About 5000 international models descend on Cape Town each year for the summer season anywhere from about October until April. Our beautiful locations are unparalleled and the costs are low so many international brands choose to shoot here. The international models also love their season in Cape Town because it is one of the most spectacular and relatively inexpensive cities in the world. In all my time living in Cape Town, I have seen models in photo shoots on location but have yet to come across them in real life. My preconceived idea was that we would have very little in common, I would find them vapid, stupid, vain and superficial and they would not be interested in me. But that could not have been further from the truth.

It was last summer in Cape Town that I spent 3 life-changing months “hanging out” with an international male model who was 6 years younger than me. And while I am still left questioning the “how” and the “why” it happened, the experience with him represented a significant shift in how I view myself and romantic relationships. The short answer to the question of “how” lies, as all great romances, in Tinder. By connecting with him on Tinder, I have basically sold the dating app to everyone. It facilitated an interaction that would otherwise have been impossible, so thank you Tinder.

When I matched with him, a lot of his pictures on his profile looked like a professional model’s and could have been sourced from the internet. He had modelled for the likes of Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Salvatore Ferragamo. I was a bit concerned that this was a cat-fish situation. I was probably chatting to a 60-something, fat and bald man, who was looking to ensnare me into a sex slave syndicate. Although as a 30-something woman I am probably past the sell-by-date for sex slave trafficking… So, I ensured that we met in a public coffee shop and was prepared to run out should it not actually be him. But surprisingly it was and after I had to take a deep breath in and out, to calm the nerves, we chatted away. No man has ever literally taken my breath away before but he was that handsome. I was sure that after seeing me, he would want nothing more to do with me and would make an excuse to get away. So much for my own self-confidence. But we went from coffee, to drinks, to dinner and soon it was seven hours later. I gave him ample chance to make a polite excuse to leave but we just clicked, there was chemistry and we continued to enjoy each other’s company.

Weeks turned into months and there were late nights, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, hiking and beach time. Besides being really really ridiculously good looking (Zoolander), he was fun, spontaneous, kind, smart, hilarious, respectful, a good listener, super cool with a multitude of interests and we could talk for hours. Hours and hours. I was not naïve about the situation. He was young, single and looking to have fun in Cape Town so I only saw him about once a week and there were other women. But I had thought it would be a once-off date and I was willing to leave it at that because after all he was an international male model and it would be a good story. But much to my surprise it sustained itself throughout his time here.

I was not out there to date a model but rather to meet some-one who I was attracted to, I liked, and had chemistry with. It just happened to be him. Ultimately, we had a genuine connection which kept on bringing us back to each other with an irresistible force like magnets. I liked his witty sense of humour the most and that he was incredibly gentle and kind. His capacity for fun and adventure was also so refreshing compared to some of the uber traditional guys I have dated in the past. And he brought so many new things into my life like more spontaneity, hiking, adventure, yoga, photography, the best jokes, coconut oil and country western music. The ending was bitter-sweet and he left for his home overseas as summer in Cape Town turned into autumn. I was genuinely sad, I had formed an attachment, I liked and miss him.

But I am left with the incredible memories and the lessons learnt. I had put so many limitations on age, looks, education levels, career etc. for a potential romantic partner instead of opening myself up to more options. I also judged myself quite harshly for maybe putting too much emphasis on physical appearance. But I have dated other handsome men, obviously not as handsome, and it fizzled out quiet quickly because our personalities just did not match.

I have also settled for dates and relationships with very average connections but with men who were good on paper. And as a result, I have been plagued by uncertainty and indecision in romantic relationships and a great deal of disappointment. I didn’t really understand why it just didn’t feel right until I experienced this genuine connection. I realised that connection cannot be fabricated no matter how much you would like it to work. Being with him gave me absolute clarity as to what I want in the future.

There is no doubt that having a beautiful man find me attractive, sexy and want to spend time with me, has done wonders for my self-confidence. He was self-confident in himself, about his body and his sexuality and I found that so appealing. He did not need to spend any time breaking me down unlike a few very insecure ex-boyfriends. He also helped me turn my assumptions about beauty and attraction on its head. There are some people (like models) that most people find attractive but attraction can be very subjective. Not everyone wants a skinny woman or a short woman or a tall woman or a curvy woman. The trick is finding some-one that you are attracted to that finds you attractive. There is no point in getting offended if some-one doesn’t like you, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. There will be some-one who does. The way I interacted with him just worked. I can’t explain it but something about his personality and mine clicked or rather just sparked into flames.

But what I found fascinating was how being with a ridiculously handsome and younger man garnered so many reactions. It was such an obvious shattering of gender stereotypes. I had the support of most of my friends but some reacted with criticism or very thinly veiled jealousy. I also genuinely shocked and surprised others who could just not understand why he would want to be with me. But I have never let others people’s limitations of me define me. I have sometimes been called brave and apparently I am also brave enough to dare to date him. Who knew that dating a man that was too good looking for me could feel like a revolutionary act.

I am so grateful that he came into my life and provided me with a redeeming romantic experience to last a life time. I know he didn’t appreciate the impact he made on me. There were highs filled with unexpected moments of tender romance and some lowest of lows (mainly to do with the other women) but overall it was an incredibly positive experience that has been a game changer for me with no regrets. What a gift to meet some-one who changes our lives for the better even if they are only there for a season (or for the model season). I would love to see him again but he has no plans to return to South Africa. But, l also like to believe that there is a little bit of magic in this world and maybe one day our paths will cross again.

‘Some people come into your life for a SEASON. Because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.’~ Unknown author


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