Dear Bridget Jones,
One of the big draws to your story, aside from the humour and relatability, is the dashing (and devious) men you entangle yourself with. Daniel Cleaver, the cheeky bastard, is a favourite of many, despite being a proper prick; I blame Hugh Grant’s charm. Mark Darcy, played by Colin Firth, is the man we all wish we would come across and be attracted to. There are many Mark Darcy’s out there, however, most are in the category of “he’s a nice guy, but…”.
Craving a London romance made for the movies, I found myself involved with a man wrapped up with the qualities of both. I fell for the Mark I thought he was, blissfully unaware of his Daniel tendencies. He was a Daniel Cleaver disguised as a Mark Darcy.
He was a tough one to get over, mainly because there was so much promise in the beginning. This ‘man of my dreams’, in London of all places, wanted me to be his girl. In hindsight, I realised he was far from a dream man. So to move on, I wrote a list of all the ‘Reasons We Wouldn’t Work’. It surprised me when there ended up being five times more bullet points than the ‘Reasons We Would Work’ list. I recommend this exercise for anyone getting over someone. Start missing them? Pull out the handy-dandy list to prove that your Mark Darcy was, in fact, a Daniel Cleaver; whom you should run from.
Moving to London I had a fantasy of assimilating into the glamorous world of a Londoner; to have an aspirational life as I’d seen in films.
I had just gotten a taste of the Chelsea life when I met a new friend who ended up betraying me [see the story about me nearly being tricked into escorting]. She introduced me to a life that was ripped from under me quicker then I had a chance to digest it.
The First Date
Then I had a date with Rupert, who would introduce me to the Mayfair life. Our introductory conversations occurred over £30 cocktails in the lounge of the regal Connaught Hotel. Despite the elegant, wavering on pretentious, setting, I felt comfortable being silly with him. It helped that I was dressed to the nines in a beautiful winter trench coat and heels; at least I looked the part.
It was early December when the city sparkled with magical Christmas spirit. Walking through Mayfair with a handsome man, twinkling lights draped above us on elaborate historical buildings, and there I was dressed fairly posh with red lips and heels that sounded oh so sophisticated on the pavement. I felt my romantic fantasies, let alone my London fantasies, were coming true.
To get more intimate, the next stop on the date was a tiny corner pub with a Shakespearean exterior. I found a corner table while he ordered us mulled wine. Sipping my favourite winter drink, looking at this beautiful blond man as he smiled at me with such warmth, I melted.
He was a wealthy posh Brit, I should have been nervous or intimidated, but the more I revealed my true quirky self, the more he fell too. At the last pub of our date, we sat closer joking, flirting, clearly wanting to be holding each other, but keeping respectable first date distance. When it was time to call it a night we walked further than necessary to continue talking and parted ways at Charing Cross station with a delicate kiss.
I texted my flatmates that I was heading home and they responded to come to stop by the Mandrake Hotel for drinks. Why not? This place was elaborate, secret, and elite. I joined the girls in a private red velvet booth and started gushing about the date when my phone lit up with a text from him wanting to arrange the next date. It was too good to be true. Then one of the girls’ friends arrived with an artsy man, scarf and all. He introduced himself and bought us a round of espresso martinis at £30 each. Extremely generous of him, we had a great night all chatting in this glamorous space and later discovered this man was a producer on The Grand Budapest Hotel. What is my life? This is the type of London life I was after; things were falling into place and there was a gorgeous man interested in me.
He texted constantly, so I felt no concern whether I’d see him again. For our second date, it was my turn to plan it. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park had recently opened for the Christmas season. I’d gone with friends and thought it could be quite a romantic setting.
Standing outside the colourfully lit entrance to Winter Wonderland, buttoned up in my warm coat and gloves, I shivered from the cold and the anticipation of spending more time with him.
Second dates hold a lot of pressure. First dates are easy, you have the world to talk about and you haven’t determined if you like them yet. The second date you know if it’s worth it to keep seeing each other or not. At least one person would be let down if there’s no third date.
I looked around eagerly for him to arrive, trying to prevent myself from mentally narrating how the date would go before it even occurred. There’s such danger in ‘filling in the blanks’; when you get to know someone, the unknowns leave room for fantasy (i.e. how great someone is or how things will go with them).
Once I spotted him, butterflies erupted in my chest. His equal level of excitement was clear in his large grin as we swiftly approached each other.
The conversation flowed, but there was a sense of him holding back. We wandered the kiosks until the Bavarian village piqued our interest. A beer hall, similar to Oktoberfest was going off to a concert by an old German man playing all the latest hits. We grabbed some beers and he started loosening up. After a few songs of jumping up and down, singing terribly at the top of our lungs, Ed Sheeran’s song Perfect came on, we swayed back and forth singing, and I was disappointed he didn’t take that moment to make a move. The banter was good but where was the romance?
Winter Wonderland was closing, but with neither of us ready to end the night, we walked to a bar in Mayfair. He didn’t even hold my hand on the way. The second date stigma was occurring, was I being friend-zoned? With our gin & tonics in hand, I asked what his biggest dating insecurity was. He noted because he is such an intellect, he tends to think too much and gets stuck in his head. That was seemingly why he wasn’t being romantic. Unaware of how to feel, we walked out of the bar approaching Regent Street to part ways. It had started to lightly rain and I was over the night when I heard him say “Fuck it.” He swooped in and pushed me up against the building to passionately kiss me. The whole night there had been nothing – no hold handing, no arm in arm, no kissing – and suddenly we were passionately making out under the Regent Street lights, not a soul around. Our own movie magic.
Textual Holiday Break
Over the holidays, we messaged constantly. He sent cute pictures and it was clear I was the only thing on his mind. I was in Canada, he was in the UK, but the time difference was no issue. The desire to see each other again intensified and we set up a date for my first night back in London.
Moving Quickly Towards a Relationship?
For our third date, he invited me to his flat to cook me dinner. He lived with his best friend but had the place to himself for the night. It was a modern spacious apartment in Southbank with a balcony overlooking the glittering Shard at night. It was the most luxurious flat I’d stepped foot in while in London. Though it was modern and clean, he had quirky items strewn across the flat, illustrating how worldly, intellectual, and interesting he was.
Wine glass in hand, I wandered around the living room, him working away at our curry dish in the kitchen. Stroking my hands across the bookshelf, studying each title as if it told more about the kind of guy he was. It became clear to me that I needed to step up my game. Though never said, I felt further away from my previous years of being intellectual and creative, longing for that girl to come back so I could impress him and feel more like an equal.
Dinner was delicious and we retired to the couch with gin & tonics to play some board games. I won the first round of a geography board game, and in a playful sore loser act, he shoved the game off the coffee table, turned to me beside him on the couch, and pounced. The sexual chemistry was clearly no longer an issue. Taking a breather, we started a game of truth or dare to get to know each other better. Through the conversations he made it known to me that he was looking for a girlfriend, his adoring gaze dictated that he had found that girl.
The next day was New Year’s Eve, and he was off to celebrate with his friends in Manchester. Despite being separated he messaged me throughout the night and we wished each other a happy New Years. Since we couldn’t kiss at midnight, we met up on New Years Day, once he got back to London.
Ambition Means Busy; The Downhill Spiral
We spent a lot of time together in a short timeframe; consumed with one another. He made me feel incredible like all my quirks were more reason to fall for me. Then he warned me that January was going to be a very busy month. Not only was he working in finance at a big investment firm on Regent Street, but he also planned to launch his own company in a year. I was so impressed by him that I was blind to what this meant for us down the road.
His ambition even stemmed beyond his career. If he wanted to do something, he’d make it happen. From business to fitness to travel to creativity to charity to education and beyond! His ambitions were his babies, they took priority above all.
Suddenly the whirlwind romance was on hold, however, the constant texting never fizzled. He couldn’t wait to see me again. We managed one date mid-January but his mind was so preoccupied that he sent me home in a cab rather than letting me stay the night as I usually did. I cried the way home. Being low on his priority list started to feel more prevalent. The next morning, I bought myself some flowers to try to feel slightly better.
Despite that night, he kept texting me like he couldn’t stop thinking about me. A week later, he arranged a date for us. I got home from work dolled myself up, and as I was about to head out the door he cancelled. ‘Still at work’, he explained. I sobbed myself to sleep.
February was approaching. The light at the end of his busy tunnel. He just had one more weekend away, a work ski trip, and then he would be back to being the fantastic guy I started to fall for. He talked about taking me to a West End play and fancy dinners, but most importantly, we would finally have a relationship that was face to face. Screw textual relationships.
He called me as he packed for his trip and called again his first night at his Swiss Alps ski lodge, about to head out for dinner with his colleagues. ‘I’m going to take you on the most incredible date next week to thank you for being so patient with me,’ he promised. That night I went out with my girlfriends with a weight off my shoulders, so excited for the week to fly by so I could see him!
He was back in London on Sunday but I hadn’t heard from him until Monday. His texts became less frequent, and I’d have to wait for ages to hear from him. That Wednesday he sent his last text, asking about my day. I never heard from him again.
He had ghosted me the week before my birthday. I spent my 24th birthday at dinner crying about him in front of my dearly supportive friends, unable to shake the loss, hurt, and the shock of it all. My birthday is on February 11th, which happens to fall on the same week as Valentine’s Day. What a great time of year to be dumped/ghosted, huh? It was at that dinner that I decided instead of being lonely that Valentine’s Week, I needed to find someone else. Hence the Valentine’s Week Experiment.
Sometimes the things that start out as fantasies are the quickest to crumble tragically. Turns out he was not the dream man I thought he was. He was a Daniel Cleaver disguised as a Mark Darcy.
– Samantha xx