Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Friday, June 25, 2021

It's not you, it's me

"It's not you, it's me."

This blog post may get slightly ranty so I'm going to give you fair warning.

For the last 7 years of being single, I have worked on myself, I have transformed from someone who was so mortally afraid of being alone that I stayed in an unhappy marriage to someone who's quite happy to spend long periods of time alone.

2 years ago (April 2019 to be exact), I became aware of someone new on my Facebook, I never add people to my Facebook unless I've asked them in person for their permission because I'm old fashioned like that but I mostly accept people and then if they turn out to be one of those MLM selling "Buy my aloe cream" people I hide them.  My personal Facebook is actually pretty locked down so the chances of "a prince" adding me and then conning me out of my £2.50 of life savings is pretty slim and if someone does add me, I usually assume they're looking for a photographer or they're a business person who knows me from my days at Inspire.

It's not you, it's me, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, online dating, dating

Anyway, I became aware of the person because they started to message me, just general pleasant stuff about how my day was going or a compliment here and there and over time I felt like I was definitely picking up a "would you like to go on a date with me?' vibe and once I started to feel that I backed off because I really didn't feel ready and we were just going into a pandemic.  There was a small catalyst of me breaking my arm, being post-surgery with courage supplied by morphine and agreeing to go out for cake but in the end, it never happened because I backed off so much that I stopped having conversations.

A year or so passed and we would message from time to time and then we got into spring of this year, the lockdowns were ending and I'd dyed my hair pink again for the first time.  He was so complimentary and still lovely to me so I took a chance, surely if someone had been patient enough to wait for an entire year whilst I got your head in order they were a safe choice to go on my first date with in what seemed like forever?

I finally felt ready to date again, I'd worked on myself so much that I no longer hated myself, in fact, these days I am all about self-love and I certainly don't need validation from someone else.  I will always have issues with my body but I'm 47, I've had 3 children, 2 caesareans, a full hysterectomy and I've lived a life containing cake which I fully refuse to give up. I chose safely, a man who on paper seemed, safe, kind, stable and maybe even a little unexciting.  That's not meant to be any kind of insult, I've previously lived a life of entertaining exciting/dangerous men and it never ends well so this time I'd chosen my absolute opposite of what I'd consider being my taste.  We'd also been friends for 2 years now so I don't think I could have gone for what I thought was a safer option.  I even checked with mutual friends that I was in the safest of hands...

Our first date, a walk, I got to the metro station where we'd arranged to meet and my legs were shaking so badly that I nearly got on the first metro back but just then I saw him approaching and honestly, as first dates go, we got on really well, very little in common other than our shared political views but that's not a bad thing at all, I also did not get within 3 feet of him for the duration of the walk but I came home with spring in my step and on date 2, lunch by the sea, I had a great time, he'd had to be home for a meeting but we ate, I drank wine and got a little giddy, I could have stayed the whole afternoon if it hadn't been for the work meeting.  

Date 3 was again by the sea and I'd promised to get him home for dinner and football and really, I should have probably sussed at this point that maybe dating was going to be appointment based and believe me when I say, the last thing I want to be to someone is an appointment so when it came to arranging date 4 and I was given a 4-hour lunchtime slot with no room for manoeuvre I knew this wasn't what I wanted.  I replied in the nicest way that whilst I was not looking to overwhelm anyone's life at the same time, I'd enjoyed our time together and so I wanted to not have a specific end time, I wanted to allow for spontaneity for that is what life is about.

No sooner had I sent that message than I got back the dreaded "It's not you, it's me" text and honestly, is that not the oldest cliche in the book, if that really is the reason then say what's behind it, don't just use the cliche and expect that to be your get-out clause.

How can you pursue someone for over a year and then suddenly you realise you need to work on yourself?  Especially when I'd been so clear for so long in my words, my blog posts and my actions about my life. He knew exactly what he was getting in to and I'd told him the first time that I am at a point in my life where I'm ready to look for my person and that if that wasn't for him then I didn't want to waste his time.  Instead, I've spent a year of my life learning to trust someone thinking they were safe only to find out that the safe guys are the exact same as the exciting dangerous guys. Even worse, I'd built up a 2-year friendship with someone I thought was one of the good guys.  I am pleased that it only had got as serious as hand-holding and that when I promised myself that anything I ever got into now would be a slow burn, I'm glad I have that self-respect for myself.  I'm glad I didn't give myself away because in my twenties I couldn't have said that I would have done the same thing.

And so here I am, I started the week off with hope and promise, with joy in my heart and a spring in my step and now I am cranky and disillusioned.  I know it's unlikely that I will ever meet anyone through online dating, I just don't have the emotional capacity for it but I also know that I can't ever build up a friendship with someone for so long only to be let down so if I do meet someone online or in real life, I am not having a "talking stage" I am getting to that first date as quickly as possible because I cannot become invested in someone and then see it become a giant waste of time.

It's taken me nearly a week to write this post, to try and get my head in order, to mourn the loss of a friendship. I've clicked to post this several times and then decided not to because I'm not trying to hurt anyone here but I needed to get it out there, to write it down in the way that I always do.  There's a catharsis in writing, it's always been my go-to since I started this blog in 2006 and I want to end by saying something...

I am the luckiest person on earth that I get to photograph people in love, I get to see them stand in front of the people they love which they declare that they want to be together forever, I am and will always be a hopeful romantic, my head might be in the clouds but I also know that somewhere out there is my forever person and I'll never stop believing that just as I search for them, they're also looking for me.

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