Just When I Thought It Was Safe…

As I’ve previously shared, I haven’t tried dating in quite some time. At first, it was because I had a lot of anger I had to process. Understandable, given what I’ve been through.

A year ago, though, the anger went away (had a bit of a religious experience, where I literally felt the anger lift off of me), but the anger was replaced by fear – crippling, paralyzing fear. Of men. (Again, understandable, given my past.)

It took me more than a few months to identify the specific emotion, and another few to process it through, with my therapist’s help. (I’m not actually afraid of all men. Just ones who have power over me, because that’s how you get hurt. It’s scary being vulnerable!)

Finally, I got to a place where I thought maybe it was safe to dip my toes back in the water. So this weekend I gave it a try. Turns out I was incorrect.

shark in water

I’m gonna need a bigger boat….

Back at the end of January I’d met this guy who was a friend of a friend. We kind of hit it off in conversation, and he seemed interested. (I mean, he even bought me drinks!)  We saw each other a few times in casual, group settings, and he still seemed nice. And cute. And we had a few things in common. We texted a bit here and there – nothing big, but nothing to make me think he wasn’t interested in taking this to a dating-level.

For my part, I’d kept it professional-slash-friendly. No, I don’t work with him, but I don’t know how else to describe the at-a-distance place at which I keep people until I know them better. Which, in the case of most guys, is never. But I was beginning to feel like I was getting over my fear, and maybe it was time to see if I could try dating again. So this weekend I decided that if he showed up at the group event I was going to on Friday night, I might test the waters and try actually flirting with him.

He did show up, and I flirted with him. He flirted back. Score! Things were getting comfortable and a kind of “touchy,” but in a good way.

Damn, it feels good to be a bitch[Speaking of touchy: Ass-Grab Guy from my last post showed up randomly, too. He knows some of the same people I know, but I didn’t know he’d be there. So, still being mad at him, and not wanting to be a victim, I walked up to him. He started to introduce himself, but I interrupted him and said, “We’ve met.” I refreshed his memory on when and where, and he said, “Oh, yeah–.” Whereupon I interrupted him again and said, “You grabbed my ass that night, and it completely ruined my evening.” He said, “Oh, I’m sorry,” but he looked past me when he said it, and he said it like he was confused, like maybe I got my story wrong and didn’t know what I was talking about. I got the distinct impression that he was not actually sorry. But I was very clear on what he’d done and how it made me feel. “Just steer clear of me tonight,” I said firmly. Then I turned on my heel and walked away. And that felt really good. (Dang, I need to drink tequila more often….)]

Anyway, back to the other guy: So we’re talking and flirting, and he’s paying for all the drinks. Things are going well, and I’m thinking maybe this could go somewhere. Maybe I could try going out with this guy. Then he let me know that he’s looking for “more than fuck-buddies, but not ‘in a relationship.'” (Direct quote.)

My heart sank and my insides went to chill-frost. On the one hand, he was a nice guy, and he insisted on paying for the drinks (I even tried, for real; he wouldn’t let me), and he was honest about saying what he wanted. And I never felt compromised or pressured by his behavior. On the other hand… holy cow.

I gently informed him that, first-off,  “more than fuck buddies” is kind of a definition of “in a relationship,” so probably he should revisit his goals-language. Second, I said I’m in a place where I’m looking to not have sex right now. Not until I’m actually “in a relationship” – with a best friend, whom I’m in love with. (Or will be in love with, whenever I find and develop said best-friendship with whomever.)

What I didn’t point out to him is that what he was wanting from me made me feel cheap and less-than-human, like an object to be used and put back on a shelf. And, if I hadn’t gone through the long, anger-fear healing process that I’ve been through, I would’ve stopped there and wallowed in the misery of “why does he think that’s all I’m worth?”

zen - or not

I’m sooooo Zen…. NOT!

Fortunately, however, I can see past that. I mean, from what he’s shared of his personal life, he’s been through a lot the past year, and I think he’s just depersonalizing relationships so that it doesn’t hurt so much. I get that. Further, even if that’s not it, he has a right to want what he wants and to express those wants verbally, without violating anyone else’s boundaries – all of which he did. So I don’t feel any anger toward him, just a bit of frustration and sadness: for him that he’s in a place which I suspect might be a result of his grief, and for me because when I finally think it’s okay to open the door a crack, I get it slammed in my face.

At least I have my own back enough at this point to just walk away. Even if there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other fish in the sea.

Saturday night is still date-night, so the next night was back to date-night-with-myself. I really want to find someone I can snuggle up and watch a movie with, but the level of trust it’s going to take to get to that place seems insurmountable. Because trust comes with time, but it starts with respect. And right now I’m on an island, surrounded by shark-infested waters. Good thing I’m also a pirate. 😉

happy hour drinking GIF-downsized_large

We’ll be okay, as long as there’s rum


14 thoughts on “Just When I Thought It Was Safe…

  1. Good for you for telling ass grab guy how he made you feel! And I’m sorry about Mr. Casual. I’m find that a lot. Actually, I have been talking to a guy like that now. He is honest and respectful and we both know where each other stands. He doesn’t want a relationship. I don’t want casual. I expected him to stop calling/texting already because of that. It’s so confusing.

  2. Good for you for speaking up to the grabber and for telling the other guy that being that type of buddy isn’t what you had in mind. I like how you are standing up for what you want and don’t want. I’m sorry that the guys are like that. Dating has changed so much I think. Of course, I’ve still not put myself out there on the internet yet to date, but I have started to tell friends if they know of someone….so far, nothing.

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement, Janie! 🙂 Agreed: it’s rough out there. I think being set up by a friend might be cool, because they would’ve already sort of vetted the person for you. On the other hand, if things didn’t work out, you might worry about it hurting your friendship. But I would totally try, too, if one of my friends set me up. (None of mine ever have, either.) Fingers crossed for both of us, single-blogger sister! ❤

  3. First: Good for you regarding ‘ass grab guy’! Glad you had a chance to settle that with both him and yourself.

    Also, I’m so glad you’ve been able to process so much of where your emotional reactions come from, and why. It sounds as if you’re approaching those issues from a good, solid point of self awareness. That is no small gift to yourself. Nourish it.

    And finally, good on ya for getting back out there and trying. That takes courage. Give yourself the credit you deserve for that. And keep trying.

    • Thank you, Doug! It’s weird, having lived the vast majority of my life second-guessing myself and thinking that I deserved less than others, to now KNOW that my instincts are spot-on and that I don’t deserve to be treated like crap. Weird, and also pretty cool. 🙂

  4. I really wish men were up front before the date with their intentions. It sounds like he has a wall up but not ready for a relationship. I loved that you knew yourself well enough to not try and change him or excuse in yourself why he may work. That’s ballsy! I understand why your defenses are up but I would highly recommend reading Daring Bravely. You can also just listen to the podcast on the OWN network. I have it on repeat whenever I need a vulnerability reminder. Take care & happy dating ❤️❤️

    • Fortunately, it wasn’t an actual date, just a group event (where I had gfs present). I’m really glad he let me know before it even got to a dating place, where I would’ve had more emotions involved and had let my guard down more. (It took me a LOT just to get to the place where I felt comfortable flirting!) Yeah, you can’t change other people. They’re at where they’re at, and that’s okay; just walk away. I will look into that podcast, for sure – I have a long drive to and from work. Thanks, Jill! 🙂 ❤

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