Reading Between The Lines
Scott is still chasing that date, and he’s just not going to give up …
The man who I made a fool of myself in front of on Date One before unwittingly giving me the run around ahead of Date Two now needs a name, as he is making regular appearances in this column of late. Without drawing too much comparison to Sex & The City (a gay man writing about dating without being stereotypical… ahem), let’s call him Mister Med. Not because he’s medium – although he presumably does take a medium size t-shirt – but let’s just go with it for now.
We go for that walk as part of the second date, which went brilliantly. We walked along the pier of a coastal town, got a bag of chips each from the local chippy and thanks to Halloween, there were even fireworks. Actual fireworks … ON A DATE. Even the chat went well; we talked about family, dramas, friends, work, studies and more. There wasn’t an awkward moment to be found, which was a welcome change from my horrific first impression. I was back in top dating form; funny, chatty with just a bit of flirting.
After our walk along the pier and scoffing down the chips, he was getting a bit cold thanks to the October night air, so he suggested that we get back into the car. Totally understandable. We took the scenic route back towards the city centre, along the coast and looking across the bay and the city’s million lights. Then, the surprise came. As we passed along the coast road, we turned onto my road. He had dropped me home without me even realising what was going on. Slightly shocked, I kept my cool and hopped out of the car. We had only been out for about an hour, which made Britney Spears’ Vegas marriage seem like a lifetime. In fairness to him, he explained later that he had to get back to his studies, which considering upcoming exams, is fine. I’m not denying that it was a pity it was so short, but his excuse was more than valid.
Then the third date happened, totally unexpectedly, because it wasn’t really a date. I came home from a night out to find a message from him online, which my phone failed to pick up while I was out. He had a fight with his flatmate, and messaged me to rant. I thought it cute, as it meant that he was starting to think of me as someone to go to. Then came the indirect invitation to come over, but at two in the morning, I didn’t realise this was an invitation to stay the night. “I’m not going to collect you at half two just to drop you home at half three!” Fair point. He collected me ten minutes later (think what you will of me for accepting the invitation!) and I let him rant. Somehow, we soon moved on to how he gets on with people, and he proceeded to call himself a cold fish when it came to relationships.
“Maybe that’s why I don’t have a boyfriend,” he blurted out.
“And somehow,” I said with a smirk, “here’s me, sitting in your car at half two in the morning.” I could see him try to hide a smile.
Something changed at that moment. I no longer saw this guy as a lost cause, or someone that had possibly given me the run-around. Instead, he hadn’t expected me to want to stick around. He was busy because of studies and family dramas, but while he thought I was going to run a mile, I hadn’t budged an inch. He wasn’t such a cold fish at all, but rather that he was keeping his guard up. Something sweet happened later that night which confirmed that little by little, he was beginning to take it down.
Reading between the lines, I learned a great deal more than what he had been talking to me about. I learned that by being initially distant and almost cold, he was using tactics that I’d put into play as a defence mechanism. I would normally shut someone out after being hurt, both as a way to protect myself and to tell the other party that they’ve blown their chance. He was doing it in reverse; he was cold because he was afraid of letting me in. When that clicked, his bouts of being distant didn’t matter. I realised that if I wanted to be with him, it was going to take a while to let him see what I wasn’t going to hurt him.
It’s good to know that he has a defence mechanism in place, but that leaves me with the question; could I be the one hurt instead?
‘Scottie’ Illustrations by Stephen Charlick