Welcome to 29 Dates, where we explore the weird, wild and sometimes wonderful world of dating — one date at a time.
How I felt when I was with him that one night took two years to get over.
We met on a work trip. He was 12 years older than me. We were staying in the same hotel and spent an evening in the steam room with a bottle of wine. Not touching, just chatting.
It seemed that every woman on the trip liked him, yet he’d chosen me. He listened to what I said and would come and find me among the crowd. I’d never had that kind of attention from someone so confident and assured.
Anyone who knew him told me not to go on a date with him and that if I did, not to sleep with him.
I ignored them, even shrugging when I heard his nickname was ‘octopus arms’ because he was overly tactile with women.
The first words he said when we met again for a drink in a small, dimly lit bar in Soho were: “I’m really nervous, all day I’ve been thinking about seeing you again.”
The date was like being led around a ballroom by a trained dancer. He finished off jokes we’d started via text, remembered my dad’s name from a previous conversation and never once looked over my shoulder.
He assumed an intimacy normally earned over months, proprietarily putting his arm around my shoulders at the bar, placing his head on my belly after sex and complimenting me on the moles dotting my leg.
There was never another date.
His text messages kept coming but he would never commit to a time and place.
It took me a long time (two years) to realize that although how he made me feel was real, his actions and words that night were a performance. He was just very good at dating, which I’ve since learned is easy if you’re prepared to be careless with people and their emotions.
It was easier to presume I’d messed up than to acknowledge that he hadn’t really liked me in the first place.
I thought I’d texted too soon the next day or drank too much on the date or been terrible at sex. But really I’d just believed in something that didn’t exist: a dating world without players.
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