One of the first few dates I went on was with an English bloke who worked and lived in the city. I met up with him after work one evening for drinks and was cripplingly nervous after my turbulent beginnings back on the dating scene. I arrived early, as I always do to anything; whether it be for work or a social event, and had an espresso martini (another habit of mine) to help settle myself whilst impatiently waiting for my date to arrive. He was a bit late, said hello and proceeded to the ATM (couldn’t he have done that earlier during the day?) and then to the bar. We talked, laughed, and shared more drinks than I’d like to admit for a Tuesday night. As the night wore on, and clichés ensued, we drew closer and shared a sneaky kiss or two. I was, however, adamant that I did not want to go home with him after the first date given my experience with my first Tinder date (maybe it IS all about just sex!). I eventually relented and agreed to go back to his for some wine once the bar we were at closed, but under the strictest condition that he was to not try anything on me that night.
He rents a really quaint little one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the Melbourne CBD with a gorgeous view of the city lights. We shared a bottle of Chardonnay and continued to chat and learn more about each other and I thoroughly enjoyed how much he was very clearly interested in me. After a while though, I noticed that the bottle of wine was emptying quickly and that I hadn’t had an awful lot of it to drink and neither of us had had any dinner. My date was becoming more and more intoxicated with alcohol and with me. He became more confident and was getting more adventurous with where he was putting his hands and was kissing me with greater fervour. I was feeling more relaxed and questioning whether it was such a bad idea to sleep with him on the first date. As my internal dispute raged on, I pulled back and focussed on chatting to him more.
He began to open up to me and every now and then I would catch a glimmer of sadness mixed with trepidation in him, which he would promptly shake off by either kissing me again or redirecting the conversation. Once I had noticed this a few times I decided to call him out on it as I’m a firm believer of honesty, especially on the first date when you’re trying to get to know someone – there’s no point in hiding things and pretending to be someone you’re not and avoiding talking about particular aspects of yourself or your past as you can end up misleading the other person and they could fall for the person you pretend to be. Given his behaviour, I was unsurprised to learn that he was still hung up on his ex. I made sure to be compassionate and patient as he told his story of lost love and stared blankly at the wall across from us. Once he finished divulging the ins and outs of his previous relationship he snapped out of his daze and remembered that I was there and was apparently some kind of stepping-stone to move forward and away from his past. He kissed me hard, yet passionately and took me by surprise. I pulled away; confused by how our previous conversation had managed to reignite some kind of flame into what was a very dwindling, almost extinguished connection between us. I was busily trying to process and sort through what he had told me, along with my own reservations about sex on the first date and I could feel my judgement being hindered by the amount of alcohol I had consumed that night. So I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind, “What’s my name?” He couldn’t answer me. He avoided it. He said it didn’t matter and that I was there now, not his ex. I said it most certainly did.
I collected my things as quickly as I could and began to leave his place in a huff, despite his protestations, that soon turned to pleading and eventually to begging. He told me that he hadn’t slept properly in months; he just wanted to share a bed with a woman again – just to cuddle and just to get some sleep. I felt sorry for the poor bloke, whether what he was saying was true or not, he was clearly hurting. I softened a bit and didn’t leave so hastily, but I did excuse myself once he finally became okay with letting me go (not just figuratively, either).
I’m ashamed to say that this wasn’t a first-and-only date with this boy; I went back for more about a week later, but that’s a story for another time. I was at least starting to learn that I have some kind of conscience and a shred or two of morality when it comes to dating and sex and navigating the complicated histories of two people as they begin to intermingle. The difficulty is figuring out exactly where I sit on the spectrum of dating. From nun to sex worker, there’s a vast range of dating styles that lie in between and I knew I had to try to define myself on that scale in a manner that I am comfortable with. This is a process that is very confronting to begin with, but one that remains dynamic as I mature and become more atoned to my own needs and sense of self-worth.
This post was inspired by the prompt, ‘Say your Name’: