We were having a drink in the pub when I referred to him, to his face, as my boyfriend. In retrospect, it was clear that our ‘relationship’ was no such thing, that he wasn’t willing to give me what I wanted and deserved.
The I-don’t-know-what-is-going-on phase of a proto-relationship can continue far longer now.
You can become vastly experienced in the heady yet confusing dance of Early Days – I have had years of it, and know all the steps – yet remain an ignoramus about the mysterious state of proper Girlfriend and Boyfriend.
To my mind, I was never that pitiful caricature of a desperate woman, waiting by the telephone for him to call; we texted, Facebooked or emailed every day. Anna Williams, a 29-year-old writer, met her boyfriend on Twitter.
‘I’ve met a few guys that way – it’s much easier to take a risk because you can pass it off as banter if you get rejected. We started messaging each other and, eventually, I invited him to a night out I was already going to.’ For Anna, the constant tweeting and messaging took the stress out of the first date.
I might be missing out on love, but I’m never short of intrigue, and right now intrigue seems more fun. In fact, I can’t remember the last night out with my single friends where we all stayed until the end, or where we weren’t joined by a special guest at some point.
Some of this intrigue even becomes actual, real-life, human interaction and perhaps… But mostly I’ve found myself in a perpetual state of limbo – stuck somewhere between first encounter, a hook-up and a full-blown relationship. Twitter, Facebook and Google have turned the dating world upside-down, changing how we meet people, what we know about them before we do – and introducing a new layer of ambiguity into single life that generations before us never had to contend with. ‘Drinks with the girls.’ ‘Want to meet us at my local? I schlepped all the way across the city – only to spend the next three hours with Paul and about six of his friends. And it isn’t simply a case of women being on the receiving end of the latest incarnation of male dating fecklessness. But in the world of endless options, where nothing seems permanent, and you never have to interact with anyone face to face if you don’t want to, me actually picking up the phone, telling someone how I feel about them, or even asking them out for dinner seems like too big a risk.At 29, I’m very happy with my life – it’s fun and fulfilling and I rarely feel lonely.But I do wonder why my relationships (or whatever we’re calling them this week), fizzle out so easily.With texts, you are allowing a large space for fantasy to take over.’ The common business of ‘researching’ potential dates on Facebook, Twitter and Google can lead to similar disappointment – especially for a generation like mine, who curate their Facebook pages to PR-worthy standards.One friend furiously edits her Facebook page when a man she likes accepts her friend request.Occasionally, I’ll see someone once or twice, then decide they’re not for me.