OPINION - Help! I keep being re-introduced to all the men I’ve dated and forgotten

·4-min read
Alexandra Jones (ES / Natasha Pszenicki)
Alexandra Jones (ES / Natasha Pszenicki)

I won’t be coy about it, in the two and a bit years that I was single I went on a lot of dates. It wasn’t just me trying to fill the existential void with sex (although, there was an element of that), it was also the fact that in the era of swipe-dating, we are positively encouraged to stack ‘em up. Three dates in a week? Slow week!

The problem is, I’ve had a year off the scene and I now find myself increasingly haunted by the many, many damp-eyed marketing professionals and hairy-knuckled City brokers that I once shared Wednesday night gins with. It’s not so bad if I can remember them — but recently I was at a friend-of-friend’s birthday party and had a full 25-minute conversation with a man before he eventually said, “sorry, do you really not remember me?”. Turns out we’d dated for a few weeks back in 2020. “Who remembers 2020?” I asked meekly. “Well, I do,” he replied.

I would say the problem is me, but actually a friend was recently introduced to her housemate’s new boyfriend who she swears she once dated, though neither her nor the new boyfriend can remember if they actually did share lovely times in Bethnal Green, or it was one of a number of other now-faceless avatars.

I could say something clever about the flattening effect of dating apps — where complex individuals are reduced to four photos and a one-line bio — but part of the problem for me was that for much of the time that I was single, I was living in Tooting. As any hetero-flexible woman using Hinge in that area will tell you, the men of south-west London are a particularly interchangeable bunch.

After a while I ended up gravitating towards the ones who seemed a bit more “out there”. That is how I found myself on a date with an A&E doctor/latex fetishist who said his ultimate fantasy was to wear a gimp suit under his scrubs while working. Thrilling! Unfortunately, he stormed out when I asked if he wouldn’t get struck off for wearing fetish gear while in charge of vulnerable patients. “You’re trying to kink-shame me,” he said, as he slammed down his gin and slimline. I think it was a reasonable question. If you ever find yourself in a south London A&E department being attended to by a doctor who squeaks when he walks, tell him I say hi.

Ultimately, picking the oddballs was no guarantee of a good time. Strange can be exciting, strange can also piss through your letterbox in the middle of the night — ruining your housemate’s unopened birthday cards and leaving a wet little reminder that being single in London is a truly atomising experience. No one wants to be on the receiving end of a dirty protest. They apologised with a tin of Quality Street the next day but it was enough to drive me back into the arms of the nearest easily-forgotten accountant.

Still, while it was unpleasant at the time, I would absolutely remember the protester if I met them now — even two years and thousands of dates later. Well, I think I would.

In other news...

Kim Kardashian wore Barnsley on her bottom in Paris last night and I am DEAD. The name of the South Yorkshire town where I did my Saturday morning swimming lessons as a child, emblazoned across the world’s most famous derrière? Literally in heaven.

A brief Google tells me that the reason Barnsley appears on the seat of her £2,300 Balenciaga pantaleggings is because the brand was going for a “band tour T-shirt” aesthetic, where each stop on the “tour” was actually the birth town of one of the designers. For me, this is up there with the time Tinie Tempah rapped about having never been to Scunthorpe or the time the Arctic Monkeys sneered “you’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham”, as my favourite celebrity shout out to a northern market town. Being endorsed by Kim’s bottom — it’s almost enough to make me want to move back.

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