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  • Writer's pictureBilly Brayshaw

Dating Diaries Part II : Lessons Learned.

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Firstly, I know it’s been a while but I would like to thank every person who read and responded to the first instalment in this (now) series of blogs. I was sincerely taken back by the positive reaction and all the messages I received. I am so grateful to all those who read it, and got in touch. Thank you so much.

When I started writing Part One I was actually in a bit of a funk with the whole dating thing. I think most single people find themselves a bit disconnected with dating at some point in their unattached lives and I was defiantly going through that phase. In the end it was writing the blog post that gave me a therapeutic release and snapped me out of that particular funk. If you haven’t read it yet, after going through a disastrous run of dates I decided to write about my experiences and reminded myself how fun it can be to date and just have adventures. Gone was the funk.

Having thought about this next post for a while, I wanted again to write about something that’s very relevant to me and where I ‘m currently at with single life in general. I decided to base it on three lessons I have learned through past experiences, lessons that I have needed to reflect on recently. I have attached each lesson with a specific dating experience, so if you look at the title of lesson – it might seem like quite an obvious thing NOT to do, but there is more to it than that. I’m not going to lie, I am a little nervous writing this! I want to make this my most honest / frankest post yet, so I am sat at my laptop, typing away and just like in real life, I’m scared about word vomiting my way into some serious trouble. So without further ado;

Lesson One: Don’t Go To Barcelona On A Third Date.

First Date – Drinks.

Second Date – Food.

Third Date – Two nights away in Barcelona!?!?!

Yes, indeed this happened. ‘A Spontaneous Romantic Getaway’, sounds amazing I hear you say. Spontaneous yes, but I had more Romance when I was walking through the streets of Las Ramblas and was approached by an overweight fifty year old female prostitute asking me if I needed any mouth to south resuscitation. In all honesty, it was the worst trip I’ve ever had, never mind the worst date.

In the beginning it started out as most dates do now, swipe left, match, talk a little then drink a lot. He seemed like a nice, well put together person and he was in the medical industry so quite educated in that sense. To be truthful, I wasn’t overwhelmed by him, he just seemed pleasant. After our first date, a few days later we decided to meet again over some nice Italian food. Again, all was well and I was enjoying his company so I stayed over at his place. The next morning I got up and thought it might be a nice idea to make some pancakes, so off I went shopping, picked up all the ingredients, got back to his place and started cooking. Ten or so minutes later, I served up the pancakes. He had a bite. Anticipating his reaction, I prompted him for a response....

“They’re disgusting.” He Said.

At this point I laughed, I’m not a cook by any means so he was probably right and I actually love people being upfront and honest. However, looking back, this should have been a warning sign for things to come. Over breakfast we kind of joked about needing a little break and how I had never been to Barcelona, a city he was quite familiar with. I thought nothing of it and went back home.

It wasn’t until a day or so after (yes this all happened in the space of around a week), that the conversation intensified and the topic of a Barcelona city break didn’t drop, we mutually agreed we should go for the weekend. I pay flights, he pays accommodation. So we booked it. I thought it would be a great adventure, nice break exploring the city on a date. It did cross my mind about potentially not getting on, but my answer to this was that when you are away you are normally more relaxed so I wouldn’t mind. I also knew someone who lived out there, so if there was an emergency situation I had a relatively familiar face close by.

At the airport things already seemed a little clashy. He was agitated and moody and I was excited and happy. At one point he outright asked me to stop talking. Just like the pancakes, I can understand this. I’m not negatively bashing myself, I am just well aware of the fact that sometimes I can be a little hyper and annoying to some. It’s fine. It just depends on my mood. So again, I let that one go.

Landing in Barcelona, we were getting our bags, I did notice at this point that he was very single minded in his actions, for example he would grab his bag from the luggage belt and rather than wait for me to get mine, he would just shoot off, leaving me to scramble for mine and run behind him, scuttling along like a little mouse.

We got in the taxi to the hotel and I was happily gazing out the window at the scenery of a city I’d never seen before, I noticed from the corner of my eye that he was on his phone, intensely tap-tap-tapping away. I then recognised a familiar yellowish border on the app he was using. I glanced over and he was on a gay hook-up app. Rather awkward really. I openly asked him what he was doing and he told me he was asking the Barcelona folk the best places to go in the city and he explained he doesn’t use it for hook-ups etc.

** MY HOOKUP APP POLICY ** - Not what I’m about.

I accepted his answer because it would have been more awkward not to, and at this point we had only been in the country a few hours. I suppose it was a bizarre situation in the sense that we obviously weren’t in a relationship, but when you go away with someone on a date, I don’t think it’s wrong to expect them to still show some courtesy. Can you imagine going on a tinder date and swiping matches whilst you chatted!?!

We got to the hotel, which was rather nice, popped our bags in our room and had a little refresh. There was an electronic festival on a little later that afternoon that we agreed to go to. Again, I was looking forward to it, a few drinks and a party atmosphere. Just before sunset, we made it to the festival. It was a beautiful evening. The sun was beating down in this historic Spanish square, which was filled to the brim with revellers dancing to the DJ. I was loving life. Fun, food, drinks, and dancing, what more could you want? Maybe you might want to start a fight with some Spanish gangster because that sounds fun....

I was ever so merry, and happily entertained with the music and everyone around seemed to be the same. I knew I didn’t want to get totally sloshed though, because I was still a bit dubious of the surroundings. There were quite a few gangs of people that you could easily pinpoint from the crowd. They stuck out because they would all be wearing similar clothing and had that stereotypical thuggish swag you could expect from a Hollywood film. I needed the toilet, which I knew would be an epic battle with how busy the place was, so I asked the date if he wanted to come, but he refused. When I left him, he didn’t seem that drunk at all, we both had the same level of alcohol. To this day I’m not convinced that he didn’t take something other than alcohol, which would better explain his actions. Before flying solo for my toilet trip, I told him to wait where I left him. I made my way through the crowds and because of the enormous amount of people; I was gone for around forty-five minutes. The way the venue was set out in a square, the toilets were located on the level above, so it turned out I could see him quite clearly from where I was waiting. I noticed that he was trying to dance with this big muscled guy who was wearing a bandana. This guy wouldn’t have looked out of place as part of a Hells Angels biker gang. I actually started laughing because the biker guy was having none of it. When I say he was trying to dance with him, I literally mean he was trying to grind on him, awkwardly. The biker dude was clearly getting angry now and that’s when it got more serious. Just to note, this was not a gay venue and in my opinion as a gay man, the biker dude was very much a straight man. What on earth was he doing!? I shifted back into the square to try and find him, a little worried at what I was about to walk into. I caught glimpses through the crowd of an altercation brewing. Words were being shouted. By the time I got back to where he was, I had to break up a full on scuffle. We needed to get out of there ASAP! I made us leave the festival and we walked all the way back into town, the same journey that took thirty minutes in a taxi. I thought it was best for him to just walk it off. This was fast becoming an actual nightmare. We got back to the hotel. I called him a wanker and went to bed. And what a wanker he was....(quite literally from this next paragraph that some readers may find AWKARD AF)....

It was the next morning, we were sharing a bed and I was on my side fast asleep, but gradually woken up by the light from his phone and the constant tapping of texts he was sending. I didn’t have to turn around to know what app he was using again. I was still so sleepy so I couldn’t be bothered speaking. I just let him crack on with it, after the night before it was clear he was a total buffoon and I was over it. Gradually it became rather clear that the tapping on his phone was somewhat synchronised with some poorly disguised movement of the bed..... Yes. Exactly what you are thinking. One of most awkward moments of my life, moving on.....

Later that morning, I was undoubtedly so over the whole dating thing now, I just wanted to zone out of that completely. We ended up going on a guided tour around Barcelona, which was really nice. One stop on the tour was the amazing Sagrada Família, Gaudí´s temple. We ended up having a discussion about our own beliefs, which went a little like this....

“I have my own interpretations of different things, what about you?” Said Me.

“I’m quite religious actually” Said Him.

“And what about the Gay thing?” Said Me.

“Being Gay is wrong” Said Him.

At this point I can actually remember feeling sorry for him. How screwed up must he be to think that being himself and accepting himself is wrong? It was starting to make more sense why he was such an asshole. After this conversation I decided go about things in a manner that was very unfamiliar to me, a calmly manner. I grew out of diva fits a year or so before, but on this occasion looking back I wish I hadn’t. After the tour I arranged a little meet up with my pals in a bar, hoping for some sort of break from the madness of this warped human. We had a good few drinks and the conversation was flowing nicely. I went to the bar and got some more drinks, came back to the table and there he is again with the hook-up app...But this time asking my friends to translate the messages he was getting from other guys. I still don’t know how I didn’t flip out. Like I’ve said, we came on this trip has a date, not as friends, not as people who are casually sleeping together, that’s not what I’m about. I don’t expect to be in a relationship, but when you are in a situation like this I do expect respect. I breathed in; I breathed out, grabbed his phone, smashed it on the floor, and kissed him on the cheek with my fist. The end. Sorry, got carried away with a “What I should have done” moment. Here’s what really happened....

After the drinks we went for a meal and I had a frank and open discussion with him about everything he had done that had pissed me off. He didn’t once see me as an equal, there was literally no respect. A perfect example of this was when we were coming out of a taxi, he got out of his side but he shut the door behind him, in my face: just as I was making my way out of the same door? As if I wasn’t even there. And that sums up his whole attitude.

During the dinner, I was direct and I was calm and I really just wanted him to open his eyes and see what an absolute dick he had been. He half heartedly apologised, and I outright told him, that never on god’s green earth do I want to see him again. The flight home was awkward as hell, I didn’t speak to him once, the ride from the airport back to the city was even worse, my version of goodbye was getting my case from the cab and saying thanks to the taxi driver, not one word to him. What a relief it was to be away from that energy. I’m really not a violent person, nor have I ever been, but looking back, I actually regret how calmly I handled this; I should have punched him the face and kicked his dick off. The real lesson here, was knowing myself of my worth.

**Additional lesson: Never Feed A Date Pancakes Again**

Lesson Two: Don’t Turn Up To A First Date With A Marriage Certificate

I thought it was a hilarious idea to show up to a first date with a personalised printed Marriage Certificate ready to be signed. Apparently, not so much.

Okay, so I did do this and it was a joke, but this is just one factor to this story of a lesson learned.

Having been single for a long time now, it has become quite apparent over the past year that before anything can develop further than just dating, I shut it down. This isn’t something I’ve been doing on purpose; it has just become a natural response for me. I think it’s because I am so happy in myself and in control of my own feelings, that when someone else is introduced to that equation I feel like it makes me a weaker, less independent person. Perhaps I feel some emotion towards them that I can’t control. (Wow – I just typed all that out not really knowing where it as going. Now I feel like I’ve had a revelation hahaha).

I noticed this happening last year, so I made a conscious effort to fight it. Instead of shutting things down and self sabotaging things, I was going to let go, and see where it went, even if it meant sending myself crazy catching the feels for someone. Earlier last year it worked, and I got the closest I’ve ever been in five years to having a fully functioning relationship. It didn’t quite work out, mainly down to our very different personalities, but I did catch the feels and was proud of myself for getting as far as I did. I knew from this that I wasn’t as emotionally backward as I thought.

From this point I decided to let the walls down even further, I matched with a date and straight away the rapport was amazing. Instantly clicking in conversation, personality and interests. There was a crazy chemistry there, even just from texting. We must of spoke solid for around two weeks. All day every day. After all the messages, voice notes, videos, and deep conversations, I felt like I had a really good sense of who this person was, and I was interested. There was certain intensity in our communication, which usually I would totally shut down, but I made the decision to just go with. The problem was I went so far down the rabbit hole I passed wonderland and ended up batshit crazy-ville. We arranged a first date, and because he lived in London and I was still in Manchester, he decided to stay over in a hotel.

We had previously had a little banter about marriage, so of course I turned up with a marriage certificate (as a little joke), but in all honesty I was actually really wrapped up in the crazy idea that it was going to be so much more than just dating. As it turned out, we got on as much in person as through the phone, and we spent, what I thought was an amazing weekend together. I don’t think I was so far blind that I couldn’t see he was enjoying himself too.

On the Sunday afternoon we said our goodbyes and I was so looking forward to the marriage, honeymoon, children, family holidays, grand children, retirement......You get the idea. However the following morning there was no message waiting for me when I woke up. There was no reply to the message I sent the night before. There was no reply to the further messages I sent later in the day. What a shitter. There was something about this one that made me a more gutted than before. Maybe it was because it’s the first time I really let myself go all in. It was crazy to do that, but because of my previous experiences I had to try. Eventually he did text back with something along the lines of ‘slowing it down’, but that didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. You can’t start one way, talking all the time and being open in conversations to then close a part of yourself off again?

Looking back I think this person said all the right things, and got what he wanted out of the date. A super fun adventure with @Billyilliam not Billy.

The real lesson here, take someone for who they are, not who you want them to be.

Lesson Three: Don’t Have Sex On A First Date.

So this is quite a controversial one. Some may agree, some may not. I suppose it depends on what you are looking for. Personally, I would like to point out that I do not consider myself someone who sleeps around and I do not do hook-ups. Plenty of my friends and people I know do, which I love hearing the gossip about, but personally it’s not my style. I’m all about dating. I would much rather get to know the person behind the penis. That being said, I’m not an angel either....

Throughout most of my dating life, sex has been the subject I have been the least comfortable with. It hasn’t been until recent years that I have really embraced this side of things and felt confident enough to talk about it more openly and honestly.

Towards the beginning of my dating life, I would hold on to this idea that sex was something more valuable than all of her Majesty The Queen’s estates put together. Over time my value on this has gradually decreased (now it probably stands at the equivalent of just Buckingham Palace....well maybe just her Rolls Royce...actually maybe one her hats....okay probably just the silver teaspoon used to stir her cup of tea).

The reason I held sex with such high value and put these rules in place is because I know, deep down beneath the fun exterior of Billyilliam, there is Billy and this version of me is much more sensitive.

As I got more and more comfortable in my own skin, I allowed myself to be less bound by my own ruling. If it felt right, it must be right. I have a lot of trust in myself. I might not know what other people are thinking or feeling but I am well aware of what I am feeling, so if I felt like I wanted to take it there, I would.

I was dating someone not long ago. On our first date there was a really nice chemistry there and it was one of those occasions where I knew it wouldn’t be a onetime thing. Even though it was just the first date, it felt right to go back to his place, so I did.

After this we went on a few more dates, but the chemistry that we had at the beginning was now lacking. On the fourth date it became apparent after I stayed over again that we had obviously lost that initial spark. This was a shame because I actually really liked him. Who knows if we had held that side of things out a little longer, perhaps it would have been different? You could say ‘Maybe It Would, Maybe It Wouldn’t’, but I feel that with this situation the MAYBE is less probable if we had of held out. Personally, I’ve ever heard anyone say five dates in “I should have slept with him on the first”.

Perhaps this post may come across a bit hypocritical? I know on social media I have some quite suggestive pictures and maybe what I put out there creates a different picture of who I am, but that is just one version of me and I am sure you could say the same with any social media account.

After thinking about this date, and all the other dates I’ve been on, I knew I learned a lesson. It’s not just about the risk of losing chemistry down the line or making sure your intentions are aligned, it’s about it not being worth the risk of feeling a bit used. For me, that’s the daunting risk. The feeling that you have given someone something which they had no intentions of keeping. Whether that’s what they wanted all along or not, it doesn’t matter because you still might feel it. So yes, for me it’s not worth it. I will hold out.

So there they are, a few dates I have been reflecting on recently, and some valuable lessons learned. Whether it’s been a good experience, or a bad one, or even just a hard one to get through, it’s always worth it if you learn something after. Another therapeutic exercise for my mind complete.

Thank-you for reading, please do reach out with your comments – would love to discuss. I’m sure there will be a part three, I have a feeling that I may have a lot more lessons to learn.

Cheerio for now.

Billy x

#menblog #lifestyle #dating #gaylifestyle #gaydating #datingDiaries

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