DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I need some advice, um obviously. It’s like this. I have recently started dating again, for the first time in two years. And I’ve so far gone the route of dating apps.
I met a man for a first date the other day (actually my first date in two years) and we had a connection which led to some making out and me staying at his, no sex though. I tried to be clear about not wanting to be in a relationship again right now and about talking to other guys on OKCupid, but he kept pushing me. Wanting me to say that I wouldn’t meet the other guys or that I would only have sex with him if we had sex, and that we would have sex. The weird thing is that I am pretty inexperienced, 4 partners total, and so it is really unlikely that I’m going to just go out and have a bunch of sex with anyone right away. I guess looking back there was a lot of weird boundary pushing after getting back to his place.
So before we left the pub I agreed to a second date. And then all the stuff in the above paragraph happened and I felt like maybe I didn’t want a second date after all. He kept bringing up sex and it turns out he’s kinky, which is 100% fine, but I’m not kinky, like at all, and it just seemed like the more we talked about that the more I realized we were not at all compatible. But I still didn’t back out of the second date.
To be honest I didn’t feel like I could say no to a second date in person because I felt like there would be a lot of push back. And boy was there. He called me that day and texted me a couple of times trying to set up another date that night, but I had already told him, when we were trying to arrange the first date that I had a lot of work, which is true, so I couldn’t squeeze it in anyway.
When I finally just told him I wasn’t up for a second date anymore I got a lot of questions texted back to me. I know I should have told him right away, but I guess I kept thinking that I was changing my mind too fast, that I wasn’t giving him a fair chance. But I can’t invent compatibility so I did tell him about 24 hours after the end of our first date that I couldn’t go out again.
So my question is really this: what do I do about these texts? The first one asks why I changed my mind, the second one asks what if it wasn’t a date and the third one says that he’s not really that surprised, that I was very clear about “wanting to meet others.” I haven’t responded to any of these messages because I don’t think he’s going to listen no matter what I say. So is that the right thing to do or was there something I should have said? And at what point should I have known that I didn’t want to see him again? I mean I don’t think I’ll go back to someone’s place again, but should I not kiss them either? I feel like it might have been the making out that made him attach himself to me so fast.
Anyway, any advice you have would be great.
DEAR RE-DATING: Hey, Re-Dating? I hope you can forgive me, because I’ve got something of a larger point to make about socialization and I’m about to use you as an example. I promise we’re going to get back to your question, just stick with me for a minute.
Guys, whenever I talk about how women are socialized to put others’ needs – especially men’s – over their own? This is an example of what I’m talking about. RD goes out with a guy who gets insanely clingy after just one date, who’s ignoring her boundaries, and is insisting that she justify why she won’t go out with him again… and she’s wondering what SHE did wrong. She’s wondering how SHE led HIM on, as though she’s somehow responsible for his issues or his responses.
And people wonder why I’m so down on rigid gender roles.
RD, here’s the thing you need to understand: you didn’t do anything wrong. Making out with a dude on the first date? Totally kosher. Going back to his place: also cool, assuming you’re into it, you’ve got decent Spidey-sense and he’s not giving you the creeper vibes. Establishing that you’re just looking to date? Go you, you know what you want and you’re not just leaping into the first potential relationship that comes along. Decided that you don’t want a second date? Again, you’re doing great; agreeing to a second date isn’t a binding contract or a blood-oath. You’re not required to go on a date against your will. Cancel the date with as much lead-time as possible, if at all possible, and be polite about it.
(Guys: this goes for you too.)
But here’s the thing: THOSE are all your responsibilities. You’re not responsible for how he responds or how quickly he decides he’s gotten attached to you, nor do you owe him an explanation for why you don’t want to see him again. And, quite frankly, the “I don’t want to” is the ONLY reason you need. If you aren’t feeling it or you’ve changed your mind, that’s a perfectly legitimate reason to decide to cancel. You don’t need to provide a thesis as to why, you don’t need to run your explanation before the High Council of Dating. You just have to decide that nah, you’re not interested in seeing him again.
(And again: guys, this also applies to you.)
From everything you’ve said, you were up-front about what you had to offer, what you were up for and what your availability would be. Meanwhile, lover-boy… whooo, man, he takes the taco. During your first date he’s pushing for exclusivity and demanding that you promise that you’re going to f
k him. I realize you’ve been off the dating market for a while but that behavior? So very not cool. He was waving more red flags than a military parade in Tiananmen Square. At the most generous reading, he’s showing insanely low emotional and social intelligence and has a hard time respecting boundaries and understanding social mores, which means he’s not exactly dating material to start with. At worst… well, frankly, pushing for exclusivity that quickly is often a sign of a potential abuser; they’re trying to lock you into a relationship before you have time to recognize that something might be wrong.
Right now though, you’re letting the bulls
t conditioning that says women are somehow responsible for managing men’s emotional lives tell you that you’re at fault for his s
tty behavior. You are not. You didn’t lead him on. You weren’t giving mixed signals. You didn’t “move too fast” or “take too long” to change your mind about how you felt. The problem was there’s something wrong with HIM.
So here’s what you do now: you block his number and you forget about him. He’s a s
tty date that you’ll laugh about later with your friends over drinks when you’re swapping horror stories. As for your next dates… you do what feels right to you and at a pace you’re comfortable with. If you’d rather not go back to somebody’s place on a first date, I could hardly blame you after this experience; I could totally understand wanting to take a bit more time to be sure that you trust them and that there’s some genuine chemistry and compatibility there. Somebody who’s worth dating is going to respect your boundaries and limits. Someone who’s not on the same page as you – but is emotionally healthy and socially intelligent – will move on to find somebody else, not push and push and push at you to get what he wants.
But you need to keep in mind: YOU are not responsible for how THEY respond. If they get weird, that’s their problem, not yours.
Good luck, RD. There’re better guys out there than that.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com