Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography
Me: “How was it? Ummm, I don’t even know how to talk about it.”
Jo: “Heart sparkles?”
Me: “No. I’m disgusted. It’s going to take a while before we can laugh about this one.”
Jo: “Oh shit. That’s serious.
***Potential trigger warning, please read at your own discretion***
Coming back into the work week hot after a brilliant weekend in Whistler (not Yemen), I was reeling with life (and snow) stoke. I got back on skis for the first time in 18+ years and rocked it, I was bummed to have missed the Women’s March in Seattle, but was spending time with a bad ass group of women who knew how to own life. Still taking this “say yes” approach on in all aspects of my life, I decided to continue swiping and bumbling and see what was out there.
It’s no secret that female power seems to be not only blossoming, but flourishing. As I’ve mentioned before, dating in millennial times, although a complete and utter shit show, (much like 2016/2017 was) can be really empowering and a solid way to get to know someone’s bottom line right out of the gate. I am grateful for this, however, sometimes when you’ve decided to swipe right on the not so attractive (to you) man who sort of seemed maybe interesting, it back fires. I am going to take this time to explain that I am generally a very open-minded and open-hearted human. I accept all people, from all backgrounds, and really try to remain objective and try not to judge…some of these things, just don’t always apply to dating, you guys. With this newly garnered approach, I was putting good shit into the datingverse though, which felt important, like I was somehow boss ladying my own dating karma. It was worth a shot, okay? Don’t judge me.
Real talk though, looks matter. This blog series is titled SexLESS in the City, physical chemistry is an important thing, but so is connecting to a person’s mind. I wasn’t swiping right based on these guys being handsome/hot alone and I’ll get even more real, I avoided that kind a lot. I swiped left on guys who had pictures with their shirts off, because really? Why though? Props to the beautiful specimens of male out there, but I need more. Remember what I put in my 300 character count for likes and dislikes? Yeah, this woman has got no time for cocky, constant selfie taking, gym rat, but always skips leg day dudes that can’t carry on a damn conversation deeper than their recent binge on Netflix. So as I swiped, I was searching for substance and obviously giving it only as much thought as one can with very little information. Not everyone uses their character limit to the fullest. I came upon some not so good-looking, but seemingly decent men that went to the “right” pile. Saw some red hat wearing, Trump supporting d-bags (spoiler alert: almost all of those ones had a gym or shirtless selfie), and other hell no’s, went “left”. I also stumbled upon some Christian Grey wannabe’s advertising themselves as Dom’s looking for their perfect Sub. They added some stats on inches (I’ll let you infer), number of abs they had on their person, “my handcuffs aren’t fuzzy”, etc. with some Google image profile pics, cute. Faith in humanity dwindling, I also came across a disturbing photo of a dude who literally took the time and effort to not only come up with the idea, but execute on a photo of him lathered with soap, wet in the shower. Yes, that happened. Why? Why do people think this is a good idea? I’m not singling out men here either. I have some heterosexual dude friends and they show and tell (holler)…some of the shit that women are posting is embarrassing AF too. For the love of humanity people, STAWWWWWP. I have so much to say on this matter, but I’ll save it…there are more episodes coming. If you’re taking notes at all, write this down and file it: A strong NO applies to the “in the shower selfies” category on social media or dating apps. Stop it. Right now. Please and thank you. With the brawn on the back burner and the brains on simmer, I matched with a dude who I wasn’t really attracted to via profile photos, but his bio seemed intelligent and self aware-ish so I messaged.
After some “intellectual” exchanges, I agreed to a date. Witty banter is hard to come by these days, so if nothing else, we had that and I was in need of an adult beverage…I decided to roll with it. We made a plan to meet up for drinks after work on a Friday (I know, I broke my own “busy and important” rule) and we had messaged back and forth a bit during the day getting some preliminary information out-of-the-way. Somehow it came down to whether or not I’m a cat person or could ever be a cat person. I shared that I’m actually allergic to cats and even if I weren’t, they still wouldn’t be my thing, (inner monologue: why is this relevant? Why are we still talking about cats?) Something, something about how his cat is the best kind for non-cat folk. Ummm? Strongly feeling like I’ll be spending another Friday night at home sans bra, drinking wine for dinner, and watching Stranger Things, I was close to backing out as the sound of red flags waving in the distance echoed. Not one to hold my tongue, I made fun of the obsession a bit (because zero actual f*cks to give about your cat, bro) and although I wasn’t excited by any means, we decided to meet up anyway and Capitol Hill offered the backdrop again. Maybe I was bored, intrigued, still hanging on to hope that dating doesn’t suck, it’s hard to say this far removed from it now, but the date happened…in the name of research. I’d created a strategy for this one…close to work, they know I’m going on a date nearby, also on my way home-ish when I decide to bail. Zero worries, right? Pretty much wrong.
I got there first. SHOCKER. Sat up at the bar, started hydrating with water, and quickly texted my friend Cassie that I immediately regretted this decision. I wanted to be at home, not meeting some stranger in a new to me bar on a Friday night. Alas, I was already there. I told myself I could give it one drink and be done if necessary, there aren’t really any rules and I don’t owe anyone my damn time. Irony in the form of a bar name: Witness. Great bartenders, strong drinks, not so mind-blowing first date. I was wearing a black Angora sweater, an inherited item from my Nana, that made me feel comfortable, cozy, and a little dressed up. I had come to realize, that dressing for myself was the only way to go for wardrobe on dates. Yes, you want to look and feel nice and give a positive first impression, but also, you want to be authentic to you and feel comfortable in your own skin. He walked in, wearing glasses, fairly bearded, wearing a t-shirt with a fancy blazer over it, dad jeans, and black round toe shoes that boys in my high school wore for graduation. I could have judged him, but I was thirsty and needed a drink. The biggest thing I noticed was that he had cat hair on his coat and a receding hairline, also his round toed shoes weren’t the only round thing about him. Pretty sure my opener was something like, “Hi. I see you brought your cat with you. So now I’m allergic to you too. This is going to be great.” He laughed. We ordered.
I’ll call this one Richard* because the short hand for that name seems as fitting now as it did an hour post farewell. The date lasted four hours, no one was more surprised than me. But, plot twist! I was actually enjoying the intellectual conversation. I kept challenging myself to be in the moment and enjoy connecting with another person, discuss important issues and topics, have a couple of drinks, go home. Then came the mansplaining. You know those times when you know exactly what you want and need to do, but you don’t do it? Yeah, I latched onto this whole “open-minded” approach too hard. 2016 happened to be the year I learned how to trust my gut instincts, 2017 was the year I learned how to actually follow through.
This guy was a film director, had worked with some known names (just ask him), Anna Faris to name one and some Kristen Stewart drama was shared…no joke, he literally directed our entire date as if it were a film. Insert eye rolls here. He went as far as to say that my face “with that beauty mark and those bangs” would be “perfect on camera”. Nah, Dick* my film days are behind me. He asked me some personal questions which I declined to answer, “but can I interest you in a sarcastic comment, sir?” We shared some well-intentioned humor, more comments about film, blah, blah, blah. I started to feel like he was trying to gather intel to write his next screenplay. Through all this, he’s stating, “This is going really well” and “We’re having a great time,” like who are you trying to convince here buddy? Meanwhile, I’m drowning in my glass thinking, “Are we even on the same date?” No. When we reached about 3:46 on the time clock, I was pretty done. This guy was trying every angle (technical term here), to get into my head and probably, definitely into my pants. After much insisting that it wasn’t necessary, which I actually f*cking meant, he walked me (followed me?) to my car. Literally, I was walking ahead of him trying to hint that the night was over, time to say goodbye. I kept thinking, “I can’t wait to get home, take off my bra, eat some food, and never talk to this guy again.” Then it got worse.
I could feel him staring at me as I walked ahead of him. Calling him on it, annoyed, but still trying to be kind, “Can you stop staring at my ass? Seriously, obvious much? I’m going home…alone and we can say goodbye here.” He laughed. So I stopped, he caught up. I was prepared to thank him for coming out to meet me, hug him goodbye and be on my way. Then…he kissed me. I gave zero invitation, nary a sign through verbal, eye contact, or body language that a kiss was on the horizon for the final cut (another technical term). He took over my face. I couldn’t help but think of that episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte ends up with bruises on her chin from a dude that needs a serious lesson in kissing etiquette. “He raped my face!” she exclaimed over eggs the next morning. Not far off from how I was feeling on Harrison Street, in the chilled night air, with witnesses. I think I was in shock. It’s one thing to be spontaneous, open-minded, open to challenging yourself to be out there in the world, it’s another thing to be vulnerable and feel uncomfortable. Also worth noting, the concepts can begin opposing one another and change in an instant. I want to take a very important moment to say how grateful I am that nothing worse happened. That it was just some unwarranted kissing and I was able to get in my car and make my way safely home. I’m fortunate that’s where it ended for me. The entire drive home included feeling sick to my stomach, violated, gross, stupid…you get the idea. I had a serious case of the “what the f*ck’s?!” As I walked in my front door, he texted me saying, “last chance to send me your address.” Nah, Dick* never, bye. I’m going to Post Mates a Dick’s burger and fries (extra sauce) and because I endured your chauvinistic ass for what turned out to be four hours too long, I’m throwing in a chocolate shake too. I triple locked my doors, checked them again for peace of mind (note: he had no idea where I lived, but that’s how creeped out I was) and watched a Disney movie so I could feel innocently happy again. I feel immense gratitude that I was in a populated place, at a still early Friday night hour, strategically parked close to where I met him, in a well-lit garage, and had friends texting me throughout the date. Even though contingency plans are a modern woman’s MO, it doesn’t make male insistence, entitlement, or taking what he wants in a moment okay. Ever. At all. Never.
When I woke up the morning after my face was kissed by a man I never wanted to see again, I got mad. Like shaking, Irish blood boiling, mad. At him, at myself. Because even when you’re covering all your bases: lighting, people around, phone and keys at the ready, nothing is guaranteed. Still to this day, if I see a bearded bear of a man standing at a bus stop or walking through my local grocery aisle, I shutter and feel like I may vomit. I’ve actually felt sick to my stomach all day writing and editing this because it’s hard to rehash it, remember how violating it all felt, how I blamed myself and asked myself what I did or what signs I gave off to merit his behavior. But this series is about the real shit, as it happened, and I also had to purge it from my life. Honesty matters…so does consent; it’s f*cking important. Even for a goodnight kiss. Read the cues dudes, notice the signs. Strong, independent women, make it pretty easy for you to understand whether we’re into it or not. PSA: PAY ATTENTION. We’ve done enough breaking it down for you over the I don’t know, CENTURIES and we’re damn tired. Also, even though this post isn’t specifically about consent or the Time’s Up movement, or #metoo, can we just take a moment to feel outraged that women even have to think about lighting other than for an effing selfie? Or that we have to have our keys at the ready (knowing it’s a good go-to from college self-defense class)? Or that we need to share our locations on our phones with our amazing besties during a date? Or the added bonus of having to strategize a well populated area or surrounding areas for pre and post date commuting? It’s actually ridiculous. So for the love of all the gods, since we’re already worrying about whether or not it was even a good idea in the first place to take that “open mind/open heart” approach to set a date and stick to it, despite the fact that you’re showing up in cat hair which I’m allergic to, making a poor attempt at a directorial debut in a dimly lit bar, while I’m actively watching my drink, scanning the area and making eye contact with bartenders and other patrons so they are aware I’m in the sphere and can sense if anything really goes off…timing my bathroom breaks between drink refills, literally thinking of EVERY safety precaution in existence, can you NOT mansplain things to me or take over my face when I gave you zero hints or welcome mats to do so?! Cool! Thanks!
Mic drop. Rant over. (For now).
As my morning after melted into the afternoon, I had an appointment to see my amazing hair stylist and friend for a bang trim. Naturally I was telling her my current life story and my experience from the night before with Dick* the Director came up. Upon further details provided, she informed me that she not only knows this guy, but that her husband WORKS WITH HIM. I realize the Seattle film world isn’t LA, it’s small, but this was rich. I proceeded to tell her over uncomfortable laughter the events of our date when she was like, “Oh my god. If I had known you matched with him I would have told you to RUN!” If only. She proceeded to tell me that as far as she knew him, the “resume” he had given me and the actors he’d worked with that he named dropped were accurate (not that either of us cared), and that he seemed to her like a generally decent guy, but she knew he’d had a bit of a complicated past with his most recent girlfriend and showed a dark side. “Hallie, he literally was directing her in a movie, she broke up with him during filming, he re-wrote the script, and he killed her off.” Noted. Dick* doesn’t take criticism well. I heard from him the next day while I was still in the styling chair and all he said was, “…good talk.” Grim. Much like the night before. Passive aggression not being my strong suit, I ignored, deleted, unmatched, and took serious stock of my self-care.
Realizing that dating can be scary and confusing AF, I decided to take a recovery break. This resulted in some next level introverted behavior; wine, sweatpants, venting to my girlfriends, processing, dairy free ice cream (because food sensitivities) and lots of deep breaths. I even got back into yoga. As shitty as dating can be, it can also turn out to be the gift that keeps on giving because you know you don’t need it. You’re a f*cking woman…a warrior, a survivor of life, love, and all the crazy, beautiful adventures in between. When dating is fun, it’s worth doing. When it ceases to feel exciting and motivating, you stop for a while. Because you know you’re a catch, you know you’re worth waiting for, you know you deserve every ounce of respect possible, and you know that the nausea eventually fades. You take a look in the mirror, put on your big girl panties, and keep marching…because if Carrie Bradshaw won’t settle, then damn it, neither will you.
Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography
*Name has been changed to protect identity of former date
*If you feel called to donate to the Time’s Up fund, please do so here.
*If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or assault, find resources here.