Real life: A single mum’s quest to find ‘the one’
In her not-so-secret dating diary, single mum Amy Nickell, 28, reveals all
My dating life reads like a comedy of errors. In January 2014, after my on-off partner and I broke up for the 10th time, I found myself single... and pregnant.
After Freddy was born, the pain of the split and my job as a journalist didn’t leave much time for men. But as Freddy got older, I vowed to find someone. And with the invention of dating apps like Tinder, Happn and Bumble, I’ve been busy!
Here’s what happened when I spent four months searching for the man of my dreams…
The mutual decision
I’ve always wanted to go out with an ex-army officer and I thought Andy would probably look amazing next to me in Facebook photos. We get on well enough, but after two dates, I don’t really want to feel like I’m forcing something that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Which means the inevitable polite dump text is sent. He replies to say he agrees.
The unexpected ghoster
Tom and I have the best first date after matching on Tinder. The banter is witty, easy and hilarious. I wish I could have overheard us – we’re that good. We end up drunkenly snogging, singing karaoke and going home far later than expected. He even pays for my Uber from central London to Hertfordshire. The next day, we do the texting thing, which usually leads you to date two – only, this time it doesn’t. Self-esteem gets a real battering.
The date that never even happened
I met Chris on Bumble and after about a week of chatting, we arrange to go for a drink. We set the date for Friday but Friday comes and goes.
I ask him what happened, to which he essentially tells me, ‘Sorry, it’s easier to stand up someone you haven’t met.’
The Sliding Doors date
Using Tinder poolside on holiday in the Caribbean, I match with my old university mate David – by coincidence, we’re staying in the same resort. I’d always had a crush on him, so I’m sure this is fate and that by next year we’ll be married. We have a great night and I’m keen for date two (and eventual marriage). Then he reveals he’s moving to Madrid for work...
The angry American
Brad is American, really handsome, has a great job and lives in a super-swanky part of London. But it’s an hour-and-ahalf away from me and he works every evening until 9pm. It’s never going to work, but I want to try. On meeting him, I’m not convinced there’s a connection. We arrange date two, but I tell him I’ve had second thoughts. At which he explodes.
The single dad stand up
I instantly have one of those elusive ‘sparks’ with Paul. We match on Tinder and then talk for about three hours on Whatsapp almost immediately. He also has a little boy around the same age as Freddy. And he has arms like tree trunks. On our first date, an old couple tell us we make ‘a gorgeous pair’. The next day, we go for dinner and Paul even tells me he’s deleted his Tinder. I invite him over to my house for date three that Friday. He’s supposed to be coming over at around 7.30pm, but he doesn’t arrive. At 9pm he texts to say he’s sorry but he got drunk in the day and is out with his mates. I then drunk call him at 3am. He doesn’t answer but phones back two days later, asking whose number this is. I wonder if I just imagined the whole thing.
I slipped up tonight. Feeling down from my recent dating bad luck, I arrange to see my ex. No, this isn’t the first time this has happened. After two hours of chatting, I surmise that the least I’m going to leave with is an orgasm.
The in-real-life meeting
I meet Charlie on Happn, although we never actually arrange a date. In the pub one night, I spy him and – feeling embarrassed – avoid his gaze. Eventually, he comes over and we end up having a drink. That weekend, we spend Sunday together and it turns out we both have the next week off work. We end up having what feels like a holiday romance – we both can’t get enough. I abandon playing any sort of game and pour all my emotions into it. By the weekend, I start to see a future with Charlie.
My ex wants to know what I’m up to. I tell him I’m seeing someone. Suddenly he’s asking how I am, what I’m up to. Men really do want what they can’t have, don’t they?
Charlie tells me he can’t see us long term. He does it in person and I just can’t stop staring at his face in disbelief. I wish I’d not let things get so intense. He’s always had an issue with me being a mum and I think his decision is to do with this. It’s the most any boy has made me cry.
Tim is a historic Bumble match who crawls out of the woodwork right in the middle of the Charlie split. I quickly realise that it’s too soon.
A sartorial disaster
This is all getting rather depressing. My latest date is off Bumble and he’s called Gav. He’s wearing swimming shorts and lets me pay for the second round. You might think this is fine, but I’m not keen on either.
My fresh hope
Luke and I met at a friend’s party while I was in deep with Charlie. Even so, I thought, ‘Wow, you are well my type,’ so as soon as things don’t work out with Charlie, I add Luke on Facebook. Don’t judge.
Soon after, he messages. We meet on a hot evening and have prosecco and beers outside from a cool box. I find myself getting unexpectedly shy – my body’s reaction to anyone who could be worth caring about. However, it ends abruptly when I realise I have two minutes to catch the last train. I’m off on holiday the next day but we’ve been messaging and I’m hoping there will be an equally cute date two.
The unexpected return
I come back from holiday full of anticipation about meeting up with Luke, but then something happens – Charlie gets in touch. I’m weak, so when he asks me out again, of course, I say yes. He’s still deathly afraid of the fact I have a child (a clear sign of his immaturity, I think) but I can’t help myself. So I’ve told him I’m not fussed about commitment (such a lie!) and I am happy to just see what happens. Here’s hoping I realise this is going nowhere soon...
Confessions of a Single Mum by Amy Nickell (£16.99, Headline) is out now
‘Searching for the man of my dreams’
Pictures from Amy’s profile