How did it all start?
Sometime Mid October 2020: We matched on Tinder. His question to me was: “Is that your favourite beanie?”
My reply: “Is that why you swiped right? To ask me that question?”
We hit it off – he’d write every day, just a small exchange. And then quiet for a while. I’m used to people going silent on Tinder – because that means they found someone. And since I wasn’t dating anyone, and travel ban in India was lifted, I decided to go to India for 4 months to do some research work and relax a bit at my parents. I could work remotely, and classes were still online – so this was a good idea. Day after I bought my last-minute tickets and went on a 14 days self-quarantine – he messaged on Tinder – asking me for my Whatsapp as it is easier to connect there. I thought – why not. Seems like a decent person.
On 2nd November we started chatting on WhatsApp – on 16th I left for India. He asked me out for a hike on 7th November and I informed him about self-quarantine and that I am gone for 4 months. So I will understand if he doesn’t want to keep any contact. Cause, be real, who wants to wait to meet someone from Tinder for 4 months? But then he said he’d like to keep chatting and I proposed it would be nice to get to know each other – and we agreed to keep on exchanging messages. Without meeting up, without anything physical, – just getting to know each other.
And so, the online courtship began.
He was the most affectionate, caring, charming man I have met. Texts in the morning, afternoon, evening, night. Video calls. We would even sit and watch The Mandalorian and The Queen’s Gambit, while on Google meets. Talk all the time about our needs, wants, hopes and wishes. Even fears, ex’s, both our ex, and toxic relationships. what makes them toxic. I was slowly letting him in as he kept pushing through my walls with affection and persistence. He kept telling me “I need you to trust me, let me in. I’m here for you”.
I was a fool, I’m realising that now. But then? I even shared/talked to him about things that stopped me from easily trusting. He shared about his fears as well – and how badly Laura (L) his ex’s toxicity affected him. I was clear from the beginning that I want a long-term relationship if I click with a man, and definitely I want children. He was iffy about the children part. So I told him that we shouldn’t go ahead at this speed if he knows he doesn’t want any kids. We should call this off. He said after a long pause – “I never wanted children and neither did Laura, so I never gave this a thought.” I told him: “I’m not L, I am not 12 years younger than you are. I have a biological clock ticking and I don’t want to fall for someone who doesn’t see himself as a dad. We shouldn’t go forward with this. Let’s just remain friends.” To that he replied: “I have enough friends, I don’t need more. With you I see a partner. I want a relationship with you.” And after a long deliberation he said he’s in but still needed to digest this decision.
Then one day he went jogging with his best friend of 15years. A 45-year-old German guy, with bunch of “opinions”. That evening he came back saying he doesn’t see himself ever wanting to have kids. By now we are in mid-January. 31st December and 1st, 2nd, & 3rd of January we spent all day cooped-in our rooms, chatting with each other, on video, off video, all day, all night – falling asleep to each other’s voices and waking up to each other’s “good morning”. This is happening every single day. I am lowering my wall; I am trusting him slowly. And then he came up with this. I panicked and said – “then we want different things, and I cannot be with you if you want something that I don’t, and we should separate our ways before falling for each other”.
He takes it as an ultimatum rather than someone pointing out as incompatibility. He goes back to this friend and discusses – and comes back to me with – “I am iffy about it, but I’m willing to give it a try. Let’s meet first, and then we decide.”
Fair enough. I though. And I told him, “I am just making my hopes and wishes clear and transparently put infront. So that later there is no reproaching me.” He said: “I understand and thank you for your honesty“.
Fair enough I thought. We get even closer. He does everything right, says everything right, posts on Instagram about us (which was surprising as I never met a man who would take the first step to do something like that – perhaps that love-bombing did make me feel giddy and fall for him more?), then he tells me about his workmate – a fellow physiotherapist who met his partner online. And how he – my Ferdinand the Bull – is looking forward to having me in his arms. Everyday. I have my work and studies, and he has his work – and then we remain on video all evening long, even when I’m driving I have him lingering through calls and texts. Even while he’s on his Google campaign projects – I’m there going through my study/work materials online. We are practically doing everything together. We are perfectly happy, like an old couple. Like how I saw my parents together.
We were getting to know each other. He’d complain about his ex and how she exploited his kindness, how he changed himself to fit her, how she kept “warm” with this guy behind his back and ended up with him as soon as he left. Even there I would – like I do with my girlfriends – check pros-&-cons and help him see that his ex was still exploiting his kindness, – and help him make a clear cut from her. He said: “Dee, you push me in the right direction. This is what I need. I can’t do this without you.”
We are perfectly happy. Then one day his friend comes to visit him while he is on a video conference with me. After a short introduction, my Ferdinand the Bull (FtB) goes to the loo. His friend immediately jumps into interrogation mode – asking me in his broken English and High-German mix: Why do you want kids? He doesn’t want. Why do you want?
I was shocked by this information, and his boldness.
I replied: Because I always wanted family and kids. And to me that is deeply ingrained into my hopes and dreams of future with someone I love or want to spend my life with or be in a long term relationship with… I’m not a 20something woman, I’m past mid 30’s. So to me it is important that while dating the person knows what he’s getting into without feeling trapped in a relationship later.
He was quiet. Then he said: You want to be with a man with a 5cm dick?
I was flabbergasted. But kept my cool and replied: I am sorry, I didn’t get you?
He repeated: Will you be satisfied by his 5cm…mmm… a tiny bit bigger maybe… dick?
FtB entered the room and asks: What? What are you guys talking about?
His friend replies: Its between me and her (he replies in German). Nothing you need to know.
I was alarmed. This is not a good sign. With a friend like this who needs an enemy, I thought. But I kept quiet cause I knew this friend is important to him. Stood by him when his mother passed and it was hard for FtB. Stood by him through his many many short-term relationships, as FtB admitted that he had a commitment problem. Reasons that I cannot talk about in public, it’s his tale to tell – not mine.
Days passed. We had another argument. Again, about the child issue. Again, we solved it. New issue came up now, his ex. She owed him money and wanted him to be friends with the guy she cheated on him with. I was alarmed again. This man is coming out of an abusive toxic relationship. Am I his bounce back? I asked him directly – he said: “No. I have had plenty other women since my ex. You are not a bounce back.” It is hard for me to believe, as every bit of me starts to ring in alarm – sensing red signal. Then I thought, I had an abusive marriage too – and perhaps I am over-reacting. And he kept begging me to give him a chance and I decided – OK.
Things were rosy again. He wanted to buy me a gift for when we meet.
You see, I have a thing about gifts. I associate it with boyfriends/partners/husbands who did something wrong, feeling guilty about it and thus wants to give something to feel less guilty. So when he said he has a gift for me when we meet – I told him: Please no gifts. I’m not comfortable about it. We aren’t even officially together.
To me, a gift has to be a surprise, and coming from a place of observation. Something as a couple you notice about the one you love, realise the joy and glimmer in their eyes when they see that thing, and buy/make/procure it for them to surprise them at a good time. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be a gesture like plucking some wild flowers, sending a postcard, writing a love filled message, caring enough to make sure the other one has eaten something… to me those are the best gifts.
But something told me, his idea of gifts were more materialistic. It worried me quite a bit. But the Scrooge that he is – he was also relieved that I wasn’t into gifts. I think he thought of materialistic gifts – money spending- and blocked out the rest of the information. Cause he explicitly said: “Laura insisted that I buy her small gifts all the time, cause thats what couples do”.
I’m not the kind of woman to feel comfortable having my boyfriend’s credit-card on me to go shopping. Neither do I want gifts all the time. It would make me panic and feel trapped. But I realised that he is more used to seeing that type of women. Which is great, cause all of us women are different and unique in our own ways – but that’s not me.
I’m traditional on gifts. Gesture (be it an expensive gesture or an inexpensive gesture), kindness, honesty, affection, harmony, observation (knowing each other’s wants, needs, happiness, well-being), standing-up for the one I love – is far more important to me as a gift than diamonds and “here’s my credit card, go shopping”. For crying out loud, I’m not Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Hell! I don’t even like diamond rings and branded jewelleries (as a designer I look at brands for regional comparisons of consumers taste). I prefer light blue sapphire and red rubies, hand plucked flowers and salted nuts, road trips and new books, personalised playlists with songs for me, cuddling in front of the fire and sipping red wine – expensive and inexpensive. It’s about knowing the person, about loving the person, about being intoxicated by their scent, by their kisses, by their attitude towards the one they love.
Alas – no one is the same. But at-least some of us communicate it – while others don’t listen to that communication.
Mid-February. Valentine’s day. We fight again. We were not just always cooped in – he’d meet his friends and go hiking, I’d meet mine too and travel for field research. I had planned that after my exams, we could sit around and spend time watching a movie together. But he had planned out the day with his friend. But when I objected – he was defensive, but then wrote over a text: “I am sorry my Buu that I did not think of that date.. shame on me.. let’s just cancel the hike and brunch and spend the day together…”
It touched me deeply. That he decided to stay for me instead of going for a hike with his friend (whatever-bless-her-soul-name-is and her friend). But it was late as when he was adamant over the phone on 13th – not seeing it necessary to be “celebrating a commercial day”. Fair enough, so I let him off hook. But that night he texted saying he was sorry and he wants to spend the day with me. Too late, – I had already planned lunch with family, exams during late afternoon, and dinner with my cat-lady darling fellow-madcap writer friend Sue. I didn’t want her to be left hanging as she hadn’t spent time with anyone in a while because of COVID situation and as a friend, I couldn’t let her have a V-day alone. Cause to me V-day is not commercial celebration of love, but showing you care about those close to you by being there for them.
He understood it. That day, I felt I could talk to him about everything and felt he would support it.
A day or two later he goes jogging with this 45-year-old again. Again, another instance with this friend, left us arguing, and me backing off and taking all the blame for myself. My problem is that I self-reflect too much, and overburden myself with self-blame – as I want peace and positive energy around me, I often question my doings to know if it is right or wrong.
Oh! Forgot to mention – he had been sending me a count down every day till the day we first met. Every day. That was a gesture that I took as a loving, caring, gift.
Now, I’m beginning to see, I am an idealist, a romantic. And that is not something that is appreciated in todays world. What a fucked up society we truly are!
I will write more tomorrow. Today I can’t. I can’t understand… how… from such a high level of care one can go to nothing. I’m in pain. Can’t stop checking his messages from V-Day. I can’t stop crying. And I am working from home today, and will have classes at the same time – all day on Zoom.
This hurts. This hurts differently.
**I couldn’t stay strong, I had to make sure he eats cause he forgets to eat while working. Why do I care so much?**