It started out as a lark. I’d popped back into OK Cupid in December when my therapist suggested I could make time to swipe right a few times before the holidays if I really wanted. She wanted me to remember that anything could happen, that I didn’t have to put arbitrary timelines on starting to seek something new, that I should embrace the moment.
So I did some swiping and then promptly forgot about the app. In my mind, I’d deleted it. But then every now and again, an email notification would appear in my Gmail. And I’d screen grab them (because they are hilariously bad more times than not) and share them on my Instagram stories. Then one day, I got one that piqued my curiosity completely.
“Well, from one media professional to another, hello.”
The message was from Stavros, a name I instantly recognized to belong to a fellow Greek like me. What are the chances? We work in the same industry and we have the same ethnicity… come on!
“Well, from one Greek to another, yassou!” I replied.
Our text exchanges were initially not great, but I gleaned that he’s a TV producer and sometimes actor, and the father of two. I didn’t feel like he asked me enough questions about myself. Or rather, he didn’t know how to volley conversation over text to keep it going. I’d wake up to a “Psst” — what do you want me to do with that? I’m not a cat! Do some inquiring, otherwise all you want is my attention lavished on you and you have to earn that!
I also detest the apps. They’re a necessary evil. I don’t like how someone can see when you’re on there or when the last time you checked in was. I don’t even know why I asked him to take it to text. But I gave him my number (and one other guy, but that’s another story), told him that I had a weekend to myself so he wouldn’t hear from me until Sunday, and then deleted my profile. I have Frenchie, I don’t need further complications.
I messaged Stavros that Sunday. I know why. Part curiosity, part “OH MY GOD I HAVE FEELINGS FOR FRENCHIE!” You see, I don’t trust myself yet. I am not convinced I know my own heart. I’m too romantic, too idealistic, and too eager to have an eligible person take me off this dating ride. Plus, I have some red flags about Frenchie/Monsieur Magique and I need some objectivity around him, because he’s so damn dynamic and confident. Can I build a life with a smoking, drinking, Frenchman who can go days without checking in on me? I long for banter over text, which is maybe ridiculous, but is something that makes me happy. I have super eclectic musical tastes — can I build a life with someone who likely won’t go to indie rock concerts with me? I know a lot of this is form identity, but while we are in human bodies, we should ideally be with someone who not only makes us feel good, but who also wants to do the kinds of things with you that you love doing, no? Anyway, this needs validation in terms of a judgment on Frenchie. He does like to do a lot of things I like to do. And maybe edgy indie rock types are my past and, as such, should not be my present or future.
Stavros was glad to hear from me and we texted back and forth, getting a sense of each other without ever having met. Online dating lacks that magic “lock eyes across the room” spark that is so damn great. On Wednesday I was supposed to go out with Guy #3 (another story), but he cancelled last minute and I found myself free. I thought about going to the movies alone — something I have yet to do. Monsieur Magique was out of town on business. But then I found myself texting Stavros. “Long shot, but I’m unexpectedly free tonight. Want to meet up for a drink or a movie?”
“Long shot might pay off. What time were you thinking?”
And that’s how I met Stavros. He was waiting for me in the cafe I had chosen for its cute decor and cosy lighting, when I arrived exactly on-time (which is considered late by people who are never late, AKA not me). He had made reservations, something he reiterated at the end of the date, to say they’d denied him but when he explained his situation, they made it work. I appreciate this tenacity; there’s something to it.
He stood up, but having never met before, I didn’t go in for a hug or a cheek kiss. To be totally honest, I didn’t think I was going to like him at all, something he also said to me later that night over text. There’s this inherent bias that intellectual/artsy Greeks have about the average Greek. And we both assumed that the other would be more traditional. So I was surprised when HOURS went by, the two of us talking easily and making each other laugh through sarcasm. Stavros described himself as a bit of a Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of my favourite shows).
There is, of course, the obvious — coming from a very similar experience of growing up Greek in North America means we share a language beyond our mother tongue. That we both inherently understand some of the childhood experience of the other, the dynamic in our families and what it’s like to grow up ethnic but not racialized and yet still feeling like you didn’t fit in. There’s the fact that we both dealt with it similarly, by exploring the arts and media and using that as an escape. But that’s where it stops. He married his high school sweetheart, and by the sounds of it, he has not really been with anyone since.
Turns out I liked him. A lot. There was something so easy about it.
Pros: He’s funny. We have a similar sense of humour. He dresses well (he had on great shoes) and I enjoyed making him laugh. Those laughs were hard-won. We like the same kinds of music and movies so there’s loads to talk about and share there. He is really into me and not afraid to share that. We have similar tastes in the arts we consume. He is a communicator. We have a few friends in common. That’s all I know so far.
Red flags: He’s a bit of a downer in that George Constanza way. Self-deprecating. Eeyore-esque? He hasn’t put himself out there for the past 2.5 years, not really. He prefers to stay home alone. He doesn’t exercise. (Frenchie swims and plays tennis and does winter sports.) He’s Greek so he probably has a hairy arse… (So does Frenchie — I mean I could get used to it, but my preference is a smooth bum… WHAT? Men can police women’s body hair, I think it’s fine to say I have preferences!) He doesn’t seem to have a life when his kids aren’t with him or he’s not at work. Unlike me, he hasn’t learned to fill his time with interests that take him out of the home. I don’t think he sleeps much and then he fuels himself on coffee. My spidey sense wonders if he has ADHD like me.
But the worst offence is that he messages me ALL. THE. TIME. He’s like me, 2.5 years ago, when I was a mere zygote in the dating world. I’m as neurotic and needy as the next girl, but funnily enough, all this experience with men who don’t text has made me want to text WAY less. In fact, in tuning into my texting habits, I realize that it’s a crutch. I reach for it when I’m uncomfortable or needing validation. Stavros is all about the validation. He gives it and he needs it. CONSTANTLY. When I try to put some boundaries on it, he respects them, but when I message him the next day, he very honestly says that he’s so glad that I did. I just don’t want to be on my phone that much. And if I don’t write him back, there’s always an attempt to re-engage me. It suggests an insecurity I don’t need in my life where it’s at right now.
So while Stavros is fun and chatty and distracting, and the commonalities between our jobs, cultures and interests are lovely, I’m not yet sure if our values are aligned. Monsieur Magique to me is an aspirational potential boyfriend. He has qualities I aspire to inherit. Where as my gut feeling with Stavros so far is that he’s work. And I really don’t want to be someone’s CONSTANT cheerleader, especially if they are prone to depressive tendencies, because it backfires and works against you after a while. I lived that once already.
Anyway, I’ve got a busy weekend coming up, but I decided to squeeze Stavros in for a quick coffee date to chat some more and see if my assumptions/instincts hold up. Then we’ll see about moving onto activities dates. Right now I’m most excited about my sleepover and then day date with Monsieur Magique (taking him to play some sort of bocce golf!). Exciting times, friends. Exciting times!