On October 19th, 2016, I published a post entitled An Open Letter: To Douchebags. The feedback I received both on the blog and via Facebook was overwhelming. Many women (and some men) made the effort to reach out to me and express their feelings on reading such a personal post. It was very reassuring to know so many of you were on the same wavelength as me, and were experiencing similar problems when it came to ‘dating’.
Since that post, up until recently I still had never been taken on my first date. I began to feel jaded, stating online dating was very unfair. If it was like a video game, you would gain experience and bonus features and better insight no matter how many times you start the game over. Instead, you have to go back to square one with every new encounter, trying not to be bitter or too guarded or too intense or every other emotion you are feeling because you are sick of being ghosted or ignored. I became pretty resilient to ghosting, reminding myself that I would never want a guy who resorted to ignoring me when he’d had his fun. I thought I’d built up a stronger wall, learned to spot the signs and avoid the kind of guy that would hurt me.
Sadly, I had one more valuable lesson to learn in the form of a tall, handsome, 30-something man.
We had met on the app Bumble, and quickly swapped numbers. We had many things in common, especially our music tastes, and I respected that he had a difficult job in the emergency services. He was very open with me and we would talk for hours on the phone every night about our pasts, present and futures. I’m talking regular 3 hour conversations, Facetime, and messaging all the hours in-between. We covered hopes, fears, bad memories and good times. Yes I admit, things became intense very quickly, but he never once involved the subject of sex or my physical appearance into conversation. It was so refreshing for me to build a rapport with a guy who seemed to feel I was worth learning more about before intimacy became an element of the relationship. Due to this, I believe I viewed the whole exchange with rose-tinted glasses. This was the first guy that I felt truly respected me, and therefor he must be a good guy, right? I’m not ashamed to admit I was smitten, and my friends even commented that they were worried about my feelings. The intensity of our contact may have been perfect for me, but to the outside world it was clear that this guy had a hold on me.
I thought he was Mr. Charming, but after he had to cancel our first date several times due to work, my friends were definitely not his biggest fans. Still I defended him, explained that his job was unpredictable and it wasn’t easy for him to commit to seeing me. I was gutted of course, and shed a few tears after getting myself so worked up and nervous. Remember, this would have been my first ever real date, so though I tried to not have any expectations, you can’t help the butterflies and adrenaline your body creates, and the inevitable comedown. Finally, thinking ‘third time’s a charm’, we arranged to have an afternoon together in Manchester. I spent the whole week teasing him, stating I was under no illusion that this date would be successful, and that he would cancel on me last minute. He retorted with profuse apologies, stating this would definitely be our proper first date (with more to follow), and that he wouldn’t let me down. He was going on a night out with his workmates the evening before our date, and he even made a point of telling me he didn’t want to get too drunk or be out too late as he was excited for our date the next day.
Less than twenty-four hours later, I was sobbing my heart out on my best friend’s shoulder after he had ignored me all day. He had every opportunity to tell me that our date wouldn’t be going ahead, that the situation had changed. Instead, he made minimal and sporadic contact for 48 hours, confusing me with different excuses to buy himself more time. He even lead me to believe the date was still going ahead, and would just be in the evening. It took him until the following evening to admit that he had pulled a girl on the night out, stayed over at hers and was with her the following day, and that’s why he had been avoiding my messages.
I asked him if he had thought about how I would feel, and I’m not kidding when I tell you that he just could not answer that question. Even after I dragged this information out of him, he never once said the word sorry. After I pointed this out, he still struggled to say that one word, justifying his actions by repeating statements like ‘it just happened’, all the while begging me not to cry or be angry at him.
“I like you, I really do, but now I like her more. I didn’t plan this”
I explained that I understood he didn’t plan it. I’m not mad that you fancy someone more than me. That’s the way the world works. Am I sad? Yes. Am I bitter? Slightly. But I can’t be angry about losing something that was never mine. It was how he dealt with the situation that hurt the most. He didn’t respect me enough to tell me the date was cancelled because he met someone. Sure, I would have been upset, but at least there would be decency in that approach.
He was just a coward. He had never really given me a reason to trust him, or a reason for me to think he respected me. Just because he didn’t talk about my tits like most guys do? Nikee, you were such a fool. It was the disappointment in myself that hurt the most. My rose-tinted, bubble of lovestruck denial had helped me stay oblivious to the signs, and I realised this was the reason why I was heartbroken. Where was my sturdy resolve? My keen eye for weeding out the fuckboys? How could I have been so sure of myself?
This reminded me of one of my favourite films, Dangerous Liaisons, and the scene where John Malkovich purposefully breaks Michelle Pfeiffer’s heart with the line ‘it’s beyond my control’. That scene is a study of the cruelty of men, and how their egos and libidos are fuelled by avoiding the responsibility of feelings. Do you want to know the worst part? A week later, after I clearly asked him not to speak to me anymore, he called me asking for relationship advice after he had an argument with his new girlfriend. What the actual fuck?! He tried to contact me a few times after that, but I made it clear that no matter what feelings I’d ever had for him, he fucked up. He hasn’t attempted contact since.
I don’t ever think he will know how horrible the way he treated me was. He was truly in denial about the consequences of his actions, and probably always will be.
It feels cathartic to write that story down. It’s good timing for me. I’ve finally been taken on my first date. And my second. And my third! Maybe my insanely good selection of sexy underwear (mostly Playful Promises) may now get more use! Things are looking up, and though no future is certain, I’ve learned another lesson that has made me stronger.