This is the saddest thing I have read since I read about the poor baby elephant whose mother stomped on it. It's just so.... What is wrong with the world? Argh! Sexual Revolution, I hate you so much!
Note to men: Girls won't slap you. Women don't slap men anymore. We're afraid if we slap you, you will punch our lights out. (That said, I have been known to take that risk.)
Dear Auntie Seraphic,
I'm not really asking for advice, now that it's after the fact, so much as relating a story thinking you may have some advice to cull from it and post on your blog for other girls, since I wish I had had some (or a reminder, if you've posted on this already) beforehand!
I recently started a new job, and there was an orientation meeting for all the new hires. There was a guy there, with whom I didn't have much interaction during the meeting. But on our lunch break lunch, we both ended up at the same fast food place. He was sitting at a table nearby, and because we were supposed to sort of know each other, and because I thought it'd be nice to get to know someone, I went over to his table.
So, we chatted a bit-- the normal "get-to-know-you" stuff like where we had lived previous to our current town, previous jobs, that sort of thing...
Later, before the meeting ended, he asked if he could give me his number. He was pretty cute and seemed like a nice guy (a little over-the-top gentlemanly, even), so I took his and went ahead and gave him mine as well. I was pretty excited and flattered about it, and hoped he would call or text at least some time that week.
Well, he texted me later that evening. I was surprised, but still happy to be receiving attention from someone I would consider dating. He continued texting me over the next couple days until he said, "It would be nice to see you again," and asked me to go to dinner and a movie with him that weekend. This seems innocuous enough, but I think such a standard date may have been a small, red flag in retrospect.
Well, I was very excited. I even bought a new dress. He offered to pick me up, but I declined and we agreed to meet at the theater.
Now, I just want to remind you that I have met this person once before in my entire life, and the sum of our conversations could fit within 45 minutes, excluding texts. But the first thing he did when he saw me was hug me. I don't like being touched by people I don't know well, but I told myself that that is probably a normal thing to do, so I went with it. Then, when I turned to walk toward the ticket booth, he walked next to me and put his hand on my lower back/hip. I literally jumped and tripped because it was so surprising. But I didn't know what to do, and I didn't know if I didn't like it, or if I was just not used to it, so again, I went with it.
But, Auntie Seraphic, the boy did not [fail to] have some hand on me for more than a few seconds the rest of the night. I could barely walk. During the movie, he immediately put his arm around me and stroked my arm the entire movie. But again, I wasn't sure if I disliked it because it was objectively weird, or if I disliked it because I have deep-seeded issues with intimacy.
After the movie, we went to dinner, and it was incredibly awkward. We didn't have much to say to each other, and I was bored out of my mind. He made a comment that implied he took my taciturnity for shyness rather than boredom, which wasn't totally off base as I can be pretty shy when I am not comfortable with a person. He asked if we could get together again the NEXT DAY.
After dinner, he walked me to my car, and as we were saying our "goodnights" and "thank yous," he leaned in for a kiss. And I kissed him back. But it wasn't just a sweet peck; there was tongue. And I just kind of stood there, wondering when he was going to be done and trying to decide if I was enjoying it or not, and wondering if we were bothering the other people in the parking lot.
After I pulled away, I didn't say anything and just started to get in my car. He made the quip, "mind if I get in there with you?" and I said, "Haaah. No." And I left. I was near tears on the drive home, because I was so disappointed, and felt so guilty that I didn't like him.
He texted me later, calling me sweetheart, and asking when we could get together again. I never responded. Mostly because the next day, I had sunk into a depression coma and stayed in bed most of the day, feeling like a bad person because I didn't stop him when I should have, and wondering if there was something wrong with me for not enjoying his attention. If it needs to be said, I am not terribly experienced in formal dating. I've had boyfriends, but they always evolved naturally, out of friendship. "Dating" in the 1950s sense, is fairly foreign to me.
It wasn't until I talked to some friends who were in unanimous agreement that his behavior was objectively weird and creepy, and that he shouldn't have put me in a position where I would have had to tell him I was uncomfortable in the first place, that I started feeling less awful about it.
One friend made a great point that this guy didn't treat me like a human being who he was trying to get to know and earn the privileges he took, but he treated me like a DATE. As if he had a script for how "dates" are "supposed" to go, and just followed that. That's what I meant when I said the standard Dinner and a Movie Date was a little bitty red flag.
I don't think this guy was predatory; I think he was just confused. I ended up writing him a very succinct text telling him I would prefer not to go out with him again, because I didn't feel a spark, and because I thought he came on too strong for a first date.
So, I have definitely learned from this... Mostly, to not be so compliant, and that I don't need to fool myself into believing I enjoy attention that I only think I should enjoy. That it's okay to not be into someone who is into me, and that a bad date isn't the end of the world. But I also decided I really don't like dating. It seems so unnatural to me! I really prefer my more "European" approach to relationships that grow naturally out of friendship. I don't think I will go on a date with a stranger like that again any time soon.
Anyway, if you have any other thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
Had a Lousy Date
I am so sorry that happened to you. I think the worst part was you just allowing this stranger to keep touching you, thinking that maybe you were "supposed" to enjoy it. Nobody has the right to touch you without your permission, and it is very odd for a complete stranger to think he can do it without asking. It would be unusual (and perhaps disturbing) for a young woman to enjoy any young mn she barely knows stroking her in a dark room for two hours. And personally I really HATE the hand-on-the-back routine, which is so patronizing--the big man pushing the little lady in the direction he wants her to go.
I can't even begin to imagine what was going through the man's head, but I think your friends were right. Perhaps he wasn't thinking of you as "you" but as "A Girl." And it is indeed like all he knows about Girls is what he sees on TV and in the movies.
The story is so sad that it strikes me that many readers could profit from reading it, so I'd like to put it on the blog, if I may. I think what all girls could stand to learn is how to get out of hugging someone, and how to speak up and say, "Hey, it's a little soon for that" AS SOON AS they feel an unwanted touch. It can be so hard to do this comfortably and graciously. And your friends are right: men shouldn't put us in this embarrassing position. But who is going to tell them? Their parents? They certainly aren't going to learn it from Great God Television.
Another thought that comes to mind is that we can always say "No" to "dinner and a movie". As a first date. We can always say no, and we SHOULD say no to anything that surprises us or makes us feel uncomfortable. In future if a cute stranger asks you to "dinner and a movie" as a first date, you are well within your rights to say, "No, thank you. But what about a coffee?"
I hope this is helpful. And I hope you don't jump a mile the next time you are asked on a date in a "traditional" way. I'm not sure "dinner and a movie" is a red flag in itself--I guess it depends on the cultural context, or if the guy sounds like he got the idea out of a comic book.
Just have a game plan: ask yourself what you're comfortable with, suggest a "low time commitment" first date and hold out your hand for a handshake before anyone comes at you with a hug. Look anyone in the eye when they do something to you you don't like, and tell them you don't like it.
Again, I'm very sorry you had such an uncomfortable experience. It almost hurts me personally that your response to this unlikable guy was to feel guilty for not liking him.
Grace and peace,