Over the subsequent weeks with Asian Weightlifting Firefighter we went on all sorts of dates – park dates, movie dates, symphony orchestra dates, dinner dates, watching the Olympics dates (he imparted his knowledge of Olympic weightlifting while I filled him in on Rugby 7’s), film festival dates, furniture shopping dates… wait, woah, what? Furniture shopping?

In fairness a few months had passed by this point. We would see each other most weeks or every couple of weeks and it felt like how I’d imagined “grown up dating” would feel. The furniture shopping was a bit of a weird one though, I mean do you really want someone helping you pick out a sofa you might sit on for the next 3 years when you might not be seeing them for another 3 weeks? But it was him that was buying so I happily went along and gave my opinion.

In the midst of all of these fun dates my girlfriends noticed something that I hadn’t quite seen myself. I was never SUPER excited about any of it. It seems my reaction the first time we had sex was maybe an indicator of what was to come. But it was hard to put my finger on why I wasn’t beside myself with glee that this incredibly fit, successful guy who was planning all these really great dates wasn’t entirely lighting my fire.

The seed of questionability might have been planted when during one of our early dates we were talking about what we were looking for in partners and he said “I want a woman that looks good on my arm but can also work a room”. Now, if I break that down, those aren’t bad qualities to want – someone who’s attractive and someone who is sociable/confident. But that’s not what he said. The way it was phrased was so much more objectifying to women and if you asked women what they’re looking for in a man, it would likely take a long long time before you got an answer that objectified men in the same way.

Also, “work a room”?! You’re a firefighter and a gym owner, not a politician, why the hell do you need someone to “work a room” for you?

The comment irked me (if that much wasn’t clear from the above?) and the couple of girlfriends I shared it with shared the sentiment. One was so put off by it she told me to stop dating him immediately. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped it maybe just came out wrong or the way I took it wasn’t what he meant. But it definitely stayed with me.

As did the fact that every time he got undressed, I was bowled over by his body. Like, picking my jaw up off the floor. He wasn’t a tall guy but the rest of him was so impeccably formed. How could it not be when so much of his life had a fitness focus? It was an incredible turn on as well as an excellent motivator for me to keep getting my ass to kickboxing.

9 weeks after our first date, things started to slow down a bit, we both had a lot of other stuff going on and the time between our dates was definitely stretching out. Again, the fact that it didn’t bother me that much other than it just started to feel a bit odd should have been enough for me to conclude things there.

I then got sick, one of those colds that completely floored me for a week and my life was on hold for at least two. Two things happened with Asian Weightlifting Firefighter around this time.

The first was that in all the time I was sick and at home, which he knew as we would text more regularly than we’d see each other, he never asked if I needed anything, never suggested he drop by to see me or offered to help in any way. Now, we weren’t explicitly boyfriend/girlfriend but we had covered off the fact we were dating exclusively and I know if the shoe had been on the other foot I would have done those things. Even though at the time I’d probably have declined a visit as I was an utter mess, the offer really would have been nice.

There are a few things I miss from relationships as a singleton, and one of them is having someone to take care of you when you’re sick. When you really can’t get out to the supermarket for food but you know you should be eating veggies and drinking orange juice, or you run out of tissues, or just need some more medication but getting out of bed and across the street to the pharmacy seems like a round the world mission. Someone to just do those things for you, that doesn’t put them out their way like it does a friend who offers, but someone who genuinely, truly wants to do it for you and take care of you and doesn’t even care that you’re a big bag of sickness. I miss that.

Side note – the other things I miss are someone to help you get into/out of clothes/jewellery and someone to pick you up at the airport. There are more but those are the three that always get me.

When I was getting back on my feet after the cold, he took me out for dinner to a place known for comfort food, their toasted cheese sandwich and tomato soup was the perfect thing. But I’m not sure if it was just the after effects of my sickness lingering but the whole evening felt very… flat. It had a real feeling that we were both there because we felt we “should” be. I couldn’t nail it down but suffice to say by the time we were walking back to the car I was really questioning how much longer I’d be seeing him.

Then he pulled me in for a hug, and with those muscly arms wrapped around me I wondered if maybe, despite all that, he could be the guy for me… This was the moment I found out I could be blinded by a bicep. The lifted spirits were only to be momentary though.

As we got back to the car, he said something about the passenger door lock not working and came round to unlock it but, as he did, he didn’t follow that up by actually opening the door.

He unlocked it, then left it.

As in, he put the key in, probably put his hand on the door in some capacity, but didn’t actually lift the handle and open it for me…

I actually stood, kind of aghast, looked at it for 5 seconds (which felt like longer but it was long enough to make a point), laughed and said “don’t worry, I’ve got it”.

Now, I’m not a stickler for manners and the fact he’d obviously never opened a car door for me before clearly hadn’t even struck me but there was something about the fact that he was AT THE CAR DOOR and didn’t open it that made me realise it wasn’t something he would ever even think of. And that really jarred on me.

I got home that night and kinda felt like it almost hadn’t been worth going out for. I was frustrated and disappointed, which aren’t really the lasting feelings you want from any date, let alone a date with someone who you’d been seeing for a few months.

As I thought about it over the next few days and chatted it through with girlfriends, who declared they actually couldn’t understand why I was still seeing him, though they did appreciate the body aesthetic angle, I decided that the next time I saw him I’d have a conversation about what we were doing/where we were going, almost with the prophecy that I knew that would end things.

One of my friends posed the question to me “what do you do if he says he wants to be in a relationship?”… well shit, I hadn’t really figured that out but at least my reaction made it obvious to me that definitely wasn’t what I actually wanted.

Interestingly, rather than just tell him I didn’t want to see him anymore, which presumed he wanted to see me and almost felt scarier, I decided it felt safer to ask him where he was at with us, feeling pretty sure he’d say he didn’t want anything more, if even, what we had at that point.

As it was, while casually chatting over Mexican food the following week I readied myself to ask the question and realised it was the first time I would properly have that chat with someone. It was kind of a bid moment in my dating life but the nerves were unnecessary, not least because I felt fairly certain where the conversation was going to go.

Turns out, I hadn’t planned for his answer to be “um, I don’t know, I hadn’t really thought about it.” Um… ok… well… is that something you can maybe get back to me on?! It was a weird turn of events that I actually hadn’t been prepared for. It also made me question how you can get to a certain point with someone but never actually think through where things are or what you want. He said he’d think about it and the conversation was left there. Needless to say, dinner ended kind of awkwardly.

A few days later he texted me to say that he’d thought about what I’d asked and he’d realised that he had so much going on in his life with his two jobs and moving house that he wasn’t sure he had time for anything else just now. I didn’t need to ask if the “anything else” was meant as anything additional to what we had already or just anything in addition to the jobs and house move he’d mentioned.

The fact was I didn’t care. I actually hoped he meant anything else outside the job and moving, and that this was done. Even my reaction to the end of it was flat. It was such an odd feeling because we had fun on our dates, he planned really great dates!, I was unbelievably attracted to his body and he was a driven and motivated individual. But clearly, there was something missing. A spark. A sense of excitement. The thing you need to have to make you actually give a shit.

But, as it turned out, no shits were given and that glorious gym bod was never to be seen again.

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