social media and every possible means of communication. They do not exist. I cannot find them via search, nor they me. Every reminder of Hickster has been flushed from my life. All the unfinished and unresolved business issues? Too bad. I’ve cut my losses. Could I have pursued and maybe eventually won? Maybe, but it was killing me. Not a hyperbole. Frankly, I’ve really really blossomed in the weeks since I’ve cut him out of my life. I might have known before that drama and happiness are mutually exclusive, but peace? My god, the bliss. Not having to ignore that feeling of dread every time I checked my phone – what would I find? Another mean, belittling text? Silence? An impersonal business question? 7 missed calls and an angry voicemail? I am free from all of that.

But I am not healed. My peace is not coming from a place of forgiveness or love. It is coming from the ability to ignore both Hickster’s existence and any reminder of my unresolved wounds. My impulse upon discovering ICB’s IG liking spree was to ghost him. To just walk away. I didn’t want to have to work through the disappointment, or talk about this with him. Just too hard. Much easier to bounce and add him to the list of things I won’t ever think about again because they hurt and make me sad.

It’s great discovering one is a coward. Annoying too, because now that I am aware of my cowardice, I gotta knuckle down and face this situation properly.

But Vanilla, I’m not them. I’m me. ICB. I’m not them, you can’t react to them, you have to react to me. 

That is true. As far as hurtful things go, ICB’s IG like-bonanza was a small relatively harmless moment in time. His motivation was probably nothing more than an appreciation for a friend’s newly discovered and very well curated IG profile. He’s not a thirsty dude. He is respectful. He would never, EVER voluntarily hurt me. ICB is no asshole. But the fact of the matter is, the list of things that matter more than I do is a long one. Top of mind, I am not. And from there, it is a very small step till I am back in the overwhelming ache of “I am not enough.”

Now that I’ve mostly sorted through what is the ICB-specific hurt and the unhealed tsunami of wounds-past… mostly I am just tired. And sad. I feel so much sorrow for the permanent deep scars the men in my life have inflicted upon me. Men I loved. Deeply. My bad for having given them so much of myself when they didn’t deserve it… but damn. I gave them love, time, money, energy, health. They gave me back brokenness. To this day, I’ll defend them as not being all bad. But it makes me sad, so very sad, to accept that this happened to me… because I let it.

They treated me as not enough, because I let them. I did not believe I am enough. I hoped with each one that if I just stuck it out, tried harder to show them just how worthy I was, maybe, maybe, they would find me enough.

They didn’t.

Here I am, left with brokenness, baggage and non-existent coping techniques. Self-inflicted, through my desperation to be seen, acknowledged and loved.

Part of me feels very silly. Here I am writing a long post about the hurt I feel bc of some IG stalking I did, and imma post it because I can’t not get this off my chest. I’ll eventually bring this to ICB’s attention. Or I won’t. Either way, it’s passive aggressive AF, but I can’t do better. This is gonna be a fight that is gonna be so silly. A fight about Instagram likes. How petty can I be?


Petty enough to say “I won’t accept this. This is not enough.”


That time I wasn’t vanilla

My naive theory

Time and time again, I have had to learn the truism that a person’s occupation does not shed light onto their character: a garbage truck driver is not necessarily a dirty old man and a mortician is not likely to be a necrophiliac. While I have no trouble accepting that less glamorous jobs do not imply less pleasant characters, I seem unable to accept the inverse about artists and athletes. It is well documented that many artists throughout the ages have had repulsive or broken characters. It boggles my mind that the ability to create and see beauty does not imply a greater insight or morals than the rest of us. Naive. Similarly, when it comes to elite athletes, I always assume that the discipline and work ethic that is required to make it to the top must indicate a responsible, ethical character. If someone is willing and capable to bike all those miles in the Tour de France over and over again, deal with the drudgery and sacrifices necessary to be an athlete, that person must be honest and hardworking. Ain’t that so, Lance Armstrong?

Growing up in Montreal, and enjoying sports myself, I have been privileged to meet and befriend many athletes, of all levels, and many sports: amateur, national, Olympic and pro athletes; swimmers, boxers and kickboxers, hockey, rugby and football players. I have dated a few. I once went on a couple of dates with a water polo player on the national team, because he liked pickled herring. I love pickled herring, not the most common of favorite foods, so I assumed his preference for this delicacy meant that we were soul mates. It turns out we had almost nothing else in common. Next!

Case study: El Athletico

It started off lightheartedly. Athletico romanced me for several weeks. Some moments were sweet, some were dorky, all of them were fun. I was a snob: I felt our backgrounds were too different, it would never work. I wasn’t ready for anything serious, too busy enjoying the dating scene, with all my amusing trainwrecks. I was standoffish; he was persistent. I eventually gave in, touched that he would think I was worth pursuing for so long.

I experienced my first non-vanilla moment. I was intimidated the first time I saw it: it confirmed a popular racial stereotype. I did not handle that situation with grace. I read up on the topic, to see if my inadequacy could be overcome (my Google history is permanently more “colorful”). The most common advice: relax – difficult to do when you are worried about internal hemorrhaging. Never fear, I learned to enjoy myself. #personalgrowth

The romance quickly dried up, given the very limited quantity of shared interests. We settled into (very) casually seeing each other for a few months. I enjoyed his beautiful body, and the boost to my ego, knowing quite well that the expiration date on this arrangement would sooner or later arrive.

The unexpected expiration date

In the days immediately preceding one of Athletico’s competitions, I reached out to some of his friends, with whom I was slightly acquainted, to see if a group viewing could be arranged. During one such conversation, a girl referred to Athletico as her boyfriend.

Full stop.

My first thought was to not let my dismay show. My impulse was not to say anything to her, to shield her from the fact that her boyfriend was a cheating shit. Never having been faced with anything similar before, I wanted time to think, and figure out the best way to navigate what would undoubtedly be a very messy situation.

Unsurprisingly, I failed in my attempt at moderated facial expressions. An hour later, she messaged me, noting that I had looked surprised when she mentioned Athletico was her boyfriend, was there something she should know?

Unwilling to lie point-blank, I called her and told her. Awful. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know, I never thought to ask him” does not seem adequate in the circumstances.

The screening for STDs

Needless to say, I decided to get tested for STDs, following that interesting discovery. I dragged myself to the nearest clinic, the longest walk of shame I have ever done. I waited miserably in the waiting room while my mind played a broken record of self-hatred: “Slut, whore, home-wrecker, trash…

The nurse was sweet and business-like, as she asked me an interminable list of questions, including but not limited to:

  • Did you use syringes together?
  • Did he ever have anal sex with another man?
  • Did you guys ever engage in rough sex, exposing each other to the other’s blood?

She summarized: “So the only reason you are at risk is because you were having sex with someone who had multiple sexual partners!” That sounded quite vanilla. I’ll take it.

A few weeks later, I got the call that I was clean. Thank you, Athletico, for not saddling me with any more problems.

The aftermath

He had some of my stuff, which he eventually dropped off at my work. I wanted him to see fancy the lobby of my office building, full of beautiful, corporate, intimidating lawyers and accountants, to see how much I belonged to this fast-paced powerful world, and for him to feel out-of-place – I thought that might even out the dynamic.

I thanked him for my stuff, and turned to leave. But he was too fast for me: in front of the security guards (who had been attempting to stop his access to the building, much to my enjoyment), he stepped back, looked me over, and with an appreciative smirk, told me how hot I looked. I coldly thanked him again, and left.

I’d barely made it back to my desk, totally spent from the effort of appearing calm and unbothered, when the texts started coming in on my phone: crude compliments about how sexy I looked at work.

The next day he left on a romantic getaway trip with his girlfriend.

She is still with him and they seem stronger than ever – clearly, she is better at forgiveness than me. I run into them, occasionally, because the world is a small place, and Montreal is even smaller; I smile and pretend I am not resentful, for her sake. But I am. Every time I see him, I remember that he successfully flattered me with empty words; that I let myself be blinded by a beautiful physique; that he never saw me as a person, only as a hole that would help satisfy his needs; and that by indulging my shallow impulses, I allowed myself to be the unwitting means by which he hurt his girlfriend.

It will be a long time before I stop having uncomfortable recollections.