I met *Hugh on Bumble.
He got stung, and I stayed Queen Bee.
No, not in a Beyoncé way.
I mean that I “flew out on a sunny, warm day to mate with 12-15 drones.”
Thanks Wikipedia, real flattering.
Bumble is the weirdest dating app. I understand the premise – making women message first technically should limit sex-pest harassment. I can just see the pitch meeting now, Whitney Wolfe Herd spruiking its ‘fempowerment’ potential for the allllll the Single Ladies. Girl power! Ladies lean in! Fight the patriarchy by filtering the fuck out of your 5 most generically hot photos! …Yeah sorry tech-development bubble, your lofty loved-up dream ain’t the dating dystopia we live in.
In reality, what you find are the same bunch of staunch frat bros, but this time in boat shoes. Fuckboys pumped up with entitlement at not having to make the first move, expecting any match to ‘show them what they got’. What Tinder is for apprentice boiler-makers, blue staffies and Corona sunsets, Bumble is for finance grads still living at home. All you need is a Tarocash suit, a branded banner-wall photo and a superiority-complex to create a profile.
But I digress. Back to Hugh.
Upon right-swipe, his pics were pretty average. Not a deal-breaker though, I much prefer a shitty dating profile; it means your match hasn’t spent too much time cultivating a seamless ‘brand’… shudder. And of course, my deep-dive stalk skills reassured me that he actually was a total babe. Eurasian, tall and tanned. If this were boyfriend recruitment, he was a very attractive candidate and definitely getting a second interview.
On our first date, we went to Korean barbecue and a Fringe show. Second date was an incredibly dreamy picnic by the river. Then of course, the classic third date ‘movie and chill’ came right on schedule. Set your watch to it stuff. It was all super swoony, if somewhat scripted. But hey, in these early scenes I was the giggliest of girls, and all too happy to follow his stage directions. This leading lady was lappin’ it up.
About a month in, Hugh asked me to be his girlfriend. He popped the question during a steamy make-out, using the phrase “I want to lock this down.” Bit weird. I said yes, but on the drive home I panicked. Is there a cooling-off period in an exclusivity contract? What damages are ordered for breach? The decision was made under duress! I told myself to stop being a fucking nerd. I mean Jesus, after Ben I deserved to try on a nice guy. Let’s just say, it was a very snug fit.
Hugh was the perfect gentleman, a traditional romantic. We had five months of Disney movies, brunch dates, musicals and weekend getaways. He was a great listener, kind and considerate, even if the one-man Hamilton matinees and Moana karaoke moments were a bit cringe. On my birthday he cooked me dinner at my apartment, MKR instant-restaurant style. He wrote me letters for all seven days he was away in Japan. Dedicated Etta James love songs to me. It was overwhelming, and eerily faultless.
So, for me to say he did anything ‘wrong’ would be literally looking a gift-horse in the mouth. I’m sure there are some single girls screaming at their screens right now. But for me… it was suffocating. It just felt kind of fake, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was acting, ticking boxes. I’m not against a sugar-high, but seriously Hugh was a diet of Skittles, Fanta and fairy floss. My teeth hurt.
Believe it or not though, the cavity-inducing tactics weren’t the reason for my departure. Instead, it turned out we had really different views… on basically everything.
To put it in perspective: Hugh was the proudest private school boy, as silver-spoon as they come. He was Blane from Pretty in Pink, and next to him I was Andie. I’m a ‘do it yourself’ sort of girl, and he was a ‘hire someone’ kind of guy. I knew this at the outset, but never considered it an issue. Because I truly believe that privilege shouldn’t have a factor in love and relationships. I certainly would never dump someone over their fortunate circumstance, that’s reverse poverty-porn. If childhood prosperity develops an ego however, it evolves into an adult ideology of expected success. And it really did for Hugh.
The guy desperately had something to prove. There were two older brothers, both with great careers, beautiful wives and babies on the way. There was a harem of old-money friends, also hitting the mid-twenties ‘expected’ milestones. Hugh was confused career-wise, having fallen out of the finance sector and into unemployment; all the opportunity, and no direction. So to keep things moving, he was eager to tick the marriage-box. I just genuinely don’t think it mattered if it was with me or another girl. Soon enough, I understood the “lock down” comment… and I guess, the use of Bumble.
So it had to end.
Sorry, but I don’t give a shit about keeping up with the Joneses. Never have, never will.
And I’m not a placeholder plus-one. That’s not love, that’s going through the motions.
I won’t be used for someone else’s success story.
Before I broke up with Hugh, I had dinner with my sister. Over average pasta entrees at Jamie’s Italian, we worked out how to diplomatically end it. Then I went back to my own little one-bedroom rented apartment. I put on Kmart leggings, smashed down shitty instant coffee and finished a Masters essay on employee talent retention. Ironically single.
Thinking back, if I committed to the trophy-wife life, I could be hella comfortable right now. I could be swanning around Claremont in some garish Camilla kaftan, catered for and catered to. I could develop a fervent passion for Lulu Lemon and Boatshed charcuterie. I’d never worry about making – or paying – rent again. But that’s not my dream. I don’t want to finish this piece by going all “strong independent woman” on you, but it is what it is. Sweet-nothings weren’t the straw that broke the camel’s back here. Values and ambitions were.
I haven’t used Bumble since Hugh Grant. He was just too much honey for me.
Call me a cynic but life is not a John Hughes movie.
If I actually was Andie, I would pick Duckie anyway.
And if I were Queen Bey, I wouldn’t be Crazy in Love.
I’d be Sasha Fierce.