Gary returns after his big bike ride to face the reality of dating with OCD…
“It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled”, sang a guy from the Black Country a few years back. Whilst modesty forces me to admit my blogs are not as powerful as a behemoth rock band, they do seem to have played a part in my revival. The reason for the gap between my last blog and this one is that since my bike ride I’ve been on a simple downhill – a mix of SAD, work pressure and a healthy dose of uncertainty with regard to what happens next. The bike ride was perfect for me. It encompassed so many things I grab enjoyment from: spending time with my friends; cycling; real ale; good pub meals; the opportunity to show people of Merseyside to be generally delightful; and seeing beautiful new parts of this fantastic country that I am lucky enough to live in. I also kicked a swan in the head but that’s because it tried to bite me when freaked out by a rat the other side of me. And I was knocked over by a poodle. And I got caught up in an angry dog crossfire… I was even told off by one of my friends for “telling every pretty girl I met that we were doing a bike ride for charity”. I wasn’t hitting on them. I was just trying to raise awareness of CALM obviously.
The problem was, I didn’t have a clue about what was to happen next. I no longer had a goal to focus on and the longer it went on, the harder it was to think of a new adventure. This meant I had no motivation to pump my thighs and get my wheels turning. Obviously this had a further negative effect on my mental health. I wasn’t in the black days of old, but from November to December everything seemed shaded with charcoal.
But one busy day at work with the Internet down I was faced with two choices, a) work like it was the 1970s; or b) procrastinate. Obviously procrastination and ranting about the difficulty of working in the modern age won this battle. Part of my procrastination was to write the opening line to this blog and the other part was to think of another bike ride to do. This time, though, I decided that instead of doing one big ride, I would aim to do one decent sized ride each month. I’m not talking about 130 mile blasts every weekend, since I’ve got an Everton obsession to deal with, but I’ve got a good few plans in store. I’m not going to go through the details of those bike rides now, as that would ruin the surprise for my future blogs.
Whilst we were sitting around at work we came on to the subject of romance. Being a permanently single guy with a love of dating means that I give the girls in work plenty of opportunities to roll their eyes and laugh about the adventures I go on. There is an infamous email in work that I typed up during my counselling period called “The Gary Lambert Zero Tolerance Policy to Dating”. In this email I outlined several of the ridiculous reasons for rejecting sometimes perfectly good women due to my fear of hurt / commitment and other emotions. It’s not that I’m a player or any other hideous term. I’m a coward. It’s very, very difficult to date in OCD World.
As I’ve said before I think about everything to an extreme level. A few texts and tweets doesn’t mean ‘let’s see what happens’. In my mind I’m seeing every possible course of action from falling in love, getting married, what word would be engraved on her wedding ring, how she might be feeling suffocated and uncomfortable on our dates, who she’s going to run off with, what our kids will be called… It goes on and on. And this happens every time. No matter what method I try. And I’ve tried every method to pick up women. I love going on dates. It is exciting. But it’s very awkward too. I struggle to be natural.
Over the last few years my biggest problem has been committing to someone. And not even a relationship. Commitment to me meant a second date. I couldn’t handle that, hence not texting a brilliantly attractive, intelligent woman again because when I popped in to her house on the way home (not for that sort of thing, I’m a gentleman!), I noticed that her air freshener was repulsive to me. Now, why on earth would that be enough reason to stop seeing someone? Frustratingly, it’s only with hindsight I can see the logic within my skewed mind. I was imagining scenarios where the burgeoning relationship reached such a crescendo that I would leave her emotionally scarred because of presenting her with the choice of me or the air freshener – and oh how she loved that air freshener.
Anyway to explain the madness of King Ginge, I’ll give you a taster of ‘The Gary Lambert Zero Tolerance Policy to Dating’ and the logic that goes with it. If you’re expecting reasons such as “nothing in common” turn back now…I’m not trying to offend, this is just an insight into the workings of a brain with OCD…
- She has more than one cat – in my mind, a girl with cats means ‘borderline witch’ rather than someone who is compassionate, caring and likes animals. And she’d probably be very clingy and I wouldn’t be able to chill out and relax into the relationship.
- She displays right wing politics – that could mean anything that doesn’t come from ‘Gary’s Socialism for Dummies’ handbook. But it would mean that she’d seem borderline UKIP in front of my friends and family, and I couldn’t be having that.
- She has untrustworthy taste in music – by untrustworthy I mean musical taste that hasn’t moved on from the first tastes of teenage life. This is definitely a multi-faceted fear. One, I was scared of how it would look in front of my friends when we’re discussing music. Two, why haven’t they grown up? Three, what if I meet cool people when I’m going to gigs and end up cheating on her? (For the record, I’ve never cheated on anybody apart from one incident where I thought I’d been dumped already and then I found out I’d misunderstood an argument and had to make a sharp exit from a student flat a few days later…)
- She has more than one personality – this is fairly acceptable because in this particular case, it wasn’t a mental illness but a pseudonym she liked to be called when we were in bed together. This really scared me.
- She has a thing about touching my beard – this scuppered the chances of a perfectly exciting, interesting, attractive lady because I was really irritated by it. I could have asked her to give it a rest, but instead I decided that she got so much enjoyment from it that I couldn’t deny her. Instead I had to stop contacting her.
- She has too much make up on – I’m not a stud, far from it, but throughout this date I was convinced that she was going to invite me back to hers and then the next morning her face would be imprinted on her pillow or it was going to rub off on my face and I wouldn’t know about it and I would look ridiculous on the bus ride home.
- She gives me tea which gives me palpitations – Clearly this was just me not being used to cups of tea and the caffeine they provide, but I decided she’d tried to drug me to have her wicked way with me. I never replied to the texts after that evening.
- She wears Ugg boots in public – This is definitely a hideous snobbery on my part, but Ugg boots just seem to be glorified slippers, so if she turned up on a date wearing them it was a few short steps to her going to the shops in her pyjamas.
- She has the same friends as me – Now this PROPERLY freaked me out. I was terrified because I thought there is no way that I could feel anything other than trapped as I’d be unable to get out of the relationship as every mistake and error I made would be reported back to my friend.
- She lives near me – in order to understand how much this terrified me you’ll need to understand this little tidbit of ‘Gary Knowledge’. Never in my life have I allowed my parents to meet someone I’ve dated. I live for compartmentalising my life and the idea of allowing my love life and home life to cross over…? Put it this way, if I was given the choice between arranging to meet the parents or doing an abseil using only elastic bands and Sellotape I’d be straight into Rymans, and looking for the nearest high rise. To combat this, on one date I tried to stop finding out where she lived. We met at my local cinema and she said she walked there as she only lived ten minutes away. You can guess what happened. I never texted her back.
As you can probably see, there is a recurring theme of fear of the opinions of others masquerading as snobbery and fear of committing to someone. It is a bit of a kick in the teeth, though, as I’d really like to have someone to commit to, so how do I deal with it? The first thing I decided was that I was going to have no more first-date write offs. No matter how badly a first date went, and to be honest I’m pretty good at dating (apart from the night I took Miss X to a jazz gig), I always now ask for a second date rather than cowardly shy away. I also decided that I had to go on dates looking to find good things about them, not bad. This is a very difficult aspect to overcome because, due to my OCD, I’m still getting 1000 thoughts a minute about them (like Sherlock Holmes looking at a prospective client), but I give myself a moment to keep calm and then ignore whatever alleged fault is screaming at me.
I’m not writing this piece to be cathartic and release myself from the clutches of commitment-phobia. I know where I am in terms of that. The point of this is that if you’re in a relationship with someone with OCD, or if you have OCD yourself, this probably rings true and might explain the reasons why at times people with OCD are standoffish, uneasy and generally difficult. But think upon this too – someone with OCD is constantly trying to look for things that make you happy / sad / horny / hopeful / excited / disappointed and the reason they want to do this is to ensure you enjoy yourself and think good of them. OCD sufferers are generally worth the hassle. I, on the other hand, am a work in progress….