Finding my way out of the purple patch

purple patch pur·ple \ ˈpach \ noun

  1. Informal

A section in a piece of writing characterised by rich, fanciful or ornate language

  1. Slang

a period of success, good fortune, etc

  1. Slang

a period in life when, for an unknown reason, members of the opposite sex find you more attractive than usual

A man I dated introduced me to the term purple patch. It was an apt description of my life after discovering the highs and lows of online dating. I was told by male friends that, as a woman, I would have no trouble getting a date or sex if that’s what I wanted, and so it proved to be.

After I ended it with D following my refusal to go on holidays with him, I entered this so-called purple patch, where I was messaging, dating and sleeping with multiple men at a time. And if you think it sounds fun, it was. But it was also hectic and a bit ridiculous. I expanded my dating apps from Tinder alone to include Plenty of Fish and later Bumble, although I didn’t last on Bumble for long. For those fortunate to have never used online dating, Bumble is a dating app similar to Tinder but the woman has to message first otherwise the match disappears after 24 hours.

Plenty of Fish was a different game again, allowing any man to message without you even having swiped past his profile. This means I received dozens of messages a day from wholly unsuitable men, usually dropping something witty like “Hi there”, smart like “hey, you’re hot” or my favourite to date “You’re beautiful, it’s a shame you need to lose weight”. I didn’t need to wonder why these men were single.

Perhaps one in 50 messages I received would be from a man who had made an effort, read my bio, and offered a glimpse of someone who might be intelligent, interesting and not intent on jerking off over my boobs. To these men I had time to give and even those who didn’t appeal to me physically would at least be rewarded with a message acknowledging and thanking them while politely declining their offer to chat. Physical attraction is important, to pretend otherwise is stupid unless you’re a total sapiophile, and even then I’d question if aesthetics didn’t factor in at all.

I read every message I received, even if I knew straight up from the profile photo it was a long shot in hell that I’d date them. It seemed only fair. My strike rate seemed equally as poor when I messaged a man first and only few responded. This was a weird game with weird rules and if it had been Monopoly I would have upended the board long ago whilst trying to rob the bank.

I would delete my dating apps in pure frustration after a spate of messages that went nowhere, awkward first dates and men who thought it was OK to call me fat or a bitch or a tease or some other form of abuse that made themselves feel better. But there were some success stories which is probably why I persisted for so long. I met a few nice men, dated a few, kept a few on the books as fuck buddies if they turned out as being unsuitable to actually date.

By the time the June long weekend rolled around, I had been on and off dating N, a lovely 29-year-old, who I had fun with but I didn’t see a future. I had also briefly met (without sexing) Italian Stallion after sharing messages for a week or so. Italian Stallion was well outside my preferred age bracket at 45, as I was his, but we met anyway. There was some chemistry but we knew it would only be physical.

There were also a few men I was messaging regularly in the city, who enjoyed Facetiming me so they could jerk off while I watched. I would put them on silent and mute my phone and somehow they got their kicks pulling off to the camera. On one occasion I forgot to hit mute and asked my friend sitting next to me in the bar if she wanted to watch. Turns out he heard our running commentary about his efforts and hung up. Weeks later, after he stopped sulking, he called again.

It was a veritable pool of sex and sexting and dick pics. From Bens to Nathans, Declans to Bretts, an alphabet of men were in my contacts, all with a last name of “Tinder” or “POF”. Top Gun still messaged at least once a day, D still wanted to see me and hang out, and N and I were going out for dinner, having drinks and I was having sleepovers at his place.

When the June long weekend rolled around, I went home to visit my family, and was without sexual relief. On the drive back to my apartment, all I could think about was sex. I can’t remember ever being so horny in my life. Just like men get a build-up, so too do women, an actual aching need and it was invading my every thought. I was sending out texts to all my ongoing interests and one by one they declined due to other engagements. I wouldn’t say I was feeling desperate but certainly I was frustrated and cranky.

When I got home, my housemate told me he was meeting a work colleague at a bar for a drink and I was welcome to tag along. I was pretty grumpy and not feeling very social despite my overwhelming desire to have a body pressed against mine but I went anyway.

I hadn’t planned on seducing my housemate’s new colleague, a 20-something Scottish guy who didn’t stand a chance against a horny 33-year-old. I took him home but unfortunately found him too drunk to be of much use. I suggested it was better he sleep and we could try again in the morning, my itch unscratched.

It turned out that his drunk sex was very similar to his game day effort and I was left completely unsatisfied and in a worse state than I had been prior to inviting him into my bed. My housemates and I went out for breakfast and I was still mulling over my bad luck when the Italian Stallion messaged me. His date the night before had been a washout and he was free about lunchtime if I was.

Italian Stallion had talked himself up during our weeks of banter and I knew enough from our brief meeting to have high expectations for our midday rendezvous. I was not disappointed. He’s tall at six foot something, muscled and in amazing shape for his age. I named him for his Italian heritage and – you can work out the rest. When he thrust into me that first time I felt my entire body give out to release. This is what I had been craving all weekend. It was hard and hot. He picked me up like I was a teacup and drank from my cunt.

It was the best sex I had had in months and by the time we finished we were both dripping with sweat despite the wintry conditions outside. When he left I lay diagonally across my bed, my sheets rucked up on the floor, pinned by one tucked-in side, and slowed my breathing. My muscles were relaxed, the ache in my pussy was gone and I could think straight again.

Two in one day … it wasn’t the first time it had happened but it wasn’t the best feeling in the world. I struggled more with what others would think of it than my own values. I knew that the idea of multiple partners in one day would challenge most people’s perceptions of me and that horrible word that women use to shame each other was on my lips.

Slut. Was I a slut? Probably. Did it bother me? Only when someone else said it. It was my choice to sleep with two men and while one was disappointing I didn’t regret it. It could have turned out amazing, he may have been the Steve Jobs of sex, having invented previously unheard of positions, and developed an innovative tongue thrust technique to make me quiver. Of course, he wasn’t, but I would never had known that without giving the poor bloke a chance.

But it was the type of issue I liked to discuss with my bestie over drinks and so that’s what we did. We downed prosecco while hashing out what makes a slut, the hypocrisy of men when it came to multiple partners, and celebrated our feminist viewpoints from the bar lounge that we’d made our soapbox for the afternoon.

That’s when N walked past. The trouble with dating someone who lived just around the corner from your own apartment is that you run into each other. All. The Time. He had seen us before I could take evasive action and he joined us for a drink. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about spending the night together after the day I had had.

Turns out a few wines helps get over those misgivings and after drinks, N and I picked up some takeaway Thai and headed back to his place. Sex with N was good if not mind-blowing but after what I had experienced with Italian Stallion earlier, it was sedate and average. I also suspected N had feelings for me that extended beyond the casual so I was doing my best to abstain from guilt.

Manic Monday, as I came to call it, was something of a turning point for me. It had been almost six months since I told my husband it was over, four months since I started online dating and now I had reached a point where three men in a day was considered acceptable to me. Was this really what I wanted? Of course, the answer was no. If I continued on this path, I was inevitably going to end up crashing, falling deeper into the dark pit of despair that was my depression, currently being held at bay by medication.

I made a decision that I would no longer seek men for casual sex (note, not stop having casual sex. A girl still has needs). I changed my dating profiles from NSA to seeking a relationship. I was tired of being lonely and filling my life with random encounters. I wanted men to start taking me seriously, to respect my intelligence and not just my boobs.

That’s when I met ChrisNotChris.

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