It was back in February of 2014. I had just started dating The Ex and I was also still dating another man we’ll call Poly Guy. Poly Guy (PG) and I had been dating for about a year and a half, and our relationship was kind of falling apart a bit when I met The Ex. Shortly after this PG and I would break up and I’d be monogamous with The Ex for almost two years. But this is a story for another post. This post is not about that.
This post is about an accidental date I once ended up on in the midst of this.
I have heard friends of mine claim, mostly when we were younger, that they accidentally ended up on a date. I never quite understood how this was possible until it happened to me.
I had just found out that I had won a Teaching Fellowship at the university I was (and still am) attending. I wanted to celebrate, but none of my friends were around, PG lived in a small town 2 hours away at the time, and The Ex already had plans.
So, I went down to a monthly poly cocktails event that happens in Toronto, on my own. And this is not a thing I normally would do, but I was feeling like celebrating and like I didn’t expect anything to come out of this night. And it was great and I ended up talking to a slew of people and meeting some folks and having some lovely conversations and it was great. And I think I was just so full of excited, confident energy that night that I think I just sort of ended up accidentally flirting with people, or sending out some sort of energy because a few people expressed interest but at the time I was dating two people and that was maxing out all my time so I was pretty clear about that, but this guy (let’s call him A) was like ‘hey we should just like hang out and chat more and get coffee’ and silly me I thought I’d been clear I wasn’t interested in dating anyone else at the time (like when I had explicitly said that, oh, three or four times) so I was all naively like ‘sure why not’, and so I gave him my email address (because fuck phone numbers I do NOT give out my phone number to just anyone). And a few days later or something he emailed me and we decided to hang out for coffee.
I showed up at the cafe to hang out with this guy, and I don’t even know how to explain it other than to say that he had his DATE FACE on. Like, he had (was trying to have?) swagger and just I don’t even know how to explain it exactly but he was being datey. I might do a post at some point about the ways in which my ability to read body language, while I was always pretty good at it, have been fine tuned and honed by years of SO MANY DATES but yeah. This was a date.
So anyway then I had to sit there awkwardly for almost two hours (why? WHY? I WOULDN’T DO THIS ANYMORE but this was still back when I felt like I should ‘be nice’ idk) making polite conversation with this man who was a) trying too hard to impress me and b) spent a large portion of our conversation complaining about his wife? Like, it was unpleasant. And when I mentioned that I write theatre reviews sometimes he basically invited himself to them, saying how much fun we’d have seeing theatre and talking about it, and this is yet another phenomenon I’ve notice in dating, when men tell you how things between you will play out between you in a way that I just don’t really get what that is about or where that comes from. Because… that’s not how this works. That’s not how desire works. That’s not how friendship works. That’s not how dating works. That isn’t how any of this works, guys. Usually this happens with men (I mean, maybe women are like this too but I don’t often date women so I don’t really know) who have been married for a long time? Like, it’s as though they are just so used to having a fully formed relationship, that they don’t really know what a burgeoning relationship looks like, or something. That it’s a back and forth, it’s a process of gauging desire and interest and the other person’s judgement and figuring out reciprocity and the nature and level of that reciprocity. It’s sometimes a long process, and it takes patience, and good judgement, and being attuned to the other person, and these guys just want to bulldoze over all of that and just get to the later stages. And it’s in some ways understandable, I guess, if you’re just used to that, but it’s unsettling, to say the least, to be on the receiving end of that, and to be asking like, ‘hello? do I get a say here in how this is going to go?’ because the answer seems to be: no, not really, not without all the work that it takes to push back against that.
And this is unsurprising, from this guy, to be honest, because there I was, after saying that I did not want to go on a date with anyone I wasn’t currently dating, ON A BLOODY DATE. And so yeah this is not someone who was winning me over in any capacity, because he has already shown me that he is manipulative, that he doesn’t listen to what I say I want or need, and that his desire matters more than mine. Like, NOPE to that. All of the nope to that.
Anyway at some point I managed to make my excuses and head out and the next time he emailed me I told him I’d be busy for the next while but that I would email him.
I never did.