Richard* – Adventurer

Richard*. How do I even start with Richard? I suppose I could start with some facts of the situation with him. I was 24 years old, living abroad in Crete and I thought I had fallen in love for the first time.

In May 2014 I moved to Rethymnon, Crete for the summer. This would be my second summer working abroad as a holiday rep: not the ooh aah Malia type but the 5* resort type where I would wear a shirt and pencil skirt for work. Skip forward to about two months into my six month season and you’ll see me sitting at the bar in one of my favourite hot spots near my Greek apartment. I hear the accent of someone from England and instantly start a conversation with him about rugby. Small talk moved to some sharing of our crude sense of humours and we clicked. It’s like that moment you meet someone and just because they’re from the same place as you, or are wearing the same top, or they know someone who knows someone else who went to the same school as your distant cousin’s girlfriend… you’re instantly best friends. Well this was what happened with Patrick (sorry he’s not Richard but he’s important to the story I promise). Over the next couple of weeks I built a friendship with Patrick. One night he came into the same bar we had met where, again, I was sat at the bar with my fellow reps and housemates. Patrick wasn’t alone this time. With him were two young girls and a guy; Richard (there he is).

Richard was casual. He was kind of scruffy looking with dark hair and a thick beard; not a weird looking beard though. It was designer stubble but thicker. Anyway he was gorgeous and completely out of my league (although he’d be pissed at me saying that). Patrick spotted me at the bar and came over to say a quick hello while his companions sat down. Before I could think my mouth opened and tumbled out the words “wow your friend is hot. I’d lick all sorts of things off him”. Good one. Luckily Patrick has the same sense of humour as me and just laughed that off. Later that night he brought over Richard and introduced us. That was it. My guard was still sky high but something inside told me Richard would be special. I didn’t know how or why but I just knew. Now I know what you’re thinking, LAME and don’t worry because I think it too, but it felt true at the time.

Over the next few weeks Richard and I spent a lot of time together. He had lived in Australia for a year before travelling back through Thailand and stopping off in Crete to visit his best friend Patrick. From Crete his plan was to return to Australia for a second year. Well done me. Trust me to meet the guy who just doesn’t want to go back to England. Anyway, Richard extended his ticket to stay in Crete so we had more time together. He practically moved into my little apartment at one point and for the first time in my life I felt like I had met someone who believed I was worth more than I’d previously thought.

Richard would make comments about wanting people to see us together. He made me feel like he was proud to be seen with me. I’d never had that before. Guys previously had made me feel like they were ashamed to be seen with me: Richard was different. Everything between us was honest, open and, well just amazing! Yeah yeah I know, healthy relationships still have arguments and it isn’t all roses 24/7. It wasn’t, trust me. Richard’s friend Emily came to visit for a week and was staying with him. I didn’t mind at all because I trusted him and she was just his friend. Well on her first night Emily decided to tell Richard that she really fancied him and didn’t want him to see me while she was visiting. Excellent. That’s fine, I understand and I still trusted him. He was protecting her feelings and my feelings had never been protected before so I was used to them being overlooked. During her time Emily one night climbed into Richard’s bed with him. Another night we were all in a bar together and she was touching him and playing with his hair. Hold on a minute because I just need to get this straight. So I’m not allowed to spend alone time with the guy I’m seeing or touch him in front of her but she is allowed to in front of me? Seems legitimate. Richard was completely oblivious while I just drowned my sorrows in tequila slammers (tip: tequila does not help). Anyway, we got through that and came out the other side.

With one week to go until Richard was due to leave and fly back to the UK before going back to Australia, we spent as much time together as possible! The end was coming too quickly and we both knew it. My guard had come down quickly and over the few months Richard was there I was trying my best to fight my feelings for him. It was temporary. He was leaving and besides, surely he doesn’t feel the same way about me. On one of Richard’s last nights a few of us went out for some drinks and I was messaging a few of my best friends from home (I’d worked with them the summer season before). I’d talked about Richard and one of them wrote that I was in love. Love? Surely not. I replied saying I didn’t think it was love but I did like him a lot. At this point I realised that a tipsy Richard was looking over my shoulder and he uttered the words (well close enough) I had begun to believe I’d never hear from a man to me…. “you must be in love because I know I am”. With him that was probably as close as I’d get to an ‘I love you’ and I was alright with that. My heart swelled and stayed that way for the last few days.

When the day came to say goodbye I’d organised for Richard to travel to the airport with me on my airport transfer shift for work. He sat at the front with me and we talked and laughed and basically did everything to distract ourselves from what was coming. When we got to the airport, I did my work and then had a few minutes to find Richard and say goodbye. Jesus, I can tell you now it was like something out of a film! We hugged, kissed and said goodbye. Of course I teared up a little but I’m a girl so I’m allowed! I turned and walked away to continue working. As soon as I walked over to my colleagues I just cried. What if I never found anything like that with anyone else? Had I just let my chance of happiness walk away from me (well fly away)? I had to work. I wiped my eyes and started my duties pointing new arrivals to their transfer coaches. While directing a family I spotted someone walking towards me and turned to see Richard smiling at me. Without any hesitation or care he strode up to me and said “well I couldn’t leave without kissing you one last time” and took me into his arms and kissed me. Alright I’m sorry but it had to get mushy. Unfortunately this story has no Friends ending where Rachel got off the plane to be with Ross. Richard got on his plane and he did leave.

We continued talking and luckily he was still in England when I returned from my season so I went to Leeds to visit him. This time it really would be our final goodbye. I spent the weekend with him and met his parents who were lovely! They welcomed me into their home and said I could visit any time. Richard took me for a walk and for dinner. We were us again. With Richard I was beautiful and my insecurities began to melt away. He made me feel like nothing I’d ever felt before. I could be completely me and I could let my guard down without the cynicism or apprehension I normally felt. As we know because I still have many more stories, Richard and I had to say our farewells again. It was just as emotional as our first goodbye but had to be done.

That was it. I haven’t seen Richard since. We had a very near miss at the airport when he was between countries but we still talk. As with most of my stories, there aren’t any great happy endings. Richard and I had a conversation where he admitted that maybe he didn’t love me. He said what he thought I wanted to hear at the time. Who knows really. Did I love him? I think so. I’ve never felt that way about anyone before. He doesn’t have plans to come back to England any time soon and so I attempted to get back in the dating game to try and distract my thoughts from my near miss with love. What I did learn from my time with Richard is that I deserve so much more than I have let myself get in the past and that I can have it! I just have to keep looking to find it. I also learned that unfortunately I think it will be very difficult to get over or move past Richard. Watch this space…

Brian* – Builder

Brian* is going to take some time. He became the new ‘closest to a boyfriend I’ve ever had’ person so I have a lot to fill you in on. It all started when a friend of mine invited me to Notting Hill Carnival with a bunch of others which is where I met him. We went to the same school so I recognised him but this was the first time we met properly. For that day, we didn’t speak very much. I got the impression Brian liked some other girl who was with us and to be honest I really didn’t think much of it all. Anyway let’s fast forward a little bit. So I met Brian a few more times along with our mutual friends and we built a sort of friendship. He was funny and we seemed to get on well but I wasn’t placing any bets on anything happening; we were just building a friendship…

The point where our friendship turned into something more came in February 2013 when myself and Brian were invited to go on a holiday with three other friends. During the holiday we ended up sharing a room (now now, nothing happened!) and he would hold my hand in the back of the car and we had some very obvious flirting going on. I know, Jesus, not flirting! But anyway, we both knew it was more than just a friendship so even when we got back from the holiday, it all continued and became what others might see as a relationship. Brian didn’t though and to be honest, I didn’t even know what a relationship involving me looked like.

Slowly as the first month went on I started to pick up on the fact that Brian was friends with a girl who he obviously had feelings for; whether now or at some point in the past. There was a history. He used to joke that he really fancied her and really wanted to be with her. He once joked that he wished she didn’t have a boyfriend so he could be with her. None of these felt like jokes when I would look over in the mornings and he’d be texting her. He’s lying in bed next to me but messaging her. Prince Charming I know. Now before I continue I have to make one thing very clear. Brian never ever cheated on whatever we had. He would never cheat on anyone because he does have a good heart; he just doesn’t know what to do with it when it involves someone else!

So anyway, during this time we continued whatever we were doing. He wouldn’t touch me in public or kiss me in public. He would joke that I was a 4 out of 10 but then point out girls he saw as a 9 or 10 in public. The girl (Laura*) that he used to text all the time was, in his eyes, a 9 out of 10. I was a 4. Why stay with me and continue this charade if that’s how he feels? Because she had a boyfriend. All of these things started to chip away at my already low self esteem. He didn’t want people in public to see us together. He didn’t want to call us a couple or acknowledge a relationship. He constantly talked about how fit Laura was and how much he fancied her. But I was scared. I hadn’t managed to get myself a boyfriend and now I was coming up to turning 23. I thought this was what I deserved; this was the best I could get. Nobody would be able to love me and I would forever be a 4 out of 10 in a world full of 9s. At least that’s how it felt anyway.

One morning after Brian had stayed over I got out of bed in my bra and knickers. What happened next was another nail in the coffin that was to encase what was left of my self esteem. He sat up and looked at me with a weird look on his face. I asked him what he was looking at and his words, I absolutely kid you not, were “Do you know you’d have a well decent body if you went to the gym”. IF I went to the gym?? No matter what size or how heavy a girl is, you never imply that she needs to lose weight. At 5ft 5in and 9 and a half stone I have a healthy BMI and I wear a size 8/10 clothes. I have never been particularly happy with the way I look, but what girl has? Every single human on this planet has some hang up about themselves but to have it pointed out to you by the one person you put your trust into was like a knife. I stayed with him. I didn’t tell him to leave and I didn’t tell him I never wanted to see him again. Like I said, I thought this was the best I could do and maybe I should be treated like this. Don’t worry, the story gets better!

After another few months of being a 4 out of 10. Of watching Brian message and talk about Laura a lot because she was his perfect girl and he’d made that pretty clear. Of being the girl who would have a decent body if she went to the gym. Of being the girl who was seeing a guy that didn’t even want people in public to think they were together…. Brian ended it with me. Hang on, let me correct myself because he didn’t end it with me; his friend ended it with me for him.

One night, a group of us all went out together and whilst in the pub I was chatting to one of Brian’s best friends. I voiced my concern over the fact that Brian had been acting strange the past few days and ignoring me or being very distant. That was when Brian’s friend decided to let it out to me, with Brian watching from afar at the other end of the pub, “Brian doesn’t want to be with you anymore. He thinks he can do better than you and I think you deserve more so I’m sorry to tell you but I think you should know”. He thinks he can do better than me so doesn’t want to be with me anymore. Final nail in the self esteem coffin. Organise the funeral because right in that moment it took all of my courage I had left in me not to burst into tears and walk out. I’m better than that! Ok I say that now but back then I believed every word. I was angry that Brian couldn’t even tell me himself but by this point I fully believed I was doomed to a life of men to treat me like (excuse my language) absolute shit. I believed every word. I believed I was worthless.

So that was that. Brian had got rid of me. I was at rock bottom. What next? I couldn’t bear the thought of staying around and moping over him so I went online and did some research about moving abroad. I applied to work abroad as a holiday rep and two weeks on from the application, I was moving to Crete for the summer.

Skip forward two months and I was moving back from Crete and I was spending time with Brian again. I know, somebody should have slapped me! Well my best friend did try to because she knew I was being an idiot. Having Brian want me back made me feel better about myself, even if just temporarily. As you can all see coming, it was only temporary. Brian ended it with me again for the exact same reason. He can do better; at least he thought he could do better. He was messed up. Looking back as the person I am now, I can recognise that he was messed up all along! I just didn’t know then that I do deserve better. Don’t you worry though, I learn that I do deserve better and can be treated better about a year later. Watch this space.

I did manage to find some strength one day. About two months after he ended it with me, Brian let slip he was seeing someone else and asked if I would meet him for a drink to talk because he still wanted to be friends with me. I agreed and decided that this would be my moment to be strong. I pulled together every ounce of strength I had and let rip on him when we did meet. We sat in silence for a long time. I told him how angry I was at the way he treated me. I told him everything that was wrong with how he handled things. After everything spoken and everything unspoken, he opened his mouth and tried to joke that we would both be single forever. That was it. All that strength I had gathered was for this final moment and I wasn’t going to waste it, “I won’t be single forever. I will meet someone who will treat me the way I should be treated. You will be single forever and you’ll wonder what you did wrong.” I then explained that I didn’t want to be friends with him and walked away. I deleted him on all social media and cut him out of my life so I could start to rebuild. I learned to be as happy as I could be.

On a side note I would like to add that Brian did finally end up with his dream girl Laura! I ended up seeing them together at a party and although he denies it, his best friends admitted that they were together and the kissing doesn’t lie!

I should also add that although Brian was an idiot and seriously needs to reconsider some of the things he says to a girl, he’s not a completely bad guy. He’s lost and although I couldn’t see it then, I look back now and realise just how much better I was than him.