I have a final fling with Bumble and delete the app. My last date is winningly handsome, attentive and articulate. And, oh yes, a dedicated love-bomber. He all too rapidly develops a habit of texting late in the evening, seductively asking what I’m ‘up to’. I glance down at my grandad pyjamas and suspect the right answer isn’t: “I’m up to reading the campsite directory. Send more Rice Crispies.”
He also, it emerges, has quite an elastic approach to the truth. Note to the love-bombers and the fabricators: don’t try this with a journalist. It’s Trainee Reporting 101; three and a half minutes of googling reveal him to have a different surname, plus Friday night whereabouts, to those given. I block his number and swipe Bumble left for good.
My hiking bestie sends The Unexpected Joy of Being Single and I rush through the pages, searching for the joy. It’s revelatory – but not in the way I expect. The first chapters very much centre around breaking the habit of being with anyone, rather than being alone, and this doesn’t apply; I’ve spent long spells of adult life happily eating Rice Crispies on the sofa, alone in grandad pyjamas and braced for the serious business of comparing certificated campsites in Gwynedd (it’s never occurred to me that there might be a problem with this, but Catherine Gray suggesting that some people might see a problem with this makes me wonder if there’s a problem). But then come the chapters on texting.
Yes, the texting! Sorry for the smugness, but I’ve said this before! Don’t we do everything by text these days? We flirt via text – often for weeks, before we’ve had a conversation IRL (in real life). We communicate with our teens by text and we even argue through our phones – and isn’t it exhausting?
I meet a fellow marketing bod for a cuppa and, among other things, we question whether social media helps or hinders business. We agree it’s sometimes good to slow right down and it strikes me that this is what we need in all aspects of our lives. Slowness. Slow meals with our families. Slow thinking before firing the latest missive in painfully, heartbreakingly unwinnable arguments Slow walking (I already do this with my hiking bestie; in fairness the walking’s quite speedy but the salmon-and-cream-cheese bagel stops take forever because we’re laughing too hard to be able to get up again). And slow dating, for sure.
Gray’s sharp, quick-fire observations allow me to see horrible patterns in my relationships; not just with the men in my life – but definitely with the men in my life. And I make a sharp, quick-fire decision that I’m texting no more. I’m done with talking through my thumbs (ok, it’s my index finger, and admittedly just the one, but at least the texting’s slow). Whether the man for me really is sitting on a mountain with his dog or whether at some point I’ll hop back on the online dating wagon, I’m all about the slow, real conversations now. It’s quite literally thumbs down to fast-talking from here.
I’ll continue to text the teens, of course – usually along the lines of: ‘On way home. Is home still standing?’ and ‘Feed dog and pop in washing. Pop dog in washing if required.’
But only on the very slowest cycle, naturally.