Do you ever meet someone and wonder Huh, how are you still single? And then they open their mouth and suddenly it’s like Huh. THAT’S why you’re still single. And isn’t it funny how sometimes the things we think we want most turn out to be a bit of a nightmare? This is one of those stories. It all begins with a boy, a date and an unusual back story.
Meet Alex. He was the older brother of someone I had been friends with as a child – possibly not the most ideal of scenarios, but still I felt it was kind of cool. I had had a childhood crush on him that (obviously) never went anywhere as I lost contact with him and his family over the years. Then one day up pops a familiar face on Hinge. I didn’t know why I recognized him, as there was a glitch in the app that meant that sometimes when I was swiping I could only see one or two photos and a person’s prompts, though eventually it was worked out that we knew each other from a long time ago, and a date was planned for dinner the following week. I had been rather busy at work and in my social life at this stage, so when I started to feel what I thought was a cold coming on I decided to try and push through; however, as someone who has pre-existing issues with their sinuses, it should’ve been a red flag for me, and I probably should have taken more care of it than I did.
The date came, and while we had been chatting quite consistently before the date via text, when physically together things seemed a little stilted, and I felt somewhat uncomfortable the entire time. I don’t know what specifically it was about this whole situation that made me as uncomfortable as I was, the conversation had been ok via text, but that was about it. He didn’t have me laughing, we weren’t engaging in any serious conversation, we were only really covering surface level topics. While there was nothing especially wrong with that, it also wasn’t as stimulating or interesting as it had been over text. It felt like he came across as thinking he was better than me, which wasn’t the most appealing thing in the world. Most of the talking was left up to me and my nervous stammering, and (much to my horror) he wasn’t interested in my anecdotes about bad dates or working in hospitality. Que se passe-t-il.
Upon sitting down at the table and being provided menus, Alex immediately critiqued the server and made snide comments about not being able to hear her (even though we were in a very busy restaurant with lots of full tables and lots of noise.) and her not doing her job properly. After critiquing her, he decided to list off his likes and dislikes in the food world, effectively ruling out everything on the menu as there was some element on each that he refused to eat. When we ordered and started eating, he also announced that I was “a super slow eater” even after I explained I get anxious eating in front of other people for the first time because of my eating disorder, and after leaving me to do the majority of the talking so that I couldn’t wolf my food down. He asked if I had ever been to the restaurant before, and in truth – I had. I had been on 2 dates to that restaurant prior to this one, and I wasn’t the one who suggested the restaurant and I wasn’t going to say no, seeing as it was a restaurant I really liked and a place I felt comfortable. But when I told him that I had, he started acting incredibly defensively about it, even though I had only said that I had in fact been there before – no further detail.
We were given a free dessert (which happened whenever I went to this particular restaurant) and even that didn’t seem to excite him as much as it excited me – a free dessert. He even had the audacity to complain about it!? A FREE DESSERT!?
He walked me back to my car, the conversation still stilted and a bit weird, and that was where it got weirder. After struggling to figure out where his head was during the date, and whether or not he liked me- he suddenly became hyper-sexual, making out with me, touching my butt and holding me close enough that I could feel his excitement. Each time I tried to peel myself away to go home, he would grab my arms or wrists and pull me back, locking me into an awkward kiss. At one stage he tried to kiss me while I was talking, and tried to shove his tongue in my mouth. When I pulled away to finish my sentence (me telling him I wanted to head home for the hundredth time) he poked my teeth with his finger and told me he was “more interested in what’s inside there” than what I was saying. (a sentence that still gives me nightmares to this day.) He seemed to think that grabbing a girl, pressing your boner against her hip bone and not letting her out of your death grip was sexy and cute- a fun and flirty way to get around to having sex. Need I remind you all, we were in a car park at this point? I had tried to establish PDA boundaries, and he instead had hurdled over all of them and seemed to want to go for it right there in the car park. This entire experience made me consider where the local convent was and how I would go about applying.
It didn’t seem to match up with the (almost) lack of interest I had felt in the restaurant, but I guess some people really aren’t interested in anything but that one thing. I went home that night still feeling that tickle at the back of my nose, but intent on pushing forward I still went to work the next morning.
I did push through, but by Wednesday I had (what I assumed was) a cold, and I was struggling to breathe and walk any distance greater than 20 metres without becoming breathless. I continued to go to work, but by the Friday (when we had planned to see each other again) I was completely unable to move, and coughing so violently I was starting to throw up. I cancelled our date (much to his frustration) and went to bed, sleeping on and off for the next 2 days until Monday rolled back around again. I went back to work, still feeling run down and not entirely certain that the Codral I was taking was helping. I ended up getting sent home from work twice that week, as I was more sick than I was willing to admit, and making everyone around me uncomfortable with how much coughing, sneezing and nose blowing I needed to do. I was definitely not the most fun person to be around at the time, as I was so ill that I was either asleep or using all the little energy I had in order to get up and shower or make a cup of tea. It turns out I had a sinus infection – a nasty, and very uncomfortable situation, but not one I was not used to. Through the week, Alex had tried to reorganize the date to no avail. He would text me on 10 minutes notice and ask if I wanted to come over because he was home alone or because his family were going to be out for a while. Wow.
I was SO sick, and felt so much pressure in my head and sinuses that it constantly felt like my head would explode. I had been avoiding using my phone and staring at screens for too long, as my head was only worsened by the harsh lighting of a screen, and I was trying my best to feel and get better. This meant that my response time to everyone, not just Alex, was awful as I would get through possibly a max of 2 messages before I would want to give up completely and shut my eyes. I responded to whoever I could, whenever I could, and tried to keep a conversation going when it was slowly becoming too much for me. My conversations with people are usually quite detailed and in depth, I rarely have “small talk” conversations off of dating apps, but in my state that level of commitment to each message was not possible. I struggled to even think of a response, let alone to type one out and send it; my brain feeling like a bowl of cold mashed potatoes. Mostly, this did not go unnoticed. My friends are generally good at not picking on me for not responding, but this time something was different. I kept getting reminded that I hadn’t responded to their texts etc. and told that they “missed me” or were wondering where I was. People continued to ask me to hang out, and I said no because the short notice meant I was not well enough to go out, and this continued to annoy people – mostly Alex. A few of the attempts made by these people were almost made out to sound as though they were guilting me about not having been around, with some of them seemingly furious that I had dared not respond to them because I had been taking time for myself.
“I haven’t heard from you lately and I have a lot I want to talk about – why aren’t you responding?”
“You just don’t seem like yourself since the last time we spoke, I need to tell you about this awful thing that happened but how can I do that if you’re never around?”
“OI! Dickhead! Read my texts!”
“Maybe if you’d actually responded quicker, we could’ve hung out.”
The examples could go on, but I will leave them at my select favourites. I was also subjected to one friend who carried on a conversation and repeatedly sent me messages about a half hour apart each time, as if I were responding; and another boy off Hinge (who will feature in a story of his own very soon) who repeatedly messaged me a few hours apart each time, every day for a week asking if I were better yet. Sigh.
The following week, and not feeling a whole heap better than I had, I went back to work and ended up in the emergency room as the pressure in my head and face had caused me to pass out – turns out I also had an ear infection that I had just been passing off in my head as sinus pain. Thankfully the severity of this incident was a much needed wakeup call for the people who had spent the week guilting me regarding my sudden disappearance. But I hadn’t heard from Alex since my last delayed response on Sunday evening and it was now Monday night, so figured I was finally in the clear. But then came the rant.
On Wednesday, I was sitting at work on a cocktail of lovely anti-biotics and pain meds, and was just settling into the thousands of tasks I had left to do from my absence the week before, when I got a text. For the sake of myself typing, and you reading, I will attempt to paraphrase it and give you as much detail as I can, without boring you with how lengthy and difficult it was to follow.
This message basically said that he “struggled to understand how my communication could drop off so much” (despite being sick), that he “didn’t know why I had failed to commit to a second date so many times” (as if no reason were provided) and that we “need to actually go out again to be able to continue things – which I want to do.” (a threat or just total statement of the obvious? You decide)
Not really in the mood for any of this nonsense, I sent back a rant about how I had been sick and had ended up in hospital, so my disappearance was anything but me not being interested in him, and was rather me trying not to feel as trashy as I had; including that I had been messaging back when possible and trying to keep a conversation going; trying to keep him posted on how I was feeling (without the gory details) but apparently this was not enough as I had not been responding fast enough for his liking. Oy with the poodles already.
Awaiting another argument, I prepared a list of all the times I had told him how sick I was, and all the times he had asked me to hang out on less than an hour’s notice when I had been bed ridden for days. Alex didn’t take this too kindly – apparently expecting that I give him a play by play of my illness, and finding it unreasonable that I hadn’t prioritized speaking to him when I had been responding to other people (how he knew I had also been speaking with other people, I will never know, but to expect someone I went on one date with become my number one priority instantly is absurd, offensive and completely misguided.) I had completely missed messages from my family regarding some rather exciting news, from my best friends, some of whom were really struggling mentally and going through a lot, and from my work – pretty self-explanatory why that’s important, but I digress. He expected that I respond to him instantly and not “with a 3 hour delay like you have been every single time.” Hmmm. Maybe not? He saw nothing wrong with this expectation, however, and repeatedly told me he didn’t feel unreasonable in expecting that I prioritise him more than I had.
This led to us almost arguing over how this should have gone down – He seemed to think that just because he had been on one date with me, I owed him more of an explanation than me repeatedly telling him I was sick and unable to move or do anything, and should’ve kept him updated at ALL times on how I was feeling. I felt that saying I had been sick was enough, as I thought he would understand when I said “I have a sinus infection.” That I wasn’t in a position to be going out on such short notice as he had been giving me, and that the many times I mentioned that it wasn’t personal, I was just sick, meant that he would have some compassion and stop constantly harassing me about coming over on 10 minutes notice. Sure, bud, I can’t breathe, but I’d LOVE to have sweaty, snotty sex with you and then have to run out because your family are coming home – where do I sign up?
Alex seemed to think his demands were not unreasonable, that wanting me to prioritise him was not unreasonable, and that expecting I have sex with him when my head felt like it was exploding and had no ability to breathe was not at ALL unreasonable, no siree it was not unreasonable in the slightest. Alex turned into a very condescending, controlling man who I am glad to see the back of. While I had tried to explain my struggle at the start (with the vomiting triggering some memories of eating disorders and a fear of ending up in hospital) it had fallen on deaf ears and he had continued to push me and ignore my thoughts and feelings as he imposed his own beliefs about body image, self-worth and ways to cope with a breakup on me (Where that came from, I’ll never know but I got his full set of beliefs about how working out is the best way of coping post-breakup one day while I was asleep.) Each time I had expressed how ill I felt, he had ignored it to instead ask if I wanted to come over while the house was empty – or he had offered to come over at times when he assumed my house would be empty too. His texts were the ones that, when I would respond, he would say “Maybe if you’d actually responded quicker, we could’ve hung out.”
I understand only being after one thing from someone, but I also believe in setting clear expectations with someone about what you’re looking for, and if that was all he was looking for, I would have preferred he not message me like that, so constantly and demanding so much, and just let it slide under the rug. I do not even slightly believe that there is any situation acceptable to treat another human being like this, we had only been on one date and had no existing relationship beyond knowing each other as children and said date. But suddenly, I was supposed to let him know at every stage of my illness what I was feeling, and he expected that I give up my sick days to hang out with him – but only when the house was empty and it suited him, and only ever on 10 minutes notice with a window of about an hour each time when he also lived 20 minutes away from me. Factoring in 40 minutes of travel time, can anyone really safely say he was after anything but sex?
After much arguing about how unreasonable it was that he expected me to make him more of a priority when I couldn’t even respond to my own family, I told him I felt it was best we not continue things, as he was expecting too much from me and didn’t seem to care that I was not giving more because I very simply couldn’t. I also told him that I was not interested in someone who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) even check in to see if I was feeling better, and instead kept asking me to come over knowing full well all he wanted was sex, and then got mad because I couldn’t respond (because I was asleep and sick.) Maybe he had a fetish for snot? Is that a thing?
I explained that I was uncomfortable from the moment we met and that this constant harassment was no way to get a girl to sleep with you, especially if she was as sick as I had been at the time.
Alex had one response to that. No recognition of issues, no apology for making me feel uncomfortable, not even a response to me asking if he knew how sick I’d been – even after I said I’d been in hospital, as he had made his point abundantly clear that he felt everything he did was completely reasonable; all he said was –