You’d think that if anyone was going to go missing when flying between the UK and Canada, it would be the person on the tin can in the sky and not the other person patiently waiting at home, right? But somehow between me waking up in Edinburgh on the day I was leaving and me landing back in Vancouver 16 hours later, Malaysian Persuasion went MIA.

When we’d texted in the morning, saying we’d see each other incredibly soon (maybe that night depending on my travel tiredness), it was his night before and he said he would text when he woke up which would have been just before I got on my connecting flight in London. But ready to leave UK soil and head back across the Atlantic? There was nothing.

I figured I’d get off the flight in Vancouver and there’d be a text waiting for me. But finally getting back to normal cell phone service and data after three and a half weeks in the UK? More silence.

I texted him to let him know I’d made it back in one piece (I had a habit of fainting while flying so completing a trip without doing that was an achievement) but as I travelled back from the airport starting to feel incredibly unsure about what the hell was happening? More tumbleweed.

I landed back in Vancouver at 4pm, I probably texted him about 4.30pm and at 9.45pm that evening I finally got a reply. And I know, that’s not that crazy a timeframe for a reply, but in comparison to how frequently we’d been texting up until that point and the fact I knew he wasn’t doing anything that night… it was a red flag.

I’d mentioned something in my “I’m back!” text about grabbing food. I said I was pretty tired but it would, of course, be great to see him so if he wanted to get dinner to let me know. This was something we’d discussed in the weeks while I was away when we kept talking about when we saw each other, down to the point that we’d actually already discussed the restaurant we’d go to (my favourite noodle place) and the dishes we’d choose (him Kung Pao, me Spicy Peanut Noodle Box). So I wasn’t just throwing out random, last minute plans.

His response “Welcome back, glad you made it. Sorry can’t tonight.” And nothing else. No follow up to say why he couldn’t or that he really wanted to see me or “what about tomorrow night?” Nothing.

I can’t even describe how it felt. I was confused, I was also hurt, and disappointed, and offended. What. The. Hell. Had. Happened?

I left it a couple of days, trying to distract myself with getting back into my routine but it was incredibly hard when I had this big gaping text buddy hole in my life. And I was now in the same city as him! Eventually as we neared the weekend, I texted him one morning to ask how his week had been and what he was doing at the weekend. He did eventually respond later that night saying that work was crazy and he had a really busy weekend. But gave no specifics on plans, despite me having every minute detail of his weekend itineraries when I’d been away. Also, weird because prior to me leaving the UK he’d told me his week was an open book to be filled with me – his words, not mine.

In the next week we texted a bit, always me initiating, always hoping miraculously his response would click back into the voice and tone I had become so fond of and he’d answer enthusiastically and suggest we meet up. But he never did. He also never once asked anything about me. Not how my trip back had been or how the jet lag was or how it felt to be back. Nothing.

This 180 flip in his demeanour was just a giant head fuck. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, worse than hurting someone is confusing them. Particularly when, most likely, the person knows what they’re doing. To make someone question their own sanity and, in my case, start to over-compensate for that person and make allowances that you wouldn’t otherwise. I heard myself explaining the story to friends and saying “but maybe he is just busy?” or “maybe he is just really embarrassed about his cold sores?” – which was another excuse he’d given as to why he couldn’t see me. Cold sores!!!

Um, no, you lunatic, get a clue! We all know if someone wants to see you, they’ll make time. That’s why they call it “making priorities” – it’s an active choice. And cold sores never stopped anybody, that’s why herpes simplex is still spreading like wildfire.

I started to make peace with the fact that whatever the hell “it” had been, it was now well and truly over. But, as is always my way, I can’t just let things go. So I texted him and said “I don’t know what changed, I don’t know how much could have changed in the time I flew back over here, but something clearly did and the fact you can’t or won’t be honest with me is pretty shitty.”

He didn’t reply. For four days. And then responded saying “I’m really sorry, can we meet up on Saturday?” I was beyond pissed but my curiosity, as always, got the better of me. I told him I was going to a birthday party in Gastown as a way to explain I wasn’t free and he replied with “Ok, I’ll meet you after.” I told him I wasn’t sure what time it would finish but he said to text him when it was done and he’d come and meet me.

This new swift turn of events had my head spinning more than just a little but I did what any female would do – made sure I was preened to within an inch of my life that night, went off to the birthday party to have just enough alcohol to give me the perfect level of sass and then around 10.30pm I texted him to tell him to get a seat in a bar somewhere near where I was and I’d meet him there. He lived nowhere near where I was but within half an hour he was there.

I’d have been impressed if I wasn’t still so fucked off with him.

Clearly he had no clue that I wasn’t exactly entering the bar with a view to having a light and fun date, as was demonstrated when he greeted me with a smiley “hey! How have you been?” The alcohol-induced level of sass meant I took no time in telling him that I wasn’t there for that and to explain what the fuck had happened.

At first he tried to tell me he really had been busy but when I told him if he kept the bullshit going I was going to leave, he took a pause from all the excuses and shifted in his seat. He proceeded to tell me that, when I’d first left for my trip, he’d been worried I was going to be going home to sleep with all my exes. And he didn’t love the thought of that.

Of course, he’d never asked me. And if he had, I’d have laughed in his face. I had a grand total of maybe three exes at home, one of whom was my ex-husband and all three of whom had cheated on me. There was zero chance of any big romantic reunions featuring in my trip.

He did concede that as I was keeping him informed of my trip he admitted it didn’t sound like I had time to be seeing any guys in amongst everything else I was doing. So then once he got his head round that, in the week before I flew back he started to worry, as I had, about how things would be when I got back. But rather than do what I did and just figure we’d work it out once I was back, he swung to the entire other end of the spectrum from worrying about me sleeping with other people to freaking himself out that I was going to come back and want a relationship.

And naturally, obviously!, the best thing to do in that situation is make excuses about being busy and having cold sores, and go MIA at random intervals. Because, of course.

We chatted it out. For hours. I told him he was a fucking idiot and asked him why he couldn’t have just told me. He said he felt crazy. I told him that’s how he’d made me feel. He asked what he should have done instead and I told him he should have been a fucking adult. He admitted he’d slept with someone while I’d been away. I told him I didn’t care, there had been no discussion around that. He asked me how I saw things working out with us and I told him I didn’t know.

It was a long night of talking, in amongst ordering more cocktails and trying to avoid our awkward conversations being overheard by our table neighbours or our server. And somewhere in the midst of it all – me letting out my anger, him apologising, me wishing I’d had less to drink, him trying to be honest – nuggets were brought up.

And just like that, I lost my head. I want to be able to say I kept the boundaries I’d set for myself at the beginning of the night, that I didn’t let him charm me into forgiving his behaviour, but I can’t. I wish I’d made better(?), smarter(?) decisions. But I can’t.

The next morning, waking up with him in my bed, I wasn’t sure what the hell had happened or, maybe more importantly, what the hell was going to happen. But I did know that despite everything it had been lovely to see him again and hang out. It was also fun. And regardless of the fact I had been so pissed off with him less than 24 hours before, I couldn’t deny that there was part of me that didn’t hate how it had turned out.

What does that say about me? That I could be so easily swayed after someone was a complete dick to me? It’s not my finest hour. The only thing that marginally made me feel better was that I had at least been explicit with him about what I expected going forward. Consistency and honesty. It didn’t need to be anymore than that, just consistency and honesty. Easy. Right?

Over the next few weeks we saw each other a couple of times. The texting never went back to where it had been but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’d decided we should keep things casual and just see where they went. It seemed simple enough and the times we hung out were as easy and fun and incredible sex-filled as they had been before I’d gone on my trip. Just with the underlying knowledge that there had obviously been feelings involved at some point and we both needed to try and keep them in check.

And so the casual thing worked. For a while.

It was a long weekend with a Monday holiday so we made plans that on the Sunday we’d meet up in the afternoon to go to a local gin distillery, we’d maybe do dinner, then we’d come back to mine for a quiet night with a movie, he’d stay over and we’d have breakfast in the morning. If we were honest, we knew the movie was unlikely to happen but we were both glad to have a night that we could spend together and didn’t need to worry about not getting enough sleep.

He was going out on the Saturday night and I kinda of presumed he’d have a hangover on the Sunday. Just as I thought he messaged me late morning and said we might need to push our mid-afternoon meeting time as he was dying. He then messaged me mid-afternoon, saying it was taking a while to get going and said he would be over around 6.30pm. He then messaged me at 6pm saying he’d forgotten he had a family dinner also at 6.30pm, with a screenshot of a text from his Mum talking about the dinner as proof(?), so he’d go to that and then be at mine by 8.30pm.

To say I was pissed off would be fairly accurate. But I was also aware that we still had the rest of the night and the next morning so did it really matter? I mean, yes, some earlier heads up so I hadn’t actually wasted an entire afternoon and evening waiting for him, would have been preferable but I decided that when he came over I wasn’t going to say anything. It didn’t matter.

When he arrived though and started telling me about his day, my decision on that started to change. He began by telling me about the brunch he’d gone out for that morning with his housemate. Um… I thought you were hungover and dying in bed? Then he told me while he was at brunch their friends had called and told them they were at the beach, so they’d gone to join them. So I was blown off for you to randomly go to see friends? Then he told me that the family dinner had been arranged a couple of days earlier. You mean, when we’d already made our plans and yet you said yes?

I was honestly wondering if I was being punked. Like, how could someone be so fucking stupid not only to do those things but then to admit to them on their own accord. It wasn’t like I’d prised the information out of him!

And so of course I brought it up. I told him it was unacceptable behaviour and I couldn’t tolerate it. And then I explained that I’d really not wanted to have to talk to him about the fact it pissed me off, because it just made me sound like a fucking nag. We were supposed to be casual and so I got that making demands of him wasn’t the thing to do but equally, I couldn’t sit around and let someone make an absolute joke out of me. Consistency and honesty…

He said he felt like I was asking too much, like we were in a relationship when we weren’t. I said I had never wanted that and I was well aware we weren’t in a relationship. And in me saying that, something obviously triggered in his mind. Because he paused, looked at me for a moment and then said those fateful words – “are you sleeping with anyone else?”

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