I became single after being married almost six years. I grew up in a conservative Christian household so the few pre-marriage boyfriend experiences I had weren’t anything hugely informative as to what real dating is. They were more like courtship. Here I was, 27 years old and single.
I was absolutely terrified. Was I going to have sex with people? Holds hands? Should I pay for dinner? Or not? I decided to bury my head in the sand for a while. That was a wise choice because I was starting over and had a lot to figure out.
I had next to nothing and was thrown back into full-time work right away. I spent most of my days trying to perform well at work and figure out what my living situation would be like.
One of the things I tried doing with my free time to make new friends was going to groups from a website called Meetup that were based on common interests. I went to a board game group, a book club. All kinds of stuff.
I was asked out by a guy at one of the groups after I got up and sang karaoke. (FYI if you can sing, karaoke is a great way to impress ppl & maybe get a date) I’ll give him a new name here and call him Luke. I wasn’t incredibly attracted to Luke, but when I became single I told myself I’d be as open to new people and possibilities as possible. If he was showing genuine interest in me it was time to give it a shot.
So a couple of weeks later we went to a bar in Houston and had drinks. This artist guy approached me and started touching my arms because he wanted to “feel the lines” in the tattoos on them. I could see Luke was uncomfortable but instead of bailing me out he left me alone with the guy and went to the bathroom. I assumed after that I wouldn’t be asked on a second date. I was wrong.
Luke asked me to dinner. I drove over an hour through Houston right after work to where he lived. He said to meet him at his place and he’d drive us to dinner. I pulled up to: a long-term stay motel. He’d told me he hadn’t been in Houston long so I figured he just hadn’t found a place yet. Turns out he’d lived in the motel for a year because he kept resisting complete relocation to Houston. He struggled with the permanence and commitment of a lease or mortgage.
He picked an average Italian place. He kept making choices for both of us, but just penny-pinching ones “No, she won’t have a salad if it costs extra” and “Just water for both of us is fine”. He also said no to dessert. During dinner he told me how he’d been going to the meetup groups to find women. He’d planned this second date with me but had gone to a wine club event just the night before to try to meet more women. He told me a long story about how he got a scholarship for college and how much of a big deal college was for him.
I don’t have a college education and he was really hard on me for it. He said he didn’t know if he could be with someone who hadn’t been to college (not that I wasn’t smart, of course) and asked if I have plans to get a degree soon. (condescension from someone with a degree about my lack of one is a major pet peeve of mine) Then he drove us back to his motel room.
He offered me an alcoholic drink in a plastic cup, and told me to say “when” as he poured. Honestly I was not having a great time by this point so as he poured I did not stop him for a while. He stopped pouring, looked at me and said “that’s enough for you” and handed the cup to me.
That was probably the second big nail in the coffin. I was in a place where a man making choices for me was not welcome. Then he broke the news to me that while he looked young, he was in his 40s. He was almost 15 years older than me.
I tried to find out what he liked to do; what he was passionate about in life. Not much as it turns out. He was in accounting but did it more for a safe job and didn’t really like it. He played video games but didn’t love them. He played board games but wasn’t that excited about it. He chalked his lack of direction up to his dad dying almost a decade before. (A parent dying is not really second date material in my mind.)
Prior to moving to Houston he’d spent almost two years of his life sleeping on couches and not having his own place or a job. His whole life was getting an awesome standing in World of Warcraft. After hearing that I was kind of done. I am the first to say everyone has their own path in life and their own pace of living. But I wasn’t interested in a partner that’d ignore me for 3 days straight and play computer games.
So I tried for a smooth exit. I put my purse on my lap and he immediately looked at me and asked “Are you trying to leave?!” I said “Well kind of, I have a long drive home and work tomorrow morning.” He pleaded with me to stay longer and started to ask me questions about myself.
The fact that I was recently divorced came up. He asked me how I could be dating already and I told him he was actually my first date since becoming single. He acted like the combination of being recently divorced and my lack of experience with men was a deal breaker for him.
I couldn’t believe it! I was willing to work with the fact that he lived in a motel and was homeless for World of Warcraft at 40! Come on. So I really left. Before I did, he insisted I give him a big hug as I went. I was enveloped in his Axe-sprayed body and I panicked. I literally ran out of his motel room, across the outdoor walkway and down the stairs. I almost never run but I think it was a reaction to how uncomfortable I felt.
I thought for sure if I ran away from him that he would know I wasn’t interested in another date. Unfortunately that was not the case. I got a lot of text messages and voice mails over the next few weeks, asking to go on another date and filled with little bits of info about me I didn’t realize he’d remember.
After that I figured maybe being open to just anyone who showed initial interest in me was not the best plan.