Hey Datealong Gang, let's talk boundaries.
What is appropriate, and what is safe, when you're dating someone new? What is inappropriate or unsafe?
Example 1: On OKC, after a date has been agreed upon, I have had a couple of guys offer me their phone number and then ask "what's yours?" (And a couple have just given me theirs without asking for mine.) Maybe this is common practice in online dating? But I just don't feel comfortable giving my phone number to someone I've exchanged a couple messages with online. What do you think?
The other day I broke things off with Flavor of the Moment. I did it via Facebook chat. Yes, ha ha, let's all have a good laugh at that. But that and text has always been our primary means of communication. So fb chat, as usual, was funky and slow and it was hard to tell how well my message ("I would like a relationship, you wouldn't, so let's call the whole thing off") got across. But I know he got at least that much. He then signed off completely and texted me saying he was going out, but maybe we could talk in person later in the week? Having a face-to-face convo was what I wanted to do in the first place, actually, and I resorted to chat because I didn't know when I'd see him and things were just dragging out, so I said sure.
The next day (yesterday) he texted and said he could come over to my place for tea that evening, if I was free. I said okay but suggested a later time. Later, but still a couple hours before we were supposed to meet (and not coincidentally, as I was leaving my therapist's office), a thought occurred to me: why was this man who I just broke things off with coming to my house? Maybe I should alert a friend that this was going on so they could expect to hear from me. But something else kept nagging at me: the fact that every time he had ever walked me home (I guess four times?) he came in to use the bathroom, and I think he only asked permission that first time. The other times, he walked me to my door and then said "I'm going to come in and use your bathroom" and walked in with me.
Which could, in all fairness, be indicative of nothing but a tiny bladder. But still, it kept nagging at me---this is a guy who had gotten into my home three times now without waiting for my invitation, and now he was coming over to be in my home, alone, where I would tell him we would no longer be fooling around. Which, as memory serves, I had already TOLD him. What exactly were we going to be talking about again? And why was this a conversation we needed to have at my house?
I will reveal myself here as a Gift of Fear devotee---this is the kind of situation de Becker points out over and over in his book, and says "you knew you felt uncomfortable, but you walked into this situation anyway. Why?" He stresses *trusting* those little twinges of thought and instinct instead of dismissing them as paranoia.
So, I thought, why don't I ask him to meet me at a coffee shop instead.
Except that he would probably STILL walk me home, and probably once again gain entry to my apartment to use the bathroom.
Stop it, says brain. You and this guy have fooled around in your apartment before, and you said no to "going all the way" (do the kids still say that?), and he accepted it. If he had wanted to pressure or try to force you into sex, he could have done so, easily.
But just because he didn't try it before doesn't mean he won't try it this time.
Feeling on the spot, I did a dumb thing and made up a lie. I texted him with a story about a plumbing emergency (see? because then even if he DID walk me home, he couldn't use the bathroom, eh? eh?) and named a cafe we could meet at.
His response was that now he felt like a beer.
So, the situation had now gone from "we are done fooling around" to "we are done fooling around but he is going to come over to my house" to "we are done fooling around but he wants to take me out and get me drunk."
During this mental process stuff I had called a friend (a GOOD friend) who very bluntly pointed out that I was AGAIN making plans to go out with this person who had made me feel disrespected and objectified, and that I now felt the need to make up a lie because I did not trust him not to attempt to pressure or force me into sex. Oh, well, when you put it that way.
I canceled; I called and left him a voice mail saying I would not be going out that night, but if he wanted to talk more he should call me, but that really there were no hard feelings, we just wanted different things, and that was fine and I'd see him on the way to work Thursday. His response? He was disappointed, because he really wanted to see me that night. Call me crazy but I kind of doubt his disappointment sprung from the fact that we were not going to have a thorough debriefing on why we did not work romantically and how we were totally just gonna be friends now and not mess around anymore. Sounds more like he thought he was gonna get some.
And it really freaks me out how close I was to walking right into that situation. I LIKED the guy---which of course means I had a decent amount of trust in him, and that made it that much harder to allow myself to listen to my "paranoid" instincts. Yikes.
I'm not saying I think the guy's a rapist. But I do know that little bells were going off in my head that this person was pushing for more than the situation (post-facebook-chat-break-off-debriefing?) really warranted. And maybe he did not plan to use FORCE per se but I could certainly see him making a move, perhaps one motivated by the knowledge that this was probably his "last chance" (ahem, it was NOT a chance), and might not take no so easily this time.
Thoughts on that whole thing, I'd love to hear 'em.