couples

'I went through my boyfriend's phone and saw things I wasn't prepared for.'

I’ve always considered myself the cliché coffee shop “meet cute” girl. In my head, I’m too good for online dating, not desperate enough to scour Bumble, Tinder, and the like to try and snag a date.

I am well aware this attitude is egotistical and ridiculous. It’s also untrue. Meeting someone online doesn’t make a relationship any less legitimate, or any less real.

Of course, like most people my age, despite my scepticism, I’ve dabbled in online dating. That’s when Theo (for all intents and purposes, that’s what we’re calling him) arrived on the scene.

Theo wasn’t an unfamiliar face.

We had several quite good mutual friends and he’d gone to the private school down the road from mine. He’d recently finished a university degree, lived on the same side of town as me, and had a very likeable dog.

We went to the same gym, the same clubs, and the same local coffee shop. We spoke for all of one night on Tinder and first met in person kind of by accident. We were at the same nightclub with several mutual friends.

We were both drunk enough to start a conversation and spent most of the night making out on the dance floor. He seemed alright. He seemed like he could be more than alright.

We went on our first actual date the next week. We got Chinese food and almost crashed a wine tasting. We had a lot in common. Theo asked all the right questions, knew when to shut up, and had enough of an interest in cricket and AFL to impress my Dad. About a month in, we were exclusive, and a few weeks later, he was my bona fide boyfriend.

By the time we had sex, Theo was well and truly beginning to worm his way into my heart. He would look at me and tell me how beautiful he thought I was. How he liked my eyes and my spontaneity and the way I tried to eat as much as he did.

I told him things I hadn’t really told anyone. He started to open up to me, but I knew he was the type of person who didn’t find those sorts of conversations easy. I brushed it aside. We’d get past it.

My sister made a comment one day, about what he and I would do if I decided I wanted to move away for work. She knew that was something I wanted, and something Theo wasn’t interested in.

Whenever we spoke about the future, I rambled about travel and passion and adventure. Theo wanted to stay close to his family, settle in our hometown, bring up his kids and send them to the same school he’d gone to. I knew our future ideals didn’t match up but I told myself it was a problem for later. After all, he wasn’t unsupportive of what I wanted to do, and vice versa.

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The more time Theo and I spent together, the more I started to realise that whilst on paper we fit, perhaps, in person, we didn’t.

In the last few months we watched a lot of Netflix and spent a lot of time in silence, my mind scrambling for conversation starters so we wouldn’t be stuck in the awkward in-between. I did everything I’d sworn not to do if I felt like a relationship wasn’t right. I ignored the quiet periods, the decrease in date nights, and the fact that he’d stopped calling me beautiful.

snooping boyfriends phone
'We spent a lot of time in silence.' Image via Getty.

Sex had never been a problem for us, so I decided that’s how we’d fix things. There were signs there as well. When we’d first gotten together, we’d have sex a few times a day and both get off no questions asked. In the last few weeks, he’d found it more and more difficult to finish, and I’d started faking it. Another of the things I’d promised myself not to resort to.

I think we both knew we were trying to cling to something that was slipping away from us more quickly than we’d like, than we were maybe ready for.

Eventually, there was a day when he ignored every message I sent him. I knew something was wrong.

When he did reply, he said yes, something was wrong. He said it was him, not me, and that he would tell me when he was ready.

'Bullshit', I thought.

Then he told me to come over the next day so we could spend some time together. And of course, I did.

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It was nice to see him, but I was pissed off. I’m not proud of what I did later that day. He’d given me his phone so I could look at a Facebook page and I made a detour to his messages.

What I found reaffirmed everything I’d previously been concerned about. He wasn’t sure how he felt about me. As good as things were with me, they weren’t as good as the best times he’d had with his ex. He’d seen his ex and hadn’t told me about it. I was instantly sweaty and nauseous and very, very conscious of how fast my heart was beating. I told him we had to talk.

Theo and I broke up after a four-hour long conversation peppered with laughter and tears and genuine confusion about where we’d gone wrong. We lay in his bed and decided even though we weren’t in love, we did love each other.

I certainly cared about him, and I was pretty devastated we were ending things, even though I knew it was the right thing.

At the end of the day, I think perhaps the “meet cute” is overrated.

By the end of mine and Theo’s relationship, the fact that our first conversation had been on a dating app was the very last thing on our minds. It’s not where or how you meet, it’s where you take it from there.

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