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Le Monde
Le Monde
6 Jan 2024

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In 2020, I left behind a series of romantic relationships marked by unkindness. I lived in Paris, a city that was not my own, where I did not grow up. I'm originally from the Limousin region (south-central France), and I was struggling to get used to the Parisian pace of life. I followed an eat-sleep-work-repeat routine, which didn't make me particularly happy. The first wave of Covid arrived just as my boyfriend and I decided to move in together. In March, the two of us found ourselves locked down together, 24 hours a day, and things got really bad, with emotional abuse on both sides. I ended up in the hospital. My mother picked me up and took me back home to Limousin, just to give me time to recover.

I'd lost everything. I was starting from scratch. The only thing to stick with me was my little kitty Yuna, whom I took with me. I decided to work remotely from my mother's for a month or two, which my employer allowed me to do – I was a data manager in clinical research. There, I downloaded a local dating app. Basically, the algorithm looked at where I was and suggested profiles of men within a 10 or 15-kilometer radius.

It suggested Yvan's. He wasn't 10 kilometers away at all but 150, in the Dordogne department. He didn't have the kind of profile I usually went for, but I chose to start the conversation based on his photo. I was a bit distant with everything I'd just been through, and not for a moment did I believe anything would happen. But his profile said he "lives at his cat's house," and I was amused by this expression. I know, it was a quirky criterion, but I said to myself, "Well, let's give it a try."

We talked sometimes, and every step of the way, I told myself it wasn't going to work out. Yvan wasn't the kind of man I was used to dating. He was very empathetic, he was shy, he was way too nice! I thought I was going to overwhelm him with my strong personality. But without really understanding how or why, at every stage, I persisted.

We ended up meeting for a walk along a river, between the Limousin and the Dordogne, an hour's drive away. It was a very picturesque spot. When I saw him get out of the car, he was awkward, blushing and stuttering. I said to myself, "What have I gotten myself into?" But I stayed, and we walked. As we talked, I discovered something unexpected about him. We were interested in each other. We shared a deep love of animals.

That day, we ended up stopping by the river. I sat on a railing under a weeping willow. He kissed me, and I was so surprised that I nearly slapped him! My head said "no," but my body did the opposite. My legs held him against me, as if I'd lost control of them. I didn't let go. It was "Error 404" in my head.

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