When I first started talking to people on the online dating apps I was very clear about my intentions. I had just gotten out of a very unhealthy marriage and I was looking to meet people to spend time with, but I was not looking for anything serious. My children would always come first and given the option between spending time with a stranger and spending time with my children…. my children would always win. Hands down.
I started talking to (what seemed like) a very nice man. He seemed considerate and kind and he made me smile when he messaged me. Soon I gave him my cell phone number and we began to talk through text message. Looking back I could see the red flags that something was not right, but in the moment I didn’t pick up on them. (As is the theme of my romantic history)
A few times during our conversations he alluded to things being serious between the two of us. I reminded him that I wasn’t looking for anything serious at this point in my life and he brushed it off saying that he knew that and that he was just joking. Instead of paying attention to these signals that he was giving me, I took him at face value and didn’t think about it again.
We met up for a very quick meet and greet one night. He was a very tall, bald man with military experience. Currently he was employed as a police a few towns over. We were only out for a few hours but the conversation seemed to flow, so when he asked me to go on a second date with him I agreed.
At first it seemed like a nice date. We went out to eat at a nice restaurant and afterwards we went to a bar down the street. Everything seemed to be going well until he put his arm around me, pulled me towards his body and said, “Mine” in a deep, guttural voice.
Ummmm…. what?! He sounded like a caveman. “What do you mean mine?” I asked him. I can only imagine the look I must have had on my face. He just repeated the word, “Mine” with his arm still firmly around my shoulders. I tried to stay calm, but I immediately began to feel uncomfortable. However, once again, I didn’t pay attention to what my body was screaming out at me. I didn’t pay attention to the way this man was making me feel. Instead I tried to understand his thinking and make him understand mine.
“I’m sorry. I thought I was pretty clear about this… but I’m really not looking for a relationship right now. My divorce was just finalized.” He started to argue with me and mentioned that his divorce wasn’t finalized that long ago either. It had only been a year since he had gotten divorced.
Here is when I should have stood up and left…. but I didn’t. There is no reason that I had to explain or justify myself to this man. I told him how I felt. Those were my feelings. That should have been enough. But instead I found myself sitting there and explaining, “Yes… but my divorce was finalized days ago.”
Suddenly his eyes filled with tears and he curled up into a ball at the edge of the bar. I had no idea what he was doing. The entire situation was so bizarre. I leaned over and said, “Are you ok? I don’t understand what’s happening right now.” He proceeded to start crying and said, “You don’t want to be with me!”
Looking back, I’m lucky I’m alive. This man was obviously unbalanced. I obviously did not pay attention to the signs that were right in front of my face. Now I was stuck in a bar with a giant, bald police office (which means he has a license to bear arms) sobbing in the fetal position because I didn’t want to be in a serious relationship with him… on our second date.
“I don’t know what to do right now.” I uttered feeling overwhelming discomfort. “Just leave!” he muttered between sobs. Well I didn’t need to be asked twice. I said, “Ok. Bye.” and ran out of there like a bat out of hell.
Just like every interaction with John, I ignored all of the negative signs that would indicate that this man was mentally unwell and ended up in a frightening situation. Now that a year has passed I can look back at this memory and laugh at the awkwardness of sitting next to a man twice my size while he cried because I didn’t want to be his girlfriend on date number two…. but I also know that I am very lucky that I didn’t get hurt that night. It could have ended very differently than it did. It was glaringly clear that I have so much more to learn about myself and the world.