I’d had the apps on my phone for a while – I’d trialled Match and Plenty of Fish then settled on Tinder and Bumble. When I eventually decided I was ready to meet someone in person, and not just mindlessly swipe and start half-assed conversations, I matched with a guy who it turned out had actually lived in my home city for a while and in fact knew a few people I did. Home is never far away.

He was funny and sweet and put me at ease in all of our chats before we met. He called me a couple of times as well, which I was told by a few girlfriends is fairly rare in this day and age.Our phone conversations were easy as well and we clearly had a lot to talk about. And so Friday night was to be date night… Holy shit, someone hold my phone while I’m sick.

It’s fair to say my girlfriends were all pretty excited – there had been a long period of them asking me when I was going to start dating. Knowing how incredibly terrified I was, one of them did the most incredible impersonation of a saint and came round after work on the Friday with a bottle of wine, outfit assistance, make up help and general nerve calming skills. If it weren’t for her presence, there would have been a real danger I wouldn’t have gone.

I was ready with some time to spare, and while she could have gone home at that point, she stayed with me and on that chilly February night actually walked me to the door of the bar. There may or may not have been an actual shove, like the attendants sometimes have to do when someone won’t jump of the platform of a bungee jump.I was genuinely like bambi on ice. I felt so out of my depth and genuinely like I was learning to walk again. I hadn’t been on a proper date in…. 12 years. HOLY HELL!

My girlfriend suggested I arrive fashionably late but my concern with that tactic is having to look aimlessly around a bar to find someone, so I’ve found I prefer to be there first so they’re the one looking for me, plus I get to choose where to sit (you’re welcome for the tip).

I was so relieved when it didn’t turn out to be horrendously awkward, we had as much to talk about as I’d hoped and it was actually fun. Something I hadn’t really considered it might be. So it was all going really swimmingly. Until… he started to do something which I know I’ve been guilty of since – being too much of an open book.

Was the story of a sink falling on him at work supposed to be funny? My actual reaction was “how are you that dumb?” However this story did give way to his eventual nickname of Crazy Sink Guy.

Were the details of him being turfed out of his old apartment (rightly or wrongly by the landlord) and him refusing to give his key back meant to impress me? Because it probably had the opposite effect.

Did I need to know that he’d just that past week gotten into a physical altercation with a neighbour who he thought was having a domestic dispute? Probably not, though it’s nice to know he feels strongly about domestic violence, I guess?!

Was I really supposed to agree with him when he told me that he’d been stabbed three times while living in my home city but “you know, that’s what happens there”? Um buddy, I’ve lived there a lot longer than you and never been stabbed, I think this says more about you than the place. Also, rude.

So the night was a bit of a mixed bag and thinking back on it now, I laugh at me letting those red flag stories go. But, at that time, I was just so enamoured by the fact that someone seemed to like me and wanted to spend time with me, because lord knows it had been a while. So I brushed them off and continued to enjoy his company for a few more dates.

However as well as his wildly inappropriate stories, he started to become pretty clingy and it all got a bit much. Eventually I realised that actually it was the idea of those seemingly “nice” things – someone paying me attention, giving me compliments and wanting my company – that I was enjoying and not necessarily him…. You’ll see this becomes a recurring theme in my dating…

Chatting it through with my friends and sense checking the situation with them – past experiences had left me questioning my own decision making ability a little – I realised it probably needed to be nipped in the bud. So, with my girlfriends’ assistance (I was the epitome of “team dating” at this point), I sent my very first (maybe ever?) brush off text. Under adult supervision.

I was desperate to be able to be honest, to just tell him I didn’t want to date him anymore, but I was told in no uncertain terms that wouldn’t work. So we came up with a polite but curt text which cut the burgeoning relationship off in its tracks, didn’t allow for much debate but left everyone with their dignity intact. And this was the beginning of my conflict with honesty being my only policy but realising that sometimes you need to make things easier for yourself… We’re still working on this.

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