Let’s just cut to the chase. He was, and he even said so himself, vain. Not a great quality. But, with his groomed manly beard and glowing olive skin and mesmerising eyes and perfect black hair and abs of steel… He was the heartbreaker of all heartbreakers. But you still want to meet him, don’t you? Fine! But don’t get too attached. Half Malaysian, half Australian, six foot two, Graphic Designer. Please meet (don’t stare)… TOM*.

September 2014: He was vegan and shopped mainly at organic markets on a Sunday. Me on the other hand, I tend to choose, you know, the meat lover pizza from the menu and in all honesty cannot help but consume chocolate on a daily basis. He rode a shiny, black motorbike everywhere he went, rain, hail or shine. And still looked amazing. Me? Well, I drove a little, dusty red hatchback that broke down at least once every month. I’ve since updated. Please note, this doesn’t improve anything in the dating department.  In his spare time, he dabbled in a bit of modelling for high end fashion brands. In my spare time, I like to paint my nails DIY style with the polish I purchased on sale. He watched what he ate, which I do also. That is, watching my food make its way from the bowl, onto my fork and into my mouth. Even during a second serving.

Heartbreaker is probably an understatement. How he went about breaking my heart, whether it was intentional or not, changed my whole approach to dating. And I’m so bloody thankful. The Dating Bullshit (my little “theory” relating to pointless dating experiences) was born off the back of Tom’s silly, blantantly stupid, mistake and further attempt to lie about it. So, what happened? Deary me, where do I even begin? Let’s start from… First drink.

So, Tom and I met for an impromptu drink on a Friday night at a bar on the outskirts of the city. We had actually spoken on the phone once or twice before. He was as chilled out in person as he was on the phone. One wine + one wine + one wine + great conversation + great shirt + never dated a bearded man = goodnight kiss. Yeah, he totally earned that. He did well, really well.

The next time Tom and I met was about a week later. I was in his area and he came to meet me at a local bar. He met my BFF and one of my sisters. I did subtly warn him – Family alert! Too soon! Back Away! – in a round about way. But he assured me it was totally fine. My sister and BFF immediately liked him. And so, naturally, I liked him more.

Over the next few weeks, Tom shared with me his pick of favourite local bars, taking me to little hidden gems and yummy tapas restaurants. We had a night in sleepover, you are an adult Simone, it’s okay, about once a week. These seemed to always fall on a Tuesday. Hmmm, less commitment? Not giving up weekends with friends? Other girls? Hey, perhaps even a girlfriend. Who knows with him. He did have a great beard. And a great face. His skin was so… Sorry. Anyway… So, every Tuesday for four weeks, Tom stayed at my place. He’d come over, I’d cook him dinner, or he’d bring takeaway. It was the Tuesday night standard. I do make a great lasagne just FYI. Girlfriend quality right there. Yes,  at the time, cooking him dinner week one did seem a little too much too soon, but Tom assured me otherwise. So, I listened. I believed him. I went with the flow. Hey, I may have even… wait for it… trusted the guy a little.

Going with the flow meant putting all my Tinder eggs in one basket. And so, when it all went to shit, I got a really good hard dose of, The Dating Bullshit. What’s The Dating Bullshit? Well, if you missed last week’s entry, in a nutshell, The Dating Bullshit is: When you are convinced that the time you actually spend with someone translates to them genuinely wanting to officially, exclusively, date you. But they don’t. But you don’t know that… yet.

Tuesday night rolls around once again. We both referred to this as ‘Date Night’. Our texts would go something on the lines of: Date night! Woo! Can’t wait! Yay! Something cheesy like that. So, that morning, I messaged Tom to ask if he’d like to come over to my place for dinner. Date night! Woo! Can’t wait! Yay!

And then this happened.

1 New Message. Tom. 9AM: Hi Sim. Oh, I’d love to, but I’m not feeling too well. I’ve got a cold. I’ll see how I go and let you know at the end of the day if that’s okay?

Simone. 915AM: Oh, that’s no good. Sure, not a problem. Hope you feel better soon.

Werk. Werk. Werk. Werk. Werk. 1 PM. Check my phone. Werk. Werk. Werk. Werk. 3 PM. Check my phone. Werk. Werk. 5PM. Check my phone. Werk. 6PM. We… 630PM.

Right. No text. But he might still come over. Like last minute. Okay, I’ll have a shower and get ready just in case. 

Currently in the shower. Phone is on the basin. It chimes! Date night! Woo! Can’t wait! Yay! I reach out. Naked of course. Don’t wet the phone. Shower cap on. Don’t have time to wash my hair. He could be here in twenty.

1 New Message. Tom. 645PM. Hi Sim. I’m not going to make it tonight. I’m just feeling really unwell and don’t want to ride over on the bike when I’m feeling under the weather. Sorry. I’ll see you soon.

I put the phone back on the basin and shut the shower door. That sucks. 

It chimes again! Date night! Woo! Can’t wait! Yay! I reach out. Don’t wet the phone.

1 New Message. Tom. 646PM. Sounds great! Strawberry Hills it is.

Strawberry Hills? Strawberry Hills? Strawberry F#5*ing Hills. Really? No, like really?

1 New Message. Tom. 647PM. Haha. Sorry. That was meant for a mate of mine. We’re having an argument about the song by Eminem. Turns out it’s called Purple Pill!

Simone. 648PM. I’m not stupid. I know you live nextdoor to The Strawberry Hills Hotel. Have a great night.

1 New Message. Tom. 649PM. Haha. I know you’re not stupid. I was seriously having an argument with my mate. I’m not going out.

SCREENSHOT. New message. To: Shannon. My sister.

1 New Message. Shannon. 650PM. What the hell? Are you okay?

Simone. 651PM. No, I’m not okay. I feel sick. He’s obviously going out.

1 New Message. Shannon. 652PM. Well, what do you want to do? Do you want to go there, to see if he’s there?

Simone. 653PM. Yes. Okay. Let’s go there. Let’s get in the car and drive to a hotel where the guy I’ve been seeing for a whole four weeks and five days is potentially on a date with another girl. Because that’s normal. And he won’t think that’s crazy at all.

And so we did. I got dressed to the freakin’ nines and drove myself to The Strawberry Hills Hotel, with Shannon, aka my breaking up wing woman, in the passenger seat.

I felt physically ill. He could be telling the truth – maybe he is at home sick. Or maybe he’s at the bar, with his mates and he just didn’t want to see me tonight. Or maybe he’s in there on a date. Or maybe he’s on a date and changed the venue. I can’t go in. I can’t just walk in there. I’m going to look like a crazy person. I’m not going in. I’m turning this car around. I’m going home. I’ll just call him tomorrow. I feel sick. I don’t know what to do. Okay, I’ll go in. No, I can’t go in. I’ll just leave it. I can’t…

‘Bloody hell. I’ll go in!’ Shannon opened her door and jumped out of my moving vehicle. I pulled over into a No Stopping zone, because right now, I’ll stop wherever the hell I want, Mister Officer. And then I waited. And waited. I feel sick. He’s not going to be in there. He would change the venue. I look into my side mirror. Oh, shit. Here she is. Here’s Shannon, Cathy Freeman-ing it up Crown St. She’s out of breath. She opens up my driver’s door, panting like someone who is most certainly not Cathy Freeman.

Speak woman!

‘He’s in there and he’s with another girl.’

Shut the front door. *Cue the tears*.

I ended up going into the hotel. He never saw me. I just wanted to see it for myself. There Tom was, sitting at a table with a brunette woman, each of them with a wine in hand. I watched as she reached out to squeeze his arm. He laughed at something she said, and she responded by flicking her hair to one side. That’s all I needed to see. That’s all I could let myself see.

I walked back to my car, defeated. I had completely overdosed on The Dating Bullshit. I needed to detox.

Your first ever dose of The Dating Bullshit hurts like hell. It’s clear from this journal entry that I remember it all so vividly, more than I would like. Today though, with no word of a lie, these series of events actually make me laugh. At the time though, with no word of a lie, it was the furthest thing from humerous. I literally had a panic attack in the car and another when I got home, before crying onto the shoulder of my sister in an uncontrollable manner. Shannon stayed with me that night and spooned me to sleep, whispering not-so-sweet nothings into my ear about what an arsehole Tom was. Thanks, Shan. You did your job well. 

I just had to have the last word, so I confronted Tom the following day. He agreed to meet me for a drink. I admitted that I turned up to the hotel and saw him on what seemed like a date. I was calm and simply said, I want better than this. His response was simple. It was one word. And it was all I needed to hear: Fuck.

He apologised. He told me he’d message me the next morning to organise brunch. I heard from him at 6PM asking me how my day was. I was emotionally exhausted.

In hindsight, I was rejected long before that night; I just refused to listen to the alarm bells. Why? Because I so wanted to be bothered with Tom. I wanted Tom to be bothered with me. I refused to accept that the little communication in between dates, the lack of texts, the excuses of having to stay late back at work, the inability to answer my calls, the last minute dinner cancellations, and the inability to commit to plans in advance, outweighed the great Tuesday nights we spent together.

So, all I can say is: Thank you, Tom. Because of you, The Dating Bullshit was born – my heart appreciates it more than you’ll ever know. So really, thank you. I owe you one.

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