Around the time I was rebounding from a very serious relationship, Carl* was the first guy I met. I’ve often cited our first date as the worst first date of all time, but despite that, I still went on to (seriously) date the guy. Almost two years after we decided to part ways, I finally found the courage to let him in on the asshole he in fact is.
My breakup with the personal trainer was hard. Most people laugh when I tell them I dated a personal trainer at all, but it was the most serious relationship I’d ever been in. I rebounded hard and fast and in doing so, I met an angry European artist via OKCupid. We connected over the app on a Sunday morning and by Sunday night after I was walking home from a very average date at a local pub on quiz night, decided to meet the following day for a drink or two.
I didn’t know a great deal about the guy. Usually I let a few days of chatting online pass before meeting anyone in person. Ultimately I try to ensure he’s not a total psycho and I will live to see another day. I didn’t do that with Carl for some reason. So that Monday night we met outside Angel station. Things went downhill almost immediately. As I walked up to him I noticed he was about my height if not shorter. Ugh..annoying, but not the end of the world. I also mispronounced his name right away.
As we started walking (I on the inside of the road, him on the outside), he physically moved me to the outside. For a moment, I thought he was being polite. There’s a strange British custom of allowing a lady to walk on the inside of the road with the implication that should a horse and buggy speed by, the lady’s dress will be prevented from being splashed with mud. No, no. He did not move me to the inside of the road. He moved me to the outside. And when I asked why he did that he said: “My ex-girlfriend and I always walked like this, so it’s what I’m used to” or something ridiculous to that effect. I have a general rule of thumb. It involves not mentioning exes for at least the first few dates. This guy did not have that same rule of thumb.
We went to a small craft beer bar yards away from the station. As we walked up to the barman to order, Carl blurted out, “Just so you know, I don’t pay on dates. I’m a feminist”. “Okay,” I said. “I’m totally fine with that.” Especially when it comes to online dating, I could not agree more. The last thing I’d ever want is the expectation of owing a date anything.
So, I pulled out my card, and he says: “What are you doing? I’ll get this round. You can get the next one.” Perplexed at the fact that he shamed me for trying to pay immediately after telling me he doesn’t pay, I put my card away. Once the drinks were served, we grabbed a booth.
The date got off to a horrendous start and it didn’t get much better as the night wore on. At one point he asked me if my hair was naturally curly (I’d just gotten a Brazilian Blowout the day prior and my hair was unnaturally flat, save a few short hairs at the front). When I said yes, he was like “I knew it. Your hair is a different texture at the roots.” Subtle. He then told me that his ideal relationship would be open and closed in an ebb and flow pattern – basically to suit whatever mood he was in – and then went on to ask how much I made. I would later discover this was an intriguing question for him to ask as I began to realize in the time I knew him that he didn’t have an income to speak of and that he was supported by his very affluent family from outside of Brussels.
I’m unsure as to why, but I expected him to walk out of the date at any point because it was going that badly. It’s strange looking back in retrospect and reflecting on that. I was the offended one, but I expected him to walk out and I was praying that he wouldn’t. Not because I liked him, but because I was that adverse to rejection. To me this speaks volumes about my self-esteem at that point. It was likely to do with the trauma I’d suffered at the hand of my ex. Although this is not something I plan on going into at length on this blog, I will say I did end up in six months of psychotherapy for what had taken place in the days prior to this disastrous date. Needless to say, I took his rudeness as quirkiness and gave him a completely undeserved pass for his obnoxious behaviour.
As we walked to the station, I could have taken either the tube or the bus. He needed the bus. I did gently point out the date was somewhat subpar, and he invited me to join him on the bus to discuss it. This is where things got interesting. Although I was fully ready to write him off as soon as he got off at his stop, he said he was going to do something to shock me. In that moment he grabbed me in my seat on the bus and kissed me harder and more passionately than ever before. It was intense but probably more so because I thought the date had gone so badly.
We kissed the whole length of the bus route. And because my stop was the last, we got off at mine and he spent the night. I generally do not allow first dates to end in bed, but because by that point I decided I was never going to see him again I made an exception.
But see him again I did. More often than is healthy for any relationship. We began to spend almost every night together. Things went from zero to co-dependant in days. Although I was the one with the real job and he regularly slept in until noon, we still spent more time at his than at mine. Adding an extra commute to my journey into work was my choice however, and I put up with it. There was a certain salty/sweet combination about him that drove me wild. When we would meet, I never knew what side of him I would get. The thrill of never knowing was intoxicating.
When we would meet, I never knew what side of him I would get. The thrill of never knowing was intoxicating.
Things were great for a couple of months. He was the most intense guy I’d ever dated and would out right ask me if I was in love. I would laugh the question off but looking back, I may very well have been. I’ll ask the reader to recall his statement about his perfect relationship: one that opens and closes with the passing of time, so he’s not bored. Something unusual we used to do was Skype. Although we lived less than 30 minutes by public transport away from one another, there were nights I’d stay up until 4am video chatting with him. Our longest conversation lasted 5hrs.
During one of these late night conversations, he mentioned he’d had coffee with a 22-year-old photographer. She seemed into him, he said with surprise. So I asked: “How did you meet her?” full-well knowing he couldn’t have met her at work. “Tinder”, he replied. I lost it.
We broke up the next day in person. Although I still felt strongly for him, I knew any guy that keen on going on dates with girls he’d never met before over spending time with me was not a suitable match. We staggered how often we spoke and within six months, we completely stopped speaking. Nothing specific happened, but on my end, I was over him as a person. Not being sexually involved with this type of sociopath took the fun out of knowing him at all.
Months later I heard from him on my birthday. He wished me, I asked how he was, he asked if I was still writing. I said I was, it was what I did for a living, and he said “No, I mean writing for yourself.” I didn’t respond to that. How could I ever expect a man that doesn’t take home a pay cheque to understand that some people get paid for the work they do for themselves (I often freelance for fashion publications). Still the same old Carl!
Another half a year passed by and I wished him on his birthday. He thanked me and like a goldfish I decided to forgive and forget the past. I told him we should meet up for drinks sometime. He agreed. A week later we planned dinner on a Thursday.
Before even seeing him I should have known it would have been a disaster. We couldn’t even agree on a restaurant. Finally we walked into a ramen place (I hate ramen, but the place looked cute). As soon as we sat down I mentioned I wouldn’t be drinking because I could no longer handle alcohol on weekdays the way I used to. “I’m getting old,” I said. He retorted with: “You are old,” and asked me how old I was now. When I told him he said, “How is that possible? You’re older than me. That’s how old I am.” Just for the record I’m 33 years old. So is he. I’m not insecure about my age so that’s why I know he was being an asshole about it. Also, he’s not a year younger than me. He’s six months younger. Maybe he should count our age difference in hours. He might find that more satisfying.
As dinner went on, he asked what I was doing for work. I recently started at a fashion retailer at an executive level. He asked how I managed to get that job. I calmly told him I’d applied, they interviewed me, I did a test, they interviewed me again and then offered me the job just like any company would do. It was a dick way to ask about your dinner date’s career progression, but what did I expect from someone with no viable career to speak of?
He then asked if I got back together with my personal trainer ex. I began to get upset as to this day I find mention of him triggering. I made him change the subject but he stubbornly refused. I finally firmly told him “I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT”. The truth is, although I definitely have not gotten back together with the ex, I’ve seen him around my neighbourhood on a number of occasions. I had no interest in talking to Carl about this, particularly because no matter how hard he tries to make it so, it’s none of his business.
We then began to talk about everyone around us having children. Being in our early thirties, this isn’t hugely shocking. I made mention of the fact that I was unsure if children were for me. I would look at my friends who had children and felt no ounce of envy of their situations. It’s also alarming that one by one my girlfriends were giving up their careers to be full-time stay at home mothers. Of course being the money-minded (nay, obsessed) guy he is, he asked in disbelief how they could afford that. I told him I ran in wealthy circles. But on that note, so did he. He was a part of my wealthy circle. Not everyone can afford to lead the falsetto career of a filmmaker living in central London.
I firmly looked him in the eye and said, “Fuck you.”
It was at this point he pivoted back to my age and told me if I wanted kids I’d better decide fast as I had one more year to do so. That’s when I lost my damn mind. I firmly looked him in the eye and said, “Fuck you.” I proceeded to tell him off about how he was being rude. I cited all of the above and even recalled the sidewalk push from our first date. He defended that saying it was weird not rude and I retorted saying it was downright offensive. Then told me that I was going crazy and that “he was worried”, to which I responded: “Stop gas-lighting me!!! You’ve always been a total asshole but this is the first time I’m calling you out on your bullshit. The difference between now and when we were dating is that then I wanted you to like me. Now I don’t give two shits what you think about me. I’m tired and overworked right now and the last think I need is to be sitting across from someone as tackless as you,” I turned to the waitress, “check, please. I had the ramen and the tea.” I would not be splitting the bill with this mofo especially because he ordered way more than I did. I also knew being as cheap as he is, that move would brother him.
I paid my bill and walked out. He followed me to the main road and I said cooly, “see ya” to which he responded, “no you won’t”. And I was like “You’re right.”
To this day I can’t decide if I over or under reacted given the situation. But I will say this. I was restrained in the profanity I hurled his way.
*Name changed to protect his privacy. He should consider himself lucky.