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

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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.

The ex

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.

In de­mand

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?

I’m dumped

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.

The re­bound

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

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