Really, dude? They still make men like you?
I met Chad (not his real name) through OK Cupid about a year ago. He was witty and flirty, starting off by talking about my profile, which showed he actually paid some attention.
The first sentence of my profile is, “I am not looking for a hookup tonight.” Throughout my profile, I emphasize that I require a genuine connection before sexy fun times commence. “If our conversation isn’t bangin’ neither are we,” I state.
Chad took that as a personal challenge, telling me how amazing he is in bed and that he could change my mind. I just laughed and flirted back. I made no guarantees of sex on a first date. And our first date didn’t actually happen, as our schedules never synced. The texts went from flirty and borderline risque to friendly and then trickled off.
We continued to text infrequently over the year- no texts between November and January, then another break until April, then I didn’t hear from him until last week, about a year after we first matched. Finally, our schedules worked out, and we arranged to meet.
We both had the afternoon free, so we met at a coffee shop in Culver City. Over the year, I had forgotten what he looked like, but I was looking forward to meeting him. He seemed friendly and funny via text.
Chad walked up to my table, sat down without actually introducing himself, and said hi. He didn’t buy himself a coffee, nor ask me if I wanted one. To cover the awkward start to the date, I scrambled in my purse for my gift for Chad- a llama cookie I picked up earlier that day. During our year of texting we teased each other we would meet the day we got married, and a llama was part of the dowry Chad wanted. When I presented him with the ‘dowry’ cookie, he looked at it, saying, “I’m not eating that!!”, and tossed it on the table. Surprised, I picked up the cookie and asked: “Why?”
“A cookie?! Pure sugar,”, he replied.
I looked at the ingredients and said, “But it’s non-GMO sugar,” making a joke to cover my horrible misstep of bringing a sugar bomb to a first date.
He took the cookie and examined it, reluctantly opening it and taking a bite. “Hey, this is good,” he said.
After that odd beginning, the conversation continued in fits and starts. We talked about cats, death, shoes, hiking, and the hope that the Trump presidency will end sooner than later. During part of our conversation, Chad told me he didn’t like body hair on women. I said I supported women doing whatever they wanted with their bodies, and we switched topics.
Chad showed some traits I really dislike in people, such as impatience with a group of 20-somethings who congregated near the door and talked loudly for a few minutes before leaving. He also spoke about how he hates to wait in line and how he thinks pretty much everyone is rude these days and consumed by social media. This type of impatience and anger are red flags for me, yet I continued to talk to Chad, as in between the ugly traits was some fun conversation.
After only 45 minutes, and making a tentative hiking date for Saturday, Chad abruptly got up and said he was heading out. He hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and left.
I was a bit perplexed, not sure if the date went well or not, and not sure if I wanted to see him again or not. I was favoring giving him another chance, as we had a year of texting under our belt, and he had seemed so charming via text.
A few hours later he texted me.
“Well, what do you think? What time should I come over tonight?”
I was sort of glad he texted, and replied: “Oh LOL, it’s three dates before you get to come over.”
He sent back, “Do you even remember our previous conversations?”
Thinking I had forgotten some conversation where I had rashly promised him that he could see my apartment, I replied: “No, I guess I don’t?”.
Chad asked if he could call me in a few minutes, and I acquiesced, thoroughly confused. Before calling, Chad helpfully sent a screenshot of a conversation we had over a year ago. In the text, I stated I don’t sleep with men on the first date unless there is a significant emotional connection (which means, of course, I never sleep with men on the first date). He replied that he has a perfect cock and is excellent in bed with fantastic stamina.
I clearly stated I don’t sleep with men on a first date, and he talked about his great cock. I continued talking to him for a year, so in his mind, obviously, I was planning on sleeping with him on today’s coffee date.
Still a bit confused, I answered the phone when he called. Chad was no longer the funny, personable, easy-going text guy. He had morphed into every guy from my high school years, trying to pressure me into sex.
He started off immediately: “Do you not remember these conversations?” I said no, and continued on that regardless of what I said in a flirty text exchange 12 months ago, I don’t sleep with guys on the first date. I have a three-date rule.
“What?!”, he exclaimed, raising his voice. “You have bought into societal roles — you are a pawn of society.”
I explained that I want to make sure I like the person I am sleeping with, so I have a three-date rule.
“That is what sex is for,” he replied and again, helpfully explained that if I don’t like the person, I just don’t see them again.
“No. I don’t want to have sex with someone I don’t like so I need time to get to know someone.” I was uncomfortable with the conversation, but I didn’t end it, didn’t get upset, didn’t raise my voice.
Chad started talking in a tone that implied he was reasonable and I had only to understand what he was saying. “Oh, I’m a nice guy, I’m not like every other guy, I’m not gonna hit it and quit it.”
I laughed as he definitely did not understand what I was saying. “I am not concerned about that, I want to make sure that I want to see you after we have sex.”
He sounded exasperated, “We have to have sex to figure that out, don’t you know this?” He went onto say that we texted for a year. I should know if I want to have sex with him.
“No, people are different in person,” I replied. I did not point out: For example, you are obviously an asshole, and yet you fooled me for a year via text.
Then he escalated, saying I led him on by flirting with him for a year. In fact, he complained loudly, last week I made a blowjob joke!
I replied, “Yes, yes, I did.” Still calm, still trying to see the humor in the situation, and still not telling him to fuck off.
He pointedly reminded me of our conversations where I said I was seeing someone and wanted to see others casually. Isn’t that what I said, he accused? I agreed, that yes, I have two people I see regularly, and that doesn’t negate my three-date rule.
Then he stated that he got plenty of sex and didn’t need sex. And to hit him up if I wanted to get together tonight.
I replied that I had plans tonight.
“No, you don’t!” He laughed disparagingly.
“Yes, I have plans tonight, and I have plans Saturday night, but I am available for a hike on Saturday afternoon like we planned,” I replied. Still calm.
And that was the end of the conversation.
Later, I was furious at myself. If I am a pawn of societal roles, it is definitely the societal role that taught me to placate men at all costs. To try to calm down upset men, to make allowances for their bad behavior, and to accept the pressure to have sex with grace and good humor.
I should have shut down the date at the first red flag I saw — his impatience with totally normal behavior. If not, then I should have shut down the phone conversation the moment he didn’t respect my boundaries, and again when he raised his voice.
Instead, I allowed him to bully me. He showed up with receipts of my flirtatious behavior and expected me to say, “Ohhhh, you are right, let’s fuck.” I didn’t give in, but I allowed the conversation to go on far too long, and I allowed his unacceptable behavior to continue.
I remember clearly the last time I was told I led someone on. I had gone on a date with a boy who persistently asked me out for months. I finally said yes, and the date ended with him asking, demanding, and then begging for a kiss. When I refused, he angrily told me how I led him on for months (we worked together, and I talked to him daily) and eventually screamed what a bitch I was because he deserved a kiss for driving me home. I was 18, and the boy was 19.
20+ years later, 39-year-old Chad is exhibiting the same behavior. Why does this behavior continue? Why are women eternally carrying the responsibility for de-escalating situations?
When will I, personally, learn to walk away at the first red flag?
Audrey Zetta is a writer living in LA. You can connect with her on twitter @sweetandzesty