I was in India for two weeks. I had an absolutely wonderful time.
I was with a group of friends from University. We all lived on the same corridor in our halls of residence. One of the group was getting married in India so we all went out there together for the wedding.
In some ways, it was the best holiday I’ve ever had. My friend’s Indian relatives made us so welcome, it was really special experience. After the wedding we went to a more touristy part of India for a more general holiday, which we also loved.
However, whenever I was on my own, especially when I was trying to sleep at night, I worried about Whippersnapper and what was going to happen when I got back.
I also felt a bit lonely, as most of my friends were in couples. Every time we checked into a different hotel, and I only needed a single room, I felt a bit sad. It’s horrible missing someone when you don’t even know if they’ll be there when you get back.
After I had given him the letter, before I left for India, I had said we shouldn’t be in touch until I got back.
The first week I was away, although I was apprehensive, I kind of thought it would be OK. This was because the conversation had gone so well when we talked in person. I had told him the gist of the letter, and he had said really positive things. It seemed like he really didn’t want it to end between us.
However, one night, halfway through the holiday, I was wide awake at about 2am and I suddenly thought It could be over. I felt really worried and sad.
One thing that made me worry, was his response when I texted him after my visit to the Sexual Health clinic. I knew it was me that insisted on no contact, but given how well he had responded to me verbally explaining the letter, I thought when I reopened the portcullis to say I didn’t have genital warts, he might’ve said something like “by the way, I read the letter and it’s fine!”
I was getting back on a Friday. We had agreed we would meet on the Sunday to talk. WS had said “if we do decide to stop dating, we should definitely do it in person, not over WhatsApp.” I had completely agreed.
I spent a lot of my holiday thinking about this meeting – what I would wear, what I would say etc.
On my last full day in India, we got wifi in a cafe, and I saw I had an email from TFL, saying there was a tube strike planned for Sunday. I felt really stressed, because I predicted he would see this an insurmountable obstacle to us meeting that day, despite me thinking it was pretty easy to plan around. The strike was planned to go until Tuesday night, so I wondered if he’d suggest cancelling our meeting until Wednesday. I couldn’t wait that long. And what kind of message did it send, if his first reaction after Cancellationgate, is to cancel something for yet another feeble reason?
“What should I do, if he cancels the meeting, because of the tube strike?” I asked one of the male friends I was on holiday with. He often has a very succinct but fair perspective on things.
“I think given it’s his performance review, he should probably get an Uber if there’s a tube strike.” My friend replied.
I don’t know why I started talking about my dealings with Whippersnapper using HR terms. I think it started when a work colleague asked how it was going, and I said “really well, except for the cancellations.” When I saw her another time, she said “so have you talked to him about his performance?” and I said “it’s not his performance that’s the problem, it’s his attendance record!” So when I gave him the letter, I joked that it was a written warning, and we started referring to The Meeting as his performance review.
I got home on the Friday evening, exhausted and spaced out. Some of the showers I had in India were great, but others consisted of kneeling in front of a lukewarm tap, so I very much enjoyed my first steaming hot west London shower that night.
On the Saturday morning, because of my jet lag, I woke up at about 5am.
I sent WS a text saying I was back, that my holiday was great but I missed him.
My friend had stayed at my flat on the Friday night, because his flight home from London wasn’t until the next day. We went out for lunch together, and he noted that I didn’t seem very happy. I was distracted and troubled, waiting for WS to text back. But I was also so excited about seeing him again.
Later that afternoon, after my friend had gone, WS finally replied. We made some small talk.
Then the bombshell was dropped.
I remember very clearly that I was ironing, which seems out of character for me. My phone was on the coffee table, and I heard it go off.
Great! He’s texted me again!
I didn’t want to open the message right away. Even though we were back on the same continent, the small talk made it feel like there was this enormous distance between us, so I had been trying to reignite The Formula to play it cool.
I left it a few minutes, then opened his message.
“So, [Dater Analysis] I did read your letter, firstly I’m really sorry for how I made you feel bad. It wasn’t my intention! And even though my reasons were genuine, I can see that they make me look like a flake and like I’m messing you around.
“I do really like you. And it’s a great laugh when we hang out. But I just don’t think I can be in a monogamous relationship: I think that I don’t really know how but mainly, I’m just not ready yet. I have decided I really need to get over my own self-image problems and issues before I have a relationship or even have sex with somebody.
“I think my overall relationship with sex and how I see dating is just intrinsically wrong, and the only way I’ll really get over it is if I have time on my own and get my shit together properly. It’s almost like I need a year off dating or having sex or relationships or being worried about how I look – otherwise the pressure builds up and my mind ventures into horrible dark spots.
“I’m sorry. I hope you know that none of the above or this decision has been caused by you – you’re lovely and hilarious and brilliant and beautiful, it’s just unfortunate that of all the people you could meet and like, I was that guy, considering my problems.
This probably won’t make any sense, but I hope you understand. I would like to stay in touch if you are ok with that x”
This was my reaction:
I felt like all the colour had been sucked out of my world.
I stumbled backwards onto the sofa behind me. I stared at my phone for few minutes, and then burst into tears.
I felt like this:
“I thought you didn’t want to end things over WhatsApp.” I replied.
I probably wasn’t focusing on the most important detail.
We had a text conversation, which started out OK, but was not great by the end.
I said things like
- I’m a bit gutted but maybe you’re doing the right thing. If you think you need to be on your own to sort out your body image problems, maybe you’re right.
- I just really hope you will use this time to sorting it out, instead of just running away from things with me, and not actually changing anything.
- I just feel sad and gutted because I don’t think I’ve ever had such a strong connection with someone before. Normally when I start dating someone I’m like “I don’t know, we’ll see what happens” but when I met you, for some reason I felt like “Oh my fucking god! This guy! It’s going to be amazing!” You will be hard to get over.
Then it got worse.
He wanted to stay friends, but I said I couldn’t – it would be too painful. I said “I could never feel about you how I feel about my friends. With exes, in time, I could do the same as with normal friends, and genuinely want them to be happy with other women, and even give relationship advice. I could never do that with you. I like you too much.”
I wanted to meet up to talk, to say goodbye and help me understand, but he didn’t want to. He said “I can’t see the point in us seeing each other again if we won’t keep in contact ever again – I’ve had that before with women and it just leaves me feeling more upset.”
So it was stalemate.
It transpired he couldn’t even meet the next day anyway, as he was no longer free, as he was playing football. That really pissed me off, as I’d spent weeks thinking about what would happen when we met on that Sunday, and he knew full well that it was never going to happen.
In the end, he said some more things that pissed me off, and it felt like we’d said everything there was left to say, so I wrote “Goodbye [Whippersnapper] xxx.”
He wrote “Oh, OK. Goodbye [Dater Analysis]. Maybe we’ll cross paths again x.”