Friends with benefits 

Recently, I’ve changed my dating app settings, so I’m looking for something completely different.

First, I’ll explain why. Compared to other times I’ve been single, I’m hating this more because it feels lonelier.

There are lots of good things about being single; one of my favourite things in life is going to a club and looking across the dance floor, deciding which boy I’d like to kiss. When I was at Uni and very coupled up, I was absolutely gagging to be single and on the pull.

I tend to only argue with boyfriends, so it’s nice having an argument-free life.

I like being able to cook exactly what I want and watch what I want on TV. I spent years eating Quorn with my ex-boyfriend, even though I’m not a vegetarian.  And hearing the sound of yet another football match coming from the living room, on a Sunday afternoon, always gave me a sense of existential dread.

I like making life decisions solely about what is right for me, without compromising. For example, I’m trying to buy a flat and it’s great when I’m house-hunting, knowing it only matters if the flat is right for me and I can decorate it exactly as I want. One of my friends is also house-hunting with her boyfriend, but they have slightly different opinions and apparently just had the worst row ever, outside an estate agents.

When I was younger, I was able to enjoy these things without worrying about being alone.

It’s different now. I haven’t phrased it like this on my dating profile, but I’m absolutely desperate for a relationship.

Why is it different now? Two reasons: eggs and friends.

One thing that takes the shine off my singledom is that I’m worried I might miss the opportunity to have children if I don’t crack on, because my eggs aren’t getting any younger. I can’t really do much about that.

The other reason is that it’s lonelier now. Most of my friends are in long-term relationships or married, many with children.

I’ve lived in a few different cities, so my friends are scattered around the UK. This didn’t feel like a problem when I was in a relationship, but I’m noticing it more now.

Basically, I’ve got no one to go clubbing with. They either don’t want to or can’t now, or they do want to but they live far away. I did have one Official Clubbing Friend, who is a boy.

However, on my birthday (after I got drunk but before I fucked a former student) he told me he fancies me and kissed me. I said “oh no, we’d be a disaster together! I’m a good kisser though, aren’t I?”

I was happy to pretend it didn’t happen but it’s been too awkward since then, so we’ve stopped going clubbing.

It’s not just clubbing – anything from gigs to holidays – I don’t know who to do it with. In the past, I would go on holiday with friends, but everyone just wants to go with their partners now.

I’m very lucky, because I have a wide array of excellent friends, and it really doesn’t seem to matter that our life circumstances are different (if anything, they are more keen to hear my sex anecdotes these days).

However, I decided if I want enjoy being single more, I need some new friends in London.

On Bumble, one dating app I use, you can change your settings to ‘BFF’. That means instead of showing you boys’ profiles, it shows you other women who are looking for new gal pals too.

I started swiping. Usually, you don’t get the chance to look at other girls’ profiles, so it was interesting. Some girls hadn’t changed their profile since they were looking for boys, so they had very suggestive, busty photos and had written flirty things, which didn’t quite fit the ‘would you like to be my gal pal?’ vibe.

Almost every girl mentioned loving yoga and something about brunch (when did brunch become such a thing?) Prosecco and gin made a lot of appearances too.

If they hadn’t written anything about themselves at all, I didn’t swipe right. I don’t like it when boys haven’t written anything, but with a potential friend, their appearance is even less important so I felt like I couldn’t make a decision (unless they were doing one of my hobbies in their photos).

I started to get a few matches. I particularly looked out for girls who mentioned clubbing. Some people have linked their Bumble account to their Spotify, so if they liked the same music as me, they went straight on the Yes pile.

After a week or two, I had my first Gal Pal date. She was going to a ‘Singles Meet-up’ and invited me along.

I felt quite nervous on the way there. It was like going on a date where you already knew you wouldn’t fancy each other, which made it both less scary and more scary.

For ages, we couldn’t find each other; I was waiting outside and she was waiting inside. I had texted her saying I was outside but she had no signal. She had sent me a WhatsApp message but I didn’t have any data.

Eventually we found each other and I got a drink. We found somewhere to sit and started chatting. It ended up being irrelevant that we were at a Singles Meet-up because we didn’t talk to anyone else.

She is my age and is a Humanitarian Aid Worker. It was fascinating hearing about it. She has lived abroad in various countries, providing things like disaster relief.

We talked about our jobs for a while, then about buying flats, then boys. Two hours flew by really quickly, with hardly a pause in conversation.

Then we realised what time it was, and walked back to the tube together.

I realised I probably wasn’t 100% being myself; a few times she couldn’t hear what I was saying because I must’ve been speaking unusually quietly (or with more of an accent than usual) because of feeling nervous.

I think one of the key things people like (or dislike) about me, is that I say weird things that no one else would say. Sometimes I know I’m doing it and I like it, other times I really don’t and expect the thing I’m saying to be really normal. I think that night I was trying to keep it to a minimum and avoid coming across weird.

When we were walking to the tube, I relaxed a bit more. We were talking about swimming, and she said she thinks she swims too slowly for it to be good exercise, and asked what I did.

I said “Oh, I have a system where I do one length slowly, then two lengths at average pace, then one length really fast, where I pretend I’m being chased by a shark.”

I realised that was a bit more unusual, but she seemed to really like it.

We went our separate ways at Oxford Circus, and did the usual “err, well, let me know if you want to do this again some time…” awkward goodbye that you also do on a sex-date.

The next day, I felt really stressed out about hearing from her. I sent a text saying it was nice to meet her and about doing it again.

With a guy, unless they are doing the polyamory thing, you know you would have to tick all their boxes to be The One, so it’s fair enough if you don’t. However, you can have a whole range of friends at the same time, so if someone doesn’t want to see you again for friendship, they’re kind of saying “I disliked you so much, I don’t even want you to be one of my substandard friends.”

As the day went past, I thought This is a bit of a kick in the teeth. 

Then, in the evening, she sent me 4 messages. Two messages agreeing it was nice and about doing something else, and two messages with links to things we talked about.

Since then, we’ve met up again and plan to go clubbing soon, when she gets back from being abroad, although we don’t have the same taste in music.

I went on another Gal Pal date a couple of weeks ago, with a girl who lives really near me. She’s a bit younger. We had lots in common in some ways, because we both work in healthcare and had similar attitudes to our jobs, and we have some of the same hobbies, like sewing. In another way, we were different; I’m a really city person, and go to central London at least once a week, whereas she said she’s more of a country person and has only been to central London three times in 5 years.

We’re planning to go to a Jive class together, starting from next week, which I’m really looking forward to. I did jive before I moved to London and I loved it. Then, I did Salsa in London and really liked that too. For the past few months, I keep saying I’m going to go back to Salsa but then not going, so hopefully this will be great.

I was talking to someone at work about clubbing, and she suggested looking on Facebook. She really likes Garage, and said when she moved to London she found a Garage Facebook group and met people that way.

I found a Facebook group for girls in London who want to go to indie nights, and I joined it. This weekend I went to an indie night with two new girls. It was absolutely great. I’m going out again next weekend.

When I was complaining to one of my lifelong friends about being single, she said that old adage about how you’re more likely to find someone when you stop looking, but she managed to phrase it in a non-annoying way.

She might be right. I obviously haven’t said I’m ‘desperate’ on my profile, but maybe somehow, how I feel about being in a relationship is coming through? In the past, when I’m been more ambivalent, I’ve had more success.

I realised I need to think about all the things I’m missing by being single, and find an alternative way of getting them. Then, if the right boy comes along to jizz up my ageing eggs, it will be a bonus rather than a necessity.

I think with this new Gal Pal dating, I’m well on the way there.

 

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4 thoughts on “Friends with benefits 

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I don’t have many local single girlfriends. And it’s hard to meet other female friends as an adult!

    I am laughing so hard at your shark-imagining speed swimming technique. I think we’d be friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: More than Average Joe | Dater Analysis

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