There are lots of mistakes you can make, these days, with your phone. There’s a whole new genre of ways to embarrass yourself. There are ill-advised drunk texts, calling someone by mistake, accidentally liking a photo while stalking someone…
A lot of these have happened to me recently. Some I’ve done, others have been done to me.
Two bits of contextual information first; I never saw Whippersnapper 2 again. I texted him saying that while I enjoyed our date, it made me realise it was too soon. He sent an adorable reply:
“can we not still just hang out? Sorry, i like you. You’re awesome. We don’t have to jump into bed or into a relationship if you don’t want to. I’m perfectly happy to enjoy being with you.”
I thought that was so sweet, I agreed to meet again, for a friendly drink.
Then he cancelled on the day, only a few hours beforehand, for a rubbish reason. I told him I have ‘a very low threshold of tolerance for cancellations these days’ and that was that.
First WS1 was flaky, now WS2. Is all this cancelling a young person thing? When I make plans with someone, I write it in my diary IN PEN and think it’s definitely going to happen. Am I part of a dying breed?
Secondly, that week it was the anniversary of my ex-boyfriend’s death, and it went way better than expected.
A week had passed since WS1 broke up with me. Our text breakup-conversation ended with the implication we’d never speak again.
However, I decided to contact him the following Saturday afternoon.
This was because I knew he’d realised it was the anniversary, and I knew he’d wonder how I was. I really think he helped me turn a corner with my grief, and I wanted to tell him.
“Hey, I think you know from Facebook that it was the anniversary on Thursday.
“I just wanted to tell you that it was ok. In fact, although it’s been a really tough week, Thursday was the best the anniversary has ever been.
“I wanted to tell you because I think it’s partly down to you. Because you helped me feel less guilty about what happened, with all the helpful things you said. I really have felt less guilty since I did that pie chart, which I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for you.
“I never settled on what to do on that day each year, but I tried to use avoidance and numbing to manage the bad feelings.
“This time, because I already felt sad about us ending, it weirdly made me feel braver. I went home and I did things I’ve been avoiding since 2012. I was ready to look into the abyss and it just turned out to be a little room. I had an emotional but good day.
“Anyway, I hope you know how special you are, for being able to help me like that. You’re caring, and you’re wiser and more emotionally intelligent than some men older than me who I’ve been with.
“I’m so glad I met you, because of all the positive stuff you gave me, even though this bit (missing you) really sucks.
“I hope you’re ok? Lots of love, [Dater Analysis].”
He replied a few hours later, with a lovely message. He said he’d felt so bad when he realised it was the anniversary. He said some philosophical things about guilt and dismissed that he’d helped that much. He said lovely things about my ex.
He also said:
“I’m so glad I met you too. You’re amazing and if i didn’t have all this baggage, I know I’d want to be with you. I hope you also know that even though you might be sad because we aren’t dating any longer, there’s absolutely nothing you did wrongly or badly – all of the reasons are my own stuff I have to work through.”
Then, that night, I woke up at 3am, for no apparent reason. I lay in the dark for a minute, then my phone went off. It was him.
“I know this will seem wrong [Dater Analysis] but I do think when we were dating, I actually loved you. It’s a strange world.”
Oh my GOD.
I wasn’t sure how to respond. We never said the L-word when we were together, although we hinted at it. After a few minutes, I wrote
“I felt the same.
“Ever since that night when you said you had a fireworks display in your chest, I was feeling the beginnings of it then.
“But what is there to gain by telling me this now?”
He wrote “I dunno. Maybe to try and bring context to how fucked up I am. And also to prove to you that I’m an elusive snake that puts his own feelings/hatred for himself above every other fucking thing. It’s bad init.”
OK. I’ve never been in this situation before. What’s the correct protocol for how to respond here?
“I wish you were here now with your little elusive snake.” I replied. I’m not sure why I said that, it wasn’t really appropriate. But it was 3am.
The conversation continued with his pissed but weirdly articulate ramblings until he passed out at about 5:30am. He was saying things like:
- I’m a fly-by-night slacker waster commitment-phobe cunt
- I’d love to be your boyfriend, but I’m too fucked and anxiously insular
I was saying things like
- it’s horrible to hear you describe yourself so cruelly when no one deserves it less.
- Some people might say the best way to get over your problems is to stay together with someone like me, and get through it with my support (‘hand in hand’ as you once said).
The next morning we had some awkward chat and went our separate ways.
A week later, a similar pattern occurred. This time I was in an Uber at 2am when I got a message saying:
“I do love you. But I’m nothing special. You deserve a hell of a lot more than my toast crumbs x”.
We had some weird banter about toast, then I said something like “these toast crumbs might have more nutrients and vitamins than anything else on the menu.”
This time, it descended into a long, angry message about how bad his body image problems were. This included:
- I spend every waking moment looking at myself in the mirror, checking out how bad I look
- Why can’t anybody understand that half of the time I literally wish I was dead so that it would stop the constant whirring in mind of whether I look fat
(Just to reiterate, this guy is slim and objectively very handsome.)
I had fallen asleep and didn’t see the message until about 6am. I wrote a reply saying I was sorry I didn’t 100% understand but I understood some bits a lot, and that I was so sorry it was like that for him. I said he looked perfect and was perfect inside.
He sent a slightly perfunctory reply on Sunday afternoon, saying “sorry for the messages last night, thank you for being nice.”
At this stage, I felt quite hopeful we might potentially get back together. I didn’t think it was a given, but I thought maybe there was a 50% chance. We never said we loved each other when we were together, but hinted it, like when he told me he’d fallen for me. Now he didn’t seem able to stop saying it when he was drunk. Despite the alcohol, it felt like he meant it, and was saying things he’d been struggling with for ages.
It seemed so obvious that the only barrier to us being together was his BDD and self esteem, and that’s exactly the kind of problem I get paid to fix every day at work.
At first, I had said “if you think you need to be alone to sort out your body image, maybe you’re right.” But now I thought, actually, if a patient with BDD told me they’d broken up with their supportive girlfriend to have a year off sex and dating and work on their body image, I’d think “oh no! Don’t do that!”.
I’d think they need to stay in the situation and confront their fears head-on. Just like if a patient had spider phobia, I wouldn’t advise them to go and live in a spider-free environment for a year, I’d tell them to pick up a tarantula.
I wanted to be his tarantula.
Accidental phone calls
At this time, all my friends spent a lot of time being shown these messages and being asked for detailed opinions, analyses and predictions. It was as if the WhatsApp messages were England World Cup goals, and my friends were pundits on Sky Sports at half time.
One evening, I was visiting a friend. Her name wasn’t Leah, but let’s say it was. She’s a fellow CBT therapist, but currently on maternity leave, and also one of the most patient, supportive and fun people I know. I’ve never had a baby, but I’m sure that when you’re holding a sleepless, wriggling baby on a Saturday night, there’s nothing you’d like to do more than be forced to trawl through reams and reams of drunk messages, and to analyse them as closely as if they’re the Dead Sea Scrolls or a Shakespeare play you have a GCSE exam on the next day.
At one point she handed the phone back to me, and somehow, something went wrong with the way I took it from her hand. I looked at the screen. It said “Calling Whippersnapper…”.
“Oh. My God. I’m calling him! How do I make it stop!” I could hear the little phone ringing sound coming out of it.
I felt absolutely frozen with panic. I think Leah was too. I closed WhatsApp and went to the home screen on my phone, thinking that would help, but of course, it just continued phoning him and now meant I had no access to the button I needed to end the call.
My life started to flash before my eyes.
And then it stopped. Thank goodness.
I immediately sent him a message saying “That was an accident.”
He replied straight away, saying “Hey that’s OK.” How quickly he replied made me think he had definitely seen I was phoning him as it happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d been as frozen with panic as I was. He always seemed a bit scared of speaking on the phone.
Later on, I sent a follow-up message saying “So sorry I accidentally called you. I was showing Leah something on my phone and she handed the phone back to me while holding the baby…” and then a long rambling description of how my life ended up flashing before my eyes.
Showing Leah ‘something’ on my phone.
It may not have been immediately obvious that the reason I’d accidentally called him was a mishap while scrutinising his messages with a friend, but I’m pretty sure after that, it was 100% obvious.
When I left Leah’s, I put my earphones in to walk to the tube, and the first song that came on was ‘He’s on the phone’ by Saint Etienne, which made me laugh.
A week later, I went to a club with a friend. I was very much in the mood to find some Whippersnapper Methadone on the dance floor. I ended up meeting a lovely, handsome, tall South African man.
We didn’t have much of a conversation, we just shouted some basic demographic information into each other’s ears. But he seemed really nice from that. It’s always nice when someone in a club is actually slightly older than me, which he was. He hadn’t been to that club before, which I like because of the music, but he said he really liked it.
He was the first person I’d ever kissed with a big, bushy hipster beard. This sort of thing:
(That’s not actually him).
I’ve never been attracted to the hipster beard, as it always reminds me of Mr Twit’s beard in the Roald Dahl book:
However, with this chap, I was surprised his beard was much less of an obstacle than I expected.
Thoughts that went through my head while kissing him:
- wow, I hardly notice his beard now!
- What was his name again?
- He’s 85% as good a kisser as Whippersnapper
- God I miss Whippersnapper
Then he put his hands under my top and touched my spine in a way that really took my mind off Whippersnapper.
He was quite eager for us to “get out of here”, but I hadn’t done my bikini line for ages and didn’t fancy it. I was keen to see him again though. After a bit more dancing and kissing, I decided to go home.
We exchanged numbers. When I’d put my coat in the cloakroom, it had my phone in the pocket, so I didn’t have my phone on me.
He put my number into his phone, and I watched him do it. Then he gave me a missed call, so I would have his number. I saw it, on his screen, saying “calling [Dater Analysis]”.
“OK, great! I’ll see you soon!” I said goodbye.
When I got out of the club to go home, I took my phone out of my coat pocket and saw there was no missed call from anyone.
He must’ve got a digit from my phone number wrong!
I couldn’t think of any way of getting back in touch with him, and he must’ve thought I was ignoring him, if he tried to contact me. Since WS, he’s probably the man I’ve found least disappointing, so it’s a shame I won’t get to be surprised by his beard’s unobtrusiveness again.
Accidentally liking someone’s Facebook photo
One evening, I was alone in my flat, pining for WS. I was watching Neighbours, but it was an uncharacteristically boring episode, so I decided to multi-task and look at some of WS’s Facebook photos to cheer myself up.
I’d had a couple of glasses of wine with Ruth, earlier that evening, and I’d also cut my finger quite badly washing up a knife, so my stalking hands were compromised.
In the break, I went for a wee, and foolishly decided to continue multi-tasking. As I scrolled through his photos, mid-stream, I saw that I was back as far as photos from 2013.
God! Imagine if I accidentally liked one of these! That would be a disaster.
Then, about 10 seconds later, my phone made the sound it makes when you’ve liked someone’s photos.
I looked at the photo on my screen.
“You and 1 other like this.”
I got into the foetal position for a few minutes.
OK. How bad is this. Let’s think.
He would have just got a notification saying “[Dater Analysis] likes your photo.”
He probably thought That’s odd. I don’t remember posting any photos recently. He then will have opened the app, and seen it was a photo from 4 years ago.
After a few moments of confusion, he will have realised the only explanation.
There’s nothing for it. I need to go straight to the source and address this directly.
“Oh god, I think I just accidentally liked one of your Facebook photos from like 4 years ago.
I wasn’t Facebook stalking you.
I was just reminding myself what you look like.
Let’s never speak of this.”
WS replied “Hahahahahahaha. OK cool. :-P”
A couple of messages went back and forth, where I called myself a bell-end and he said no, it was hilarious.
Then I decided to make the best out of it:
“To be honest, it would be worse if this happened with anyone else.
I thought I’d just tell you as you’d get the notification and I knew you’d understand/be nice.”
He wrote “Awwwwwwwwh” and weirdly put an ‘h’ at the end.
So that concludes my latest telephone mishaps.
I haven’t yet sent a photo of my breasts to the wrong person, but I expect that’s in the pipeline.