When you get a text message like this, you immediately never want to see them again; the idea of being around someone who has deemed you ‘not good enough’ is mortifying. Do you want to run into them at woollies? See them at the pub? Have them pop up on your Bumble again? Hell no.
By that token, you probably never want to hear that person say… running a bath, chopping up miscellaneous ingredients or pulling furniture from one side of their apartment to the other. But that, my friends, is exactly what I have to do.
Just last week I received a text message from an unknown number: “Hey. Sooo… I might be moving into your building”, it read. After going through the genuine motions of “new phone, who dis”, I quickly found out this person was a casual sex guy from my recent past.
Other than the fleeting joy I received knowing I had deleted his number yet he still had mine, I was filled with dread; I turned into the human form of the eye roll emoji. What’s more, he wasn’t just going to move into my apartment block, he was moving into the apartment directly above mine. Talk about a passive aggressive power move.
When relaying this story to my colleague, we were both perplexed as to why he felt the need to share this information with me after months of no contact. After he rejected me. My guess was he was trying to do a nice thing. He wanted to give me forewarning that he’d be lurking around my halls and that we might awkwardly bump into one another. I guess that was the right thing for him to do, but I’m also a bit like… can you not?
My friend also pointed out that in another world, this would be the basis of a terrible (yet amazing) romantic comedy. Two ex-acquaintances forced into the same apartment block unbeknownst to each other. I’d complain about hearing him bring girls home at night, he’d complain I played my Norah Jones CD too loud. Following a series flirtatious pranks (he steals my washing, I open his mail etc.) and some kind of misunderstanding, we’d fall madly in love, knock a great big hole in the roof and make our tiny apartments into one home; a place to raise our three kids and labradoodle.
But come on. This ain’t a rom-com people. We all know how this one turns out. I’ll become increasingly annoyed at the sound of his clunky feet stomping around the apartment and after three failed attempts to have his landlord evict him for “excessive noise pollution”, I’ll probably just have to move out myself.
I think what feels so icky about this situation is how much I know about him all of a sudden; our lives are now more intimate than they were when we were having sex with each other. I can hear when he comes home from work, when he chooses to have a shower, when he’s got company and sometimes, if we’ve both got our windows open, I can faintly smell the type of multi-purpose spray he uses to wipe his kitchen bench clean (Earth Choice brand, in case you were wondering. At least he cares about the environment).
I’m unwittingly stalking this person and I really don’t want to be. If it were anyone else living up there, I probably wouldn’t be so hyper aware, but knowing it’s him means every time I hear the floorboards creak I’m reminded of how he showed me photos of “how skinny his ex-girlfriend was” or how he asked me why I didn’t want to go to the gym because “imagine what I could do with my body if I did” or of the fact that he’d start a conversation via text and then take two days to respond to my replies.
Basically, every time I hear evidence of human life living above me, I’m reminded of a brief encounter that I had with someone who made me feel pretty awful about myself. Who fucking wants that?
It’s been almost a week now and we’re yet to run into each other (thankfully), although I’ve stopped taking to roaming the hallway in my daggy dressing gown, just in case.
If this isn’t a giant metaphor for my entire dating life, then I don’t know what is. They’ll screw you, reject you and come out on top. In my case, this is all quite literal.
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on Twenty Something Humans. You can read the original piece here.