How To Lose a Popstar in 10 Weeks
That one time I started a texting relationship with a popstar.
You might have heard a song or two of his on Spotify, but Europe knows him as that cheesy or as they say "Cheeky Chappy" icon in the tabloids and on tweens social media accounts. Some might even say he's the UK version of Justin Timberlake, but I'd say that's a BIT of an overstatement.
It started as an introduction from a friend (offline bonus points). "Britt, not sure if you're single, but I know the most amazing guy and I think you guys would LOVE LOVE each other. You should come meet us at his concert." Concert? Was he a singer on the side and hopefully had a real job? She assured me that singing was very much his real job. :)
She continued to list quality things about his personality that peaked my interest: down-to-earth, very fun, very goofy, and most importantly, not conceited. She also was getting her Ph.D. in Psychology - so this was basically matchmaking from a true professional, amiright?
I happened to be in London for work and was available for the weekend. I had zero clue who he was and his google images were a bit frightening - this guy had an extreme european love affair with volumizing mousse and acid wash skinny jeans. But, what do I have to lose?!
First Meet and Greet
My friend and I arrive backstage at the O2 arena (London's version of Madison Square Garden). This guy could dance, he could sing, and he had tight pants in all the right places. For 2 GLORIOUS hours we listen to a set list of popsongs we've never heard of (with teenagers and their mother's crying all around us).
Except for one song. My song.
Have you ever had a go-to shower song? If you're not following, let me explain... I'm talking about THE song that you constantly find yourself humming or singing aloud when lathering up because 1. You think you sound pretty damn good 2. It's too catchy and you can’t ever get it out of your head?
I've had one shower song that I've rehearsed hundreds, thousands of times. And this mysterious pop-star starts singing it.
"What's Love Got to Do with It" by the one and only Tina Turner.
Backstage we briefly chat in between random press, friends, and family. He asked what I thought of the show, and I politely confess it was my first time hearing any of his music. Then I proceed to tell him the story of the ONE song I did enjoy and why. He laughs. We stay for an hour or so and leave.
The following day, we start talking in the most 2017 way as possible...the Instagram DM. What started as talking every few days with boring chats like:
“Where are you from?” from both sides.
“Seattle? I’ll admit I just had to look that up on a map”.
To more "in-depth" conversations including our favorite movies and the random heart/fire emoji on an insta story mirror selfie. The surface level thrills.
All is fair in love and war
Then I’m not sure what “catapulted” it. Millions of women vie for his attention each day, so perhaps a regular girl with regular conversation caught his attention.
I was honest and told him I had a "fairly" normal tech job, lived in an apartment in East Village without a dishwasher, and that I walk down four flights of stairs to the laundry room. Or maybe... it was when I sent the picture of my feet in wool socks propped up watching Netflix (because what fan in the UK would ever do that?!) AND because that’s what I really was doing on a Thursday night.
One voice note on whatsapp turned into insta videos and daily chatter. The modern-day penpal if you will, but perhaps slightly more exciting?
Summer had started and he was on tour around the UK with only a day or two off each week. I was running marketing for a new dating app working several weekends in a row. So, chatting via our smartphones was the only option.
Ironically, we didn't talk a lot about his music. We exchanged videos of our houses, our messy hair in the mornings, our summer activities of being at the beach or out and about. I genuinely enjoyed talking to him like a friend. PG related, pinky-promise.
It was going to be tough with both of our schedules, but we'd try to make a trip to see each other over the coming months. Also, when the tour was over at the end of August, he wanted to come to New York for a 1:1 week.
Suddenly in July, I received the news I had a work trip back in London! I would finally get a chance to see him. By having an actual date on the calendar to look forward to, we were both genuinely excited to see if this was a real thing. Could casually dating a popstar turn into something?
The Song Dedication
We had a pact that he'd promise to think of me every time Tina Turner came on his setlist. He'd report back after shows each week that he kept to it. A few days before the trip we were talking before his vocal warm ups. I asked him to take a video of him singing at his concert...not thinking he would actually remember in all the chaos, but he did.
Lending the drummer his phone, he captured the video below. Secretly dedicated, to moi. Literally, it's 3 pm on a Friday and I'm sitting in a coffee shop writing emails when I receive a text and this video from a guy halfway around the world singing to a sold-out show. It was a crazy feeling to know that as he was looking out into the crowd, and the first chorus came on, he was thinking about me - even for just a second.
When I told some of my guy friends the story, they rolled their eyes. Was this guy playing me? Probably, a little bit. Maybe he sent it to a few girls that night. BUT, there was no way any of them liked Tina more and he knew that.
The day started out hectic, but ended perfect. One Sunday, I took the red-eye from NYC to London, and maybe because of my nerves, and maybe because Norwegian Air is the shittiest airline of all time, I was a little on edge. He picked me up at my Airbnb for dinner at 6pm.
We walked to a nearby pub and GOD my heart was racing. I was also nervously anticipating people staring or taking pictures, which would exacerbate the awkward situation. The last thing I wanted was to bring attention to our first date with all eyes on our every move. Luckily, no one noticed the entire night. And if they did, they acted very respectfully.
After getting a cider at the pub, we sat down and instantly clicked. We started talking about our families. Our siblings. Our family dynamics. What it was like growing up. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. We laughed a lot. He surprised me with dinner reservations at a hip spot in Soho that he was proud to say he planned himself.
He told me the story of how he got famous. What the major things were that he wanted out of life. We talked a lot about relationships and love (my favorite topic). It seemed that even though he grew up in a small countryside town in Essex skipping college to become a singer... and I grew up in an upper-class suburb with two university degrees working alongside a computer my entire life, we saw life and love the exact same.
We talked for hours. In fact, we were the last ones to leave with the employees trying to turn off the lights.
The Romantic Park Bench
No, it's not what you think. After dinner, he got an uber to drop me off. It was nearly 11:30pm and I had work the next day. As he got out to say goodbye, we both realized we weren't ready for the night to end. Like out of a movie, we sat down on the park bench across from my Airbnb and continued to tell funny stories under the stars.
Two hours later we had a very innocent but cute kiss goodbye. The kind where you kiss for a second, pull back and smile, and then kiss again. He walked me to my doorstep and left.
When that door closed it felt different than other dates (the only date that beats this to memory is for next week's post). :)
I ran upstairs and felt dizzy. You know in the movies when a guy walks away from the girl he's head over heels for and clutches his hand holding his heart, taking a big gasp of air as he walks away? It was kind of like that, a brief moment where my heart and breath stopped a little bit. It wasn't just a build up in my head! I remember sitting on the floor in my room (texting my friends that were eagerly awaiting details) and pausing for a moment to fully take in how lucky I felt. Not because I just went on a date with a popstar, but because I just had a magical date with a person I was excited about. I still feel the same - EVERY WOMAN deserves to experience a romantic and beautiful night that feels straight out a movie
He felt the same, and I immediately got the "had a great time post-date text".
I pulled an Andie Anderson.
Then, that was it. We couldn’t make time to see each other for the rest of my trip, and I went back to NYC uneasy and unsure of what would come.
A few days later we chatted about the difficulties of keeping something going after a great date, but living in two different countries. He said the best he could do was to spend time getting to know me in September when his concert tour was over.
Looking back, I took any communication as good communication. AKA quantity felt more important than quality. We were having fun conversations, but they were not progressing to the next level AKA he was into it, but just not enough.
I wasn't putting my life on hold, and I didn't think we we're dating. However, I was naive to the fact that our chatting wasn't ever going to get serious. Sporadically texting me in bed, or on the tour bus, or face-time dates on Sunday nights are cute. Was he just bored? Probably. Did he have intentions to actually date? Probably not.
I made the classic female mistake and took the situation way more serious than I should have. Or rather, had hope for it becoming something when it was never going to. You should always have expectations that fall in line with how long you've been talking to someone, and more so, the quality of relationship you've had. We had been talking for a few months, but two hangouts and daily chatter isn't enough.
The Love Fern Dies
With almost all long-distance romances, our love fern soon withered. August came along. I started casually dating someone else, and our chats became few and far between (mostly on his end).
I stopped wanting to chase someone that wasn't head over heels to chase me, regardless of our schedules.
The fun part of our texting relationship was over. I knew I already liked him and there was a low chance we'd progress further with our current living situations. What was the point to continue? Would he really come visit me?
I know it sounds crazy to even care about someone you don't know very well, but I’m sure you can think back to one (because I know you have one) texting crush you’ve had over the years. Whether it started from one date and lasted a week, to a few months, THAT THRILL of getting that notification pop up with their name on your phone feels like pure gold.
Hours and hours of our lives were shared that summer, and I don't think anyone would have passed up getting attention, cute videos, and voice notes from an adorable British popstar.
It was fantasy and romance perpetuated by two people living in different countries, with different but exciting lives, upbringings and stories that kept it going for as long as it did. I sometimes think texting crushes are better than the real thing.
Matthew McConaughey didn't chase me on a bridge.
September never happened. After a few weeks of not talking and getting distracted with our own lives, I asked if he was still planning to visit. He texted back saying he had just got a "big opportunity" in the industry and couldn't pass it up." It was a polite way of saying he wasn't interested in pursuing this further, and his career would come first. As it should. The logical outcome of our "relationship" finally set in.
We stopped talking after that with a brief exchange in the beginning of this year. Maybe we'll be friends one day, but I'm guessing not.
I'll never regret any of the time I spent last summer getting caught up in this "love affair". I am the interesting, genuine, smart, and hopeless romantic girl similar to what he told me he was looking for, but timing and distance is everything in life. SO is putting in the effort for something you really want, no matter an ocean in between.
And so fair enough, this was simply a case of:
How I lost a popstar in 10 (ish) weeks.
And no, I’m not going to tell you who it was.