We need to talk.
Now now, don’t panic. It’s all going to be okay. Just take a seat. Can I get you a tea? No? Okay. I’ll crack on then. *Exhales*. Shit, this is hard. But I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and…well, the thing is…I need to stop dating.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt the urge to take a break from love. Back when I was using dating apps, there were times when I’d lose my patience and delete the whole lot in a flare of frustration. Yeah well, fuck you too, I’d think grumpily, NO CLAM JAM FOR YOU. Then I’d sit and sulk for a few days like a spanked bottom before invariably crawling back, lured by the promise of a sweeter tomorrow.
This time it feels different. I haven’t been on a date with anyone but the Thai in months. I haven’t been on the apps in almost a year. Partly it’s tiredness. Last year I started a course in gender studies. In the absence of one woman, I reasoned, I’d find succour in the company of all women. That’s all very well until you realise that spending night after night with the feminist intelligentsia has whittled you down to little more than a stump with a book in her hands.
Working, studying and writing is taking its toll. Sometimes I get to the end of the day and find all my words are gone. I scrape the bottom of the barrel, gingerly handling the dregs one by one: insipid, scour, fractious, goon. “Use your words,” the Thai used to retort when I’d sit there gasping like a fish in response to some question she’d posed.
Guilt snaps at my heels. Time not spent working feels like a gross indulgence. Can you really afford to watch TV my conscience will whisper as I drool deliriously onto the remote control. Relaxation is no longer something to savour, like a fine wine, but a tonic to choke down in gulps so I have energy for the next push. Time and punishment: it’s the story of my bloody life.
Partly then, I just don’t have the time. But I also feel like I need to slow things down. I keep assuming my future wife is just around the corner, but most women my age – gay, straight or otherwise – are already spoken for. Perhaps it’s time to settle in for the long haul and accept the likelihood that I’ll make an appearance in someone’s second or third act rather than their first. If dating is a marathon and not a sprint, then I’m well past due a water break.
So where does this leave us?
I still care, of course I do. I just worry I have nothing to give at the moment. I hope we can still be friends though because I love hanging out with you. I guess what I’m trying to say is things might be a bit different for a while, but bear with me. Can I get you that tea now? Milk and sugar? Okay great. And thanks so much for understanding, you’re an absolute babe. Now, what’s going on with you?