Here’s what not to do when casually dating: Fall in love. Here’s what not to do when, whilst casually dating, you accidentally break this golden rule: Admit to it.
It’s time I went into detail about JK.
I met JK for the first time in April. It was a Friday, and I’d managed to convince Sam, Luke and Tom that we needed to go for a drink. Tom had invited a friend – a friend that he didn’t sell in well.
A former resident of our home, JK, we were told, had left a couple of months before Luke and I moved in, due to a truly terrible break up with another former housemate who, coincidentally, had lived in my room. He was, Tom said, “ginger, Scottish, overweight, and the kind of guy that is still up drinking ale and smoking cigars when you wake up for work at 8am.”
A keeper, then?
With extremely low expectations for the company, but high hopes for the wine, we walked into our local pub… and that was when we saw him. To say my jaw dropped would be an understatement – it practically smashed through the floor.
He was beautiful.
Hair a rich shade of auburn, eyes so dark I could die, and a chest and shoulders broad enough to send my thoughts directly to Jacob from Twilight, he was basically the dream. Shocked into submission and trying/failing to gain some composure, I found myself staring, open-mouthed, as introductions were made.
At this point I was still in a relationship – he would later tell me he had been ‘gutted’ when introduced to my boyfriend that night – so made no move to pursue him. But I couldn’t let this wonderful creature go to waste.
Turning to Sam, I said: “What do you think to JK? He’s hot, you should date him. He has a nice face.”
Yes that’s right, I tried to fix him up with my best friend.
Frowning, Sam raised an eyebrow. She said: “He’s ginger.”
Raising an eyebrow back, I said: “He’s HOT”
Shaking her head, she said: “A ginger can’t date a ginger. It’s like incest.”
You learn something new every day. (Also, in hindsight, thank god.)
Aside from trying to force Sam to become his new girlfriend, this first evening in each other’s company passed without event – although JK did get so drunk I practically had to force him onto a bus home – and, aside from a near daily conversation with Sam about “Tom’s nice friend with the nice face,” from that point on, he was all but forgotten.
It was a month later that we met again. This is when the trouble started.
We were on a housemate night out to the pub quiz. We’re not very good at the pub quiz, but it had become a weekly ritual, and this week we were trying somewhere new. Tom had invited JK along at our insistence (“your friend has such a nice face, why won’t you invite him to hang out with us?”) and, having swapped seats with Sam to be next to him, I struck up a conversation. We hit it off immediately.
Covering such important topics as Harry Potter (of course) cats (of course, of course) and our shared love for literature, George Ezra, and the Weasleys (“I f*cking love Ron Weasley”) the two of us chatted animatedly as the others watched in amusement. Before the first hour was out he was offering to buy my drinks, had his arm around my chair, and was giving me ‘the look.’ ‘The look’ this time meaning “I like you.”
That night, he came home with us. We held hands in my living room. We shared our first kiss in my garden. He stayed over– not for that – and while lying in bed together he asked, gently, “can I spoon you?”
How could I not love this guy?
Softly kissing me on the forehead, he put his arm around me, and held onto me until morning, when the five alarms he’d set to ensure I woke for work on time began to sound. He waited for me as I got ready, so he could walk me to the tube, and upon reaching the bottom of the escalators, he kissed me (again, I know), said goodbye, and ran to catch the northbound northern line as I boarded the south.
Getting onto his train, he turned, and shouted after me:
“I’ll be in touch. I don’t know how, but I will be!” (His phone was broken.)
I repeat, HOW COULD I NOT LOVE THIS GUY?
I couldn’t not, that’s how.
That’s kind of the issue I’m having here.
Keep up, guys.
We started seeing each other immediately. We spoke daily, making plans that spanned several months. When caught in the rain, we kissed in the downpour.
Things were escalating quickly, and by our second official date – tapas and a Scrabble game that resulted in hours of conversation in a bed without sheets – we were already at the “I love spending time with you” stage.
It was going well until, all at once, it wasn’t.
Whilst out running one day, JK fell and dislocated his collarbone. Triggering a downward spiral of pity and self loathing that I was wholeheartedly pulled into, he became a completely different person.
It wasn’t long before the phone calls stopped. The texts stopped. The lighthearted conversations along the lines of “Hello Weasley.” “Why are you calling me Weasley?” “Because you’re ginger, and Ron is ginger, and Ron is hot.” “Well if I’m Ron, you’re Hermione.” stopped, replaced with conversations more along the lines of “I don’t understand what you want from me, please just tell me what you want.”
On an average of twice a week for the next few months, we hung out. He would put his arm around me as though I was his, we would kiss, we would laugh and play and make inside jokes that made others look at us like we were insane, and then we would stay up all night talking, and spend all day sleeping. It wasn’t about sex, we weren’t having sex. But neither of us could honestly say what it was. What we were. All I know is being with him made me feel. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I felt everything.
Sadly, with claims of being “too damaged,” “too broken” and “not good enough,” JK began to pull away. In response, I fought for his affection, driving him further out, until he was gone completely – only to reappear when I showed signs of strengthening. Popping up to make passing reference to how often he’d been in my room whenever I showed the mildest interest in another man (which was rare), he would thoroughly mark his territory whilst being unclear on whether he wanted me as his territory, and whilst telling others that I was “probably stalking him” when asked what our story was.
He would then say:
“You’re all I’ve ever wanted.”
“I want you with all of me.”
“Every morning when I wake up, I wish you were there next to me.”
And the classic “I love you,” always with a slight variation on the same theme:
“You know I love you don’t you?”
“That only makes me love you more”
“This is what I love about you.”
I would say it all back. And then we’d part ways, over again. He would tell others he didn’t care. And he would tell me he couldn’t let me go.
Our relationship – whatever it was – began to leave a bitter taste. The kissing and cuddling and hand holding became tinged with a sadness and desperation as we pushed and pulled at each other, and we disintegrated into something sour as his quarter life crisis collided with my own. We were destroying each other. And in many – needlessly spiteful – ways, we were doing it on purpose.
(I want to put in here that JK isn’t a bad person. In a lot of ways he’s one of the best people I’ve ever known. Kind and funny and thoughtful, and someone I connected with on so many levels that I genuinely believe I will never find anyone like him again. But he’s been hurt, as we’ve all been hurt, and it made him behave badly. Inexcusably so. However, I have no ill feeling toward him. Quite the opposite, in fact, despite often allowing him to believe that I hated him. In a lot of ways, I behaved badly too. I think when it comes to loving someone, we all do.)
From the sweetest beginning, there came months on end of crying and fighting and picking each other apart. Friends took sides. Strangers formed opinions. Everyone questioned our reasons for not simply letting it go, and neither of us could reply when confronted about our intentions, because even when we tried to call it quits, there would be moments. Terrible, gut wrenching moments that left neither of us with any doubt that the other was still feeling it too.
I’m wildly oversimplifying with all that I’m saying here, but there’s nothing more I can do. It’s too much to put into words.
And so, to cut a very long story short, in November, he moved away. And we said our final goodbye.
Quietly taking stock of all that had happened between us, I gave him a hug.
Trying (and probably failing) to maintain a little dignity, I said: “This is probably the last we’ll see of each other.”
Holding onto me a little longer than necessary, as he always did, he said: “We’ll find a way.”
I looked at him one last time. Walked out. And spent the next three hours crying in the street, on the tube, at home. Great, heaving sobs, that left me breathless as my heart split into two, and my everything went into shut down.
I haven’t had any kind of interaction with him since that day. And everyone in my life is convinced it’s for the best.
I miss him.
… Why do I still miss him?