Dating in London – “Breadcrumbing”

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New York had Sex and the City. Carrie Bradshaw started the love affair with concrete jungles that has been passed through generations. First released 1998, and over two decades later we are still watching it like it’s words spoken from the bible. Disney might have tricked kids into thinking Love Stories began in castles far, far away. But Carrie Bradshaw taught us that the real juicy romance happens beneath skyscrapers and over a soy latte, or a cosmopolitan.  Of course all good things come to an end.

Post SATC, I freaked. Who would teach me what men to invite back to your apartment after a boozy rendezvous in Manhattan? Who would inspire us to walk ten blocks in Manolo Blahnik’s all while making it look effortless? Thankfully, fate stepped in and gave us Gossip Girl. Women couldn’t get enough of underdog Dan, brooding Nate and fuck-boy Chuck. Suddenly our screens were lit up again with all the bright lights and glamour of the city. We watched Blair change the bad-boy to a doting boyfriend, which let’s be honest is the ultimate dream. We watched Nate go from a lazy stoner, to running for political office. We watched Dan the outcast, become a successful author and marry the ‘It’ girl.

While I have had my fair share of binge watching GG and SATC, I can’t help thinking they are a little out of reach. Let’s get real here..Firstly, I’m mid twenties. I can’t afford Manolo Blahniks, and I ABSOLUTELY cannot change a fuck-boy although I try, all the time. I was sitting on my terrace after a hard days work, drinking a cold Pinot Grigio when I had a Eureka moment. Where is a story similar to mine? What can I relate to? In fact…where is the story about London altogether?

Okay, yes I hear you, Bridget Jones Diary. I am a self-confessed BJD fan and she put London on the map for single life, drinking and sex. I fell in love with Bridget’s saucy little skirt the same time as the entire British nation did. But here’s the dilemma. We are in a new age of sex and relationships. We are in an era that genuinely considers ‘Ghosting, Haunting and Bread-crumbing’ real life dating terms. FYI there is something very embarrassing about saying out loud “I’ve just been bread-crumbed”.

I moved to London as a fresh faced twenty-one year old expat, with all these city love affairs in mind. I was completely unprepared for the harsh reality of modern dating. Now, at twenty-four, I work for BBC studios, live in Islington and have a fantastic group of pals but the dating is still as atrocious as it was three years ago. Carrie, Bridget, Blair and Serena all made it look so inviting and glamorous, like Prince Charming hangs out at the local coffee shop, or hails the same cab as you before locking eyes and pulling you in for a passionate kiss.

Ladies, I call bullshit. Bullshit to all of the fairy tales. Bullshit to all of the cabs I’ve hailed and sat in (alone), and bullshit to the Media’s perception of dating and love. Life is not all about the perfect man sweeping you off your feet outside Costa coffee.

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Instead of the fantasy rom-com’s, i’ll blog about dating sex and love in it’s true form. The real life relationships I’ve had with women, men, drug dealers, wealthy businessmen, work colleagues…this will be an expose about the truth, and why online dating sucks (even though I literally can’t stop using it).
I want this to be Pandora’s box of gossip. My relationships have been nothing short of a shit show and whether it’s ghosting or trying to escape the clutches of a psychopath, it’s all authentic and as far from PG as possible. I wish I could live the dating nirvana where men phone you after sex, and take you to expensive dinners without expecting you to pay, but that’s just not my life. I have to lift the lid on the glamour and tell y’all what it’s all about.

Bread-crumbing

So Bread-crumbing is when: Mr X takes you on a date or two, perhaps you even shagged. He has gone from an interested party, pursuing you, to now offering dull conversation and lacklustre responses.

He shows little interest besides a text once a week, or every few days such as “How are you” “Hope you had a good day”.
These breadcrumbs lured in Hansel and Gretel to the witches lair. He wants to lure you in, keep you picking up the crumbs so that when he needs casual sex or if loneliness prevails you’re right there. 

In your mind, you are thinking why doesn’t he just ghost me, and disappear forever if he isn’t interested? Honey, that defeats the purpose. He wants to keep you guessing so that you are always on the shelf, ready to take off and play with at his leisure.

Most recently, I was dating Bryn. Bryn is an investment banker for an FSTE 100 company. Now let me clarify quickly that investment bankers are not my kettle of fish. If you interrogated my girl pals about my type, they would giggle nervously and say;
“Well…Chels likes anyone with the ability to break her heart. Secret meth addictions, tattoos, anger issues, alcohol related problems, womanisers, liars and psychopaths”
Give me those traits in a man and it’s likely i’ll be in love by the end of the week.
So I decided at twenty-four, somethings got to change. I need to look for the diamonds in the rough, not pick the rough out of a pit of diamonds. I set up a Hinge profile, an app notorious for more ‘serious’ daters. Instead of a Bio, Hinge asks you questions.
“What is one thing you will never do again?”
“Snowboard naked” I wrote (and have actually done).
It was a crafty answer because men would see I was adventurous, while also imagining me naked. #win. So of course it generates a lot of likes instantly.

Match number one is Bryn. He is tall, dark and handsome (I prefer blondes). He is well dressed in a bow tie (I prefer casual, down to earth). Investment Banker is listed as his career. Already I am entering the depths of unknown territory. But I assure myself that change is good, surely a well dressed, sophisticated banker will be a charming date.
I meet Bryn at The Globe pub, opposite Baker Street Station in central London. Before you judge me on the location (I can feel your judgement burning), it wasn’t an official date. We initially arranged a Sunday coffee date. But firstly, who the fuck wants a coffee date (bore). Secondly, who the fuck wants a coffee date.

I had finished early for the day, at 3pm. It was a sweat inducing heatwave Friday, the kind where you get off the tube like you’ve just had a bath. I waltzed out of the TV centre and realised the world was my oyster. I was free. But none of the girls would finish until five or six. (Boo). I hastily message my latest Hinge match.
“Bryn, in the interest of spontaneity, do you fancy meeting for a drink after work? I’ve just finished”
“Interesting, I have to meet friends at Baker Street for 6pm. I can be there for 5pm to meet you, and we could have an early drink beforehand?”
“Sounds good handsome, i’ll find a bar around the station”

I get there early and nervously order a G & T. The Gin was probably not necessary, neither was requesting a double. It went straight to my head. I stand in the sunshine outside sipping the drink and checking my reflection in the window. Re-apply my lippy, the plumper kind that stings your lips and blows them up to be extra kissable.
I catch Bryn crossing the road and praise the universe. He is actually tall, dark and handsome like his profile suggested. Cocky and confident, he goes in for the french ‘kiss both cheeks’ greeting. I like him.
“You look lovely, sexy dress” He schmoozes me. It’s not sexy, but it is cute. It’s a pale pink playsuit (He’s a man, he can be forgiven for mistaking it as dress), paired with Topshop heels. I’m 5’1 so I wear heels a lot. It’s my attempt to actually be able to look people in the eye when I stand up.
“Thanks, you look very suave too. I know you don’t have long so let’s grab a drink” I give a big smile he leads me to the bar. He pays for two drinks, and we sit down opposite each other. The conversation flows and it takes ten seconds before we laugh and flash smiles and jokes like we’re old besties. Bryn works very hard at his job. He likes the finer things in life, like hotels, and designer shoes. He doesn’t like the outdoors unless it concerns golf and country clubs…. you get the drift.

I was playing my cards close to my chest. That’s what Cosmopolitan always tells you to do… don’t give it all away. I play the sexy smile, and the mysterious answers without wearing my heart on my sleeve. I can tell he’s trying to decipher what I’m all about.
“So you’re a city girl, with a house and a strong career, but you have tattoos and like adventures?” He says, nudging me for answers.
“I’m an enigma” I wink.
“But what encouraged you to do all of the travel, and the wild things?”
“I think life is just too short” I sigh, and accidentally on purpose brush his thigh. I like him, he is giving me a little unexpected buzz.
“I actually don’t want to leave you, I’m enthralled by you” Bryn states, touching my arm.
It’s a compliment, I do cringe a bit though. I don’t think I’ve ever used enthralled in a sentence in my life.
“Look, I have to meet my friends but could we meet later on mystery woman?”
I am about as far from a mystery as a dictionary is, i’m an open book with all the information right there written on my forehead. But he didn’t get the memo obviously.
“We can meet up and perhaps have a wine. I’ll be having dinner with my friend Stella on Upper Street, Angel if you want to swing by. I live over there.”
“Okay that sounds perfect, we can go our separate ways and see each other again”
We don’t kiss, but my stomach somersaults when we embrace goodbye. That’s a good sign, right? No inklings of a secret drug addiction or underground brothel business yet. 

Later in the evening, I’ve polished off ravioli and cocktails at Blue Legume, who sport some fantastic vanilla Mojito’s. After girl chat ceases, head for home and I’m lounging across the sofa when he messages me.
B: I know it’s late, but if you are free can we meet?
C: Come over, wine on the terrace?
Again, stop with your judgement, I was totally prepared for casual with the kid. I spring into action and you are about to see exactly how maniac a girls preparation is for a boy to be coming over. I fly upstairs, taking two steps at a time. I throw my sweatpants in the wash and start shoving things under the bed, pushing remnants of waxing strips and teeth whitener in to the dark depths never to be seen by the naked eye of my guest. I apply ‘natural’ makeup which involves beige and neutral tones to trick people in to thinking you’re not actually wearing any, and it’s your natural face. Once prepared, I pull on a silk blouse, pyjama shorts and cover myself in Tom Ford Patchouli before leaping down the stairs.
Step two is lighting candles, everywhere. The bathroom, my bedroom, the kitchen, the staircase. When the doorbell rings I’m reclining on the sofa again in my candlelit clean house, like the boujee woman I am.
Bryn arrives tipsy and smells softly of beer and cologne. We hug and he looks ecstatic to see me, peering in awe at the romance den I’ve created.
“Wine?” I offer, and he nods in agreement. I pour from the half empty Pinot Gris in the fridge. We sip and talk pretending like we aren’t completely sexually motivated here.
“I honestly could not stop thinking about you. I haven’t clicked like this in a long time” My bullshit radar should be ringing right now, but I’m melting at his comment.
“I felt the same, I’ve never invited anyone back here before but it felt right” I say, and it’s true.
Within the hour he is carrying me upstairs, my legs wrapped around him. It’s something right out of The Notebook, although I’m anxious I’ll knock over one of the candles. He gently lays me on the bed and hot and heavy might be an understatement here. We kiss and my body is on fire. I mount him gloriously, and totally unashamed. Clothes are torn, and we do it three times that night. 

When I wake up, I’m so comfortable I don’t even do the ‘makeup dash’ to the bathroom. I lie there; a sweaty hot mess, and smile as he strokes my arm. You know when you feel like you have fallen for someone on the first date? That’s me. The banter continues all through the morning as he asks about my dreams, and backpacking through Mexico. In fact, the banter continued all the way until lunch time when he shot out of bed realising the time. Bryn gets dressed to leave, kisses me on the lips, and asks immediately for a second date. 

I’m expecting fireworks and magic from date two, wearing a low cut Pull&Bear wrap dress , hoop earrings and sky high nude heels. Bryn is suave, coming straight from work. His aura is a little off though which came as a surprise. He is angsty.
We grab a table at the Chophouse, where a waitress politely informs us that if we don’t intend to eat we can’t have a table.
“Right, well you won’t have our fucking business then. Are you joking?” He asks her aggressively. The next bar was no different, as he argues with the bar patrons next to him.
“Sorry I’m a little wound up, does it put you off?” He says to me as we walk to the table holding our drinks. I wasn’t actually, as we have already established jerks are my kryptonite, but I should have been put off.

“Look I am going to be honest” His eyes are boring in to mine.
“Okay Bryn, go for it” I challenge him, sensing a rant is about to come.
“What is your deal? I can’t figure you out. You’re completely ambiguous and mysterious to me. You are too free-spirited, too adventurous and it’s my deal breaker. I need stable, I need someone who isn’t going to up and leave, or be spontaneous. I can’t have my girl going to a festival and running around like she doesn’t care. You are confusing the shit out of me. I like you, but what is your deal?”
I gape at him, shocked at the outburst. I open my mouth to defend myself and the rant continues.
“I mean…do you really work for the BBC? Is that really your house? What’s with all the holidays, literally every photo on Instagram is a vacation, what is that about? Is it all fake? I pay attention to detail and nothing you say adds up” He is almost shouting and neighboring tables are glancing over, curious.
Are you kidding me, is all I can think. I decide to migrate from low-life jerks to bankers looking for a gentleman, and I still wind up with the psycho.
“Are you…on cocaine?” I laugh. (Disclaimer, I nervous laugh in every scenario that involves heavy emotion).
“NO! I don’t do drugs, but I bet you do! It’s so frustrating I just can’t figure you out, I think you could be a liar”
I think at this point he is really throwing his toys out the pram…obviously not happy that he’s wound up dating a ‘free spirit’,
“Look Bryn, can we just keep it casual? Why don’t you come over tonight?”
“No, it will confuse me more” He says coldly. At this point, i’m so mind-blown it’s ridiculous. I resign myself to the fact that this date is very strange and he has no intention of seeing me again, he will ghost me after this bizarre attempt to end things. He gets up to leave and as we get to St Pauls station, he kisses both cheeks and whispers in my ear…
“Message me”
What? What a head-fuck. What just happened to me.

Well, the ghosting didn’t occur as expected. I receive a daily blasé bland message like “How is your week”, giving me nothing substantial yet also, not disappearing. These texts don’t quite have the nagging longevity of a serial bread-crumber but I have to wonder, am I quickly being reduced to a pigeon with ruffled feathers searching for the next morsel to be flung my way?

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