The Boy Upstairs


hotmessI’ve hesitated to tell this story.

I felt like perhaps I should ease into my Bumble adventures by telling you the simple stories…the funny stories…the stories with happier endings. This story is none of those things. It’s complicated. It’s confusing. It doesn’t have a happy ending…just an ending. It’s a story with pages filled less with words than they are blank space. Uncertainty. Lots of questions. Few answers.

In a moment ripped straight from a romantic comedy, a little over a month ago, Bumble matched me with my upstairs neighbor. It’s hilarious and ironic and so indicative of the world we live in that it took a dating app to match me with someone who had lived about 20 feet above me for almost a year. He knew who I was…I had no recollection of ever seeing him. I say that with no small amount of surprise, because when I met him in person for the first time, I was struck by how cute he was. And especially by how blue his eyes were. How had I managed to miss THIS guy in the parking lot for an entire year?! (Apparently I’m the most oblivious person on earth.)

Anyway…from pretty early on, I felt a connection with him. I was attracted to him, of course, but beyond that, I found him funny, witty, crazy smart, and entirely unique. His ability to banter especially impressed me. Nothing is more attractive to me than a man who can banter. Throw in a side of sarcastic humor and you’ve REALLY got my attention. This guy had both.

And it was good. I liked him. And “like” is hard for me. It just doesn’t happen very often for me.

We hung out a lot over that first three weeks…took walks, played Scrabble, watched movies…and for the first time in years, I could feel my guard start to slowly come down. My guard that had been firmly in place for two and a half years, ever since my heart was smashed into a million pieces by the last man I cared for. And honestly, I’d been pretty closed off for years before that. I had spent the greater part of seven years feeling like I was never quite “enough” for the man I loved more than anything to love me back. Never feeling loved or valued or desired by him had closed me off completely.

Until The Boy Upstairs (TBU) came along.

He was broken. He’d be the first one to tell you that. Not even a year out of a heartbreaking divorce, he was gun-shy. Emotionally guarded. Fearful of taking a chance on someone who might turn around and hurt him like he’d been hurt before. The whole story is wildly complicated…but suffice it to say that between the two of us, we had some serious baggage. I’d been keeping people at bay from a place of fear while he’d been serial dating from a place of pain. I guess in hindsight it didn’t exactly make for a perfect combination.

But in spite of that, or maybe even BECAUSE of that…there was a connection there. I liked him. I knew he liked me. I was comfortable with him. Didn’t worry about how “perfect” I looked around him. I could just be myself. My equally broken, baggage-laden, messy self. It was nice.

And then, about a month in, it started to crumble. A pebble or two at a time…then a rock or two at a time…then a couple of nights ago it collapsed completely. And I’m standing here in the rubble feeling confused about what just happened. Six weeks ago I met a man that I liked. I met a man who made me want to drop my walls a little. I met a man who made me laugh. And now he’s gone. Except not really gone because he lives right above me and the walls are so thin I can hear him sneeze. What. Is. Life.

I know I’ll move on with things. Probably fairly quickly. There are still other guys that I’m talking to and hanging out with. And hey, TBU and I will hopefully even move forward as friends. I know I should just chalk this up to a “live and learn” moment. But the thing that keeps nagging at me is the untapped potential. There was SOMETHING there. I know I didn’t imagine it. And I have a suspicion that maybe he felt it, too…and that’s why he did what he’s admitted to being guilty of in the past: Sabotaged the relationship.

Except it wasn’t really even a “relationship” and I don’t know that it ever would have been. He was terrified of commitment…I was less than two months into my return to the dating scene and far from ready for one. I didn’t know what the future held. But I sure enjoyed the present. For once, it was enough for me. Just spending time with him and laughing and watching Netflix and having him teach me all about geocaching (a blog for another day) and debating politics and discussing our zombie apocalypse preparedness was enough for me.

I guess it wasn’t enough for him. Or maybe it was too much.

Maybe I’ll never know.

And still: No regrets. I’m happy TBU was the one who re-introduced me to the dating world. It’s kinda perfect, really, that someone so close to home, literally one wall away from me, inspired me to drop my walls.

And isn’t that just the beauty and awkwardness and humor and irony of life that now I’m literally unable to put the wall back up because we live our lives 20 feet from one another?! HA! 🙂

Had I never joined Bumble, The Boy Upstairs would still be a stranger to me. My heart might feel a little less sad right now. But on the flip side of that, I might still be closed off and guarded and afraid of taking a chance.

I’m glad I chose to take a chance and make a mess rather than remain cold and closed off and tidy. That’s what life is all about, right? Making the mess. We’re all messy. People are messy. Dating and relationships are messy. Ending relationships is messy. Having a guy I like but am no longer seeing live 20 feet above me is super messy.

But it’s also LIVING rather than merely EXISTING. I spent two and a half years merely existing. I don’t ever want to do that again.

I choose the mess.

I hope you will, too.

…But maybe think twice about trying to date your neighbor! 🙂

29 Responses to “ The Boy Upstairs ”

  1. November 8, 2016

    Thank you for sharing. For some reason I’m getting more anxious reading your posts as you begin the dating game. But you’re helping me realize that I don’t think I’m ready. Or very fearful of starting.

    • Mandy Hale
      November 8, 2016

      No one is ever really “ready” for the big things in life, my friend. Sometimes you just have to go for it anyway! 🙂 xo

    • November 19, 2016

      Hi Mandy I just love reading your posts…It is so encouraging knowing there is HOPE…I habe been out of dating for the past 3 years dont know if the ready part will ever be there but like you said you have to start at some point…I want to try this Bumble site but its not active in our country

    • debbie fitzpatrick
      November 28, 2016

      I love this! Someday I’ll be brave too!

  2. Anna
    November 8, 2016

    Wow. I feel you. I tried Date In Asia and you just put into words what happened to me. Thanks for sharing this. This made me feel less alone.

  3. Shannon
    November 8, 2016

    I had a similar thing happen to me about a month ago. I met a great guy on a popular dating app.When we met there was instant chemistry. Conversation flowed, he always made me laugh. I am also very guarded due to bad relationships in the past. And with him i felt like i could be my true self, no judgements. I really liked him and was starting to fall for him. So one day i decided to admit how i felt. He said he liked me too but felt like he could not offer me what i needed at this time. He had a relationship go terribly wrong when he was deployed four years ago. He said he couldnt do that again.That was our last conversation. I tried to reach out to him but no response. It still hurts but each day its getting better. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Monica
    November 8, 2016

    When I first started dating, I dated my next door neighbor and it turned into a disaster because we both had baggage and I overlooked red flags. Living next door was a constant reminder of how much I liked him and for a full year I had the hardest time getting over it, even dating others, because I saw him all they time (and I REALLY loved his looks and personality) – he drove a Harley so I would even hear him come and go, on top of see him walk by my apartment window – UGH, so glad that is in the past and over. I am glad you sound like this will not affect you like it did me. I dated A LOT (online) for 2 1/2 years and while I don’t regret it, I won’t do it again. I wouldn’t call it living. I’d call it avoiding getting to know myself and learning to enjoy life on my own (didn’t know it then but do now). I was always in a state of confusion and my mind only thought of the current guy or guys I was seeing. I have been on a dating hiatus for about 3 years now and have never been happier (I wasn’t at first, but just could not do the online dating thing any longer). I go do things that I want to do and my mind is always clear and open because I don’t have all the craziness of dating going on anymore. This does not mean that I am not open to love, it just means that I’m focusing more on taking care of and loving myself. If I meet someone while I am doing things I like and they are interested in getting to know me, rather than jumping into anything, maybe I will be in a relationship one day. If not, at least I will know how to keep myself happy. I wish you the best on your dating adventures. I realize everyone’s experience is different and hope you find what you are looking for. I did enjoy you as the Single Woman a little more because I related a lot more, but I still think you are an awesome woman. Take care.

    • Mandy Hale
      November 8, 2016

      I’m still “The Single Woman,” my friend, but there’s so much more to me that I am excited to share with my readers. A person can’t stay the same forever. It wouldn’t be very interesting to read my blog if I never grew or changed or evolved! 🙂

    • Fola
      December 6, 2016

      I love the part where you said you will rather meet someone doing the things you like,that’s my approach too rather just jumping into anything. Its important we find ourselves first, by doing that we might just find the ONE or he will find us.

    • Maryke
      December 18, 2016

      Your message really inspires me. I am in the same space….too many hit and run accidents in my life. Learning and enjoying just to hang out with myself and the people in my life whom I know really care about me.
      Thank you.

  5. Jade
    November 8, 2016

    You’ve inspired me to start dating again. I’ve been out of a very abusive relationship for a little over a year now. I joined Bumble after watching your video & went on dates with a few different men. I had a really good connection with one of the guys & we are still dating. We are taking it vert slowly but he’s the first guy in a very long time that I’ve felt any type of connection with. I’m sorry that you’re hurting right now but I hope that you realize how much you inspire other woman Mandy! I wouldn’t have put my toes back in the dating pool if it weren’t for your courage to do it first. So thank you for helping me move forward with my life. Much love & many prayers to you! Xoxo

  6. Michelle
    November 8, 2016

    I so love reading your stories. I recently joined the Bumble gang…I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, lol! I’m so scared!

  7. Stacey
    November 8, 2016

    I had one of those guys. We were both broken and found peace in each other, there was a connection and soul touching chemistry that I’ve never experienced before (not even in my 15 yr marriage). He wasn’t ready for commitment. My first heartbreak since my divorce. The last time I really gave my heart to someone. What was more devastating was that he met someone just a few months after we ended what wasn’t even a relationship..and they are now getting married. It’s the most heart wrenching pain I’ve been through post divorce. It’s been nearly 2 years since we’ve spoken and sadly I just haven’t truly put my feelings for him to bed. I’ve dated many many men since..and none compare to THAT connection. I trust that the Lord has someone for me who will make me feel something more incredible than this..though it’s so hard to imagine.

  8. Adrina|Monet
    November 8, 2016

    Wow Mandy! I don’t know how many words I’m about to have, b/c I feel speechless, given that I experienced a similar scenario in recent months. I go to an awesome church w/ seemingly decent prospects in men, yet I’ve never found myself liking anyone there. I can count on two fingers the number of guys I’ve been involved w/ my ENTIRE lifetime and well, b/c I hate my time being wasted in any sense, I don’t LIKE anyone all that easily. Also, since I don’t limit God & all that He’s able to do in a person’s life–relationship-wise included–I never foresaw myself liking anyone at my church. (I’ve always foreseen me coming across “The One” while in the midst of traveling from one city to the next or something cool like that).

    So “fast forward” to some of the “juicy” stuff: Yes, the guy had qualities I liked and I know he felt the same (both honest words & actions expressed the fact). On paper, he would seem like a highly potential match: 48 (but looks 38 b/c “black don’t crack, LOL!”)–never married and no kids (I’ll be 31 on Dec. 20th), cool/calm/collective, funny, chivalrous, etc. I met him in late June 2016 and things “smoothly sailed” between us as we both seemingly enjoyed our new friendship. He was transparent w/ me & vice versa. We shared some really cool moments together from late June until almost late October. Then, he stopped calling & texting for a week’s time. Needless to say, we’re almost at week 4 of not communicating at all and I have no idea why b/c it all happened so abruptly w/ no signs of such an ending. Ironically enough, however, I saw him last Saturday at a Cafe’ we frequent; wasn’t looking for him, but clearly he thought it was okay to stop by my table “to speak” (as he said), w/ his hand wide open for me to grasp it (which I didn’t b/c I was speechless that he would have the audacity to do what he did–in that moment and in the weeks prior). As a result of his ego being bruised & the fact that he knows he’s been keeping something from me (whatever/whoever it may be–I don’t know b/c he’s not been communicating w/ me), he walked away quietly.

    Needless to say, I’m well over it and still hopeful for whoever my husband is and how our “paths will cross” in due time (I’m also very hopeful for the very same for you) & simply wanted to “thank you,” Miss Mandy Hale, for the angel-in-disguise that you are & the timely pieces (tweets, books, blog posts, etc.) you grace us w/, time & time again.

  9. leah findley
    November 9, 2016


    I read your original posted about trying Bumble about what a month ago maybe? Well, anyways… I had just got done with a relationship where I asked for time to pray to and spend with God, because I was confused. I wasn’t sure he was the one I should marry, or even be serious with and it was getting serious pretty fast.
    He was also kind of insecure- needy- and I had felt he was lying a lot.. So I needed time… That’s all I asked… Long story short about the ex…
    My ex had acted like God should answer right away and I needed to give him an answer. He didn’t give me the space I needed (which was only four days) and he broke it off real fast. As confused as I was in my relationship with him and where it was headed he had answered my prayer. God actually did answer right away…. 🙂
    Within the next few weeks I came across your post… I decided to download on a Thursday night and give it a try…
    Well I swiped right on a few of the guys and matched them. That night morning I received a message back from a certain guy let’s say his name is Dave… I originally just said “Hey Dave, Sorry it’s late…My name is Leah” He responded with ” Hey leah, I hope your day is going better than mine.” One thing lead to another… We laughed, flirted, we got into deep conversations over texts for about a week. Felt like I knew him my whole life. He and I are on the same page in life, spiritual level, life, love level, experience level, music, jokes, family, and we really connected so deep on a lot of things. He finally called to hear my voice, and I instantly knew that this man is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.
    No kidding. I know it is God. Everything in my whole life has came to that moment of meeting him… He is the one my soul recognizes as the one and I have never felt confident in that ever before. I am a complete woman and he is a complete man who make up each other’s whole.

    I wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience about Bumble. With out that I would have never came across “Dave.” I know God’s timing is perfect and His ways are not our ways. I would never change this for the world.

    Thank you for being honest, raw, pure, real, open, kind, and so completely you in all you write and all your share.

    Thank you and God used you to answer my prayers and be a blessing.

  10. Kim
    November 9, 2016

    Thank you for sharing. I wish I could be brave as you, but after doing online dating for many years, and coming up short on disappointment, I have given up on dating altogether. In a world where I regularly deal with criticism and disappointments, the one thing I can control is not to face criticism and disappointment in my dating world. I finally realize that I am better off single and no relationship can make me happier than being alone and single. I love my space where I can come home to my sanctuary and escape the chaotic world we live without having to someone interfere. I am too sensitive to be in a relationship and to deal with the emotions that come with it. Maybe I have put wall, but I need this wall survive because whenever my wall comes down, I get taken advantage. I don’t think the people intends to take me for advantage; one just can’t help themselves because I too nice of person and an easy target. I alway have been since a child. Then my emotions spin out of control, and it takes too many years to recover.

    However, I love reading your post and about your dating life. I have all the faith you are going to meet someone, but in the meantime, I also like to hear about your non-love life too :-).

  11. Danielle Rogers
    November 10, 2016

    I ALWAYS enjoy your posts!

    Love you sis!!!

  12. November 10, 2016

    He’s obviously not The One. Keep moving forward, eyes ahead, and thank God that He knows just which door to shut and when to open the next one! “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future!”

  13. Jess
    November 10, 2016

    Ugh. I met the boy across the ocean. Met him online and we had serious chemistry and connection. He’s in the Air Force and thought his orders would be to stay in the states and he was sent to Greenland then Alaska so obviously why keep that flame still going. We still email daily and I got drunken I miss you emails. No one I’ve gone out with since has come close to what I felt with him. Sighs, feels like I’ll be single for life

  14. Lynn
    November 11, 2016

    It’s truly the coolest thing to read your words, which bring to light the things we are all going through. After a seven year “hiatus” from dating, I met the nicest man and was so attracted to him. I still am! After a year together, recently calls and texts and dates have slowed down remarkably. A couple of weekends alone have been pretty darn hard. He called Wednesday to ask if I’d like to go camping with him Thursday (yesterday) and I asked hard questions. “I want to share you with my friends and family…you interested? Holidays together, you interested? Weekends apart are piling up…what’s up with that?” All answers were positive, but my instincts are making me pause…hmm. In short, I gave lame excuses, no camping, and he left town with no goodbye or see you when I get back. It hurts, but in my occasional brave moments, I know it’s ok that it’s fizzling out. We don’t always have to end things with a big ole fight. He’s a nice guy! I’m feeling the call to move on with some forced bravery.
    After disappointments and successes, we all evolve, and I love to read that you went back to the world and opened yourself up to the messiness of life. Although it’s fizzling out and I am sad, the gift this man gave me is the realization that I am fun, attractive, interesting and worthy of being loved (even if not by him.)
    Thank you for saying you are making the choice to live vs merely exist, closed up, protected from hurt. I am much older than you and have, like everyone else, have found myself in the fetal position on the couch in “man associated emotional pain.” With your wise words, you helped me make the choice last night to “be messy” and live my life open to the experiences that are coming. Not easy, right?
    Each day brings ups and down in the emotional department, but I’m tired of being so hard on myself, blaming myself for the end of relationships. Very few relationships end where we want them to end. If they did, we’d marry the first guy to come along! A week ago, a very good male friend told me, “You deserve someone who loves you. You’re EASY TO LOVE!”
    Yep…I am

    • Shelly
      November 18, 2016

      Hang in there Lynn. I’ve been flying solo again nearly 12 years. I’ve had a couple short term dating stints but nothing that’s lasted long. Lynn you deserve someone who loves as much as you do . Hold out for your hero and do YOU in the meantime. Blessings!

  15. Hannah
    November 12, 2016

    So proud of you!! Maybe that’s a funny thing to say, but I think haven’t read your books and blog for a while now it’s cool to see you grow and move forward, take chances and live and be vulnerable again. That’s the tricky part, if you never get vulnerable with love you never lose – but you also never win. 😉

  16. Page
    November 15, 2016

    Thank you for being honest and open with us single ladies. I have had walls up for years, tried to run and run and run but got to the point where I gave up. I knew God had worked on my heart enough to help me slowly tear down those walls. So since you posted the Bumble blog.. I tried it. I love it and have met a guy I am talking to. I seriously feel a connection with him and pray it will continue to work out. I say all this because for the last 3 years you have taught me a lot through every season and I appreciate you. Your honesty, love and willingness to share is what make women like take the nest step.

  17. Louise
    November 19, 2016

    Hello from Scotland! Thanks for sharing. Sometimes the mess can be liberating and other times it can be exhausting, maybe it takes each of us to tune in to ourselves in order to know which route to take. I’ve tried online saying twice in the past couple of years and although it’s nice to have a wee confidence boost, I’ve found it full of guys looking for one night stands so I’m taking a break and indulging in reading, exercise and art instead. Bliss! Xx

  18. Sheena
    November 20, 2016

    Thank you Mandy for the advice. I can relate because the same thing haopened to me about 2 months ago. I fell for someone who I thought felt the same way about me. He was a nice guy and we had chemistry in the beginning. I felt like I could tell him anything. I was so comfortable with him too but It fizzled out anyways. I am not upset at him and I still talk to him, just not on a daily basis. It’s more so a fast hi and bye. But something I learned from the situation is that you have to learn to truly love and accept yourself and be confident. If you are not happy with yourself, then how can you go looking for it in a man? I know the right guy will cone along someday. Just not in my timing but GOD’S timing. I see it this way, if you stop seeking for it, it will come to you. Be patient and in the meantime, enjoy being single and living life. Life is too short to be so stressed about being by yourself. And in the end, you are never truly alone. You have GOD and your family by your side. 🙂

  19. Brad Johnson
    November 24, 2016

    Miss Hale, Thank you for sharing! Wow!
    (Singing a Sara B song) “I want to see you be brave”, wd be wrong b/c you are being brave! And candid, authentic and gracious!
    As a pastor/counselor, I am frequently saying “freedom is reality, control is an illusion…for everybody.” Thanks for using your freedom to live and grow, and then write and share it with so many. You are free, indeed!

  20. Liz
    November 26, 2016

    Thank you for sharing, Mandy! I have a question for all of the Christian ladies on Bumble: are you meeting a lot of guys who share your faith? I put that I am looking to date a serious Christian in my profile, and it seems to be scaring a lot of guys off. It’s a little disheartening and I am wondering if this is the wrong platform to find a Christian guy lol.

  21. seychelles
    November 29, 2016

    Hi Mandy, thanks for sharing I am in the same position right now however unlike you he is not the cute guy from next door but the cute guy from the youth ministry im in. I have to move on its the only thing left to do even though it hurts but I know that days will turn into weeks and months and then years. Im going to live in the meantime, yes live in just a month I let my wall and opened my heart to a guy I barely knew, I loved and still love him but I guess he was not meant to be. I learned a few lessons though and im going back in the single scene I have been dating for awhile. In need of a break. All the best…keep posting

  22. Mackenzie
    December 19, 2016

    It’s amazing to read this, I literally had almost the SAME experience with a man a I recently met off of Bumble. I have been single for going on 6 years now and met him after a short time of being on the app. It was instant chemistry from day one, however he was going through a divorce and it created a lot of problems for us. He left abruptly and started dating another woman almost immediately. Left me feeling absolutely devastated. Thank you for these posts, they give me hope!

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