Inadvertently, I am someone who always goes with the flow. When my first boyfriend told me that he loved me, I dived right into a long distance arrangement without pausing to wonder if I really liked him all that much. With Matthew* too, there wasn’t much rationale involved.
What no one tells you about leaving a cushy job and taking off to do your masters abroad is that it could be quite the alienating experience. The milieu is different, there is not a single Asian person in your class, you are filled with this burgeoning need for validation. You crave affection, intimacy, for someone to put you first. Someone who is not you.
In comes Matt, my awkward, lanky knight in a rusted armour. On the first date, we both had stories to tell but didn’t know where to start. Eventually, we just fought about our polar opposite views on the BBC. If you tell an English person that you are not supremely fond of their broadcasting channels, you basically become non-existent in their books. A few days later, on a friend’s birthday, while I was stuffing my face at the buffet, my phone lights up with his message, asking me out again.
After a month of chugging long island iced teas and frivolous sex, one Saturday night he resuscitated into a hyperactive version of himself. He had been playing drinking games with his friends all evening, so when I got back from my waitressing job, sullen and smelling of Indian takeout, he deemed it fit to pin me to a wall and tell me that he loved me. Next morning, sober and hungover, he again reiterated himself. And in my overthinking head, I could already imagine myself married in the picturesque countryside a few years down the road.
A couple of months later, still unsure of if we were actually in a relationship, I dragged him to watch a Hindi movie with me. The movie got over late in the night and he handed me his phone to book a cab. Within a few seconds, the familiar dating app notification popped up on the left corner of his phone. Befuddled, my mind went blank. I lost track of what I was doing.
The first instinct was obviously denial. But I found myself too affected to not question him as to what the heck he was doing on a dating app, if he still was, in his words, ‘in love with me’.
His way of justifying it was that it was just a harmless app and it didn’t really mean anything and he would be deleting it eventually. But he had met me on the same app, so the conclusion I was bound to draw was that was maybe I didn’t mean anything (to him) as well. Not wanting to be the nagging girlfriend, I let him know that I had deleted the app and it was just common courtesy if he wanted something tangible with me.
And it wasn’t just that, he was very comfortable talking to me about the boob shots, shared by a girl on Snapchat who had also made it clear that she never wanted to meet him.
We broke up eventually, for reasons other than the dating app. I found him back on it, his profile boasting of the two photos that I had clicked of him on my birthday. It took me nine months to see through his placid claims of love, but hey, better late than never. Right?
* Names changed to protect privacy.
Published on Mar 28, 2017