We were sitting on the sun-drenched stairs at university when I flopped news of an upcoming date into our conversation. I was chatting with an old friend and a friend we’d just made, and the comment was directed towards the new guy. We were getting along too well and I wanted him to know about my existing situationship.
My relationship wasn’t exclusive but I’ve always struggled with the concept of seeing two people casually at once. I didn’t like the idea of living my own version of The Bachelorette; with far fewer helicopters and untouched cheeseboards.
I regretted my choice to shut down the flirting as soon as I’d made it. I was already looking at him, thinking: “I’ll end up with this bloke one day.” It didn’t make sense to my cynical self; I hardly knew him. Even thinking he might be interested seemed wildly arrogant. I quietly chastised myself. This kind of thinking was for four beers too deep into a Saturday night. But dead sober in the summer sun I was gravitating towards someone I hardly knew.
As the turbulence of 2020 ravaged everyone, the new guy became a steadfast friend. I meandered in and out of my situationship, on and off the apps. “Love is a lie,” I would half-jokingly declare as my friends and I traded war stories of deflated dating lives. All the while I was childishly excited to talk to the new guy whenever the opportunity arose.
A year after we’d met, I was driving home from act one of a drawn-out break-up, thinking about him. He’d become my barometer for a decent bloke. “Yeah, they’re great,” the old friend and I would say to each other about some new entry on the scene, “but they’re not him.”
Once the curtains had finally closed on the breakup, I messaged him. I “just happened” to slip my revised relationship status into our conversation.
We were soon on our first date, and in many ways, it felt like our last (no, a terrible plot twist isn’t coming). There was an immediate sense of comfort with him; no pressure to present a shiny, sparkly exterior as there had been with others before. We became a couple with ease, to the point where we never actually had the “what are we?” conversation. (So, if you’re reading this, could you get back to me with an answer by close of business?)
For the sake of fairness, I asked when his “moment” came.
“You know, Im,” he said. “I think it started on the stairs.”