After a recent round trip into the murky world of dating, I’ve arrived back with an assortment of souvenirs such as a mildly wounded pride (from the guy who implied I was fatter in real life than my photos online indicated), an empty purse (from all the drinking I had to do to get me through the bad dates) and an acceptance that I'm much better off single.
Of course, like on every good trip, I definitely learnt some new things about the world around us. Like any night spent in a hostel dorm room, you’ll meet some pretty cool people with interesting life stories. But you’ll also meet some people that make you seriously wonder if you lived your life well enough, because it feels like there’s a high chance you’re going to be murdered in your sleep by the dude who won’t stop staring at you.
I don’t know what happened between the last time I was single and this time, but it seems the word "casual" is no longer in the dating dictionary. Perhaps my generation of men have all got a bit more desperate as we hurtle towards our mid-thirties at an alarming speed, and so they feel the need to frantically cling to the nearest women for safety. And that desperation is causing some of the most basic dating dialectic to be lost in translation.
As a woman, if I acted in the same manner as some men have to me and to my friends, I’d have quickly gained myself a reputation of a bunny boiler extraordinaire.
Take, for example, the guy who after two dates bought himself a ticket to a gig I was going to with a friend. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t invited him...I hadn’t even told him myself. This guy read my Facebook profile, saw that I had posted about buying tickets to go with my friend and then went ahead and bought himself a ticket. Not himself and a friend. Just himself....To go with me... And my friend... In six weeks’ time.... After the second date. Female readers, please try to imagine if you did that to a guy you’d met twice. You probably can’t imagine it because there’s no way in holy dating hell that you would.
After two more dates (no, I don’t know why I went on two more dates either. It was just after the guy who called me fat so I’ll blame the wounded pride), I told him I wasn’t feeling it and broke it off. Now, this is where I’ve particularly noticed male bunny boilers acting buck daft. (Male rabbits are called bucks...see what I did there?) After explaining that it just wasn’t working for me and I was sorry if I hurt his feelings, I’d expect a fairly simple and dignified reply such as "That’s cool, was fun hanging with you but I understand." That’s what I’d send. I’d maybe even stretch to understanding a
"That’s a shame because I really like you. Let me know if you change your mind." Instead I got 16 text messages over the next four days pleading with me to reconsider, in a somewhat angry tone. Four dates, dude, calm down.
And it’s not just me that this happens to. A friend told a guy she didn’t want to date to him anymore after about five dates. That was two months ago and she still gets Facebook messages from him (despite deleting him. FYI, that’s a major hint, guys), he contacts her on WhatsApp and there’s usually a weekend Snapchat for good measure. There’s nothing dirty or malicious in his messages, it’s just a "hello," a "how are you" or "Want to hang out tonight?" But again, if a woman did that to a guy? In every future conversation between the guy and his friends, her name would always be followed by the psycho stabbing noise and action.
These are only two cases of what I will now term bunny buck boilers behaviour. There’s been plenty more incidents that have resulted in my friends and I having the ‘if I’m murdered any time soon, you’ll know who did it’ conversation. I’m just picking on these poor suckers because they’re prime examples of the sort of conduct that just wouldn’t fly if gender roles were reversed.
And although myself and my friends are obviously super amazing, which unsurprisingly provokes every man to fall helplessly at our feet (!), I suspect this is actually standard behaviour in the land of costa del dating. So single women, before you head off in search of cocktails, sand and sunsets, be aware of the risks of not only getting burnt in love but of the local wildlife. There’s Buck Boilers everywhere.
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Elcie Burrows is from Northern Ireland and is a writer, social justice campaigner and freelance events coordinator for charities and non-profit organisations. Elcie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.