When honesty is your only policy and you’re put on the spot by the guy you’re dating asking if you’re sleeping with anyone else, what do you do? Do you decide now is the time to get on the train with people that think lying is better than hurting someone’s feelings? Is now a good time to pretend you’ve lost suddenly your hearing? Would it be best to somehow trigger your building’s fire alarm and get the hell out of dodge?

No. There is never a good time to lie. It doesn’t matter if you’d rather not have to tell the truth, it doesn’t matter if you know the answer isn’t likely to go down well, it doesn’t matter if the reality brings with it an uncomfortable conversation. There is never a good reason to lie. I truly believe that. I also believe you shouldn’t ask questions you aren’t prepared to hear the answers to.

I stuck to my end of the bargain, I answered truthfully. He did not stick to his end of the bargain, he was not prepared to hear my answer.

I said I had been sleeping with someone else, one other person, Frenchie. Well, I didn’t tell him it was Frenchie, that was for your benefit, dear reader. I then thought it might help to qualify the fact I wasn’t actually dating the other guy, I wasn’t going out with him, spending quality time with him. But as soon as that fact was out my mouth I realised I’d possibly just made things worse. There really was no way to dress this up. But as I pointed out to him, we hadn’t had a conversation around this. We’d never said we were exclusive.

Now, for the record, he never clarified whether he had or hadn’t been sleeping with other people as well, but clearly he wasn’t about to launch into that when he was so preoccupied by my admission. He told me he’d presumed I was sleeping with other people, which led me to think he also had, but that hearing it made it much worse. He told me he couldn’t deal with that. That when he slept with someone it meant something, which in fairness he had said to me the first time we’d slept together but I figured that was just a line he used. His feelings seemed genuinely hurt. And I felt like a big ol’ whore.

I told him the fact we hadn’t had the conversation about being exclusive, and that he had said a few times he didn’t know what he wanted meant I didn’t think there was a problem with it. What I couldn’t work out though was why I felt so bad about it… why did I feel like I’d been cheating on him? Why did I feel like I’d done something I shouldn’t have? And why did it make me feel so dirty? I definitely do not like multi player dating.

I told him if he wanted something more to happen between us, then we could do that, see how it worked out. I’d happily stop seeing anyone else. I told him I loved the fun we had together, the sex was the best I’d had and I’d rather have that than anything else.

The conversation only last about ten minutes and he said he had to leave. He needed some time. He had to try and get his head around it. He walked out saying he’d be in touch.

I felt like an absolute bag of shit when he left. Not only did I feel horrible for having caused that reaction but I had been so looking forward to our night together, despite his earlier delay tactics, and I was gutted that I was now left by myself with nothing but my thoughts and my feelings.

I barely slept. The next morning, the Monday holiday when we were supposed to have been having lots of middle of the night and early morning sex, I was awake at 4am and as soon as it was getting light out I went for a run. I needed to clear my head. I kept trying to remind myself I hadn’t done anything wrong. But that he was entitled to need time to get his head around it and decide if he actually did want us to exclusively date.

But how much time? A day? Maybe two? I tried to give him space, but four days later I hadn’t heard from him. And it was my birthday. I went to a park after work with friends and got (un?)necessarily drunk. It was messy. Turning 33 while having all of those feelings wasn’t the best way to start, or end, another year in life.

Despite my best efforts not to drunk dial, I of course did. Because if 33 years on this planet has taught me anything, it’s that I shouldn’t be left alone with my phone when I’m drunk.

Stupidly he answered. It was 10pm on a Thursday night, he should have known to let it go to voicemail. We had a conversation, I told him I just wanted to speak to him, that I thought we should meet to talk about it, that I couldn’t believe he hadn’t been in touch the whole time since Sunday night, how much more time did he need?! 33 year old me wasn’t patient.

He said he agreed we should talk and as I was about to suggest meeting up at the weekend, he said “I’ll come over now.” What?! I was sure he’d said that just to get me off the phone. He knew I was drunk and apparently I kept going silent, I’m sure it was just my signal…, so why then suggest to come over?

Come over he did, and his demeanour was one of someone who did not want to be there. So I was confused as to why on earth he’d come over, at his own suggestion. He told me he couldn’t deal with me sleeping with other people. But he also told me he didn’t want to date me. He said our lives were too different, “the age thing” wouldn’t work. Wow, that’s what you want to hear on your birthday, right?

As it turns out, “the age thing” wasn’t enough for him not to sleep with me again that night. As I was berating him for how he could be so narrow minded as to want his cake and to eat it too, he looked me dead in the eye and said “get in the bedroom.” I’m not going to lie, him taking the lead like that was incredibly sexy. So I duly followed his instruction.

The sex was great, but he left later that night, re-iterating again that we couldn’t date, and basically saying that was it. Over. Done. I was more than a little devastated. He left me as a drunken, birthday mess.

In the following weeks, I tried my hardest to convince him he was wrong. And he wasn’t always 100% convincing in his disagreement to my point. He wavered and at times I thought there was a way around it. Why I couldn’t just accept he was right, I don’t know.

The anxiety I had been left with was surprising. It wasn’t the usual hurt or upset or loneliness I’d feel after things with a guy went tits up. Maybe it was because I felt like I’d come off in a really bad light and I was desperate to change that.

I hoped he still wanted to date. I really liked hanging out with him, he was fun and funny and sweet and there was something quite calming when I was with him. The fact we had never been planning to seriously date had been quite nice, there wasn’t not too much pressure on it. And yet, somehow got to the stage where it just felt way heavier than it ever needed to or ever should have. And as a 25 year old, I’m pretty sure that was the last thing he wanted.

I also knew there were red flags he’d shown that, even if he had still wanted to date, I should consider before deciding still see him. Him going MIA, him not honouring our plans, the fact I feel like he lied about the family dinner he “forgot about”, or even just the fact he made the plans for the family dinner when we’d already made plans for that night. It was pretty shitty behaviour.

As much as I wanted to be easy breezy, I wasn’t going to be treated like shit, no matter how casual the relationship. There’s casual dating and then there’s being walked over. And whether it was because he was 25 or just a bit of a dick, I didn’t know and it didn’t matter, I didn’t want to make it ok for me to be treated like that.

But the anxiety I was feeling was also deeply rooted in the fact that I clearly disappointed him, that he then had this horrible idea of the person I am. And maybe part of me wondered if actually I was that person. Did my casual view at the time of dating and sleeping with multiple people mean that actually he wasn’t wrong if he thought poorly of me? I like to think that I get to make the choice for myself and if I’m ok with it and the people I’m sleeping with know and are ok with it then there’s no harm. But maybe that’s not the case. Maybe dating and sex and relationships (no matter how casual) deserve a little more gravity towards them, deserve to be honoured a bit more. But that only works if both parties feel the same. Frenchie didn’t need that, but seemingly Malaysian Persuasian maybe did?

There was also the fact that of course I wanted him to want me. I just wanted it to go back to the fun, casual, great sex dates we were having before I’d gone on my trip home and things got strained and complicated. I guess I knew leaving for almost a month could have had a detrimental effect but I thought it would be that he’d get bored waiting. Not that all this mess would precede it. You live and learn, I guess.

Eventually I stopped trying to perpetuate conversation. I gave it up. And between the end of May and August our texts were sporadic at best, but every now and again he’d like a photo of mine on instagram, or send me a message, as he had done on Canada Day long weekend. And the conversation would get so far, to him saying he missed me and wanted to see me, but as soon as I’d suggest meeting up, he’d back out, get cold feet, go MIA.

I finally told him he had to either strap on a pair of balls and organise to meet up or he had to leave me alone. I know I could have blocked him on instagram and on text, but it’s not my style. Why? Because I’m a glutton for punishment, maybe? After many, and I mean many rough plans being shelved because he was busy or he “just couldn’t”, we finally made plans to meet on a Sunday afternoon. I was going to a baby shower in the afternoon so we organised an early evening.

We met at a local bar and at first it was a little awkward. General catching up chit chat, work, family, holidays. But after a couple of gins he was back to his flirty and suggestive self. The afternoon progressed to more gins at the bar where we had our first date. And eventually to us buying a bottle of gin and going back to my place. And by that point, there was no difficulty telling where it was going to end up.

Despite the awkwardness at the beginning of the night, there wasn’t a hint of that when we were once again back in my bedroom. It was as great as it had always been. We remembered each other perfectly. It was, again, some of the best sex I’d ever had.

When he left later that night, I didn’t know where things stood. We’d had such a fun night, we had laughed a lot and the spark that had always been there had evidently not died. As he left though he said he’d be in touch, and then I heard… nothing.

How I stopped myself from messaging him I don’t know. In fact, I do, I occupied myself with getting out and dating again. But it was torture. I wanted to call him an asshole. I wanted to ask him what the fuck was going on. I wanted to understand how he could seemingly turn his feelings on and off.

This time I did block him on Instagram, which meant he couldn’t see anything I was doing but, almost more importantly, I couldn’t see anything he was doing. I developed an unhealthy obsession with checking the activity of people I followed so I could see which Instagram model’s posts he was liking that day. And I wanted to weep every time I saw his face pop up in the Instagram Story circle. So I did myself a favour and cut it off. I also deleted his number and deleted the iMessage thread from my phone. And my MacBook. And the WhatsApp chat. Gotta catch them all!

I managed to resist the urge to message him until one fateful night in December. I got drunk – what did I tell you about being left alone with my phone when I’m drunk? Actually technically I wasn’t alone but my girlfriend was on a phone call and I decided to take my chance with no adult supervision. And I know what you’re thinking – but you deleted his number? I did, but drunk me is a genius and remembered that in WhatsApp when you delete a thread it only moves it to the archive, which you can still always go into and find the convo. So I went in there, got the number and messaged it.

You’d think he’d have learnt his lesson from my drunken birthday night call, but no. So again, he replied. At first he was receptive to hear from me but as soon as I launched into the still underlying want to get him to want me – because who doesn’t want to date a drunken mess? – he backed off. And, well, let’s just say I didn’t take kindly to that. Add to this the fact that for the duration of the time I was messaging I had continued to drink and so by this point my texts became not only abusive but also unreadable.

Turns out he didn’t appreciate either because he stopped replying, which didn’t necessarily mean I stopped messaging him (God help me, someone take my phone away from me!!!!) and when I looked again in the morning it seemed he’d actually blocked me. Oh well, at least that was one way to put a stop to it.

But, as amusing as I actually found it the next morning, thankfully the hangover fear didn’t reach me this time, I did feel bad about being such a bitch, no matter whether he deserved it or not. Which, for the record, he did. Obviously.

I was also just about to start a new job and was trying to detox my life and start what was going to be a crazy challenging new chapter with no bad juju so I decided I had to apologise. But how, he’d blocked my number? Well, technology nowadays means there’s always a way, so the following weekend I unblocked him on Instagram, followed him again and sent him a Direct Message.

It said “hey, I wanted to apologise for my texts the other night. Despite whatever has happened before you don’t deserve to be bombarded with abuse on a Wednesday night. I guess I just really don’t like to be told no and rather than accept that maybe you’re right, that we’re not right for each other and we shouldn’t date and that, I haven’t been able to let it go since I came back from my trip in April and you let things get so weird. I’m not proud of it, but I realise now that this isn’t doing either of us any good, so I’m sorry and I wish you nothing but the best.”

It was a tense wait to see if he would even see the DM seeing as he didn’t follow each other so it would go through as a request and not straight into his main inbox and not everyone get notifications for DMs from randoms, which essentially I was at that point as far as Instagram was concerned.

Three hours later I got a reply – “Thanks, apology accepted.” I cried.

It was such a relief and it felt like truly the end of the line for this whole mess. It was a mixture of happy tears that I’d been adult enough to address my faults and take responsibility, which he accepted, but also sad tears that it really had been such a mess and now it was done. Despite my feelings towards him, all the hundreds of different ones I had, I knew I had to let this go. No good could come of it. Eight months after it started.

I replied to say thanks and that I liked to think I would hold my hands up when I’d been a dick, which invariably I had the other night. I also added that I was going to unfollow him again on Instagram, that I’d only followed him to send him the message but I didn’t think it was good for either of us to still have that connection. But it was just a precautionary measure and not meant as one final big fuck you.

He replied again laughing and saying he understood. It was a good note to leave it on. So I deleted the message thread from Instagram, went back to his profile and clicked the “Unfollow” button. If only my feelings had been able to unfollow as quickly, but I knew they’d get there soon enough.

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