From sharkophiles to train perverts, it's safe to say I've kissed a few frogs. However, in January 2018, fresh from yet another relationship fail, enough was enough and I ended my search for love. I literally couldn't face another boring drink, awkward goodbye kiss or the ever fun, wondering if they are going to WhatsApp back after seeing they had blatantly been online and were just ignoring your message - note, I know this last one sounds a bit crazy, but ask any single girl currently dating, and they'll know what I'm on about.
Anyway, with this in mind, I thought I'd embrace my single status. Instead of craving what I didn't have, I started to appreciate what I did have. I celebrated my looming 30th birthday like my wedding, booked a hen party style holiday, organised a massive party, and of course sourced a gorgeous dress. Just because I didn't have a man didn't mean I couldn't have the fun part. Then, to prove just how strong and independent I was, I agreed to climb England's highest mountain with my fitness fanatic friend. I also booked to go on a yoga retreat in Portugal with my hippie fanatic friend. Just another side note... I never actually climbed the mountain in the end but the intention was there!
However, amidst all these actions to become a single power goddess, I kind of neglected the fact that I still had everyone's favourite dating app, Tinder, on my phone. I'm not sure if this was by accident or if maybe some part of me wanted to keep it as a dating insurance to be used in case of emergencies. Either way, as it was still there, even though I wasn't actively swiping, I was still on it for others to see and use their precious super swipe on. For those fortunate enough never having to have been on Tinder, the super like is where if you see someone you 'super like' you can press a button and they will get a notification even it they haven't seen you yet. And on one cold January morning, a certain someone decided to use their super like on me, leading to me opening the app again.
As mentioned, I was totally off dating, particularly Tinder, but the guy who has super liked me did look cute, and in this romance starved age, I couldn't help but feel kind of special he'd used his one super like of the day on me - seriously this is what modern dating has come to, that things like that are a big deal. This in mind, I accepted his request and messaged him. I was instantly impressed that his messages didn't 1. Involve photos of his anatomy or 2. request photos of my anatomy. Instead, he asked actual questions and didn't seem to put off when I asked him my very important questions, such as who is your favourite Simpsons character?
After a couple of days of messaging, we took things to the next level and transitioned from Tinder to WhatsApp... things were getting serious. Here, it wasn't long before he plucked up the courage to invite me on an actual date. I agreed, but said I was only free on the Thursday. This was because 1. if it was lame, I hadn't messed up a potentially good weekend and 2. there's no Coronation Street on Thursdays. Saying yes, he then suggested that we go for a drink at Gunwharf, then if things went well he had a surprise. I'm not going to lie, the 'surprise' part, based on my previous dating disasters did concern me slightly. However, after seeking the professional male opinion of a guy at work, he said from reviewing the messages that this guy sounded good and I shouldn't be worried.
When Thursday came around I spent most the day thinking that the guy was going to cancel and wondering what TV I should fill my free eve with. However, when it got to 6:30 and I hadn't yet received a text that said "ah I'm sorry I've come down with a really bad case of rabies" I began to think that this date was actually going to happen... so I started getting ready!
Dressed in my finest first date attire, I was all set to leave when I felt the dreaded buzz on my phone. If he was cancelling now I was not going to be impressed! To my shock and delight though, it was him texting, not to cancel, but to let me know that he was early. He wanted to know what drink I wanted so that he could order for me. I gave him points for that. I loved that he was on time, and didn't make me wait for him on my own. And I loved that he was generous enough to buy the first drink. Again, if you're not dating now you don't know how rare this is!
Sending my drinks order, I then happily made my way to the bar where I then faced the next panic... would he actually look like his photos or would there be a balding Phil Mitchell standing at the bar waiting for me with my Diet Coke? Thankfully, there were no Phil Mitchells to be seen, but instead a guy who looked even better than his photos, with a very full head of hair.
Walking over with the biggest smile, I greeted him and there was no awkwardness at all. The conversation flowed and he still didn't seem to be put off by all my questions either. Two drinks down, and he asked me if I was interested in the surprise. I felt pretty comfortable that he wasn't a murdering psychopath, so I said I was. He then said that there were two options. We could either go bowling or go to the casino and see who could win the most on the roulette. Not wanting to reveal my competitive and to-be-honest rather ugly side I said I'd prefer the casino, but I wasn't sure how much money I could afford to lose - it was January after all! He then looked appalled that I even considered paying and said it would be £20 each and on him. I did feel slightly bad about making him spend £40, as we were clearly going to lose, but I really wanted to carry on the date, and it did sound fun, so I said yes.
As predicted, we both did appalling on the roulette, but we still had the best time. Despite being surrounded by a weird mix of ageing gamblers, who were in a casino on a cold January night, it was really romantic. Walking back to the car, my date then said he had two more surprises. More?? Like I said before, I was pleased if a guy bought me the first drink. This guy had already bought my drinks and taken me to Pompey's answer to Caesar's Palace! The first surprise was the cutest thing anyone had ever done on a date for me. You know I said I asked him random questions like who his favourite Simpsons character was, well his answer was Hand Moleman to which I'd replied that I loved him and he was my second to Ralph Wiggum. Knowing this, he'd found two Hans Moleman and Ralph Wiggum toys! The second surprise was slightly more date appropriate, but equally thoughtful. It was a bunch of gorgeous flowers.
Back home, Simpsons toy in hand, I knew this guy was different and decided not to bother with any of my traditional texting rules after a first date. And at the risk of sounding keen and desperate, I text him straight away saying how much fun I'd had and I asked when I could see him again. To my delight, he replied asking me what I was doing on Saturday.
Nearly one year on and we are engaged, looking for a house, and I still have my Simpsons toys.
Now for how he asked that important question. It was our 10 month anniversary and Stuart started the day by coming round with a big bunch of ten red roses. He then took me to get my nails done (I know this was because he knew I'd want them to look nice when I took the proposal photos)! We then went for dinner at our favourite restaurant where he gave me a book which had the story of our relationship.
Then, he strangely said that he had a present to drop off at a friends birthday party. I'm not going to lie but I was a bit annoyed by this as I was enjoying our romantic evening.
Walking down to the pub, I was confused what this big present was for this person I had never heard of before. But when we got to the pub, Stuart sat me down and said there was no party. He then pulled out a letter promising to love me for ever, ending with telling me to open the box. When I opened the box, a balloon came out with the words "Alana will you marry me?" on it, and Stuart was already on the floor with a ring.
The whole proposal took place outside overlooking Spice Island, Old Portsmouoth and the Spinnaker tower where we had our first date.