Have you ever tried online dating? I have, it was an incredible cluster fuck of an experience. Well, for the most part it was. I have to say that my online dating experience truly led me to some highly questionable people. I ended up going on so many bizarre dates that I started questioning my own sanity. You see, there was, in my mind, only two possible reasons as to why I attracted these people: I was either incredibly unlucky, or it wasn’t them that was the questionable person on our dates. I mean, I was the common denominator in all of these dating scenarios.
I’ll go in to some of my dating escapades at another point in the story because, primarily, this is the story about how I ended up meeting my partner. It’s the story of why I made the decision to date someone I’d never physically met, of the most nerve wracking meeting I have ever endured, and of the relationship that grew while separated by the North Atlantic Ocean.
This is the story of ‘Going the distance – 3,440 miles apart.
In 2008, I started playing an MMORPG. For those of you that aren’t massive gamer geeks like I am, that means: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The game was called Asda Story; you basically created a character, choose a job and then went to protect the realm from monsters. It was a grind but it was a bit of fun. You got to talk to other people and also join clans so you could play with more people on a regular basis. I’d play now and again whilst my son was sleeping. It wasn’t just a game to me, it was a great way to kill time.
At this point in my life, I was a single parent. My son was 10 months old and I didn’t live near my friends or family. I’m also what some people describe as Anti-Social, although I much prefer the term Socially Selective, so I didn’t really have any friends or people I could talk to in my neighbourhood. This game and the people who played were my social life; it was my means to having regular adult communications. Any of you who have children know there’s only so many times you can hear Wheels on the Bus or watch Mickey Mouse Club House without becoming more than a little unhinged; the possibility that I’d become a homicidal maniac was high.
My day consisted of dirty nappies, the random ramblings of a baby, and cleaning spaghetti hoops and other questionable stains from my doors and walls. When it was nap time or sleep time (for the baby, not me), I’d log on this game, level up my character and communicate with people from all over the world using Ventrilo (voice chatting). I joined a clan and made quite a lot of friends in it – people whom I’m still very good friends with almost 8 years later.
It was in June 2009 that I met my OH (Other Half). I’d known of him for over a year; he was in my clan but he’d never spoken to me, and in turn I’d never spoken to him. My son had gone to spend the summer with his father and I was spending my newly acquired time online dating, as well as continuing to play Asda Story. I was on Ventrilo one day talking to a friend, she was about to leave and go out in to the real world *gasp* but I complained that if she left I’d have no one to talk to – so as a friend, she called the calvary. She messaged one of the guys who was in their own room (Vent had rooms you could sit in; his was a private room, so we couldn’t join it) and told him that she needed him ASAP. Like a true gentleman, this weird name appeared in the room, shortly followed a deep Canadian voice saying, “Seriously? What do you think I am? You’ve summoned me down here because you’re bored?”
My friend started to laugh and replied, “No, I’m not bored, I have to go. This is my friend Star, keep her company until I get back from shopping and be nice!” And with that, before I or this random guy could protest, she left. And kept me company he did. We talked for hours that day, in fact, we didn’t stop talking. By the time my friend logged back in to Ventrillio it was over 24hrs later, we were both still there, we hadn’t slept and neither one of us seemed to want to. We’d spent most of the night asking each other ridiculous questions. “Would you rather have no fingers or knives as fingers?” “Hero or Villain?” I told him about my failed recent online dating escapades. I’d also learned his name, it was Peter.
As I mentioned earlier, my son was away at this time, so I took the opportunity to try online dating and get out there a bit. I went on some of the most horrendous dates in my life. There were times I was sat in a bar and I wanted to stab myself. Really, I really contemplated stabbing myself just to feel something, because I was bored to death. The people I tended to attract had such great personalities online, but once they were physically sat there in front of me, any sense of humour had vanished. Some of them smelt terrible. And then there were the kissers; you know when you’ve had a horrible date but they think it went perfectly, so at the end of the night they pull you in for a kiss, which ends up to be them trying to beat your tonsils into submission with their tongue? Or licking your face ? (This actually happened.)
Peter found this hilarious. He found extreme humour in my dating fails, even more humour in the text messages I’d receive from some of the people I’d went on dates with — one of which said, “Had a great date, how about we meet up for a Mars Bar party sometime?” I’d met this guy once and I’d never given him the impression that I was interested in any form of party with him, let alone the kind that meant he could put a chocolate bar in my vagina and lick it out! — I kept ending up on dates with these very strange men and women, and I kept coming home, switching on my PC and telling Peter all about my adventures – or lack thereof.
One night, I’d came back from a particularly awful date, the guys picture didn’t match the one he’d put online and his clothes smelt like moth balls! I had, however, given him a chance … and he turned out to be incredibly rude and racist. I came home that night, once again feeling so deflated about my date that I switched on my PC and proceeded to tell Peter all about my night. As usual, he laughed. He then told me that we were going to watch a movie. He set it all up so we’d play at the same time and we watched My Sisters Keeper. It was two hours after we watched the film before he said, “So, how was our first date?” I told him that he can’t just decide something was a date when the other person was not aware it was a date. He, however, didn’t really take any notice of that and decided to tell me how he, although in Canada, managed to have a successful date with me when the people who I’d physically sat in a room with, hadn’t. He was incredibly smug, and it was pretty damn cute.
Eventually, I stopped bothering going on random dates. I only wanted to speak to him – and that’s what we did. We talked, and we talked a lot. We started to watch movies together online and playing games other than Asda Story. Then we started talking about sex, and I started talking about sex toys.
He was a virgin. He’d had a couple of girlfriends, but nothing serious – only ever kissing. This fascinated me. He was in his 20s. It was unusual. And my use of sex toys and my sexual kinks fascinated him. I loved talking to him about it. I relished in the knowledge that I was turning him on, and also that I was talking to him about things he’d never really spoken to anyone else about. It felt natural. We were comfortable together asking those awkward questions. Our relationship then morphed; it changed from just online friends into something more. Although we’d never physically met in person, there were feelings between us. We talked a lot more and played a lot more together – we’d also have phone sex/Skype sex, a lot! I had more phone sex with him than I’d had actual sex with my ex! He’d look at pictures of toys that I owned and tell me which toys to use on myself, playing close attention to the sounds I made while using particular toys. He soon learned which ones were my favourite and would request I use them, but at only at certain times; he would ban me from using them on other occasions.
It was a year after that we decided to meet up in person. It was all arranged: he was going to fly from Toronto to Manchester, and he booked in a hotel around the corner from my house. He was staying in the UK for one week. I was a nervous wreck; I don’t think I can fully explain how nervous I was. From the moment he told me he was coming, I felt sick – literally, my stomach felt constantly queasy and I was anxious. I was also excited. More excited than I’d ever been, these emotions were so strong I didn’t fully know how to feel. I wanted to be with him so badly, but I was also scared of losing him. I’d managed to do something I didn’t think was possible: I’d fallen in love with a guy on the other side of the world that I hadn’t met yet. I couldn’t believe it, the whole thing was madness to me. I was about to meet him in person after one year of talking every. single.day and I was scared shitless.
What you need to understand is that I was terrified of losing him. What if the webcam made me seem prettier? What if we didn’t have any physical attraction when we were together? It was nauseating, and I spent the time before his arrival worrying that I’d lose not only the person I’d fallen in love with, but also my best friend.
A huge thank you to Gabby for the awesome art at the beginning of this post.