‘Main Character Energy is transforming my dating’

This year my accidental “galentine’s day” was the best Valentines’ day I ever had, and why? Main character energy.

MCE, which the apps are all heralding as one of the biggest dating trends of 2023 after it dominated TikTok last year with a hashtag bringing in 307.7 million views, is simply about making yourself the main character in your own life. Simple idea, but how many of us actually do that, and how many of us have a tendency to let other people call the shots? Shots which might not actually benefit us, or be what we want, at all.

Having just moved part-time to Glasgow I found myself in January with a new city to date in, a new city to everything in, and being offered many a tour from the charming Scots now appearing on my dating apps. One chose the oldest pub in Glasgow for our first date and for the first month we saw quite a lot of each other. There was a two-second delay on my understanding of his accent but other than that it was quite good. Yet that was a suprise, because he was also a catfish. There was no mention of children on his profile, although he did tell me this before we met and I agreed it might be ok, especially if there ended up being no second date anyway. He was also more religious than he stated, was using fairly old pics and was lactose intolerant – the least ideal of all, because I bloody love dairy.

Anyway, as an understanding, pretty relaxed person (most of the time) who is used to the woes of modern dating, I thought maybe all that was still ok. We developed a fast in-joke about eels and I ordered one of those weirdly biological pictures of them for his birthday. From America. As in, the United States of America. It was on Etsy and I wondered why the postage was as much as the actual picture, but still – it was our joke. Then, cue V-day (always a D day in one way or another for me) and the mother of his children decided the kids were ‘getting ill’. She’d just been told that he was dating again, which seemed suspicious timing. Which newly-met couple would not be planning something for V day even if it is a load of commercial junk? It’s just fun and kinda nice to do something on your first one, I think, even if that just means takeaway pizza. Alas, not for us. His babysitter was unbooked, the children needing to take priority, and I spent the night with my new flatmate Emma instead. We ordered sushi, drank a lot of wine and watched Fresh (with Daisy Edgar Jones) which is the kind of date movie that makes you legit never want to date — either online or IRL — ever again. It was perfect.

When you’re dating someone with kids of course they have to come first, always, but for the childless person it’s still hard to get your head around the fact that you’ll never, ever be the priority. On any day of the year. It wasn’t my first time dating someone with children, so maybe I should have known — or maybe I was just letting myself take too much of a secondary seat and forgetting totally about MCE. According to the dating app experts the term describes the situation or mindset in which we think of ourselves as a protagonist in a film and prioritise our own wants, needs, and self-worth. That should quickly establish suitability with a potential partner.

I’m also currently writing a TV pilot based on my memoir, Lucid, which came out last year, so the trend seemed particularly apt. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the sound of living with MCE and I’m determined not to let the kind of life someone else needs affect what kind of life I want for myself now my introduction to Glasgow is over. Luckily, I now have a picture of anatomical American eels to remind me of the importance of MCE anytime I need it.

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