#689: Did I overreact when my date told me a story about rape and then wanted to get me alone?

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m newly single, and getting back into dating. I went on a date last night with a guy I met on OKC. We met up at a bar, and he seemed cute and smart, and as we talked it seemed like we had lots in common! But about twenty minutes in, it seemed clear he wanted to do the touching-kissing thing. I had just met this person, and I wanted to get comfortable around him before I let him put his hands on my body (even though he was cute and promising!). So I was sitting kinda sideways and he was sitting facing me, legs apart, physically accessible, etc.

He said something like, “You’re very guarded. I’m in the restaurant business and we read people quickly and I can tell that you’re very guarded.”

I felt weird, but there was this voice in my head saying, “You never let yourself just flirt and have fun!” So I sat facing him and let him touch my leg, and we kissed and had drinks, and the conversation was good! And we had a lot in common! And he was a good kisser!

Then he told me about a male friend of his in the military who got falsely accused of rape. Apparently the guy was going down on the woman, and she told him to stop, and he didn’t. She made a rape accusation and then later said she was lying.

So this guy (my date) said, my friend didn’t penetrate her—it was just oral sex! She didn’t physically resist! She made that accusation about three other people! She said she was lying!

I was thinking, 1. That was rape. 2. Wouldn’t be surprised if three other guys also didn’t listen when she said to stop, because that isn’t uncommon. 3. Women retract these accusations under pressure all the time. Warning lights are going off in my head. But I didn’t want to get into a fight about rape with a stranger. So I redirected the conversation.

Then after a while he said “I would really like to kiss you in a place other than here.” I took this as “I am ready for you to invite me to your place now.” I was caught off guard. So I said, “I don’t think I’m ready to sleep with you yet.”

So he said saying, 1. I just want to make out! I never said anything about having sex! 2. We should do this soon because the attraction is here now and if we wait it will fizzle out. 3. Are you worried about being a slut? I feel pressured and uncomfortable. He asks what’s wrong. I say, 1. You told me about how you think things that are rape are not rape. 2. Now you are pressuring me to take you home with me.

He was immediately horrified. He started saying “Calm down! Relax! You shouldn’t be so anxious!” I felt more and more uncomfortable. Finally we parted ways. I went home and sobbed. I have no idea why. I think I missed how easy it was between me and my ex, and now it’s like, ahhh, weird dating is my new reality!! Plus I just felt sooo uncomfortable.

My questions are, 1. Is it weird that I really don’t like being touched or kissed within 20 minutes of meeting someone? I Is that what’s expected these days? It happens to me a lot. I think everyone is reading Neil Strauss and think they have to “kino escalate” immediately.

2. Is there a script I can use when someone tries to touch me before I’m ready? One that is friendly?

3. I’m looking for my next meaningful relationship, ideally, but I wouldn’t be against having a fling. But I feel my idea of “casual sex” and most guys’ is different. Mine = we go out! We flirt! We go to art galleries and museums! We have sex sometimes, once we’re ready! But not very often / we date other people. Theirs = I expect sex immediately when we meet, and thereafter whenever I text you even if it’s 2AM, I expect you to come over and service my needs.

Does anyone have experience expressing what their idea of casual sex is and guiding the other person’s expectations toward that, provided casual sex is something they want too? I feel like what happens is I run into this “We must have sex right now!!” expectation and then I flee.

And finally, 5. Should I have calmed down? Was I overreacting about this guy’s creepy rape story? Intellectually I don’t think so, but there is a loud voice in my head saying “You ruin everything by overreacting all the time!!”

Thanks for your thoughts!

Awkward Dater

Dear Awkward Dater,

I’m publishing your letter partly because it is like a freaking short course on how a creepy, boundary-pushing dude operates. You are not the one doing it wrong here!

Let’s review his (mis)steps:

1) “You’re very guarded.” He wants something from you (for you to be unguarded), so he typecasts you in order to get you to prove that you are not what he thinks. Pick-up artists and their ilk call this a “neg,” Gavin de Becker* calls it typecasting, i.e. “You must be one of those proud women who can’t let anyone help you” = You might let me carry your groceries to your building to prove that you are not “stuck up”, even though you don’t want me near you at all.

2) He floated a story about what he thinks is a false rape accusation as a trial balloon to see how you react to such. The answer he wanted was “Whoa, I would never accuse my rapist like that woman accused her rapist because I am a Cool, Chill Girl.” When his balloon sank like the turgid load of crap it was, he tried to talk you out of your reaction. First, has “calm down” ever worked to make anyone calm down in the history of ever? Second, rapists absolutely test the social waters to see how a potential victim and/or his/her social group are likely to respond. Did he have no cute pet stories? Has he never had a job? Has he seen zero movies and read zero books? Has he never heard music? Did he not have a childhood or a place where he grew up? Did you not meet somewhere on the time-space continuum where there were other people to watch and speculate about? There are infinite possible conversational topics that don’t involve “lying liars who lie about being raped” that he could have raised with you.

3) He tells you a rape-y story and then tries to get an invite back to your place (or get you to come to his), and when you correctly identify his sexy intentions and tell him that you are not ready for that, he tries to gaslight you into the idea that you misinterpreted what he wanted. Maybe he would have been fine with just making out or playing Dungeons and Dragons and eating pancakes. Maybe he’s not actually a rapist. But why oh why is he acting like one, and why oh why would he want you to have sex with him when you are feeling on edge and unsafe with him? “The attraction might fizzle out if we don’t act on it now” = COOL STORY, BUT I’LL RISK IT, BRO.

4) I have massive side-eye for the “you’re too anxious” comment. Say you had a raging anxiety disorder that was interfering with your goal to meet new people and date them, and he knew about it. It would be extremely not okay for him to use that as an insult when you wouldn’t sleep with him! If you know someone is feeling really anxious about something you’re doing, you stop doing the thing and ask them what would make them feel okay. Him throwing this out there is classic deflection, like, “Pay no attention to the creepy things that I am doing! Instead, let’s focus on something you are insecure about so you will leave feeling bad about yourself and second-guessing yourself!” Prediction: If you had ended up dating him for any length of time you’d be faking your own death 6 months from now to get away from him.

Of course you felt off-balance. Dude was trying to push all your buttons to get you off balance and get you to go against your own instincts and desires. If you’d kept hanging out with him you’d feel even more off-balance by now.

In answered to your numbered questions, 1) You’re not weird for not wanting to jump right into touching. 2) If someone jumps the gun with you, a  friendly, “I’m open to this eventually” script is “I’m not very touchy-feely, especially with people I don’t know well. I’m really psyched to be on this date with you, but I’ll be way more relaxed if I can be the one to touch you first.” A dude hearing that might feel a bit rebuffed and rejected, but if you back it up by being friendly and relaxed in your manner going forward, he’ll relax too. Someone who tries to talk you out of this is telling you that they are bad with consent. Someone who sulks and pouts and makes a big production about how they aren’t touching you is both bad with consent and really unsexy. so it will be good to find that out early.

Plenty of people are meeting on Tinder & Grindr or whatnot and boning down on a first date. More power to ’em. But despite whatever boring thinkpiece on “hook-up culture” is paying some poor sod’s rent this week, plenty of people are not doing any of that. There is no “what is done,” there is only “what you want to do and are comfortable doing.” Someone who is a good match for you as a boyfriend or as a casual sex partner will move at your speed and want you to be comfortable every step of the way.

3) I think you can absolutely make it clear that you want to get to know someone for a bit before having even the most casual sex with them. Make it clear that early dates are clothes-on affairs for you. “If you can beat me at Scrabble three times in a row I’ll consider it.” “Sounds hot, but let’s get tacos and hang out for a bit.” “I’m theoretically cool with friends-with-benefits, but I need to feel like we’re actually be friends. That takes a little time for me to figure out.” Again, people who don’t get that you need to build up rapport, comfort, and trust before you fuck aren’t the right partners for you.

4) There was no 4. I will use it for scripts for saying “I really like you, and I’d like to wait before having sex.” “That’s an awesome offer, but I really like you, and I don’t want to have sex right away until I know you better.” “I really like everything I know about you so far. If you feel the same, can we wait on the whole sex thing?” “Let’s kiss but keep all pants on for now.” There is nothing sexier than being invited wholeheartedly to bed by someone you know is on the same page as you. If you aren’t a casual sex person, then don’t apologize for it or pretend differently.

5) YOU DID THE RIGHT THING BY BAILING. You were not overreacting. Even if he’s not actually a rapist, he had “Come on, just the tip!” and/or “I know we just met and all but condoms just aren’t comfortable for me” or “It slipped!” written all over him. Had you gone home with him, you would have spent the entire time you messed around with him on edge as you waited for him to do something sketchy.

Your instincts and boundaries are in solid working order. You correctly sensed that this dude was trying to manipulate you, and you kept sight of what you actually wanted and what made you feel safe and comfortable. Please don’t beat yourself up for feeling bad afterward (he was bad news and he tried to get into your head as well as your pants), and please save your awesomeness for a not-sketchy dude.

Sex and pancakes,

Captain Awkward

*Obligatory notice that the Domestic Violence chapter is very flawed. The opening chapters, where he describes creeps in action and breaks down the ways that they try to erode their victim’s boundaries is very relevant.

Edited to Add: LW, the Twitterverse has saddled up your Nopetepus!

541 thoughts on “#689: Did I overreact when my date told me a story about rape and then wanted to get me alone?

    1. Agreed! LW, you did exactly the right thing! RED FLAG, RED FLAG, GET IN THE SAFETY POD, EVACUATE THE SHIP, DO NOT LOOK BACK!

      Congratulate yourself on a job well done, even if his douchey attempts at manipulation left you with headweasels. *jedi hugs should they be wanted*

      1. Ha, I actually call such shit BLACK FLAG behavior. Red means stop but this is where you need to evacuate, as you say, hit the eject button, etc. Also: this story made my hair stand up! So glad LW has good sense.

  1. YAY YOU DID NOT STICK AROUND THAT AWFUL GUY. He was awful. Well done on not sticking around for more awful.

    I am sorry that what should have been a fun date was ruined because the guy turned out to be awful. That was not your fault, and it ducks and no wonder you felt crap afterwards.

  2. LW, thank you so much for putting #3 in your letter into words for me! I didn’t fully realize that was the exact dynamic I’ve been finding with potential sexy time friends until I read your summary… power to the people who want to only hook up at 2am, but that is not the kind casual arrangement I am looking for right now.

    1. Just wanted to +1 that you are totally fine to want a casual, non-exclusive relationship that encompasses both sex and other things. Unless the dating landscape has changed significantly in the few years that I was there, this is totally doable.

      LW, you will have a lot of guys who try to push boundaries like this guy, and you did awesome at walking away without a backward glance. You will also have a lot of guys who say, “Sorry – that’s not what I’m looking for” and that’s okay, too. If you both are upfront about what you are looking for, you can set boundaries like adults.

      Over time you will develop your little black book so that you can be alone when you want and can spend time with someone when you want.

      Although, pro tip: It helps if none of them know each other. But that’s another story.

  3. Good news: If you, too, want to play the Pointed Anecdote Game, you now have a great story/litmus test to tell on future first dates!

    1. True story! I told someone on a first date about the guy in college who (POTENTIAL SEXUAL ASSAULT) dosed me with Nyquil, then pinned my arms over my head and tried to kiss me. An hour later, we were sitting on my bed, and he grabs my wrists, pins them over my head, and goes in for the kiss. (end POTENTIAL SEXUAL ASSAULT)

      Dear reader, his reaction to my story was a very handy way of deciding whether there would be a second date. (There was not, and he also got swiftly blocked everywhere he was blockable.) Figuring out whether people have healthy boundaries is definitely a two-way street.

      1. Ugh, that’s awful. I mean, the total symmetry of it is just salt in the wound.

        I definitely make a point of mentioning that I left a certain community because it was full of rapists/predators within the first six hours or so of meeting most people. Showing my boundaries and that I’m not afraid to talk about those things has had a significant positive effect on the type of person who gravitates to me, and the amount that people in general try to fuck with me.

        1. I don’t think I have the cute fluffy tail-stump to pull that off, but I very much agree with the sentiment. 🙂

        2. Actually, I think that situation called for furious hissing kitty with ears pinned flat back.

  4. CA is so right and I am so mad on your behalf, OP! What a manipulative jerkface! I think that this kind of boundary pushing is basically just a test to see whether you will bend, because then you might bend later.

    Can you practice some scenarios with a friend so you have some responses ready? I’ve done this for a friend before and I think it helps to say something out loud a couple of times so you know what you want to say and how you want to say it, rather than trying to come up with a good response off the cuff.

    Still so mad at this guy. And other guys like him. And the patriarchal society that we exist in that gives them their power. So mad.

  5. Very important post! Especially “Someone who sulks and pouts and makes a big production about how they aren’t touching you is both bad with consent and really unsexy,” which in my experience is one of the most common reactions privileged people have.

    I have a partner, who is working very hard at improving and has done a really good job at changing the horrible things these past years, but he still does this. Today when he told me where to put my bike I told him (per Captain’s Advice yesterday) that I didn’t want unasked for advice. He HUGELY overreacted, stormed up to our apartment and said it was untenable. Then he tried to act like I had said he wasn’t even allowed to advise me on, say, good movies. I held my ground and told him he was being obnoxious and that he was overreacting and he eventually took my point and accepted. Afterwards, when I spilled rice in the kitchen he initially refused to tell me (when I asked) whether to vacuum it with the big vacuum cleaner or the handheld one. “OH I DON’T DARE TO GIVE UNASKED FOR ADVICE.” Ugh. I know he’s on the Autism Spectrum and has a tendency to take things literally, but that’s no reason to be obnoxious.

    He came around. It still bothers me.

    (Don’t say DTMF. I’m not asking for that kind of judgement on my relationship right now. We’re in a good place, and things have gotten better immensely over the years because we’ve both committed to changing and have actually changed. Residue remains, and we’re still working. Relationships are hard work for everyone.)

    1. “Honey, if I’m asking you for advice, it is by definition not unasked-for advice. But if you’d rather sulk, the rice is right here and you can clean it up whenever. I’ll be in the tub with a Chablis and a trashy novel.”

      1. Yeah, this. Except maybe not “whenever” because Honey can stall longer than you can be in the tub, alas.

      2. That said, ‘you’ spilled it, ‘you’ clean it up. Requesting advice on which vacuum to use does not equal ‘clean it up for me’.

    2. Ugh – RFM your dude is trying to punish you for setting boundaries. That whole “I can’t give advice!!!” whine when you specifically asked for advice is him trying to make you feel unreasonable and walk back that boundary. It’s terrible behaviour.

      It’s manipulative and a sign he does not believe you should be setting that boundary.

      If you’re hoping to get to a place of relaxed love and trust he’s going to need to stop doing it. It’s something I deal with from my very difficult mother who doesn’t believe I should set boundaries with her, and I’m willing to take that whining as as much success as I’ll get from a very unreasonable person, but it’s in no way part of a loving and trusting relationship.

      1. My SO’s response when I asked him to stop doing something that upsets me when I am sleeping was “FINE I WILL JUST SLEEP ON THE COUCH EVERY NIGHT”.

        Miraculously he worked out a different solution after I was like, “I need you to stop doing X. I have told you X hurts and upsets me before, and I have suggested that you do Y or Z instead. When you keep doing X anyway it makes me feel like you don’t care that you are hurting and upsetting me.”

        (In semi-related news it is very hard to use I-statements and take yourself seriously when you are bawling because you are hurt and also FURIOUS because someone has gone nuclear in an attempt to punish you for objecting to their behavior. My SO is genuinely a good guy in most cases but this was not his finest hour.)

        1. Yeah it’s actually a form of gaslighting. Acting like a reasonable request is totally unreasonable, and also acting like it contains things you never even requested. Like sleeping on the couch or never giving advice ever even when it’s specifically asked for. It’s very difficult to argue with someone like that because they keep shifting the ground under your feet, forcing you to argue about the reality of simple obvious facts until you get worn down and give up. Or until you, arguing uno of faith, decide you need to compromise with them, and then accept some part of their warped reality that they’ve warped specifically to manipulate you (you can’t have a good faith compromise with someone who’s gasslighting you). Ugh.

          I think everyone has low moments when they pull crap like this, and if it doesn’t happen often and people apologise and stop then we’ll and good. But for a lot of people this is their main mode of dealing with conflict.

          I feel like gaslighting is like hard radiation. Knowing it’s there doesn’t stop it from messing you up. And sure, you can wear the lead suit, but that’s a major pain in the butt when you just want to sit in your living room and watch TV… And like…why are you living with something radioactive in the first place…

          1. I think all of us have at some point been so over some situation, even if it was our bad, that we have an argument temper tantrum and become totally unreasonable. I know there is one specific situation at my job that I am just SO frustrated about that if anyone brings it up I become a raging ball of “IT’S NOT MY FAULT AND I HATE YOU ALL” even if it is totally my fault.

          2. Yeah I definitely have done manipulative things that I’m not proud of when I lost the plot for whatever reason, or because when I was younger I had some very bad communication habits that were not nice. I try to avoid it. It’s definitely something forgiveable if it’s rare and out of character. But if it’s not rare, if it’s entirely in character, I think it’s easy not to take it seriously enough. I mean it doesn’t involve lots of yelling and flailing or any physical violence, but consistent gaslighting and refusal to respect boundaries or someone else’s right to set them is ultimately emotional abuse. But its a kind that can so spin your head that you’re not actually sure that there is anything bad going on, you just have the squirmy guts whenever you know you have to disagree with your partner or ask for something or ask them to stop something…

            I think a good rule of thumb is, when someone does this, is it a shock? A horrible unexpected thing? Then good. It’s not normal for them. But if it feels like “Oh god this again agh!” and it’s entirely predictable and you know while they’re agreeing with whatever thing that they’re going to give you endless dramas after the fact but you still kind of hope they won’t *this time* and then they do and it’s not a surprise at all…? That’s a bad sign. :-/

          3. Yeah, I would do that back in the late Cretaceous. Mom was fantastic but tended to withdraw and physically leave if I was (later we were) immature. Not unreasonable, except being immature feels natural when you’re four. When I would say that to my partner, I was really saying, “I have obviously done something wrong, I don’t know what you want from me here. I’m panicking and you’re going to leave and send me away to places that aren’t safe for me. Please send me a signal to negotiate toward. Please explain what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it, because you’re asking me to go north and I’m unclear on up vs. down at this second.”

            You are actually doing a favor if you don’t tolerate that sort of behavior, especially if you recognize it and point it out. Treat your partner like a child, because that’s what s/he is in that instant. Of course, there are ways and ways to treat a child— you can calmly, but pointedly, say, “So you’re saying ‘please stop rearranging the pillows when I’m on them,’ sounds like ‘GTFO of the bed and my life’ to you?’ Because I think you know that’s not what I meant. Right?” Or you can stop everything, gather the flailing hands and look into the studiously-not-crying face and say, “Hey. We love each other. Let’s stop acting like x is threatening us, because we’re bigger than that,” and take some time to breathe together. Or make the Very Silly Face and start dancing like a monkey and insist you’re not going to stop until the subject joins in.

            Um, comes down to Ferrett Steinmetz’s concept of the Freakout Tree. The Freakout Tree can only hold one person at a time, or everything starts to break— and sounds like Boychik’s response to seeing someone the teensiest bit off the ground is to swarm to the highest branch he can reasonably reach and contemplate escalating, saying, “Ha! Now you have to get out of the Freakout Tree or you might be the bad guy who breaks everything! Now start talking me down this instant!” Whether or not you want Boychik in your life, a Freakout Tree is a necessary part of any committed relationship— it’s not actual freaking out, obviously: saying, “I think we’ll both survive if I put this bike where it works for me,” as referenced above is super-reasonable. But do you want to be around someone who’s constantly hogging the Place de Devenir Grincheux? Or can this behavior be changed? It’s not a rhetorical question– you really do need to answer it for yourself.

          4. This is one of my most hated behaviors to deal with in people because after the first time every simple request now requires me to think about whether I care enough to deal with the BS that will follow. No friend and room mate, when I ask you to turn down the volume on a thing you are watching it does not mean ‘Please turn off the thing you are watching and never watch or mention it in my presence ever again’ so please don’t treat it as though that is what I said to you. *headdesk*

          5. My mother is the queen of the all-or-nothing reaction to basic boundary setting. I once set a very simple boundary with her re: talk about weight and diets. Basically, “Mother, my weight and diet are not subjects that are up for discussion. Ever. Also, I would appreciate if you would refrain from discussing your own dieting with me as I am trying to rebuild a normal non-guilt-ridden relationship with food.”

            Simple, right?

            First, she made an enormous ballyhoo about how she felt she couldn’t even tell me that my hair looks nice or my dress really suits me because she was “afraid of offending me”. Then, if we were in a situation where it was necessary to specify that she didn’t want bread/sauce/cheese with her meal, she would stare at me balefully and/or make a show of “apologizing” to me for daring to articulate her food choices. It’s been years, and even today she still does this faux-solicitous thing of banging on at length about whatever diet she’s currently trying, and then being like “Oh, I’m sorry, this is probably upsetting you!” *headdesk*

            Unfortunately, I have also inherited this tendency. Recently my partner told me that he doesn’t like being touched in a certain way, especially when we’re in public. I was upset to discover that one of my ways of showing affection was making him uncomfortable, and initially I had a completely over-dramatic FINE I GUESS I WILL JUST NEVER TOUCH YOU AGAIN EVER reaction. Fortunately – and in no small part due to reading CA – this reaction was never articulated or acted upon because I recognized it that it was ridiculous as soon as I pushed past my own hurt and thought about it for more that 30 seconds. I respect the clearly-stated boundary and we’re both happier and more confident in our physical relationship. Good consent in action! Totally a thing that works!

          6. Anisoptera said: “I think a good rule of thumb is, when someone does this, is it a shock? A horrible unexpected thing? Then good. It’s not normal for them. But if it feels like “Oh god this again agh!” and it’s entirely predictable and you know while they’re agreeing with whatever thing that they’re going to give you endless dramas after the fact but you still kind of hope they won’t *this time* and then they do and it’s not a surprise at all…? That’s a bad sign. :-/”

            This is very timely for me. A friend blew up at me a month ago – he read one of my messages as being deliberately sarcastic and mean, when I’d only been drawing a polite boundary. (Turns out we have very different interpretations of “Can you not?” in terms of tone.) Our friendship goes back almost eight years and he’s always been excellent at accepting, respecting and indeed championing my setting of boundaries, so when he replied with vehement sarcasm, derision, and accusations that I was asking him to read my mind, I was completely floored. We cleared up the misunderstanding immediately, and he apologised within minutes, but I’ve been feeling a vague sense of unease ever since because it was just SO unlike him, it really spun my brain around. There have been occasions (many years ago) when I was acting childish or manipulative or mean towards him, and he always directly called me out on it in the moment and told me to stop. But he’s NEVER retaliated by being mean or sarcastic like that, until now.

            I feel a lot less headspun now, because yeah. The reason I felt so headspun was because it was a total anomaly for him. It’ll probably be another eight years before it happens again, if ever. Thanks, Anisoptera.

          7. Thank you!

            It’s so exhausting, and I always feel punished for speaking up afterwards. We plan to go out for a walk or a restaurant, I tell him while we’re getting ready when he does something to annoy me, we get into an argument, and after that he no longer feels up for going out. I spent a couple of years thinking he was having his revenge or he was punishing me, but his Autism and ADHD are literally to blame – he’s just too anxious and upset to be able to do what we had planned.

            And I feel constantly torn between choosing my needs (actual needs, not simply desires or wishes) and stepping over his limits or choosing his needs and ignoring my own.

          8. I see the gaslighting thing, but the kinds of responses people are describing here also remind me of the shoes thing from “#655: Visits With Highly Difficult People” from a few months ago:

            “Even as adults, they tend to throw a weird laundry list of reasons at others in a conflict, even when the conflict in question is not a particularly difficult one. The behavior looks incredibly strange to reasonable, kind, not-manipulative people, like, jeez, I just asked you if you would pick up your stuff from the common areas before I have people over tomorrow, Roommate, so why are you apologizing and explaining why you haven’t yet in paragraph-long sentences? Are you…is that…crying? It only makes sense when you realize that some people grew up in a house where there no “simple” requests and every conflict became a reason to pick apart who they were as a person. It’s the difference between 1) “Can you please take your shoes upstairs?” and 2) “What kind of person leaves their shoes everywhere? :kicks shoes across the floor, scattering them: What did I do to deserve such a messy, lazy kid? Are you going to be this lazy forever? I shudder to think at the future pigsty you’ll make everyone put up with. I feel sorry for whoever has to live with you in the future.” Adult survivors hear the first question from a non-abusive person and emotionally process it as a prelude to the second stream of verbal abuse. Nobody has to even be abusing them for it to happen, so well-integrated are the tapes in their heads. This is one of the big things survivors work on in therapy: How to figure out reasonable reactions to reasonable conflicts and not automatically take on all of the subtext of childhood in every difficult situation and how to stop playing those tapes, or at least recognize when they are playing.”

            I know that, based on my family training, my knee-jerk response to even well-meaning correction is to assume a defensive posture, mostly because there was no such thing as well-meaning correction in my childhood. There was sarcasm and belittlement, though, so. And I’ve been on both sides of it, because whenever I need to ask my husband to change the way he does some chore, he assumes the posture of a hostile teenager, and I am here to tell you that I am not having that. So he crosses his arms and rolls his eyes, and I get mad and tell him *again* that he’s making it really hard for me to talk to him about important stuff, and he takes a breath and knocks it off, and I take a breath and thank him and then we continue on as the adults we claim to be.

            I think there might also be an aspect of “ask culture” versus “guess culture” at work. I talk about this issue a lot in my classes, and one thing that has consistently come up is that to a “guess” person, a direct ask can seem abrupt or even rude. Let’s say a Guesser is in the habit of leaving her dishes on the counter. A fellow Guesser will say, “You know, it’s so nice to come home to a clean kitchen.” Our Guesser interprets this as a request not to leave dirty dishes on the counter and acts accordingly. Everything runs smoothly. An Ask person, on the other hand, puts the request directly: “Hey, could you rinse your dishes and put them in the dishwasher instead of leaving them on the counter?” This seems reasonable to an Asker, but to a Guesser, this is an escalation–this is where you go when you’ve already tried to be polite. So the Guesser gets mad and offended, because that supposedly simple request sounds like yelling to her:

            G: You don’t have to be like that about it!
            A: Like what about it?! All I did was ask you to put your dishes in the dishwasher!
            G: Yeah, but you don’t have to be like that about it!
            A: I’m not being any way about it!

            Et cetera. Neither one of them has any idea why they’re fighting. My husband is a Guesser, and I am an Asker, and it frustrates both of us sometimes. Guessers encode their meaning and decode others’ statements, but Askers neither encode nor decode, which frequently ends up with neither party feeling heard.

            My point, here it is: in *some* cases, it might be worth it to have a conversation about communication styles. I DO NOT mean to suggest that emotional abuse can be addressed by talking it out, but in a situation where everyone is acting in reasonably good faith, this might be borne in mind.

          9. I find it (grimly) hilarious when people who go thermonuclear at even the mildest boundary-setting (FINE I GUESS ILL SLEEP ON THE COUCH FOREVER and similar) are often the same ones who unleash the Logick Monster on you, sometimes in the same breath (WHY ARE YOU BEING SO IRRATIONAL?!?). Physician, heal thyself.

            I also laugh (grimly) when members of my family pull the whole “I’m afraid to say ANYTHING now in case you get all OFFENDED, gawd you’re so UNREASONABLE”. Dude, you have no idea how much I keep to myself and how often I have to stop myself from reacting to stuff you say in order to keep the peace. What contextually privileged people are really saying in that context is “oh no, someone is trying to infringe on my god-given right to vocalize every dumb mean thought that crosses my brain and not experience any consequences. It’s not fairrrr!”.

          10. They also labor under the illusion that their silence is a problem. “Oh, you’ll be quiet all day? WHAT TERRIBLE FATE.”

        2. That’s my mother, when I asked her not to post a specific comment on my Facebook. “OKAY FINE I WILL NEVER POST ANYTHING ANYWHERE EVER AGAIN YOU’RE SO OVERREACTING!” I sympathize.

      2. The subtext there is “always listen to my unasked for advice or I will never give you advice on anything when you do ask for it. I will hold this over you like a threat and you will have to cope without my input.” That’s definitely got nothing to do with being on the autism spectrum, it’s just….awful.

    3. Taking literally the question of which device to use to vacuum up the rice would involve actually answering the question. Autism’s got nothing to do with that particular piece of dickbaggishness.

      1. (I am sorry if this sounded too judge-y but he’s low-level punishing you for setting a boundary and I don’t think autism should be on the hook for that character flaw.)

        1. Yeah, I definitely know some neurotypical people who would say the same kind of thing (my dad, for example *sigh*). It’s just being a bit of a jerk, is what it is.

        2. Yeah, erm, I’m in the process of getting a formal diagnosis (after my therapist was like “yes autism would explain lots”) and that’s not behavior I would use. In fact, I really appreciate it when people give me clear directions about their boundaries and when they listen to mine. It clears up confusion.

          ASD doesn’t mean we have to be dicks. It just means we need more explicit communication, like “don’t give me unasked for advice please and thank you”…

          1. My boyfriend’s on the spectrum and it’s awesome because he has endless patience for process discussions and for very clear direction of the “I want this, this way, not that way” variety.

          2. I’m sorry for implying that, that wasn’t how I meant it. I meant it solely in a “this is one thing we cannot blame on the Autism, you’re just being a dick.”

        3. It definitely isn’t! I didn’t mean it like that, either – I meant in a “we can’t blame this on the Autism even if we wanted to, this is just mean” way.

    4. Bwahahaha! All I can picture is my little brother with a hovering finger in the back of my parent’s car going, “I’m not touching yooouuuuu. Still not touching you. Nope, not touching you. Not touching you at all.” And not being able to say anything to the parents until we hit a speedbump and that forced his finger onto my arm, because NOW he is touching me.

      Dudes on dates should totally not bring up that mental image.

      Also, as an adult I totally get to call people out on this crap before boundries are violated, not after.

      1. I am convinced my parents bought one of the cars we had when I was growing up because there was a seam right down the middle of the back seat. I can’t count the number of times Sibling and I were told, “Stay on your side of The Line and no one has to worry about being touched.”

        1. My parents were able to separate us on long field trips by having one kid in the front seat, one in the middle with Mom, and one in the “back back” third row of the suburban. As you can guess, we instead fought over who got the front and third row seats because nobody wanted to sit with Mom (Sorry Mom! We were so mean!).

          For short trips, one was in front and Mom often sat in the middle seat in the back to separate the other two.

          I can so related, being the middle child. Older bro is 4 years older, little bro is 2y10mo younger and oh lordy we all fought way too much.

          1. Your poor mother. 🙂

            Seriously, though, remembering this kind of thing with my siblings growing up is one of the biggest reasons I have for stopping at one child.

          2. Oh yes, the “car-seat jockeying”. I’m the eldest of four (Sister1 is 17 months younger than me, Brother is 6 years younger than me, Sister2 (who funnily enough is the only one I actually get on with and like) is 10 years younger than me). I claimed the front passanger seat from age 9 (didn’t hurt that I can read maps and my mother can’t, so once Dad figured this out my claim to the front seat was permanently assured) and I was always so relieved that I was immune to all the “Mum, he’s TOUCHING me” “MUUUUUUM, she HIIIIIIT me!!” crap that went on behind. We had a VW camper van so there were also arguments about who had to sit facing backwards (who had to sit very quietly behind Dad).

        2. The fact that anyone considers this kind of boundary violation by family members to be “normal” (and thus okay) is the strongest, most pervasive element of rape culture I’ve been able to identify. I classify it with parents forcing their kids to kiss/hug relatives when they don’t want to or forcing people to stand around to pose for pictures (seriously, it’s possible to take candid pictures of people, and also YOUR desire for some kind of photo in no way overrides MY right to determine if I actually want to pose for one – see creepshots for the obviously-problematic direct parallel) or disallowing autonomy with respect to things like clothing choices (with an exception for safety or legal issues: for example, I think not letting your kid walk to school in shorts and a muscle tee in in freezing weather is appropriate), hair styles, and later piercings or tattoos – none of this has anything whatsoever to do with the parent zirself or with the child’s well-being, it’s just about imposing personal preferences on another person in violation of zir own autonomy. It’s entirely not okay – and not harassing other people isn’t even a bar to clear becasue it takes intentional action to interact with someone at all such that one might possibly be harassing them – yet it’s normalized from infancy.

          I just had a mini-epiphany – the fact that my brothers would intentionally harass me while my sister would not may well be a part of why I make no effort whatsoever to interact with my brothers but I do keep in touch with my sister.

          1. Thank you for bringing up that being forced to pose for pictures is pretty dickish. I’ve personally thought so, but every time I’ve attempted to set this boundary with my mother, I’m told I am utterly unreasonable and also A Terrible Person Who Hates Their Family*, and I’ve started to think that the problem is me, because I don’t have nearly as many issues with posing for pictures with friends (admittedly this might just be the fact that if I say “nah, not feeling a picture right now”, my friends go “okay, cool, can you take one of us then?” and move on with their lives instead of browbeating me into submission and then scold me for not being enthusiastic enough in said picture and not being photogenic).

            *And of course this is regularly pulled with taking pictures with my 94-year-old grandmother in poor health, and I’m AWFUL if I don’t want to take a picture with her, never mind that SHE doesn’t want her picture taken either. UGH.

          2. Oh that photo thing! Gah! How many times was I forced to sit for family photos! It was always a huge drama. Especially when I became an adult and started trying to refuse the process – my mother would go nuts about it (because people have to do exactly what she wants at all times) and then the rest of my family would pressure me to stop making a fuss and just go along with it to get it over with.

            It sounds like such a small thing, but ugh. I even suggested she take candid shots but no. But then for my mother I think she was always very very invested in ticking all the boxes of family like having the big dinners on festival days and taking awful awkward group portrait photos to send to relatives overseas (which she would rarely get around to doing in any case) and insisting that we were all terribly close, that we tell each other everything etc etc. When of course the family was a really horrible place that I was desperate to escape as soon as I was able. Like she was incapable of genuine loving closeness so instead she was laser focused on achieving the appearance of it.

            And yes, it’s freaky isn’t it, how accepted it is to deny children any kind of bodily autonomy or ability to consent – obviously this needs to be done in an age appropriate way and balancing the need for safety and teaching them how to interact successfully with society, but there’s a lot of room between that and what often happens. I too grew up around a lot of intentional harassment and I’m sad to say that it took me most of my 20s to get out of the habit of doing it to other people I was close to. 😦

          3. Ugh, yes, the photo thing. I left my parents’s house almost a decade ago and I still get forced into this. Someone regularly physically pulls me toward the others to take a photograph, and my refusal is always taken as a “I’m just intentionally being difficult and unreasonable, I don’t love you enough to do what you say”.

            It’s toxic and when I last month got angry about how “no” doesn’t mean “no” in our family, I was accused of “saying no all the time” just to hurt people and be difficult.

          4. Thank you for making that point about forced posed photos! I HATED being forced to be in photographs growing up, whether they were school pictures or the annual family pictures my mom did around Thanksgiving. In fact, I still hate them, and I tried my hardest to advocate against having a wedding photographer for that reason, but other people won that fight.


            I was always eager to pose for photos as a kid so this was never a problem for me, except this one time when I was eight years old that got seared into my memory forever as OMG So Awful And Degrading for reasons I couldn’t even understand at the time.

            Storytime: I was on vacation with my parents, it was late and I was tired, and because I was lying still with my eyes closed, my parents thought I’d fallen asleep. My dad picked me up to carry me to bed and I pretended to still be sleeping because getting carried to bed at the grand old age of eight was a rare novelty. Anyway, then my mother said to wait a minute, she wanted to take a photo of us, and all my comfortable sleepy feelings suddenly flipped upside down and warped into something hideously unpleasant without me understanding why at all. Without wanting to reveal details, it turns out there was an aspect of that situation that was waiting to blossom into a kink for me when puberty hit, and although I obviously didn’t know or understand that when I was just eight, I did know that I suddenly felt really, REALLY uncomfortable being like this with my dad, and I wanted it to stop RIGHT NOW.

            So I suddenly “woke up”, and they were all “Nonononono, just lie your head back down,” and I was saying, “No, I want to get down, put me down,” and they said I looked so cute, and told me to just pretend to be asleep for a minute more so they could take a picture, and I said I didn’t like being cute and I didn’t want my picture taken, and they cheerfully said not to be so silly and my mother was pushing my head back down with her hand, and I squirmed away hard and raised my voice and said, “NO!”

            The sudden silence that fell told me I’d done something really, really awful. I had built my identity on being a Good Girl who followed all the rules and never got into trouble, and I hadn’t raised my voice to my parents since I was a toddler. I knew that defying and shouting at my mum and dad were two of the worst crimes I could ever commit, and I’d suddenly disgraced us all with both of them out of nowhere, as if I were some kind of problem child who didn’t know any better. My mother looked as if I’d just slapped her.

            My dad gripped me more securely and barked “LIE YOUR HEAD DOWN, AND CLOSE YOUR EYES.” His face was no further from mine than your elbow from yours, and hearing him bark at me that way stunned me into frightened obedience. I put my head down against his shoulder and closed my eyes, feeling horribly nauseous in my brain. I knew there was no point in trying to argue now; it had stopped being about the photo the moment I’d raised my voice. Now it was about the principle. If they gave way to me, I’d get the idea in my head that shouting at them was an effective way to get what I wanted, and I’d become one of those appalling badly-behaved children who throws tantrums in no time flat. This was about keeping me on the straight and narrow.

            “Stop frowning; look peaceful like you’re asleep,” my mother instructed. I was boiling with anger under a smothering blanket of feeling utterly violated, but a bonus horrible sensation of being rendered psychologically naked, but I had to do as I was told. I wanted to throw up everything I was feeling and disappear away into a blank white space where nothing and nobody existed. My mother took her sweet time framing the shot, which I knew was doing on purpose to punish me, so this went on for twenty or thirty seconds. I lay submissively in my dad’s arms with a sweet and serene expression on my face all the while, like a perfectly trained dog. Finally, my mother took the stupid gross horrible awful photo, and I opened my eyes and said “I want to get down.”

            “I want to get down, please,” my dad corrected me, not loosening his grip.

            I looked at him. I couldn’t believe he was serious, but he definitely was. My feeling were overboiling so hard I was afraid I might start flying apart at the seams, but I knew that if I let myself throw a tantrum or allowed my feelings show in any way, my parents would continue to dial up the awfulness of everything in response. The only exit route I was permitted from the situation was to be submissive and penitent for long enough to satisfy them that I’d learned my lesson and wouldn’t do it again. So I obediently parroted “I want to get down, please,” back to my dad, although what I actually wanted in that moment was to scratch his eyes out and run away forever. After a searching look, my dad put me down.

            “Now what do you say?” he said.

            I genuinely didn’t understand what he meant. I just stared from one parent to the other with my brain whirling in shock and repulsion, until my mother finally prompted me with: “Don’t you think you owe us an apology for your behaviour just now?”

            I felt so furious and humiliated, I didn’t trust myself to try and speak. I knew I could not apologise. I was only eight years old but I knew, I KNEW that what they’d just done to me was far worse than what I’d said to them; that I’d only shouted because they’d been manhandling me like a doll and they wouldn’t stop and they wouldn’t listen; that I wouldn’t have raised my voice to them if they hadn’t been doing something that was hurting me and I hadn’t been desperate. And I felt so gut-wrenchingly betrayed that my own parents, who I loved more than anyone in the world and who knew better than anyone what a good girl I was, didn’t trust that I wouldn’t have raised my voice to them unless I’d really, really needed to.

            But I was eight years old, and I didn’t have the words for any of that, so I did the only thing I could in that moment: I turned on my heel and went to my bed without a word. They could punish me however they wanted, and I would never apologise, never never never.

            I silently cried myself to sleep with my back to the room, and woke up still feeling angry and violated. I think a part of me actually thought they would come to their senses at some point, that they would admit they’d been unfair and apologise to me. But for the next three days, neither of my parents spoke a word to me except to tell me what to do or where to go, and to inform me that my access to my vacation spending money (which I’d saved up by setting aside half my allowance for the past several months) was suspended until I saw fit to apologise to them. On the third day, my fear that they were going to hate me forever grew serious enough to outclass my righteous fury, and I caved in. They made me spell out exactly what I was apologising for, of course, and I bowed my head and quietly told the sand on the beach that I was sorry I’d shouted, I was sorry I’d said “no” to my parents, I was sorry I hadn’t been good and done as I was told. But I was silently choking on sick fury for every second of that meek apology, and I did not mean a word of it. I told myself every day, for a long time, that the apology didn’t count because I hadn’t meant it, but I knew deep down that what I felt didn’t matter worth a damn and never would. They had still won, because parents win by default when you’re eight, no matter how deeply wrong their actions are.

            After the holiday photos were developed, my mother made a point of showing That Photo off to all our friends and family in front of me. I have tried my best here to describe my feelings about that photo, but I’m not sure I’ve succeeded or ever could. Whenever I remembered it I felt deeply humiliated and sick, as though it were some kind of porn I’d been forced to partake in – to me, it kind of had been. I waited over a year, until after the next holiday, but in the end I set my alarm clock for the middle of the night, crept downstairs, got the awful fucking photo, got all the negatives for that entire holiday, cut up the photo and all the negatives into teeny tiny pieces, and threw the whole mess in the neighbour’s trash. My parents never noticed.

          6. (@Old Dan Tucker since I’ve run out of threading) Oh, dear god, I just… I can’t even… I am so, so, so, so sorry you went through this. I want to become the Goddess of Righteousness within the universe so that I can ensure that your parents and all other parents who do awful things like this are given their just deserts. I just find gaslighting shit like this to be even *worse* than stories about kids getting beaten or sexually abused (as horrible as those things are). Jesus. Is it wrong of me to be hoping your parents die alone and friendless for pulling this?

          7. I might have replied to the wrong thread but this is for Old Dan Tucker: I’m so sorry your parents did that to you. Jedi hugs if you want them for your 8-year-old self and current self recounting the incident.

          8. @Old Dan Tucker- That’s horrific and violating and gutwrenching. So many Jedi hugs. :C

          9. @Old Dan Tucker Jedi hugs if you want them. I’m so sorry that happened to you. You might want to consider if your parents are still alive and you’re still on good terms with them, if this was a bad incident by generally good parents, talking to them about it now and getting an apology. I did something like that with my father, and it certainly made me feel better.

            My dad is a fairly good, but not perfect person. He wanted to teach me how to program, which was a neat thing to try to share. The problem is that it turns out we learn in very different ways. And while he is very smart and well educated, he has never been taught how to teach. So, when I was a child, he truly believed that the only way to learn the material was the way that he learned it. It completely did not work for me. When I asked questions or asked him to teach me in specific different ways, he’d tell me that I couldn’t learn the material that way. I’d get frustrated and unhappy trying to learn things I couldn’t learn, and then I’d ask if we could stop and tell him I didn’t want to try to learn it anymore. Then he’d say, “Okay, but let’s just try this one last thing…” or “Okay, but we should finish this first..” or other things that weren’t stopping. Net result: I spent over a decade with a phobia about learning to program and I barely learned any programming. When I actually had to pass a programming course in college… my teacher taught in a way I actually could learn (turns out the way I learn is actually fairly typical and matches well with how most teachers seem to teach, but a lot of my family has a different learning style), and I wasn’t miserable. But that childhood misery was unpleasant, and also caused me to overreact to other people trying to teach me things. When I had trouble learning to read from my sisters’ attempts to teach me, instead of saying I wanted to stop trying now (which they totally would have listened to), I threw books. Because I didn’t trust people to stop. It didn’t ruin my life, but it was a bad thing done by a well-meaning parent.

            Now, my father acknowledges that he was wrong. He really thought he was trying to help me learn and that was the right way to do it. But he regrets that he didn’t know better at the time, and he does pay more attention to it with the grandkids. And that really makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing.

            Asking for an apology is a tricky thing, because you run the risk of the person refusing and continuing to say they were right and you were wrong. You need to be prepared for that before trying for one. It really depends on a lot of factors whether or not bringing it up is a good idea, and I have no idea if it would be for you. But it might be something to consider.

            Also… as someone who is really into photography, I feel extra sorry by association that that happened to you. I try very hard to be respectful in my photo-taking. I ask people about their comfort levels with photos and the sharing of photos. I do this also for taking photos of people’s pets. I think it’s really important. And lots of people are uncomfortable and do have issues around having their picture taken. I’m quite glad that I’ve managed to win the rights to take photos of one such person I know by being respectful and demonstrating things like 1) trying to not be obtrusive in my photo-taking (I prefer candids, but will do posed shots when people want that) 2) deleting bad photos so nobody need ever know about them 3) not sharing them until I have permission – some people trust my judgement and give general permission with one person I run each photo by her first, because that’s her comfort level 4) not taking photos when I’ve been told it makes someone uncomfortable… even the time I got a I’m not really comfortable with photos of my pet being taken, well, maybe… I decided that if it was a maybe sort of thing then the best thing to do was to not – err on the side of not hurting anyone, I do not need the photos and I want people to be comfortable. I want photos to be a happy-making thing, where people are pleased to have pleasant memories captured.
            I really wish all photographers remembered that having a camera and wanting a photo doesn’t give you any special rights.But there really do seem to be a lot of people who have been subjected to unpleasantness in the pursuit of photography.

          10. On the clothing, a few of my friends who are parents with young kids in the 2-5 age range regularly Twitter post what the kid has decided to wear today and it’s hilarious and awesome. They only occasionally change things for practicality reasons and they’re all cool with non gender normative stuff so it’s all kid style. Basically, all my friends who are parents are fantastic parents. (In other ways as well, obviously.)

          11. Thank you to everyone who replied with jedi hugs, outrage, and analysis of why and how this was Not Okay. It felt cathartic to write the story but afterwards I felt pretty gross and triggered, and reading your replies short-circuited the part of my jerkbrain that would have added to that by telling me it wasn’t really that bad and that I was just being a pathetic attention-seeker. *jedi hugs in return*

            My mother passed away a few years ago and I’ve had a close, loving and mutually respectful relationship with my dad ever since. Remembering this incident from my childhood has suddenly made that pretty complicated for me. I don’t know if I’m going to ask him for an apology; I’m still processing about that. I think I would definitely get one, and he would be genuinely upset when he gave it. But it would be because I have power now. I’ve cut off everyone else in my family, and he knows knows/fears I could potentially do the same to him. His apology would just be a deferring to power, the same way he deferred to my abusive mother’s hurt feelings by throwing my right to not be manhandled against my will under the bus.

            Now that my mother is gone, my dad lives close to my Darth Vader stepsister, and backs her up in her psychological war on her scapegoat daughter. I recently saw him give Scapegoat the same cold shoulder treatment he gave me to force me to apologise after the photo incident, and explained it as teaching her a lesson for having raised her hand to her mother as if to slap her. He never bothered to mention what Darth Vader was doing our saying at the time to make her middle-school aged daughter want to slap her face, because that couldn’t possibly be relevant, right? All that matters is that she was “being a right little bitch that day”.

            I think it’s time to seriously re-evaluate my feelings and opinions about my “wonderful, lovely” dad (who spends 99% of his time being soft-spoken, baking treats for the grandkids and doing favors for the neighbours). Damn. :/


        3. Mine would put the dog between us. Doggie got petted, kids stayed on their own side of the dog.

          1. A reply for @Old_Dan_Tucker, sorry that I can’t nest it correctly.

            What a horrifying thing to happen to anyone, but especially an eight year old child. I hope it’s not inappropriate to compliment your writing – the incident was awful, but the way you told it was utterly compelling. It was liker a scene from a novel or short story.

            It’s terribly distressing when parents can’t distinguish between toddler tantrums and the reasonable request of an.older child. They seemed more concerned with their own (unreasonable in this context) authority than with their child’s comfort. It’s chilling how they both doubled down in response to your protests. And it’s amazing to see how right and true our gut instincts are about boundaries, even in young childhood. ‘Growing up’ in a socially acceptable way often involves forcingt us to ignore those instincts, and some never get them back, tragically.

            I know it’s important in parenting for the adults to have some level of absolute authority, especially when the children are still too young to understand consequences. but too many seem to (a) be completely unwilling to evolve that authority to reflect the child’s growing autonomy, (b) hold toddler tantrums over older children’s heads as “proof” of their supposedly awful nature and (c) be more invested in maintaining their own unchallenged authority in the face of distress and unhappiness on the part of the children, long past any point where it might be seen as ‘necessary’. Why do people still insist on seeing their children as mindless extensions of themselves? It’s chilling.

      2. I’m one of three kids. On a long car journey aged around ten, I decided that I would have two kids, one for each side of the car. No one in the middle either to be uncomfortable or to flail around and cannon into the poor, wronged party on the right who’s just trying to read her book and wrestle with the ensuing carsickness.

        I don’t have any kids yet but if I do and if I can, one for each side of the car is still the plan.

        I also decided aged around twelve that my dream car was a Renault Espace, which my parents thought was hilarious

    5. “I know he’s on the Autism Spectrum and has a tendency to take things literally” – no, he’s using his ASD to hit you over the head. Taking things literally = trouble innately understanding sarcasm or irony. That “I DON’T DARE TO GIVE UNASKED-FOR ADVICE” thing has absolutely zero to do with ASD. He is acting like a perfectly neurotypical dude throwing a tantrum. Whether you DTMFA or no, he’s just plain being an ass here.

      1. I’m sorry if it came over as me blaming it on Autism. I was trying to make clear that I was not doing that, that his Autism doesn’t excuse dickish behaviour. He’s highly gifted and knows full well that he’s crossing lines when he stops and thinks about it, he’s just too preoccupied with himself sometimes to care.

    6. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say. For example, this actual conversation in a car with my mother, picking me up from the station after not having seen each other in ages:

      Her: how do we get to your hotel?
      Me: it’s next to Supermarket, do you know the way? Ok, so carry on here, turn right at the roundabout and then I’ll guide you when we get close…
      Her: (shouting) Don’t talk to me when I’m driving!
      Me: *shocked silence*
      Me: (timidly) I was only answering your question, sorry.
      Her: Be quiet! Don’t talk to me!
      Me: *silence*

      A minute later…
      Her: [boring anecdote about someone I don’t know.]
      There was no question at the end so I stayed quiet.
      Her: are you listening? What do you think?
      Me: I was listening, just trying to stay quiet while you’re driving.
      Her: oh there’s no need to be smart. You’re always like this.
      I then try not to cry so I can give directions calmly when the hotel approaches. I don’t really win 😦

      Sometimes there is no right answer. I hope communication gets easier between you and your partner. I’ve given up with my mother.

      1. Oof, I recognise both sides of this, and the other person always seems so unreasonable.

      2. You’re always like this.
        Patricia Evans described this sort of thing as the other person “telling you lies about yourself.” It’s a subtle form of abuse.
        I’m sorry your mother treats you like that. It’s not okay and you don’t deserve it.

      3. Your mother isn’t asserting boundaries in a fair or reasonable way here..the way to do that is for her, knowing that she finds it hard to concentrate on directions while driving, is to plan out the route in advance with you while the car is stationary, then mutually agree to have quiet time until you arrive at the hotel. That’s just gaslighting masquerading as boundary-setting, in that involves ignoring your reality as a fellow human and adult. The whole point of boundaries is that the y have to be consistent. Sorry that happened to you, I’ve had similar experiences and it’s horrible.

      4. Ugh. I’m sorry. The only “win” I can see is to refuse to ride in a car with her …

  6. GREAT JOB, LW!!! You are awesome, all systems are go. Resisting sketchy, maybe rapist, dude is why you feel off balance, but you did great. Jedi hugs if you want them.

  7. Sometimes, I’m just so relieved to hear when rapists just totally give away that they’re rapists. Like, I am so sorry that you had a horrible experience, and you will likely be freaked about this for a while, but thank GOD he was so frickin obvious oh my god.

    Also, “Let’s go back to someone’s place” isn’t exactly “code” for anything, but it’s very vague and because a lot of people have different expectations about what that means, it is absolutely NOT out of line (or an “overreaction”) that you found it necessary to make it clear that you were not ready for sex. A cool, chill, nice, normal person would say, “Okay. Sorry for giving off that vibe.” Or, “Okay. Thanks for being up front.” I’ve clarified things with people all the time. “I’d love it if you spent the night, but I just want to let you know that here’s how far I’m up for going, sex wise.”

    Finally, you weren’t just NOT being UNreasonable. You were being REASONABLE. Rational. Logical. Dude pushes your, “I don’t want to kiss” boundary in public. Why should you assume he’s not going to push more boundaries in private?

    RUN, do not walk, AWAY.

    1. Yes!

      It reminds me of when misogynists go on shooting sprees because they can’t get a relationship, and I go – wait, he’s the kind of guy who reacts to rejection by shooting people, good on all of those woman who rejected him for knowing this was not the kind of guy to start a relationship with. It’s like they have a “I want to be safe” radar.

      1. And all the other misogynists being all “some [woman] should have just had sex with him and it should be illegal for guys to not be able to have sex with anyone” and I’m like “seriously you think women should be legally obligated to invite a guy into their lives who thinks the response to rejection is SHOOTING PEOPLE.” Gaaaaaaaah so horribly terrifying.

        1. Yeah, one of the most unsettling comments I heard after the (I think) George Sodini thing happened (guy went on a shooting spree at a gym), was a comment along the lines of “this is why we women should be nice to people, even just smile or say hi, even if the guy isn’t our type.” HOW IS THIS THE LESSON YOU TAKE FROM THIS?!?!? Nooooooo. So upsetting.

          1. Ugh ew ew ew. So you think you need to encourage the kind of guy who thinks the inevitable eventual “no” is reason for a shooting spree?

      2. I \forget where I heard it, but someone pointed out that this hypothetical girl would not have prevented the massacre; she would only have been first in line when it started and blamed by name instead of by concept.

        Anecdata, VERY trigger-y, and somehow a story I can’t stop telling (sorry), illustrating what happened when I tried to be “nice” to a self-proclaimed “nice guy:”

        In April of 2008, an online friend came in to town and asked for crash space. He was on a shared forum, constantly asking advice on how to get a girl— he was so NICE and girls were so DUMB. We ended up having a fling. We talked a lot after that.
        He moved up to my city for a trial space of six weeks, after which I said, “This isn’t working. I’m sorry.” I got back together with my college boyfriend, and we got engaged.

        Nice Guy ended up moving to my city (Chicago) anyway— my roommate rented the spare room to him without consulting me! I ended up trying vigorously to find a new apartment as Nice Guy sabotaged my efforts at every turn. When Nice Guy found out who my fiancé was, he coerced me into sex by threatening suicide and several other not-nice things, and my body reacted as if I’d been raped. (I call this rape now, because in my gut, I knew that he would not have stopped until he got what he wanted or one or both of us was dead. And because of… other stuff that happened below. There are those who will, even today. say I am being insulting to survivors of “real” rape by calling it by that word, but interestingly enough, those who have experienced rape and acknowledged as such have uniformly said, “Yup, that’s rape all right.”)

        I broke up with my fiancé because that was “obviously” cheating. When, a little less than a month later, I told him what had actually happened, he was initially supportive, though distancing himself, but convinced several of his/our friends, maybe not deliberately, that I had played the rape card for “regrettable sex.” Later, my fiancé announced publicly that I had in fact raped him. (There is some truth to that in a technical sense, but my therapist feels this is probably a response to secondary rape trauma, and after years of beating the hell out of myself for this, I just feel it’s not productive to do anything except not ever do anything like it again and to use my experience to warn others away from making my mistake. I felt sad and angry and lost for years at the loss of the relationship, but looking back, I’m glad to be out. There was a lot wrong there, on both sides of the equation, and the circumstances he calls rape are the least of the wrongness.)

        Nice Guy, in the meantime, tracked down my new apartment in January. He was homeless, he’d moved here for love of me, it was all my fault, he didn’t know it was rape, I HAD to take him in. I did. Fortunately, I was working eighty-hour weeks. He eventually found a room for rent near me. I finally cut all ties when he started becoming aggressive toward my (new) roommate when he thought I’d lied about my plans to go to the library and she was stalling his efforts to “rescue” me. (He was worried about me when he found the library was closed and I hadn’t gone immediately home.)

        That should be the end. I literally never saw him again. I did, however, see the FBI show up on my doorstep. Could they take a look at my computer? Nice Guy had been using my apartment, computer, Internet connection, and webcam, when I was at work, to trade a shitton of child pornography and torture porn and a place to lure six-to-ten-year-old girls to. It turned out he was courting me because of my (at the time of the beginning of this saga) twelve-year-old daughter, who was, thank the Goddess, living with her father and stepmother in Texas at the time, and “too developed” for his tastes when they finally (ONCE) met.

        “Nice Guy” is now in prison for a very, very long time. I have literal nightmares of mothers of the girls whose pictures he traded calling me up and begging to know why I didn’t report this rape, why I was so afraid of “ruining” this man’s life that I never went to the authorities, why I didn’t protect their babies by protecting myself?

        And that, Awkwardeers, is why you call something rape if your body tells you it’s rape, and why I advise you to report it if you possibly can. It’s not protecting yourself, it’s protecting everyone the rapist comes into contact with. It’s not “ruining the life” of a “nice” guy, it’s limiting the thing within him that drives him to break those who can’t defend themselves.

        Sorry— emovomit off. LW is ABSOLUTELY DOING THE RIGHT THING by trusting her instincts. I didn’t, once, and a lot of innocent people got hurt.

        1. I’m so, so sorry that that happened to you. I guess I also want to say that there is a lot of guilt in your story about how not reporting somehow led to terrible human not getting caught. But you can’t know that. Even if you had been taken seriously, even if he had been investigated, even if they had turned all this up: IT WAS STILL HIS FAULT. All of it. And none of it was yours.

          It was not your fault. And partially, I say this because a much much less horrific version happened to me, and nothing my ex-and-rapist did was my fault. Not the drugs, not the dealing, not the thefts, not the assault, not the other women that the rumor mill tells me the same thing happened to. I was not at fault for making the decision not to report, and neither were you.

          I’m glad you got out. *jedi hugs if you want them*

      3. You can’t win with that one. It’s all “would it have killed you to just go on one date with him?”. But, if he doesn’t respect your no to the first date, why would he respect a no for the second, or for anything else? He wants to kiss/have sex/etc, why would he de-escalate his response from what it was for the smaller previous no? Pretty soon, you’re in a relationship with someone you don’t want to be in because he disregards all of your no’s and just keeps pestering and harassing you until you say yes just to get him to stop.

        And then, if anything happens, it’s all “why were you leading him on?” “You should have just said no/kept your legs closed/etc.” And it’s all your fault. Either way, it’s your fault. And it tends to be the same people who say all of these things!

        Say no, and you’re cold-hearted bitch and responsible for mitigating his feelings from rejection. Say yes, and you’re a tease, or just a bitch who lead him on and deserves everything that happened.

        If he’s willing to shoot you for being honest and not wanting to string him along, what would he do to the person who said yes, just trying to be nice, who realizes their initial feelings were correct after “giving him a chance”? Why is it that all that matters is the guy’s yes? Are you just supposed to be in a relationship with him just because he wants to have one with you? Why are you expected to mold into what he wants, and to set aside/change your feelings? Why are his feelings the only ones that matter?

    2. After too many bad experiences where I ended up doing things that I didn’t want to do, because I was afraid he might force the issue if I said no, my rule now is I don’t go to your place or you don’t come to mine where we will be alone unless I am willing to sleep with you. Maybe we don’t, and that’s fine, but I just don’t like putting myself in uncomfortable situations.

    3. “let’s go back to my place” isn’t *only* a code way of saying let’s have sex–it does get used for other purposes, including it’s literal meaning. But it is seen as code by enough people that it’s ok to treat it as though the other person means it that way. Obviously you agree with that part. I’m just saying that I think your points are valid without that clarification–enough people think that *only* means let’s have sex that it’s totally cool and not a weird thing to do to respond by saying you don’t want to have sex.

      1. Similarly– even if the way he talked to you did not raise any red flags to CA or to us in the comments (and holy shit does it ever), you wouldn’t be overreacting to terminate a date/relationship with someone who makes you uncomfortable FOR ANY REASON. Even a perfectly innocent person who is not rapey in the slightest is the wrong companion for you if you spend a large portion of your time with them trying not to let them touch you, rationalizing doing things you don’t want to do, and feeling generally on edge. Bonus points if you cry after the date is over. The person you’re looking for is someone you want to be around, LW!

        Signed, someone who went on too many dates and allowed too many unwanted kisses because of politeness and never will again.

      2. I think ‘let’s go back to my place’ pretty much *is* code for ‘let’s have sex’ when it comes at the end of a dinner date or party or other late-night endeavour and at least one party has been making moves on the other. Otherwise, it’s ‘damn, the restaurant has thrown us out because they’re closing, and we’re still in the middle of a conversation – I can’t think of a cafe anywhere near that’s still open, but my place is not far, that really was a damn stupid scene in that film’. Different vibe.

        1. It doesn’t mean “I’ve agreed to have sex with you if I invite you back to my place,” as rape apologists would have it, but it’s enough of a code that asking someone to clarify their intentions (or clarifying your own) is not out of line – you’re not horribly insulting someone by acknowledging that it can be seen as code.

          1. Yeah, I’ve had people think I was asking for sex when I wasn’t and I’ve never thought they were being unreasonable when they told me they weren’t ready. Hell, one women even told me she wouldn’t be ready for a while in the very first message she sent me on OKCupid. I usually am ready pretty quick (quicker than all the women I’ve ever dated), and lots of people do communicate about sex with hints and euphemisms.

            Anyone who reacts to “I’m not ready to have sex” by trying to convince you that’s not what they meant is going to make me suspicious. These have to be some of the same guys who flirt with a woman, and then respond to her indicating disinterest by saying something like “Ugh, I don’t want to date you! I was just having a conversation.” Or who respond to to a polite email rejection with “I DON’T CARE YOU’RE FAT ANYWAY!!”

            The correct response is “Oh, OK, that’s fine.” And then you don’t try again until they tell you they’re ready.

            “It doesn’t mean “I’ve agreed to have sex with you if I invite you back to my place,” as rape apologists would have it, but it’s enough of a code that asking someone to clarify their intentions (or clarifying your own) is not out of line – you’re not horribly insulting someone by acknowledging that it can be seen as code.”

            Anyway, if you went home with them without clarifying, and something happened, you’d get “Well if you knew you didn’t want to, why didn’t you say something?!” You can’t win with some people.

    4. “Dude pushes your, “I don’t want to kiss” boundary in public. Why should you assume he’s not going to push more boundaries in private?”


      I mean, from what the LW told us, it sounds like this would’ve been an interaction that could have been read by someone halfway decent at reading body language as “that lady looks really, really uncomfortable.” If he’s willing to be THAT CREEPY about it out in the open like that, where people could have READ it as creepy, lord knows what he would have tried to do had the LW actually gotten him alone.

    5. True facts. There’s a lot of coded language we use with dating behavior (frankly because society punishes people for being upfront lest we all turn into slutty sluts). One bit of coded language commonly in use is: Let’s go back to my/your place = We should do the sex. If that is not what you mean, it’s ON YOU to specify it. So: Let’s go back to my/your place and keep making out, I’m really enjoying that/watch Game of Thrones/I’ll make a paella. ALSO: “for coffee” also equals “for sex.”

      You were completely and 100% within your right to interpret it that way because that’s what it means. For him to freak out about it and punish you for making a reasonable assumption means he wanted to do the sex with you, and now that it’s not on the table, he wants to make you pay for dashing his chances. Based on him telling a story about rape to you (to boundary test) I feel very safe in assuming he wanted to isolate you so he could coerce, manipulate or force you into having sex. You were very smart to not let him trap you!

      Remember, he could have smiled and said, “Hey, not what I meant, sorry! I wanted to keep making out/watch Game of Thrones/I’ll make a paella!” Or he could have said, “Well, I was hoping for the sex, but since you’re not, we won’t.” He did none of those things.

      Quite frankly, what was stopping him from continuing with the kissing where you were? Nothing. Not a single thing. He could also have said something like “Hey, I’m really enjoying the kissing, we should go on another date and do more of it.” He didn’t. He wanted to escalate. Again, back to cultural assumptions: most people assume that if you move from one location to another, especially if you move to a location with fewer people, that you will also be escalating activities. So, if I make out in a coffee shop with someone, then go to my car with them, they might reasonably assume that I’m okay with boob-grabbing. Whether or not I am okay with that is irrelevant to this point because, based on how we code information, that information is presumed to be encoded. Since you did not want to do parts-grabbing, it was a very good thing that you told him so! It’s entirely on him that he threw a temper tantrum and punished you for putting your very reasonable desires out there.

      Also? As someone who enjoys friends with benefits relationships and tends to jump into the sex fairly quickly, I agree with you! I ALSO want my to get to know my partners! I’m happier jumping into sex faster than you, but I also want to enjoy spending non-sexual time with someone and getting to know them as people! i want my friends with benefits to actually be my FRIENDS. There is not a single thing wrong with wanting to have non-sexy time with people before you have sexy time with them, and it’s totally normal for your barrier to entry to be higher than what’s “the norm.” (Also there is no norm in sex and relationships).

      There are other people out there. People who want to date at the same speed as you. People who will not make you afraid and upset and confused. People who will hear you say “I don’t want to do the sex yet” and say “That’s cool, no rush.” Go out and find them, and do not DO NOT d o n o t spend any more time with people who terrify you on purpose.

      1. I have to say, reading all this about codes and stuff, that I’m so glad I spent years in a sexual subcommunity where negotiation was a given and you started out by saying, I do this and this, but I don’t do that and that, and I’m curious about this other thing, and your partner said, ok, I’m fine with that, and I’d also like to do this other thing, are you okay with that? and then you said ok, or not, before anything happened.

        It does, however, make it kinda difficult to date people outside that subcommunity, because once you get used to that type of interaction, it’s really awesome.

        1. First CA comment –

          Reading all this, I’m so grateful that the first person I kissed was one who believed in such negotiation before anything, even far away from such subcommunities. We had several conversations about “I’m not sure if I’m ready for The Kissing” and he was like “that’s fine, let me know if you ever are,” and then “I’m ready for The Kissing” and “Are you very very sure? Ok. Shall we do The Kissing?” and then after The Kissing we sat down and talked for a long time about I’d like to do this, I very much don’t want to do that, that, or that, and I might be interested in this and that other thing soon but not yet, and he said cool, cool, me neither, that’s ok, um I don’t want to do this other thing but I’d like to try that other thing sometime!

          And then there were similar check-ins before absolutely anything happened that hadn’t already been discussed. And this is why we are still enthusiastically doing The Kissing and The Boob Action. It’s so sane. Why do people use code?

  8. Also, this guy is a douche. Who, WHO in the world talks about fake rape accusations on the first date, especially fake rape accusations that happened to his “friend”? Who? A misogynist, that’s who.

    1. Him: “It wasn’t even penetration!”
      Me: “I think I hear my mother calling to tell me I have to go home right now to wash my hair/fake my own death.”

      1. Oh, no kidding. I think LW did a great job by even being able to stay there and be able to react to him civilly rather than screaming WTF DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME?

        1. …..So did he think telling a story about rape was sexy? That it would lure the LW into fun sexytimes with him? WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? Gigantic creep.

      2. The gold standard for Bad Date in my social circle is a date so bad you secretly text a friend to call you and pretend their pet died.

        If a date is so bad someone’s pet pretend-died for it, it’s BAD.

      3. “Oh look at the time, it’s go fuck yourself o’clock. Gotta go!”

        This is why I only go out for coffee on the first date. That way, if things get awful, I don’t have to wait for my check, I can just leave.

    2. When I was young and ignorant of the Way of the Douchebag, a Nice Guy (a.k.a. cryptodouche) and I were chatting and flirting. We were in college, and I can’t remember exactly what we were chatting about, but it involved complicated words, and at one point, he contributed “misogynist.” Like I said, I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but I do remember that this word was not in keeping with the theme. I remember thinking that it had kind of come out of nowhere.

      Oh reader, I should have listened when he said that word. I didn’t, though. I laughed it off, and took it as evidence that he wasn’t a misogynist, because, ha ha, why would a misogynist make a joke about being a misogynist, ha ha. We dated for three years. He was gross, through and through, and I dated him for three years, *after* he told me, unprovoked, clearly, and in no uncertain terms, what he was.

      When someone tells you what they are, believe them.

    3. Great call. My first thought was “oh, all this happened with your *FRIEND*, did it?” I read it as a guy who’s actually committed the rape that he described, and is sounding out future victims + trying to scout to hear who’ll be receptive to his “yes I’m legally a sex offender but it wasn’t FOR REALZ rape” a few months into a relationship.

    4. A friend of mine on another online forum told me she came back from going to the restroom on a date, and as she sat back down, her date said “don’t worry, I didn’t put anything in your drink”. That’s a similar date-ender.

      1. Wow. I would be leaving a Light-shaped hole in the wall at that point and going to block this person on all forms of contact.

      2. TV Tropes talks about the Suspiciously Specific Denial. This pretty much sounds like it. “LOL I didn’t put anything in your drink … But from now on every time I *don’t* say that you’re going to wonder, aren’t you?”

        1. The Gift of Fear also talks about this – when someone elaborately reassures you that they aren’t going to harm you out of the blue, it’s like “why would you even bring the prospect of harm up?”

  9. Honey, that guy had RUN, GIRL, RUN written all over him. Period. And my go-to for “typecasting” is generally to just agree with them– smiling, friendly, but agreeing.

    “Yeah, I am pretty reserved. Always have been.”

    “You nailed it! Pride’s my vice, so I’ll be taking those groceries now.”

    “nah, I’ve never been a real ‘party girl’. Takes all kinds, eh?”

    1. “… and I especially hate when utter strangers try to tell me what I am. So much so that I’m outta here!”

      1. Oh, THIS. That was actually what pissed me off most about this guy apart from his rape story – the fact he was presuming to comment so much on the LW’s personality and behaviour (and CRITICALLY – the cheek of it) when they had just met. Ass. Hat.

    2. This is my flat-out favorite technique for dealing with manipulation and abuse. I have a soft spot for it, because I worked it out all by myself as a kid. For me, it was learning to say, “Yup. I have no sense of humor.” It was so empowering. I am still quite willing to insist that I have no sense of humor despite the evidence to the contrary. Because it seems like this accusation or issue only comes up when people are either being mean to me or saying deeply offensive things. And I love the way it puts people off balance for me to be willing to claim to have no sense of humor. Less experienced horrible people will sometimes get so flustered they will start to try to prove to me that I do have a sense of humor and citing the evidence. To which I can then cheerfully go, “Well, maybe I do, in which case that clearly wasn’t funny.”

      But yes, a good response to, “You seem very guarded.” is, “Yes, thank you for noticing.”

      None of these accusations are true insults. They’re designed to sound like things you need to defend yourself from, but they are all really saying, “You seem hard to bully.” and so cheerfully agree that it’s true. It’s affective and fun. And it’s so hard to eke any fun out of a creepy bully that you have to take what upsides you can find until you can get them out of your life.

      1. I did this so earnestly and intensely as a child — you know, without fully formed judgment, taking it wholly to heart — that I came out the other side and started looking down on “normal” people. Didn’t last (I hope!), but I sure seized “friendless, culturally misaligned weirdo” with both hands and made it mine.

        1. This is one of my favorite techniques, and it works really well with high school students, too. “Man, that’s not fair!” “You’re totally right. Unfair. I am a very unfair person. It’s still a zero unless you turn it in tomorrow morning.”

          “But whyyyyyyyyyy can’t I go completely unsupervised to the library when I have a history of sneaking into the auditorium and banging my girlfriend?!” “Because, Billy, I am an awful, awful person and I like seeing my students suffer.”

          At that point the conversation generally stops because what else can they say?

      2. It works sometimes with true insults, too. My dad used to always call me an idiot or stupid when he was mad at me; it used to upset me a lot (because I was the smart kid and believed all my worth was in my grades). Then one time I replied, “You’re right Dad. I’m stupid. And I disagree with you about [thing].” Somehow hearing it repeated back to him–while not backing down–made him realize what he was saying and he hasn’t called me stupid since. It really is just a bullying tactic. And bullying is no fun when you don’t land a hit on your victim.

        1. Totally works with strangers too. “You’re right, I am a bitch” is probably one of the things I’ve said the most.

          1. I used to say that a lot.

            Not so much these days, because these days WAY more of my interactions are with pleasant, respectful people! It’s so refreshing.

          2. As far as I can tell, if you present as a woman and haven’t been called a bitch a few times, you’re probably very young, not in an English speaking area, or are doing something very wrong. Maybe it’s possible to live a good life in an English speaking place and not get called a bitch now and then, but I sure haven’t found a place like that yet. It’s a label people should be proud to have earned.

          3. And if by bitch, you mean empowered woman who knows who to say no and mean it, then yes, I am a bitch.

          4. When people say something like this I always respond with something like “Mmmm, perhaps you’re right” accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders.

      3. My preferred response to that is, “Actually, I have a very well-tuned sense of humour, which is how I know I didn’t find that funny. See? It’s in perfect working order! Maybe you need to have yours checked out though?”

        I love it because it’s true.

      4. My go-to answer for accusations of lacking a sense of humor is telling the other person, “Yup. They removed it when I was a baby. The humor-ectomy scar still hurts sometimes.”

        Someone actually had the presence of mind to ask me why they did that. “Because it was judged a dangerous thing for a girl to have a sense of humor,” was my reply.

        My fellow hobbyist said “Point taken,” and never bothered me about my sense of humor again.

        1. This is the single funniest joke of all time and I salute you for your obvious sense of humor but clear lack of a shit-taking organ.

      5. Yeeeessss. Cheerful agreement with veiled insults is SO. MUCH. FUN.

        I AM terrible! I don’t even know how I got this way. There’s probably no hope for me at all!

        1. Well, actually I *am* a man hating feminist. I just go on dates with dudes to ruin my day! It’s like hate-reading! Hate-dating!!

      6. “None of these accusations are true insults. They’re designed to sound like things you need to defend yourself from, but they are all really saying, “You seem hard to bully.” and so cheerfully agree that it’s true. It’s affective and fun. And it’s so hard to eke any fun out of a creepy bully that you have to take what upsides you can find until you can get them out of your life.”

        Amazing. I couldn’t put into words why it feels SO DAMN GOOD to just agree with the typecasting, but you apparently can. So good. Thank you.

        1. I seem to get “Don’t be so uptight” a lot, and my go-to response now is “Why not?”

      7. Yes. “Bitch” is the one for me. “Geez, you’re a bitch!” Always gets a big smile and a “Thank you!” from me. There has yet to be a situation where I am called a bitch where it didn’t mean “you’re a horrible person because you’re actually standing up for yourself (or someone else) instead of giving me my FEELZ”

    3. Perfect. I’ve used some of those, too. Yep, I’m reserved and unfriendly and cold. Yep, I think I’m smart. Sure, I’m overly-political and I can’t take a joke. And super-boring, too. So why would anyone who thinks these are bad things want to waste their time with me?

    4. Another option is the cheerful divergence of definition. “Huh, I guess you and I have different definitions of guarded. “, “Oh, that’s not pride. “. It’s maybe not quite as effective, but it’s good when you don’t feel up to accepting the label they’ve slapped on you, and it leads to a kind of “I guess we’re both right!” situation in which you’re not pressured to change your behaviour, because you’re not actually being -whatever-, they’re just telling you about their strange misunderstanding of the label.

    5. Hahaha my fiance and I will do the “your face” jokes to each other all the time (You know what’s dumb/awesome/weird/cool? YOUR FACE). When he says things like: You know what doesn’t taste good? YOUR FACE. I always respond with “I know, right?” or “That’s why you shouldn’t lick it.” If he jokes and says “errr mrrrr grrrd you don’t LOVE me anymore” I respond with “Whew! Thank you for figuring it out!”

      We laugh all the time at how dumb we act.

    6. Ooooh boy. First OKC date ever. Rapidly becomes clear the man is *lying* about things- everything, in fact. Tells me a story about how he slept with his brother’s GF once. Said his brother didn’t care “because we’re Irish.” When I asked how the GF felt about all this (I was strategizing how to pay and leave without his noticing by this point- it was a question that popped into my head), he replied “she doesn’t know I did it- she was drunk and asleep.”

      To which I said “ohhhhh, you didn’t *sleep with* her!! You *raped her!* Oookay, I have to go now.” And I ran away.

      This story brought to you by the letters “maybe he was just messing with me” and the number “infinity approval of bailing out and not looking back.” Even if he was fucking with me, who wants to hang out with someone who will say stuff like that one second longer than they have to?

      Sticking them with the tab, like, if they’re getting out the wallet to pay their share, gives you a few minutes to get out the door and gone before they can leave. Bring two ten dollar bills and a five. If you want to pay your share, leave some cash and a quick explanation with the host/hostess as you motor out the door.

      1. DUDE. That is the most fucked up thing…. like, ever. Unless he just meant, like, he literally *slept* in the same bed as his brother’s girlfriend while she’d passed out drunk? But still, even THAT’s too fucked-up for comfort, if slightly better than being a straight-up rapist.. I’m glad you up and ran like the wind.

        1. Isn’t it icky? So icky. By that time he’d told so many obvious howlers it was clear things were just off with this guy.

          I should have been clearer- this all happened as we did the first psrts of the settling up ritual. We did the regular style of paying, but I got a move on with no lingering.

          It was that date that brought about Option: Stick ’em With the Bill While You Leeeeave.

    7. Oh yeah, agreeing often takes the wind right out of their sails. I’ve actually had people ask “aren’t you gonna argue with me?” Nope, I’m totally cool with you thinking I’m an ugly bitch, actually, okay, buh bye.

  10. Oh my god I feel so horrified and creeped out from reading this. LW, you are NOT overreacting. I want to sob just reading your story and I wasn’t even there. Thank god you got the hell out of there. Your instincts to spot on, and bravo to you for being able to see past his manipulation.

  11. LR, you did everything right and there’s nothing wrong with waiting before having sex. The guy’s a creep, is probably a rapist, and at least hangs out with guys who are accused of rape, which makes him questionable at best. I’m glad you got the hell out of there.

    If someone tried to kiss me within 20 minutes of meeting me, even if we were on a date, he’d have a bloody nose and I’d be blocking his number on my iPhone. And I’m not a prude.

    YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE FRIENDLY TO THESE CREEPS. If someone hits your creep-o-meter you have absolutely no moral obligation to be nice to them. If you are worried, while you’re writing back and forth set some boundaries. “Hey, I’d love to meet you for dinner, but be aware that it’s dinner only! No kissing or petting or making out.” And if he tries, he’s a creep and you should just get up and get the hell out of there. And block him. You especially don’t owe niceness to people who don’t feel they owe niceness to you.

  12. I’ve never been an online dating person, but my best friend met her husband that way (after dating a few duds, as well as not-duds who didn’t end up being husband), and she always had a policy of first dates being short, meet-for-coffee type meetings. Specifically to avoid any pressure, whether it was to drink, have to spend several hours eating a meal if it turned out you didn’t like the person, or to engage in anything too sexy. if they hit it off over a coffee conversation, then the second date could be something more food/alcohol/potentially-sexy. Sometimes the “second date” would occur immediately following the cup of coffee, if they hit it off really well.

    1. I have the same policy as your friend. One particularly creep o tastic guy decided to be offended by it.
      Me: Let’s meet for brunch.
      Him: Nah, I’ll pick you up and we can drink at my house.
      Me: No, I feel much more comfortable meeting in public the first few times.
      Him: Why?!??????? (seriously written that way)
      Me: it’s just a safety precaution – nothing personal.
      Him: It is personal! You’re punishing me for something another guy did and it isn’t fair!

      1. How can it be personal? You hadn’t even met him yet. But on the plus side, his reaction told you that you didn’t need to, ever.

        1. I think of this the same way I think of responses to the Party Gollum: “it wasn’t personal that I didn’t invite you to my party, but for all future parties it will be!”


            There is a girl who did some really, really shitty and abusive things to one of my friends while they were dating/shortly after they broke up, and she showed up to a party at my friend’s now-girlfriend’s apartment. Girl did not get let into the apartment because she knew less than half the people there, she was going simply to fuck with my friend’s head, and she did not hide the fact that she absolutely hated the party-havers’ guts. After being reasonably turned away because why would someone hosting a party want someone there who hates them & trying to cause drama/be further abusive toward antendees, girl calls campus safety on the part to say that there is excessive drinking (there wasn’t) and that people were out-of-control puking outside the apartment (again, no). It kinda was personal that she didn’t get into the party that night, but it sure as heck is personal that she’ll never get invited to any party hosted or attended by anyone who was there that night.

      2. exactly! someone who actually takes offense at meeting FOR THE FIRST TIME in a public place for a fairly innocuous low pressure “get to know you” conversation before moving to something more serious is someone to be weeded out right quick by said suggestion in the first place!

        1. It’s, like, extra mind-boggling to me because this is in the syllabus of Internet Dating for Ladies 101, which is all over the internet. And people explicitly talk about how not being willing to meet in public is a huge red flag for a potential internet date. So not only does this guy fail the not-a-creep test, he fails the maybe-creepy-but-smart-enough-to-have-general-knowledge-of-how-people-internet-date test.

    2. This was exactly my approach, too (and I also met my husband online). It helped my self-confidence, as it taught me that a) I wasn’t going to like everyone, so it was totally fine for people not to like me, there’s always more people out there, b) I could carry on a conversation with nearly anyone for an hour and all it cost was an hour of my time and maybe a cup of coffee.

      I did meet one guy who had said ahead of time that he was looking for a FIB arrangement, and I said that I wasn’t. He pushed it a little bit by saying that his approach was to try FIB and if that worked, move on to dating, and I said that my approach was the complete opposite. We thanked each other and went our separate ways, which is how those kinds of discussions should work.

      LW, your dude sent up all of my nonexistent flags and then some. Good on you for getting out with your boundaries mostly intact, and I think your instincts are enviable and to be commended.

  13. Also, I just want to add, I have had a lot of sex on the first date, but never ever had a guy start kissing me or touching me within 20 minutes. That is extremely odd and would be a huge red flag for me. It is very strange that that is happening to you a lot.

    1. Come to think of it, same here. I’ve had first-date sex and first-date make-outs galore, but there was always a build-up. Some conversation, drinks, maybe food, walking around some park or festival or wherever.
      The only exceptions were when I was dating dudes who I had known platonically for a while, and even then there was some kind of build-up beforehand, though not necessarily in person.
      So I think that makes sense as a red flag.

      1. Exactly! When you want to have sex on a first date you actually need to be MORE cautious about not kissing or touching the person unless they are giving you crystal clear signals that that’s what they want you to do. Because no matter what it says on their profile there’s no way to know what a person’s boundaries are with that stuff. Every time I’ve had first date sex or make outs the guy didn’t kiss me until I made it very, very clear I wanted him to.

    2. I’ve had a lot of one night stands with people I’d just met and I don’t think I’ve ever had someone start kissing and touching me within twenty minutes. But even if that had happened, it would be because we were both obviously enjoying ourselves and comfortable with it.

      “I can tell you’re very guarded” = “I can tell you’re not comfortable with what I’m doing and want to pressure you into acting like you are instead of changing my behavior to make you feel safer”

    3. Same here. I’ve had plenty of sex on the first date too, but not under those circumstances. The guys that went Full Tongue Octopus Grippy Gripperson twenty minutes in were the guys I did not sleep with on the first date (or ever), because their actions were screaming: “you’re just an object to me.”

        1. With apologies to Paul and Storm: Full Tongue Octopus is the name of my Mick Jagger cover band.

    4. I have; it was a guy who was very similar to the one the LW describes, so it’s not exactly a counterexample.

      He didn’t tell a rape story, but he kept trying to get physical no matter how much I shrunk away. I think there was some similar verbal pressuring too. I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t shut him down, and even made out with him a little later. But I came to my senses once I was away from the immediate pressure and there was no 2nd date.

      LW, if you’re still feeling weird about wanting to go more slowly than he did, I generally don’t want to touch at all on the first date, so there’s a data point for you about “what’s done”. I usually kiss on the 2nd date, not because of rules but because that’s when a guy is likely to cross some line in my mind from stranger to date (if ever). And the guy I described above has been the exception; most have, well, just waited until either my words or my body language asked for a kiss.

      1. A story about trusting instincts and missed (“missed”?) social cues: I went on a few dates with a guy I met online, and the first date was lovely. We had excellent conversation, he obviously found me attractive, dinner was nice, had a good time, I even felt comfortable letting him give me a ride back to the college campus where I was staying (not my private residence). He did not try to touch me. But by the end of the weekend, I had decided I wasn’t attracted back and shouldn’t go on a second date. I sent a very polite message declining further dates and assumed that would be that.

        The problem? We were friends on social media. And I didn’t block. After a few months, he started sending me messages. I responded. We weren’t flirting– or at least, I wasn’t. But after a week or so of conversation, he asked for another date. This is more than six months after our initial date, but after the messages I felt like I had to say yes!

        So we went on another date. And it was fine. Nice, I guess. (I still wasn’t attracted.) At the end of the date, he drove me home and kissed me goodbye. I didn’t like it. I declined the next few offers of dates and stopped returning messages.

        A year passes. (A YEAR.) And then, through the same process… third date. Again, perfectly lovely time. We go hours before he attempts to touch me. But, again, kiss goodbye. And, again, I didn’t want to. I pulled away, nervously giggling. He tells me I’ll have to “get over” my “shyness” and that I’m “so cute” he “can’t help” himself, before repeatedly delivering kisses he must have intuited I did not want. I allowed this for a while before going into my house, taking a hot shower, and morosely blocking him on social media.

        Cue the email about what he must have done to upset me, how he’s never met someone like me, etc… I did not respond.

        Do I wish I had been clearer and more explicit and more firm and all around handled everything about this differently? Yes. But at the same time… we went on 3 dates in 18 months. It can’t have come as a surprise that I wasn’t eager for a relationship with him.

        And, much like LW, when I tell this story, I always feel the urge to include extraneous positive details about this guy– he was nice, he was smart, he liked how smart I was, I didn’t feel unsafe, he’s totally not a rapist– to deflect from that can’t-stop-himself-delivering-unwanted-kisses comment, to deflect from that not-like-other-girls comment so plainly meant to manipulate me into giving him more of my attention.

      2. The very first time I tried dating (which was all of last year), the guy was trying to touch me and kiss me within, oh, fifteen minutes. What made it doubly odd and creepy is that my online profile stated that I was asexual and flatly not interested in most physical things right up front. He also pulled the ‘you seem so guarded’ crap that the LW mentions. He did at least have the courtesy to ask before touching, but then he KEPT asking after I was very clear touching was not happening. Like most people, I’ve been socialized not to give a flat no, but for whatever reason, I was able to say it clearly and loudly each time (‘Can I hold your hand?’ ‘NO’.) There was no second date, but in a really weird way I’m sorta of glad that was my first experience? It gave me a chance to trust my instincts (which were screaming CREEP in the first ten seconds) and practice in articulating “hell nope” without feeling guilty about it.

  14. Whew! I am so glad you did not go to a more private location with that dude. Guys like that are WHY we have to be “very guarded”!

  15. “Hi, I’m Redd Flagg, of the Rapesburg Flaggs.”

    That guy was more bad news than a 11 pm local station at the bottom of the ratings. Good on you for changing the channel to Nope I’m Outtie Theatre (tonight’s film: “Wow, REALLY? Check, Please!”).

        1. Yes, but Redd is only half-demon on his father’s side. So, he could totally be a mostly-but-not-quite nice guy. If you squint real hard. Right?

  16. I pretty much feel like LW’s entire date was one giant Neg.

    When people tell you who they really are, believe them! This dude is telling you, LW, that he is someone who is a rape apologist and who thinks boundaries are a challenge for him to game his way around! This dude is telling you that he is the sort of bad news who wants women to feel insecure and off balance around him, so that they will feel like they have to do what he wants in order to win his approval, rather than being able to take the time to decide what they do, nor do not, want to do. Every squiggly feeling of nope run away that you had was there for a reason. Your guts believed him even when your head was still trying to make sense out of his twisty illogic– and twisty, it was. The craftiest of these dudes don’t even have to gaslight their targets directly. They are so skilled at manipulation and reading social cues* that they can get their targets to gaslight themselves. Run. Run like the fucking wind.

    *make no mistake, people who choose to ignore or lampshade a Nope are very adept at reading social cues. that’s how they know where the vulnerable parts of one’s boundaries are, and how to push against those vulnerabilities to get the results they want

    1. Thanks for making this explicit, onamission5. I get really goddamn sick of hearing that bullshit about “mixed messages” and “misunderstandings”, when guys are perfectly capable of understanding indirect/polite/”soft” refusals when it comes to borrowing power tools or not attending social engagements. Somehow society has bought into the myth that guys who can grok soft refusals perfectly well in other situations all of a sudden lose that ability when the potential for sexytime is involved, which is pernicious garbage.

      1. No prob. I wanted to head off at the pass any potential “but he was just socially awkward” apologetics. Nope. Predators are the opposite of socially awkward. They are really good at reading social cues actually. That’s how they know where your boundaries are and what tactics might work to set you off balance. Someone who’s genuinely awkward would be honestly horrified to discover that they have crossed a line, not pretend horrified that they got caught.

        1. My favorite way to tell the difference between someone who has actual problems reading social cues and someone who is a predator: how do they behave around people who aren’t young women they want to sleep with? Hint: people who can suddenly understand subtle social cues when they no longer have perceived social status over the other person aren’t awkward.

  17. Oh my goodness.You just dodged a fucking hell of a bullet!!! It saddens me to know this creep/potential rapist is going to creep on other unsuspecting girls.

    Anyways, I hope you feel better soon. You deserve much, much better than this and I hope you find what you’re looking for.

  18. “Finally we parted ways. I went home and sobbed. I have no idea why.”

    Oh, friend! So many ideas why you would sob, and be perfectly justified in doing so. Possibly from the shockwave emanating from the bullet you just dodged? Possibly because what you had hoped would be a lovely interaction with a person ended up being a horror show of boundary pushing? I mean, lookit, you put on your Date Clothes and went to a Date Place to meet an Attractive-to-You-Person with your heart in your pocket, ready to give it away if everything went to plan. Then this person shows that they are a Not-Very-Nice-Person and you may feel betrayed by one or any combination of a number of things: the person for not being as advertised, the person for being jerky, your inability to be psychic and deduce this person was not-very-nice before you met them, the world for making not-very-nice-people who look nice on first glance, and on and on.

    Sobbing is de rigueur, and you join a long tradition in doing so, for whatever comfort that can bring.

    I hope you have many splendid dates with non-creepy dudes in your future. You are amazing and all your instincts are RIGHT ON.

    1. THIS. Being in the presence of someone like that is disturbing! It’s ok to feel stressed out. That shit can really get to you.

    2. It’s worth crying just because that whole date was a waste of makeup (literal or metaphorical) and if you’re just newly dating there can be elements of, “Oh god, will they all be like this?”

    3. Also, defending your boundaries and trusting your gut sense of things when someone’s trying to manipulate you and make you feel that you’re being irrational and unfair for doing so — that can be really *tiring*. In my experience, it can feel emotionally draining.

    4. Yes, your instincts are good! Very healthy reaction to teh creepy guy.

      I want to comment regarding sobbing since I didn’t see anyone else saying this. What you encountered was a bit like a battle. He sounds like an unsavoury PUA type of person, so to him it was more of a game. To you, you were put on the spot, defended yourself against his relentless attacks on your healthy boundaries. It is a natural reaction to have a cry after coming down from an intense adrenalin situation like that. There is nothing wrong with that!

    5. I thank you for pointing out that crying also comes from dashed hopes – beautiful, poignant turn-of-phrase “heart in your pocket, ready to give it away if everything went to plan.”

      And mourning what might-had-been is also perfectly understandable. Mourn it, *hard*, so it moves out and one can repair the damage.

    6. I would have sobbed in relief at being away from him. Make no mistake–that guy was a predator. Your uncomfortable feelings likely came (at least in part) from the conflict between the fight-or-flight response and the way women are socialized to behave in public and towards men. No matter how much part of your brain was trying to dismiss it, your instincts were screaming “DANGER!!!”

      That process will mess with anyone’s equilibrium.

  19. Ditto what everyone else said.

    LW, I have totally told guys, “I am not going to have sex with you tonight.” The right answer is, “OK.” Other acceptable answers involve clarifying what your boundaries ARE, not trying to move them. You are the only one who gets to move your boundaries.

    1. I used to do this every time I was out partying and met a guy. I’d get his phone number, but make it clear I wasn’t going home with him that night. And… oh boy, did I ever get a full range of reactions to that.

      Recently I talked to my boyfriend about this issue and he was mildly amazed to realize I had tested his ability to hear and accept a “no” all those years ago when we first met.

    2. Yep. I tell guys that on the regular, guys that I meet up with for the express and explicit purpose of some form of sexy times, and the ones who get to move on to the next round are the ones who are cool about it (most of them). The ones who whine or protest are the ones who don’t get a non-public meeting because they are from Rapesburg or its surrounding suburbs.

      LW, you do you. Be direct about what you want and do not want, including touching, and let the chips fall where they may. Your instincts are good, and you know yourself. You got yourself out of a sticky situation and in the future, you’ll get yourself out even sooner.

  20. Wow. I felt like I was reading a story about me for a second there. This has happened to me more times than I’d like, and I’ve learned that your gut is ALWAYS Right. this guy was a creep. You didn’t overreact at all!

  21. LW, personally, I think you should see this as a sign that you have some working creep detectors that are helping to keep you safe as you date. There are good people out there who you can relax with, but you probably are going to date more creeps along the way to finding them. So, it’s good that you have creep detectors protecting you. Keep listening to them.

    Also, it doesn’t sound like you were comfortable or having fun. It’s okay to bail because it’s not comfortable or fun for you even if the guy isn’t flashing red signs of being a potential rapist. Dating usually involves a lot of misses, a lot of people who don’t mutually click with each other, and that’s okay. You don’t need a big, valid reason to decide that someone isn’t working out for you. And it actually saves you both time if you figure that out early.

    Finally, something to consider but that isn’t at all necessary. On a different Captain Awkward thread, I remember the discussion of how it can be nice to have first meetings be inherently time-limited. Like meeting for coffee during a work break or something else where there’s no expectation of maybe spending many hours together or going home together. The upside of that is you get some initial, quick feedback about whether you’re comfortable with the person, have some stuff to talk about, and such while having a built-in ending. If all goes well, you can schedule a second meeting with more flexibility, but if all does not go well, well, you were going to leave soon anyway, and then you just have to not accept further dates. I don’t think everyone needs to do this, but it probably is a comfortable way for many people to get to know a potential partner better. So, it’s something to consider whether it’d be a good fit for you.

    1. First paragraph QFT. Your gut totally knew that this guy had danger all over him. Listen to your gut, LW! Society tells us constantly to ignore our instincts about guys but 99% of the time those instincts are pinging for a reason and that 1% chance that you’re missing out on meeting someone who isn’t a rapist is Just. Not. Worth. It.

      1. Yes! Like, there is literally no other situation where people would fault you for saying, “I’ll pass on overwhelming odds that something bad will happen to me, thanks.”

      2. Very likely he’s a rapist. The absolute best case scenario is he’s just an annoying asshole who makes you really uncomfortable. So best case, you’re taking the risk of ‘missing out’ on dating an annoying asshole who makes you really uncomfortable, and balancing that with the risk of being in physical danger.

        This is like avoiding a significant possibly of getting hit by a car, by giving up the chance to step in dog shit while walking barefoot. What a sacrifice.

  22. Like every other commenter so far I want to say, NOPE you were NOT AT ALL overreacting to this guy, who sounds like a super-creep and someone who is, if not an outright rapist, one of those whiny boundary-pushers who’s liable to cross the line into rape at any moment. But honestly this sounds like someone who has no qualms about sexually assaulting a date. 😦

    “it wasn’t even penetration” is a pretty horrific justification about why something supposedly wasn’t rape. In my volunteer work I wind up talking to a lot of folks who internalize those sorts of messages and have a hard time naming their rape as such because they’ve heard that various kinds “don’t count” many times.

    I do want to say, LW, that there are definitely people who are interested in casual sex/low-key relationships who won’t be total creeps about it, and who understand (or share) the desire to build a connection first. So don’t give up hope! I hope you find a sweet & sexy person soon.

    1. I mean maybe technically it is legally classified as sexual assault (I don’t even know) but that is seriously the LEAST IMPORTANT thing about that entire story. When we are talking about people being violated in horrible ways, the exact legal term for that violation is sort of not the relevant thing unless you are in fact at that moment in court.

      1. Sadly what “counts” as sexual assault, in a legal sense, can leave out a LOT of things (that I would certainly classify as assault with no question). 😦

      2. It would depend on the law in your area. Certainly in English law it would be a sexual assault rather than rape, but if the point of your story is “bitches, amirite? They don’t even know the legal distinction between different forms of non-consensual sexual contact!” then, um.

        1. Especially as a first date topic. Someone who has “can be convinced to agree with me that certain nonconsensual sexual things are not rape” in their set of first-date compatibility priorities is not someone to spend more time with.

  23. You did not over-react. You regular-reacted. YIKES!

    He hit a lot of the red flag points in a VERY limited amount of time.

    1) Claiming to have deep personal insight into your personality after knowing you for a short amount of time, thanks to his special restaurant industry-given superpowers.

    2) Negging- Insinuating your innate right to not want to be intimately touched by a near-stranger was wrong and something you needed to fix right away – putting you in a position of “making it up” to him for being so flawed and uptight.

    3) Telling you a story that tested your social boundaries, communicates his feelings about “awful, mean women who report rapes” and put you in the position of ignoring your “holy shitballs, this guy is a jerk” instincts because you don’t want to be RUDE, do you? So you sit there as he uses you as an object of creepy conversational masturbation.

    4) Defining “what is and is not rape” for you – super helpful.

    5) Telling you how to feel. “You shouldn’t be so anxious.”

    6) Playing wounded panda when you were distressed – rightly so – by his story and actions. (He feels distressed! Make it up to him immediately!, says his pants.)

    7) Made you out to be some sort of horrible paranoid prude for assuming that he wanted to take you to a secondary location for sex. And then kept pushing the boundary after you said no.

    When someone doesn’t hear your no, they do not your best interests at heart. Even without the creepy rape story, I would have been very put off by his defining my personality, telling me how to feel and jumping the physical intimacy line. There’s nothing wrong with casual sex. As long as both parties are on the same page and consenting. There’s nothing wrong with waiting for physical intimacy. There’s nothing wrong with telling someone you’re not ready for that intimacy. Anybody who ignores your feelings because it interferes with their pants-agenda doesn’t want you as a partner, they want sex toy with a person attached.

    Ignore all future contacts and don’t feel bad about it.

    What an ass-weasel.

    1. @Pucksmuse, your comment made me nauseous.

      I was reading the numbered points and getting more and more anxious. And then I realized.

      All those things, all the things the LW’s dude did, are the things the man who assaulted me did. Just, exactly, right down the line. And he didn’t penetrate me either. So it wasn’t “really rape”.

      LW your gut saved you. I am so, so glad you got out of there safe.


      I have come from the land of Slut-dom to say, Lo! The type of relationship(s) you are looking for, they exist! One of my chosen family, who is a sometimes-lover always-friend, has a rule that xie doesn’t have sex with anyone xie wouldn’t want to have breakfast with in the morning. I have had lovers of many genders who are up for going to a movie and making out in the back, going for hikes or ice cream, or building blanketforts and watching cartoons, as well as having Fun Sex Times. I tell you that you will too. And if you get sick, they will bring you miso soup and echinacea tea and exaggeratedly make the sign of the cross at your plague, but then give you a hug anyway. And if you have an anxiety attack because an innocent touch they gave reminded you of Badness, they will sit next to you and help you breathe and wait to touch you until you say it’s okay. And if you fall madly in love with someone and want to be monogamous, they will say that they enjoyed the sexing immensely, but will enjoy a rad friendship just as much. And when you are unhappy in your monogamous relationship, they will sit so close that you can feel their blood sing in their veins and they will put not so much as a finger on you even though your whole body aches, because you have stated a boundary.

      And they will be your friends and your lovers in a stable thread that runs through your life, through sickness and pain and unemployment and hardships and breakups. And so you will be in theirs.

      1. “I have come from the land of Slut-dom…” needs to be calligraphed and framed.

        (And if I do it, it’ll be on MY WALL. Because this resonates for other relationships, and it encapsulates so very well the dynamics of real respect-for-others.)

      2. I hearken also from the Land of Slut-dom, like the wise prophet loquaciouswug before me, and I bring you glad tidings.

        I have in the course of my life met a number of serious hedonists who are deeply dedicated to sexual pleasure – who have a ton of excellent casual sex – and they act Nothing Like This Jerk. They are only interested in sex with others who are as into it as they are. That’s not *only* because they’re generally fine people who see other people as humans with whom they can co-create an enjoyable experience rather than vending machines that dispense sex – but also because they know that is how you get good sex. They want to have sex that is so good that their partners come back for more, and tell their friends how amazing it was – not to have mediocre sex one time with an unenthusiastic partner who won’t want to see them ever again.

        Tl:dr, not only is this guy a predatory doucheclown, he’s also a terrible lay. Dear LW, not only did you avoid a horrible boundary-crossing experience with someone who did not have your best interests at heart. Truly, that is a triumph all on its own. But you also through your own cleverness and listening to your instincts avoided fooling around with someone who has *no idea* how pleasure works. Excellent job – well done.

        1. Use Captain Jack as your baseline. Captain Jack will flirt with anything, because he loves sex. Sex is fun. Like ice cream. You meet a person, go, “Hey, how bout that ice cream?” And can then have a half-hour conversation about how you both love rocky road, or pleasantly (or not) debate whether strawberry or chocolate sauce is better, and if it’s going well decided you must have some NOW. Or the person goes “Ice cream? What’s that?” o_O A person who doesn’t know the nirvana of ice cream?! We must stop the horror, ice cream in their mouth stat!

          But if they go, “Nah, don’t like it/want it now/care that I’ve never had it,” you might be shocked, because ICE CREAM, but oh well, their loss, I’ll just get some myself.

          And certainly if someone responds, “I know, but I’m allergic to milk and the last time I tried ice cream I almost died.” That’s a straight up NOPE, no ice cream for you ever, NOPE!

          Anyone you want to have sex or be in a relationship with should have that response.

          1. lol yes. Discussion of sex with you (/Captain Jack) would ideally involve people getting daydreamy and euphemistic. 😛 (“…Innovative.” Ha.)

        1. pucksmuse it is not your fault that there are some people who are assholes. I really appreciate how you articulated that boundary violation. Jedi hugs to you if you want them!

      3. @loquaciouswug Thank you for your description of the beautiful friend/lover relationships you’ve had, and the reminder that relationships like that are real and attainable.

      4. loquaciouswug, thank you for your comment. I think that what you describe is what I want — or at least, what I want right now — or at least, I can get a mental picture of how friend-lovers would fit into my life that just won’t come when I try to imagine a monogamous life partner.

        Here’s hoping for the LW and all the rest of us that we can find what we are looking for.

        1. Jane, good luck! and luck the LW too!

          It’s not always easy and sometimes it involves endless rounds of communication, and sometimes it involves people that you love choosing something else, and sometimes it means breaking peoples’ hearts because you won’t be monogamous for them. But I choose happiness, and love, and right now I’m sitting in my pajamas next to a human sitting in hir pajamas who is playing smash bros. And this human is going to marry me in a ceremony on the beach and all of my loverfamily will be there and all of hir loverfamily will be there and I CANT FUCKING WAIT. And then we will continue to live kickass lives and make movies together and see mountains and eat cheese and drink whiskey. Because my wedding day isn’t the end of my story, it’s just an awesome party to end the first act.

          1. “Because my wedding day isn’t the end of my story, it’s just an awesome party to end the first act.”

  24. It will take all night to extricate my shoulders from my ears. That guy basically told you that if he got you home he wasn’t going to stop when you said no and he was going to use this story to make you feel too ashamed to tell anyone. I am so so glad you were able to get yourself away from him safely.

    In response to your questions:

    1. Not at all weird. Everybody has a different point at which they feel comfortable getting physical and some people will be more comfortable with some types of touching than others.

    2. Some people will react badly no matter how friendly you are but that just tells you that they aren’t worth spending more time with. I think it helps if you act as if your boundaries around touching are entirely natural and just part of the getting to know you process (which they are but it can take practice acting like you believe it). Be polite but firm and be prepared to be the one to initiate once you are comfortable doing so.

    3. I think maybe casual dating might be a better term for describing what you want? It puts the emphasis back on the dating part, which is what it sounds like you want, rather than the sex, which seems more incidental from the way you describe it. If someone told me they didn’t mind having a casual sex relationship I might not expect to have sex with them after the first date but I probably would think that sex was mostly what they were looking for.

    1. I agree with you about #3. Ultimately you and the other person you are relating to get to decide what your relationships look like, but communicating what you want with someone is hard.

      And you can definitely have something that is not super serious committed and monogamous right now if that’s what you want. But if that includes spending a lot of non sex time together that is still on the dating spectrum, not the sex spectrum.

      My idea of casual sex definitely looks more like “Our relationship is mostly about arranging times to have sex, possibly with occasional bouts of hanging out and drinking before hand.” I don’t think that’s really gender specific.

      I think phrasing it as casually DATING will put the focus on the dating with the fun sex when you are comfortable which sounds much more like what the LW wants. Good call.

      1. I agree with this. It’s not to say that the LW’s parameters/definitions are wrong, per se, but I think most dating sites will have a ticky box for “casual sex” and also one for, like, “short-term dating” (versus “long term dating” versus “marriage”). A person may check as many ticky boxes as they like, as I understand it, but perhaps the “casual sex” ticky box is not best suited for LW’s needs, as it will be commonly interpreted as “here is my location, wanna hook up?”– which is a fine way to spend one’s time if one is comfortable with it, but LW does not seem interested.

        Make no mistake, the Online Dating Hobgoblins (like, probs, the dude in this letter) WILL find a way to misinterpret anything on your profile as an invitation to sex, but the Decent Persons Who Just Want Different Things might stay away, which may relieve a bit of the stress LW is feeling.

  25. Your instincts are utterly trustworthy. This awful man was deliberately trying to test and push your boundaries to see if he could get you to move faster than you wanted.

    You deserve way better than someone who doesn’t respect your own choices about what to do with your body and criticises you (you;re very guarded) for wanting to take things at your pace. And no-one who tells rape anecdotes about his totally-not-a-rapist-for-sure buddy on a first date is to be trusted.

    Don’t second-guess yourself into ignoring your own needs.

  26. On second thought, even if he was just an overall nice guy who behaved politely throughout the date, but told that creepy rape story in conversation, I still wouldn’t go out with him. Because he clearly has some messed up ideas about consent, agency and women in general. Yikes.

    1. Totally agree witrh this. He’s just given you a clue about how he thinks and even if he seems fine otherwise- that’s a pretty big clue.

  27. ” “I’m theoretically cool with friends-with-benefits, but I need to feel like we’re actually be friends. That takes a little time for me to figure out.” Again, people who don’t get that you need to build up rapport, comfort, and trust before you fuck aren’t the right partners for you. ”

    Thank you, Captain! It took me YEARS (and several missteps) to figure out that:
    a) that’s really how I’m comfortable operating
    b) it’s a totally legitimate way to operate, regardless of what other people do
    c) people who are a good fit for me either operate in a similar manner or at least will not push me to do things I’m not comfortable with

    1. THIS. There’s a certain amount of emotional investment and effort that comes with getting to know someone. I don’t trust people who want to skip steps in a relationship to get to the “good stuff” – intimacy, physical touching and closeness that is built over time and earned through kindness, patience and dependability. If someone isn’t willing to put the time in to earn/build those things, I question their motivations, because those motivations are clearly not in my best interests.

  28. I am SO glad you listened to your gut and left him! You saved yourself SO much discomfort and potential pain by doing that. He’s a pig, plain and simple!

  29. Long story short: Had a date with a guy who pulled this exact same kind of thing. Thank you for posting this letter. I *knew* everything in it, even at the time, but the external validation of my instincts makes me feel that much better.


    Oh my fucking god. And that not even remotely an apology, holy shit. Dude was backpedaling and desperately trying (BADLY) to bring you back “on course” and get you where he wanted you. Dude was also gaslighting the shit out of you, IMO. Telling you how you should feel? Acting like you were the one making awful assumptions? Acting like you aren’t judging the situation appropriately? Oh my GOD.

    You dodged a nuclear missile. Good job. I’m not kidding. That bullshit detector you have there is working JUST FINE and I know it’s easy to worry that you are overreacting, but you didn’t You acted EXACTLY THE RIGHT AMOUNT. You trusted your instincts, and you SHOULD have, you did the RIGHT thing. I don’t know you but I’m proud of you. I am so sorry this happened, that is scary and awful, but I am so glad that you got out of it safely, and hopefully this flood of “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK” comments will help you realize that your early warning creep detection system is A-OK and fully-functional.

    It’s easy to doubt yourself, I know this pretty damn well. People socialized as female get raised to ignore their responses in favor of being polite, keeping the boat from rocking, and guarding other people’s feelings. I understand. I’m glad you are okay, and were able to overcome that long enough to get the fuck out.

    Massive hugs. I’m so sorry it hurt you enough to make you cry. You didn’t deserve any of that in any way. My god, what a dick.

    1. SERIOUSLY. I… what? On what planet does attraction even work like that? Dude’s penis has an expiration date or something?

      1. This is actually reasonable if you’re a creep. See, the more somebody gets to know you, the less likely they are to be attracted to you, because the more likely they are to figure out that you’re bad news. So, you have this window before they’ve figured out what you’re like where they might be into you. Of course, somebody telling you that you probably won’t like them as much as you get to know them better is a huge red flag, and I’d personally rather just skip right to the not being attracted to them part. My mental response machine was going, “Oh, well, I’m looking for somebody I’ll stay attracted to, so since you think you’re not that, then you’re clearly not what I’m looking for.”

        It’s super reasonable for people to hear a line about how if you don’t do sex stuff right now it’ll fizzle out with, “Actually, I’m totally fine with it fizzling. I think it already has.”

        1. Yep. For me, “might fizzle out” being a concern is a path that leads to no, not to yes. If I don’t think I’ll like you tomorrow, I need to put the brakes on anything now. It’s certainly a concern if you’re looking for a relationship, not just to bag as many people-of-your-preferred-gender(s) as possible. And him bringing that up as a pressure tactic does rather contradict his “oh no I wasn’t angling for sex” gaslighting. As well as dovetailing with his it’s-not-really-rape-except-it-is story; “we just got carried away” seems like his prepped excuse.

          “We have to do this right now because later you might not want to” may be his personal justification for his scummy boundary-violating tactics, but it’s not a good argument for the other person. Fortunately. In such a situation, I’d like to think that I might thank him for correctly observing that I was likely to have second thoughts, and bid him goodnight.

        2. Totally grabbing that to add to my list of Hard To Counter Responses To Boundary Attempts:

          Him: We should have sex now before the attraction fizzles out!
          Me: Oh, well if you think I won’t want to have sex with you once I know you, you’re probably right. You know yourself best! Thanks for letting me know that we won’t be wanting sex with each other other later. So glad to have gotten the whole not-having-sex thing out of the way early – it’s always better when we can both agree from the start not to waste the effort.

          Also, a great one for the negging stuff:

          Him: You’re so guarded
          Me: Thanks for noticing, it’s so nice of you to be aware of that and be willing to help me be more comfortable by not touching me until I’m ready!

          Him: *Tells awful rape story*
          Me: Isn’t it so dreadful when guys like your friend don’t understand how creepy and awful they’re being – you must be feeling so uncomfortable having a friend who commits rape! I’m sure you totally acted like a decent guy and stepped up to tell him that his bad behaviour wasn’t acceptable though, right?

        1. Maybe because it actually is a sales trick. Seriously, the guy has PUA written all over him. I’ve been through a phase of reading through a truckload of PUA forums/materials some time ago (luckily realized what load of crap it actually is before I did anything harmful), and this is exactly it. Well, maybe not the rape story (though it may have been an attempt to “direct conversation towards sex, without it being directly about us having sex”), but: escalating touch, getting to isolate LW, “alpha male” body language, well rehearsed answers to LW’s doubts, time constraint…

    2. I mean it’s not like there are entire works of literature, film, and television devoted ENTIRELY to unrequited attraction being super hot or anything.

      1. And don’t we always tell young people (young female people especially) that the opposite is true? That if you fuck too soon, that’s all they’ll see you as, and they’ll never grow past it to love you?

        I am still every day surprised by all the toxic ways we are taught our bodies are more important than our anything else.

    3. Oh man, I can’t wait to tell my SO the next time we’re ready for sexy times to JUMP RIGHT ON THE FUCK TRUCK. That is pure gold.

  31. Yeah, physicality is kind of weird. I’m not entirely comfortable hugging on a first date, but if my date goes for the hug at the end of the night and I’m interested in a second date, then I’ll hug on the first date.

    I have not had anyone attempt to kiss me on a first date yet, fortunately.

    I am comfortable with a handshake though, that’s something I can totally handle.

    1. Ugh, this reminds me of a guy that had been very non-touchy on this, our first date, but at the veeeery last moment when he was leaving sneak-kissed me. I kissed him back on reflex, and then wanted to kick myself. Later on, kick him.

      1. So far, all of my first kisses with people have been preceded with some form of “I was wondering if perhaps you would like to kiss?” Because I have an easier time picking up verbal cues than non-verbal cues.

        I can’t imagine what it’d be like to have someone lunge face first at me. (Well, okay, I can imagine it, but I really have no idea how I’d react to that.) Or am I getting the wrong mental image of what a sneak-kiss is?

          1. omg, I had this happen to me once! It was my first kiss, actually. We’d gone to see this horror movie that ended with one of those faces coming really fast at the camera things — you guys know the ones, right? — and then we went and got ice cream and walked around for a while. Then when we were saying goodbye outside the BART station, he just all of a sudden came at me, and I swear to god it was exactly like that thing with the face in the horror movie. I saw it coming and I kind of braced myself, and then all of a sudden he was… kissing me? Except it bore little resemblance to kissing as I now understand it. It was mostly just him shoving his tongue in my mouth aggressively while I struggled to unclench my jaw. Then he did it again. The whole thing almost put me off kissing entirely. Needless to say, there was no second date.

          2. I practice the art of the bob and weave in such circumstances. The first date I went on after moving to my current city was kind of a horrible experience, and at the end, he tried to kiss me. Ugh. I timed it perfectly though and he got a mouthful of earring. I then, I shit you not, hid in a bush as he drove after the way I’d walked away.

      2. I had a guy try and kiss me on the first date, too (he had also tricked me into going out on that date, but that’s a different story). I saw him going for it, and I was like wait for it…waaaiiiit… DODGE. And he missed. And I ran the fuck away and never spoke to him again.

        1. Forgive me for laughing, but I’m picturing Aragorn on the battlements of Helm’s Deep with the archers, waiting for the orcs to get close enough. “Wait for it, hold, hold, nope, not yet, FIRE ARROWS.”

          1. Hahahahahaha, this made me laugh really hard. And no pardons needed for laughing! I mean the guy was creepy and his “dating” tactics were definitely not okay, but nothing bad happened to me and it’s been 10 years and I laugh about this story now too. 🙂

    2. Once I had a guy try to hug me at the BEGINNING of our first date. Like, I was standing outside the bar at the arranged meeting time, he walked up, said “Are you Jessalae?” and I said “Yeah, Bartholomew*?” and he said “Cool, hi!” and went in for a hug. I just quickly stepped back and offered a handshake instead, and he didn’t get touchy during the rest of the night, but really, dude? We’ve exchanged like five OKCupid messages. We’re not at a hugging level yet.

      *his name was not actually Bartholomew

      1. Exactly. I mean, there are some social situations where hugging on the first meeting is kind of appropriate (“Hey, I’m your new sister-in-law.” or perhaps with a theatre or improv group*) but definitely not a dating situation.

        *having never been in a theatre or improv group, I’m not entirely sure about this.

        1. Having been in theatre/improv groups: It is often par for the course as theatre people can be very touchy, but I very much wish they would learn to ask first, because not ALL theatre people are touchy.

      2. Huh. I’m totally a first meeting hugger on a date. I don’t know why, because I’m not a hugger generally, but yeah, the interaction you described is exactly what I would do. I will have to be more thoughtful about that in the future.

      3. Even worse than the first date opening hug is the first date opening cheek-kiss thing.

        I know that is a thing in non-American cultures. And as an American more or less permanently settled elsewhere, I’m resigned to it from new friends or after meeting people who I am supposed to like. But I don’t like it in the best of circumstances. (Actually, I think I just realised I hate it so much I even hate it when my gentleman friend does it. He’s from a country where the double cheek kiss is common, and he’ll do it as a greeting instead of kissing my lips if there other people around. AND I HATE IT AND IT MAKES ME UNHAPPY. And I even *like* him all up in my space normally.) Anyway, men do it to me on dates when we first meet AND I HATE IT SO MUCH. But usually I don’t realise it’s happening until it’s already halfway there, and at that point any effort to get away can lead to even more awkwardness and accidental kissing of worse places.

        Although I did one forcibly turn an attempted cheek-kiss into a handshake in a professional environment. I need to work on that move.

        1. The funny part is, this date happened shortly after I returned to the US from a six-month study abroad program in a cheek-kissing country. I eventually got used to it while I was there, but I was looking forward to coming home and not having to have perfect strangers all up in my personal space anymore, so I probably reacted a little more strongly than I might have before that trip.

          1. I’m not even American, and I hate it, too. It’s not so much a cultural thing as a personal space thing. Maybe people get “used to it”, in the sense that they grudgingly accept it as unpleasant part of their lives.
            I don’t even like handshakes, and I am from a handshake culture. Actually, while I occasionally do hug people, I think it would be better if the normative greeting involved no touching. Sometimes you need to be polite despite hating someone’s guts, and I only want to touch people I like.

    3. As someone who used to do that all the time, it’s taken me a while to learn that asking “are you a hugger?” while my arms are still down by my sides is the way to go here.

      1. Bless. I have an acquaintance who has learned to ask whether it’s okay to hug, but he puts his arms up for a hug and is super uncomfortably close first. Which is a questionable protocol.

        1. I was at a party with some new people about a year back, and since they are a huggy, close-knit lot they offered hugs, and I put out my hand to shake instead, which was completely frictionless with everyone except for two dudes who asked if they could have hugs. I said “I don’t like hugging people I don’t know” and one of them pouted the rest of the day whenever I got near him. Uggggghhhh, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

          1. I am a total hugger (generally a touchy-feely person). I used to hug people right off the bat in most not-strictly-professional social situations. Then, one time, years ago, a person I had just met and immediately hugged explained to me (very calmly and kindly, too, which was more than I had a right to expect) that I had just made them very uncomfortable. And you know what? I apologized, felt awful, and now make sure to ask each new person “Is hugging okay?” when I first meet them and only hug if there’s a clear “yes”.

            It’s not that difficult, pouting dude. It’s not that difficult.

          2. (Responding to Neurite, but ran out of threading, FYWP)

            Similar to what happened with me. I’ve been a compulsive hugger for years, and when someone seems uncomfortable with hugs I don’t subsequently hug them on future meetings. It took a while for me to fully internalise that I shouldn’t have been going for that *first* hug unless I was sure the huggee was okay with it.

          3. I have gotten this kind of response. I like hugging people I know or take to.quickly, but dislike hugging strangers. Especially strange men. And I’ve had dudes I just met ask if they could hug me(good) and pout and whine when I said no(bad)

          4. Yup. “You hugged HER. Why not hug ME?” “Because I’ve known her for seven years, and she hugged me after my miscarriage, and I’ve never met you,” I did not say. Instead, I gave him a puzzled frown. One time when the first reaction was WAY better than the second guess.

            Cons, the recent shenanigans of the Rapid and Sad Puppies notwithstanding, used to be a WAY harder place to be a young woman. Pun unintended and regretted.

          5. @neurite

            oh dude… I only learned “not everyone in SF conventions likes to hug” when I accidentally hugged a shomer negiah guy – IE an orthodox jewish dude for whom touching a woman he’s not married or directly related to is SRSLY against his religion. Poor dude was shocked 😦

      2. I want to make this standard protocol, possibly with the addition of “not sure, let me think about it,” on the part of the huggee.

        I like hugs, but all things being equal I would prefer hugs be reserved for people I am rather close to.

    4. Yay for the first date handshake. 🙂 I feel much the same, and with the exception of a guy I described in another comment, it hasn’t been a problem. (And frankly, his initial OkCupid message should have been red flag enough. Apparently I wanted the hot jerk experience? Now I know, and I don’t need to try it again if I can avoid it.)

      1. The Hot Jerk Experience has a very powerful draw. In high school I knew a young male person who described a young female person who was interested in him as “not much to look at, but could be a learning experience” and then, a few months after that when he had made his sexual debut with and subsequently dumped this girl, I DATED THAT JERK. WHYYYYY, SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD ME, WHYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!

        A Hot Jerk is telling you who he is when he is mean to/about other people in your presence. LISTEN.

        1. “A learning experience” ?!!! Ewwwwwwwwww! What a creep!

          It’s okay 17-year-old cruelmistress, because 17-year-old me would have still dated that jerk, too. Thank goodness we know better now!

    5. This awakens in me the awareness of why I felt oogy about the last guy I met on the internets. We met up for brunch and had a nice, rollicking conversation and then at some point he mentioned how awesome boobs were, which I don’t remember as being out of place in the free-flowing nature of conversation but which nonetheless made me feel oogy. And then when we parted ways there was a hug and it was very firm and my chest ended up pressed very firmly against his and that’s not a first meeting hug for me.

      He sent a text later saying “We should meet up again” and I sent back an obviously tepid “yeah we totally should” and never contacted him again. UGH.

  32. “We should do this soon because the attraction is here now and if we wait it will fizzle out.” = I know this is going badly and I really want to nail this (you) down because an actual live women is sitting before me and if my PUA:s have taught me anything it’s to harass until you get anything but a no.”

    Not a yes, just not a no.

    1. “If we wait it will fizzle out” = my normal human-face mask is melting off and you won’t like the grody lizardperson lurking beneath.

      “If we wait it will fizzle out” = I have reached the end of my capacity to even try to pretend like I’m a decent human being.

      “If we wait it will fizzle out” = You are very close to figuring out that I’m a giant collection of rape-y red flags that’s only just barely keeping human shape through the use of hair gel and manipulation.

    1. It can also mean in the PUA sense, “I will stop being interested in you if you don’t sleep with me immediately.” This is supposed to trigger a “noooo, not a guy who’s disinterested in meeee!” response on the part of the target. It’s supposed to be a threat.

      1. Oh, is that where it’s supposed to go. Gross gross gross. Nope Rocket boarding in ten minutes, at gate N.O.

        1. It’s supposed to trigger fear of abandonment in targets who are vulnerable to that. Just another way of pushing at boundaries, looking for an “in.” Like cattle on a fence, lean, step, lean, where’s the weak point that will get me to the other side, lean, step, lean…

          I got my ticket for the nope rocket, but can we put the PUA’s on it instead? I like it here.

          1. I agree! That always bothered me about the Nope Rocket. Why should you have to fly yourself into the sun when someone else is being an ass? I guess I’ll be riding the Nopetopus.

          2. May I offer my personal Nope image? Once my boundaries are tested, a wall goes up in my head around anything deeper than very very simple polite conversation. I like to picture these guys catapulting themselves at with each attempt, limbs flailing fruitlessly, only to SPLAT and slide down a very long ways, slowly and lifelessly onto the ground in a sad heap.

      2. Hahaha, then that tactic was clearly meant for women with lesser abandonment issues than me. “You will stop being interested in me at any date in the near future, contingent on my success/failure? NOPEING OUT.”

        Wow, I guess there’s one thing to be grateful for about my massive screaming emotional neglect issues–they carved out my, “If I just do this one thing, THEN they’ll love me!” reflex.

        1. I have pretty severe fears of abandonment, but I don’t think that tactic would work on me (? maybe? sadly I can imagine someone wording it in a way that I found more convincing and going along with it) so much as just make me feel terrible the rest of the night. Sigh.

      3. I have visions of this guy like someone sellign questionable wares on a late-night shopping channel.

        “Get in now, this deal’s too good to laaast! Stocks are *RUNNING* out the door.”

        All to create a false sense of urgency to override your judgment and intuition to get you ‘vying’ for something you don’t even really want.

        1. This is totally that guy. False sense of urgency for something you don’t even want anyway, ayup.

    2. “Somehow this keeps happening with all the women I meet. Clearly there is something wrong with women. There’s definitely nothing wrong with me. Definitely.”

  33. Oh jeepers, LW! Sorry that happened to you, but your instincts were bang on point and you listened to them and didn’t let this boundary-manipulating creep talk you into going home with him. So although you felt rotten, you were actually totally awesome and strong, and I hope you see that when you’ve had time to process.

    No wonder you went home and cried. I would have done too. I always hope when I go on a date that it will be the start of something good – that’s normal and natural. It’s why we go on dates – to meet people and have fun, and for a lot of people, to start a relationship. Instead you got dressed up and went out to meet someone who at best sucked, and at worst might actually have been dangerous.

    You say you’re worried that “weird dating is my new reality!!” – this isn’t your new normal, I promise. The thing I have to keep reminding myself is that this is how it works: you go on first dates that don’t work out for whatever reason (hopefully more “didn’t click” than “manipulative, pressurising jerk who tells stories about rape accusations”), and then you go on one that *does* work out and you stop going on first dates because you are going on second/third/fourth etc. dates with a cool person whom you like. So by definition you’re more likely to go on first dates that don’t work out because it weeds out the ones you don’t want to see again! Basically it sucks until it doesn’t. Nothing is wrong with you. He’s the one who shouldn’t be around women till he’s learned to respect them.

    Re the escalation to touching/kissing – you’re allowed to want what you want. Even if it’s going really slowly. Even if it’s not having sex until marriage. Or ever. Even if everyone else is doing it. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to do it unless and until you’re ready. There will be someone out there who thinks you’re amazing and they’ll respect your needs and desires.

  34. LW, I know everyone else has already said this, but:

    This is TEXTBOOK predator behaviour. Dude was checking where your boundaries were, and whether you could be talked off of them. He was very quick to rush to getting you isolated, and that whole scenario reads like a PUA field report about “escalating kino”, so I think you were absolutely right to go with your gut when he tried to accelerate things. That gut is looking out for you!

    1. I am depressed as hell that “escalating kino” is not only a thing, but even has a special name. PUAs are The Worst.

      1. I didn’t know what it was so I googled it. This is from the first hit.

        “If a girl isn’t ready for us to go the next step and pushes us away, no problem. Stop and try again later”

        Flames on the side of my face!

        1. You know, if you read it in Gollum’s voice, it really adds to the creep-factor. “The precious! Mustn’t let it get away from us, no!”

        2. I love how the girl in the picture on that one has this look on her face like she’s just waiting for the opportune moment to poison his beer.

      2. It’s scary but also sad that they need a Special Ops name and a field manual for imitating the natural increase in physical contact that many people unconsciously adopt when becoming more comfortable with someone. It’s like one of those comedies where aliens try to blend in with humans and fail, except most people are too skeeved out to laugh.

        1. It’s also really sad. Many young men could use some help navigating dating, but sadly far too many of them find advice from PUA sites, which encourage them to treat women like marks on a scorecard, rather than, say, Dr Nerdlove, who would help them learn how to find a meaningful connection with another person.

        2. That’s why our nopes need to be giant mechanical armour! To stop the alien slug-things that pop out when we blow the cryptodouches’ covers! “NOPE Armour, activate! Form blazing sword!”

          Or arguably a tiny tiny laser cannon like in Men In Black.

  35. Man that dude was hella gross. I think going home and sobbing – because we have to share the planet with that sleaze – seems very reasonable. I may sob a little over it later.

    My suggestion is that you remind yourself when dating that you do not owe the other person anything other than Jack and Shit and Jack left town. You don’t want to be touched before X? Totally cool since it’s you being touched. Don’t want to have sex before Y? Also cool. I think all your constraints sound reasonable, personally, but even if they were somehow “weird” THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY BECAUSE THEY’RE YOUR CONSTRAINTS.

    I mean, personally, what you describe as your idea of “casual sex” is what I’d call “dating,” but so what? That’s your threshold for sexytimes and nothing you have to apologize for. Maybe you’d be best off just saying you’re not interested in having sex with people you don’t want to hang out with other when you’re not having sex.

    Anyone who gives you attitude about that doesn’t want to hang out with you other than for sex, in which case the hell with them anyway. I’m sure you’ll encounter some folks like that. They want some ass ASAP and grodd forbid they spent a few hours with you as a human being just to discover you’re not going to provide it on demand. Who gives a shit if that upsets them? They’re jackholes. There’s nothing wrong, necessarily, with what they want. But they can search for it in a more appropriate way and not be jerks when they don’t get what they want.

    tl;dr: Don’t spend 2 seconds sweating how badly some people react to reasonable stuff. It means they’re assholes, so the hell with them anyway.

  36. People will always tell you who they are….your job is to believe them. He’s told you he’s meh about rape being a big deal, that he’s aggressive about physical contact, that he believes “act now before things “fizzle out” (<–what? You mean like where you decide for sure that he's a creep and want to get away?)…..believe him and believe your gut (they're both saying the same thing)

    I hear you on missing an ex just because it was already past all this awkward first date stuff. You get to mourn what could have been even if it wasn't what was, and you get to decide what you do next, including some flings with appropriately flingy people who aren't creeps.

  37. “Calm down! Relax! You shouldn’t be so anxious!” is not the same as “Oh, no! I’ve made someone feel unsafe! I am horrified at myself, and completely embarrassed, and so, so sorry!” In fact, it sounds suspiciously like “Stop being so anxious! It makes it harder to rape you!”

    1. Yes, THIS. He wasn’t horrified that he’d made you uncomfortable or unsafe – he was horrified because dangit, now your walls are up and you’re suspicious and how dare you.

  38. Ugh. The ‘I can tell you’re BLANK because of BLANK’. I realize it’s a small part of the larger NOPE NOPE NOPE issues the LW mentioned, but it’s one that particularly pisses me off. Paying attention to body language is good! Especially when it helps keep you safe/helps you to make others feel comfortable (because you don’t want them to feel uncomfortable, not because you want to manipulate them to get what you want etc., of course). But I’ve had so many dudes try to inform me what’s on my mind/what type of person I am, it’s ridiculous. I’ve flat out told them they’re wrong and usually what I hear back is that “No, I know. I read a book on body language, so I can tell.” Reading body language/people isn’t really reading at all – it’s a matter of judging probabilities and understanding there’s a good chance you could be wrong and recalibrating as you go. If I’m twirling my hair that’s not me literally spelling out with my body that I’m attracted to you. I could be attracted to you, and some people do indeed do that in front of people they find sexy, but also people do it when they are nervous, anxious, bored or not sure if they love or hate the texture of their hair after trying that new shampoo. Also, on being able to tell ‘what kind of a person’ someone is: the Barnum Effect. Most people have a little of most traits in them. Guarded hey? Sure, put anyone around someone who makes their boundaries feel tested, and odds are they will start to act guarded. Also, even if these dudes are right, so then what? Ok, so I’m guarded/uptight/attracted to you/shy/whatever, I also have X coloured hair and am wearing a Y colored shirt – why do you feel the need to inform the person in front you of something they likely know damn well if it’s true? I realize the goal is to make the person saying these things seem insightful, and like they ‘get you’. I’ve always just thought they were assholes who weren’t all that smart, but hey, maybe that’s just me?

    1. Addendum: I don’t mean to imply that this behaviour is necessarily masculine etc. My frustration comes from anecdata gathered in bars, with straight dudes hitting on me (female), but of course shitty behaviour is never limited to one segment of the population. Also: I don’t mean to imply that someone shouldn’t go with their own judgement on safety issues or even just on who you want in your life based on early/perfunctory clues – that’s healthy socialization/self-care/protection. There’s a difference between saying “hmmm, this person’s behaviour makes me want to take X precautions, I’m just going to go ahead and do that’ or ‘Nope, I’m just not going to hang around you anymore because you seem sketchy/I damn well feel like it’ and ‘HI PERSON I JUST MET I KNOW A TRUTH ABOUT YOU DUE TO MY AWESOME MIND POWERS LET ME INFORM YOU OF THAT’.

        1. I actually busted out in a guffaw at that one.

          Duuude. I have worked in the restaurant industry for two decades of my life. There’s nothing about that which gives one special insight into the secret workings of brains of people you want to bone. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

    2. Yup. Both the “I know things about you” and “you’re very [x]” (where x is a personality trait conveyed in a disapproving way) are tests of how heavily conditioned LW is to accept traditional gender role scripts and defer to the Creeper’s manly perception. If LW had gotten defensive and felt the need to prove she *wasn’t* guarded, Creeper wins. If she falls for his Deep Insight Into Her Personality schtick, Creeper wins. Happily LW set boundaries and enforced them!

    3. I had an older guy at work trying to tell me how my personality was and give me weird advice via the chat program the office uses. I blocked him mostly because he insisted I needed to take compliments better (react how he wanted), “be the bigger person” when someone offends me (no mad emotions allowed), and said over and over that I was a guarded person (no shit, creepy moron.). There’s a woman at the office who’s a few years older than I am and has accepted him as some sort of mentor. I worry about her. Her manipulative creep radar seems to be malfunctioning.

    4. Ugh yes – this happens also in the messaging stages of online dating too. I had this one dude use a lot of big words to try and describe me to myself instead of, you know, actually trying to get to know me. It was very odd, like watching someone trying to do a puppet show with a pencil and a picture of my profile picture taped to it.


      1. I once met up with someone for a coffee first ‘date’ who proceeded to interview me throughout it: are you religious? what are your views on converting (to Judaism, IIRC)? how do you feel about X, Y, Z? (Sorry, I only remember the religion one specifically because I think it was one of the big “DON’T ASK” questions).

        At the end of the date, he told me that while he had had a nice time, he didn’t think we would work out because we’d connected more on a ‘business’ level than a personal level. All I could think was, “No shit Sherlock, you basically ran me through a job interview for a partner.”

        It was a very weird date (as were others I had, but those are different stories).

    5. One thing I love about this site is how often something like this will happen–an experience I’ve had turns out to be pretty damn common. In this case “guy feels the need to tell you about yourself.” I. hate. this. It almost always seems to be a way to try to make the woman more socially acceptable, by pointing out some way in which she’s “strange”. I’m at the point where I immediately distrust *any* sort of personal remark that isn’t a straight up compliment, because WHY? What is the point in making an “observation” about somebody’s personality? It’s not helpful. It’s not kind. Sure, if you’re good friends with somebody and have that type of relationship things might change but in general, I don’t care if you think I use my sense of humour as a defense mechanism or are nervous or *whatever*.

    6. Currently twirling my hair. Not attracted to my iPhone. It’s a habit I’ve had since I was like nine.

  39. LW, you really dodged a bullet. Telling your date that you felt uncomfortable going back to his place to be his sexual trophy because he’d already told you that he sympathised with a rapist was completely smart and reasonable. If this guy was anywhere like as reasonable, he would have said ‘Woah, I can see why you think that and I’m sorry I offended you.’ Instead, he just told you ‘You shouldn’t be so anxious.’ Why, exactly, shouldn’t you be anxious? It’s horribly sad and unfair, but rape exists as a serious problem in our society that most women have good reason to be anxious about on both a personal and political level. There’s nothing wrong with you for being wary around men like that, or for being uncomfortable with being touched by people you don’t know well (I’m the same), and plenty wrong with him. Just keep on doing what you’re doing, follow your instincts about what makes you comfortable around sex and dating and not what makes other people think you’re cool, and you’ll be fine and eventually you’ll find someone non-creepy who you really connect with.

    1. Yeah, men live in the same universe and if they have reached adulthood and haven’t grown up locked in a wardrobe they know that they live in a universe where women sometimes get attacked, raped, harassed, etc. If they are decent and adult people they understand perfectly well why strange women they just met are sometimes anxious. It might make them sad, or frustrated, or angry at the world, but they get it and if they’re OK human beings they’re sympathetic.

      If they are decent people they definitely do not get annoyed at YOU for being anxious.

      1. No, this. It’s like, I wouldn’t let you borrow my car, either – it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means I don’t know you at all.

        1. The truly bizarre thing as I see it is that most MEN wouldn’t put themselves in that situation either. I think a lot of dudes would, even without fear of sexual assault, be kinda suspicious of someone who said, “Hey complete stranger, let’s hang out at your/my place and drink!”

  40. LW, even think of it this way. There’s a popular saying that when you go out on a date, you’re not meeting a person, you’re meeting their representative. That is, people usually do their best to seem as engaging, articulate, witty, attentive, friendly, etc as possible to try to start things on the best possible foot. So just think, this guy managed to raise this many red flags when operating at (presumably) his best! Yes, bullet dodged

    1. Amen to this. If this was this guy’s BEST effort at acting like a decent human being in a public place with plenty of witnesses and he was STILL tripping your creep detector? Definitely not second date material. Think of it as a job interview, applying for the position of LW’s Plus One. If someone can’t even get through the first round of interviews without showing they’re unsuitable for the position, they don’t get a callback.

    2. If this is his idea of presenting himself at his best, I would consider that the dating process has worked because you’re not finding this out months down the line.

  41. OH MY GOD
    good thing you got out of there! Anyway going forward I’d take “casual sex” off your okc profile. I tried having it there and it just amped up the obscenity from straight dudes 100x. It sucks bc it feels like the patriarchy is winning but if you’re triggered easily it’s best to pick a different battle.

  42. OP, in addition to the Captain’s suggestions I’d say things like:
    “I want to take my time getting to know you” is one way of saying it. “I don’t do sex before monogamy,” is another.

    YOU DID THE RIGHT THING. This guy met you at a bar, bought you drinks (I’m inferring this, and I’m also thinking roofies), and then starts telling you a story about how this buddy of his was falsely accused of rape while he’s touching you? And then when you say something he starts belittling you calling you anxious and afraid of being a slut? I’d be checking the exits, getting my friend to pick me up if I had done the “I am going on this date” precaution thing, block him on my phone, and I’d leave a friendly word with the bouncer. If he tried to physically detain me, I’d be stabbing him with a cocktail fork and kicking him in the shins. *shudder*

    Of course you went home and cried. You were hoping for a nice romantic date and you got 90s PSA PUA Creepshow Trying to Take You to an Undisclosed Location. This makes me so damn angry for you, OP.

    1. This guy met you at a bar, bought you drinks (I’m inferring this, and I’m also thinking roofies),
      Without wanting to diminish the creep factor of this dude, there isn’t anything in the story to indicate that he was trying to drug the LW. I don’t bring this up to defend Mr. Asshole, but because I think we need to be really wary of promoting the narrative that sexual assault starts when a guy sneaks illegal chemicals into a woman’s drink. This isn’t even close to always the case, and it comes dangerously close to supporting the idea that “well, no one DRUGGED them or anything, so there was no rape”.

      1. Given that the most common “date rape” drug is alcohol, and the only part of the predator textbook this sleazebag left out was insistently pushing booze on the LW, I think there’s plenty of fodder for thinking this was a vortex of creepiness without considering rohypnol.

      1. DOOO ITTTTT. The first few episodes are really silly but it gets much better and she is awesome (plus she’s the warrior/tank member of the main cast and it’s stereotype-defying and rad).

      2. Watch it! It’s smart and funny and Eve is cool and she’s the brawn who also acts as the “I cannot believe I just uttered that sentance with a straight face” person.

  43. I can relate, big time, to the LW. When I was younger and figuring out dating for the first time at 29 (yeah, I took a while to start. I’m no longer embarrassed about that), it seemed like every guy wanted to get kissy/touchy right away, and I thought this would be every guy. I just reached a point where I thought “I just can’t date in the modern world, I think I’ll stop” because the idea of asking a guy to hold off on that stuff seemed impossible (since clearly guys felt like it was a right).

    Well, today I’m sitting in my apartment with a guy who treated me like a *human being* when we met, not a potential fuck toy. We chatted and did things together for months, as friends, before I thought I’d see if he was interested in a romantic relationship. He was, and he’s amazing. This is the best relationship I’ve ever had.

    That aside, great instincts on your part in recognizing that guy was creepy and getting away from him. Before I read Gavin de Becker and Lundy Bancroft, I don’t think I would have trusted my own discomfort as well as you do. Brava.

  44. You didn’t do anything wrong or anything to bring this on, the guy’s a creep.

  45. LW, I join in the chorus of applause for your awesome Early Warning System. Your expectation of an enjoyable dating-pattern sounds both reasonable and very commonly held (not fringe or hard to find).
    It seems you are getting lots of date-matches with people who are not actually a good fit for you at all. I wonder if there is a pattern you can identify that is leading to a high rate of false results?
    Obviously YOU are working according to specs. But something else in the system is not calibrated right, perhaps?

  46. Before this thread gets overrun and locked I just wanted to say to the LW:
    You’re not weird. Whatever pace works for you is fine. You do you, there is no should here. Anyone who tries to make you feel bad about your chosen pace is selling something, and you don’t have to buy.

    The whole “you’re too guarded” thing just really bugs me. Anyone who thinks your defenses aren’t necessary when meeting a virtual stranger for the first time is probably bad news. This guy was definitely bad news.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of this “typecasting”: I bet a girl like you wouldn’t ___, You’re so uptight I bet you never ___. When I was younger and didn’t have so much experience, it occasionally worked, as I got older I just rolled my eyes and said “Yes, you’re right, I’m an uptight prude, you got me. I’m never going to ___ with you.” They’re trying to make you think you’ve got something to prove. In their heads, they’re playing a game in which they win sex from you, while you’re sitting there trying to have a date where you make a new friendship.

    It’s not all like this, you’re not weird for not wanting to be push-pulled into something physical right off the bat. People who want to get to know you aren’t playing some kind of mind game to get into your pants. Cool people are going to be cool with you saying “I don’t want to do X or Y until we’ve gone out a while and we know each other better”. Even cool people who were hoping to find someone to hook up casually with will just say “Oh okay” and move on, they won’t try to badger you about your boundaries.

    Ugh, creepy guy has made me grumpy now thinking about all the creepy guys I’ve known. Good on you LW for seeing through his BS, you’re not weird, you are so awesome.

  47. Oh GURL, massive hugs for you. You did so well and I want you to know I am super proud of you. I read this letter and the first thought in my head was this dude was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT predator. Red flags all the way. I’m sorry that this is the first thing you run into right out of a relationship but you handled yourself just fine. It is totally normal to cry after something like that, hell I’d cry too.

    You got your douche/rapist-alert sensors fine tuned and noped the hell out of there. What everybody else has said X 100. No guilt over this, just overwhelming relief that you got yourself out of there safe and sound. Everything he did was a PUA tactic, designed to manipulate and coerce and ANYBODY who uses those tactics have zero interest in you as a human being. Urgh, I swear reading what he said raised the hair on my neck.

    1. That’s what creeps me out about LW’s story – LW’s Date doesn’t read like a garden variety clueless or entitled jerk meandering through dating ineptly, he comes across as a full-blown redpiller/PUA following the playbook to the letter. While LW doesn’t elaborate on Creeper’s delivery, so much of this comes across as calculated to shut down resistance and escalate physical intimacy as quickly as possible. I feel like I could link every action or sentence of his to its respective entry on the pualingo page with very little difficulty.

      Once again, LW, you handled this really well. Here’s hoping you find fun, interesting non-Creepers soon in your dating adventures!

  48. LW, the fine folks of the commentariat have explained in myriad ways that you were right, right, right to RUN LIKE YOUR HAIR WAS ON FIRE away from this creepster. I consider Louis CK’s description of dating to be required viewing for man-dating women and woman-dating men: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msvU3Srx2J8

  49. I am very much a no-touchy person. There are friends I’ve known for YEARS who only recently earned the right to hug me, and even then, sometimes I’m all “ehhhhhh no” if I’m not feeling it. This is 100% an okay way to be, both with romantic prospects and with people in general.

    Here’s my usual script:

    Person: *goes for the touch*
    Me: “Ah, I should mention, I really don’t like being touched very much. It makes me tense up something awful.”
    Person: *apologizes, feels awkward*
    Me: “You don’t have to apologize! I get that lots of people are okay with it, I’m just not. Anyway, back to [subject]…”

    This is the way things go if the person is cool and worth interacting with. If they do anything other than apologize and stop touching you immediately, drop ’em like they’re hot. Which they’re not. And totally not worth your time.

    Sometimes I frame it more apologetically, like, “oh, sorry, I really don’t like being touched,” but what I mean by that “sorry” is “sorry this didn’t come up in conversation before and now it has to be kind of awkward.” It’s important to me, because of Issues, to never apologize for not wanting to be touched. Your mileage may vary, but I find that I’m more confident when I’m not apologizing for my basic human needs like comfort and security and not being flipping touched when I don’t want to be.

  50. I think you should move forward with confidence that your internal alarms are in good working order.

    I promise, there are lots and lots of guys who would find that guy as creepy and disturbing as you did. Just keep looking.

    1. This guy right here is happy to confirm that. I may not be a particularly suave first-date-haver, but I know for a fact that “Sheesh, rape, right?” is not on the approved first-date conversation list.

  51. Hey, LW? Getting away from Creepy McRapeythoughts there was 100 percent smart and totally okay, not that you need me to tell you that.

    Also, if you plan to stay in the scene and you meet Creepy McRapeythoughts’ nasty cousin? It might be fun to memorize this:


      1. I bet I could do that if I were an Animorph. Adding this to my list of reasons to be an Animorph.

  52. I once had a casual-acquaintance-type friend (we worked together on a long-term group project in college) who did the “you’re so closed-off, you need to open up” thing. I responded by going “Yes, I am very quiet. *shrug*” “Yes, I do cross my arms a lot, but I don’t mean anything by it. *shrug*” “Yes, I am kind of private and closed-off. *shrug*” and not changing my behavior at all. He managed to stay on polite terms with me because he never pushed it any further.
    Now, I didn’t say those things as a deliberate strategy, I was just too confused to say anything else. (Somehow, in retrospect I have NO IDEA how, he managed to not ping my creepy-radar while saying this stuff.) Fortunately it worked out okay.

    1. I once shut down one of those simply by looking at him. Completely silently. Then I raised one eyebrow. Then he never raised the topic again.

      It may have helped that I am a big fat lady who could, if pressed, have drop-kicked him across the room, but maybe it really was all in the eyebrow.

      1. As a person who desperately wishes they could do that with their eyebrows (mine alas, do not cooperate when I ask them to do that) – I firmly believe in the power of your awesome eyebrow raise. That is a wholly superhero badass image if I may say so.

        1. I didn’t feel particularly superheroic at the time. Actually I mostly felt tired, with a side order of “A whole day of laborious boredom and an ever-expanding task list and this is what I get?” and a crunchy topping of “I’ve met your daughters, dude, I don’t think you’re an expert in teaching women How To Person.” (No triggery stuff–it was just pretty obvious that he was too busy being Manly to be a dad.)

        2. It actually is possible to teach yourself to do this. I saw Star Trek when I was younger, and loved Spock’s eyebrow raise, so I spent time in the mirror doing it, first manually lifting my eyebrow up with my finger so I could actually identify the muscle, and then eventually being able to do it unaided.

  53. Oh *** Cap, those lines at the end … just what my abusive ex used. I had realised it was rape, but in B&W like that … shocking.

    LW, well done for getting away. And as for why you were crying, possibly because you were manipulated into doing what you did do, and only realised it later? Normal, and nothing wrong with you. Jedi hugs and lots of chocolate/treat of your choice.

  54. Go your instincts!

    I think that women in particular experience a lot of pressure to be nice and accommodating and smooth stuff like this over (when it’s not our job to do that! Creepers shouldn’t be creepin’ in the first place!) , which might be part of why you feel a bit conflicted over this? The Captain’s scripts feel really good to me because they’re a way of honestly stating how you feel about doing physical stuff with a new partner – and also a kind of boundary-crossing jerk litmus test. Anyone who gets pissy in response to you saying that you prefer to get to know them a bit first is not someone you’d be comfortable doing anything intimate with, I’d guess.

  55. The minute someone says ‘you don’t seem to trust me’ in a tone that makes it seem like an accusation, it instantly makes me mistrust them more.

    That totally makes me think of The Gift of Fear. To paraphrase, he says something of the effect that if someone says that, you should immediately mentally thank them for drawing it to your attention.

    Trustworthy people gain trust by acting trustworthy, not by shaming people into ignoring their distrust.

    1. “Trustworthy people gain trust by acting trustworthy, not by shaming people into ignoring their distrust.”

      This, needs to be on a billboard, everywhere, in 60ft high letters.

  56. LW, I really feel for you. I had a similar experience once with a stranger at a party (it fortunately ended with a loud “PLEASE DON’T TOUCH ME” from me and a sulky slinkaway from him), and I was only able to make it as far as the bathroom before sobbing. I was also back in the dating world after a long time out of it, and I so distinctly remember the feeling of “Oh no, is this what I have to put up with if I’m ever going to have sex again?” Let me be one of many to assure you that it is not. There was a whole ocean of respect and affection out there for me which was entirely unencumbered by “playful” insults and scary touching. Keep following your gut, tugging you away from people like him. Keep following your mind, plotting you a course out of there. The “you overreact all the time” voice is his voice, and the voice of people like him, and as you follow your gut and your head away, it will get softer and softer, until it is just a gentle reminder of where you once were.

  57. Also, I would question your use of the word ‘overreact’. You didn’t go spend time alone with someone who you didn’t actually feel like spending time alone with.

    That’s hardly a disproportionate reaction by any stretch! I could understand debating the question if you’d punched him or started screaming or called the police or something, but ‘not going out with someone you don’t want to go out with’?? That’s barely a reaction, let alone an overreaction :).

    I’ve heard the advice to go on lots of first dates and expect only a few of them to lead to second dates, and that makes sense to me. Even if someone passes that most basic basic threshold of ‘do I feel physically safe around this person’, they still have to pass the next test of ‘am I actually enjoying being around them enough to look forward to doing it at least once more’ and ‘do they feel similarly’.

    1. Even if this guy didn’t raise any major red flags, it still would be completely acceptable and not an overreaction or anything if LW didn’t want to go over to his house dinner/drinks/wherever they were. The reason doesn’t matter-not matter how much you like/dislike/feel safe around/feel creeped out by a person, you don’t owe them any specific behaviors or amount of time beyond what you feel comfortable doing.


    LW, I could sit here in this comment box from my comfy couch safe and sound at home and tell you that I’d punch this creepass in the dick for even THINKING about that rapey story, possibly while throwing a devastatingly witty repartee, but the truth of the matter is that I’d probably react the exact same way you did. I’d hear the words he was saying, a small part of me would be all “um…did…he just…say that?” and then the “denial is totally a river in Egypt yessir” part of me would be like “nope, he did not, you did not hear him being a massive rape apologist, it was all a dream. A creepy, skin-crawly dream. But I can’t say this is a bucket of fun, either.”

    And then when I wasn’t able to reconcile those two disparate halves of myself, and after all of his manipulation and boundary-pushing and general sliminess, I would likely doubt myself too. Predators are very good at exploiting these protocols, and many ladies smarter and sassier than I have fallen victim to it. Little wonder you went home and cried. Point is, though, you most definitely did not overreact, and you are not alone in feeling the way you feel. We get no training for this sort of thing. It’s HARD to set boundaries. But you did wonderfully with the tools you have, even if you doubted yourself afterward.

    As for Slimy McJerkass, a pox on him and on all other PUA chucklefucks who think they can play women like puzzles. May his touch screen ever lag!


    My head just exploded all over the Internet with rage.

    As someone who has done a lot – a lot of online dating, my List O’ Red Flags has become long, footnoted, annotated, cross-referenced, alphabetically tabbed, color coded, and organized into a searchable interactive talking AI database that shrieks “dooooooonnn’ttt daaaaaate hiiiiim girl!!!” (No, seriously, if anyone wants to read like 10 pages of red flags, I have them!)

    Included on that list are:
    1. Dudes who talk about rape. At all. Unless there’s context such as, we pick up a newspaper that says “Rape is Terrible” and he goes, “yes! Rape IS terrible!” Other than that incredibly unrealistic occurrence, I can’t really see a way that a guy could talk about rape on a date and not come across as, at the very least, incredibly off-putting.
    2. Anyone who tells you about yourself, unless they are Madame Cleo. And that goes double for anyone who starts a sentence with “I can tell you are a person who is [fill in the blank].” Unless they’re going to say “fabulous unicorn rainbow princess who is also a dead ringer for Beyonce and is also brilliant.”
    3. Anyone who says “All other women are X, but I can tell you’re not X because Y!” A THOUSAND TIMES NO. I’ve just started answering that with “You’re right. I’m actually far worse.”

    LW, your instincts are spot-on. They did what they’re supposed to do, which is kick in to try to keep you safe, and you listened to them. BRAVO FOR YOU.

    1. As someone eyeing up the online dating world, I would like to hear more red flags. I am very willing to benefit from other people’s unhappy learning.

      1. I’d be happy to finish polishing up my list and send it to the Captain if she’s interested in posting it – I don’t have a blog any more. The caveat is that it’s from the perspective of a cis white woman dating (mostly) men, and it’s very specifically about dating online in a large city, so YMMV.

        1. I would *love* to get a copy of your list. I’m new here but I’ve been reading through this and pretty much resolved that *I* should go ahead and teach this as a sex-ed type class to my children and their friends. At first I thought about doing it as “how to spot a PUA” until I spent 15 minutes researching it online and decided that I cannot stomach wading through that part of the internet. So please! This list and I’ll add it to my own and I bet it will cover 99% of what the PUAs are doing anyway.

    2. I would say to be a little wary of #2 even if all the things the person is telling you are positive (you’re the kind of person who is good at languages, says insightful things, whatever.) Someone who believes that they can be more of an expert on who you are than YOU can be — even if they really like you — is not necessarily going to be pleased when you deviate from the character sketch they’ve developed of you in their head.

      1. To clarify: people who state their opinions about you, good or bad, like they are unarguable facts are questionable.

        1. Yes. It’s usually way too soon, their view of you is thus shown to be too flat, and there can be strong signs of excessive idealization, of buttering you up, or of deliberately reinforcing the traits they’d like you to emphasize to the exclusion of others.

          Excessive idealization in particular is considered a red flag for a potentially abusive relationship, because you are not being respected as a real person.

      2. I think the thing that bothers me is the specific phrasing of “you’re the kind of person who…”, because it’s typecasting, no matter how positive the second half of the sentence sounds, and makes clear that the speaker is relating to you as “embodiment of people who do/are X”, instead of as you, a person, who has some features that you may or may not share with other individual persons who are separate from you. Literally any positive thing you might want to say about someone can be said directly about the individual without the “kind of person who” construction, so the choice to use that particular sentence construction, even when paying me a compliment, pings my “this person isn’t actually listening or paying attention to me as a specific person in my own right” radar.

        1. One of my favourite things about that sort of type-casting is how hilariously, dramatically WRONG the people doing it usually get when they try to do me. It’s actually how I tell the difference between people who are doing it because they just like to think of themselves as insightful, and people who are doing it because they are trying to pinpoint angles of entry into selling you something, where that something may be their penis. The sort of people who are trying to sell you something will immediately attempt to crowbar their interests into the matter, even if that means twisting the whole thing sideways and getting it increasingly wrong.

          Why yes, thank you, kind sir. You have correctly observed my purchase of large quantities of food and treats for both my tame animal companions and local wild animal acquaintances indicates I am a person who chooses to care for and feed animals. But no. No, that doesn’t actually mean I will “be entirely giving in bed/be defenceless against your manipulation attempts/be charmed by a for-money psychic prediction of how many children I will have/be excited by the chance to date someone who needs *taking care of*/be manipulated into a large monthly payment to your charity/insert other stereotype of assumed nurturing people here”. I actually just find animals – even the filthy vermin I gently and carefully remove from my home – infinitely more tolerable than most humans. You included.

          1. “One of my favourite things about that sort of type-casting is how hilariously, dramatically WRONG the people doing it usually get when they try to do me.”

            YES. I regret that my answer to the bit of type-casting a dude did on the one date we ever had was not, “I think we’re into different things, and I think I am going to leave now.”

          2. Oooh, yes, the chance to take care of someone else. So sexy!

            If I wanted to take care of another person, I’d have a kid. The costs are lower and the rewards are higher.

      3. I just like to jump up on my bar stool and start yelling “you must not know about me! You must not know about me!”

    3. Yes please post your list. I will add my red flags to it (if they are not already included.) (They probably are.)

  60. Dear LW
    That guy! He is awful. He is probably already a rapist. He … I can’t even …

    But in answer to your questions
    1. No you aren’t weird.
    2. The Captain’s scripts are great. Here’s another possibility (if it works for you). “I like making the first move, and I’m not ready yet”
    3. You can have casual sex, or NSA sex, or Zipless Fucks, or friendly dating, or all kinds of things. If you’re getting a lot of fellas who want NSA sex when you want friendly encounters, maybe take casual sex off your profile?

    Meanwhile: oh he is a horrible rape apologist, and I’m not surprised that a good and hopeful person, like yourself, cried when confronted by that poisonous mess.

    Also HUZZAH for your instincts!

    1. ‘He is probably already a rapist’.

      Yeah, good point. Just occurred to me to wonder whether this is the sort of ‘happened to a friend’ story that’s actually about the person?

      Anyway, since I’m now commenting, I would like to add to the virtual fistbumps and cheers for your AWESOME CREEP-DETECTING RADAR and super-duper-duper awesome sticking to your guns and acting to it. Lady, you are riding that Nopetopus with style.

        1. Yup. And even if it didn’t– someone who ignores and belittles your boundaries in conversation is not likely to respect them physically. I learned that the hard way and really wish that I’d honored my instincts.

          1. I mean, he was trying to get an invitation back to her place. And he was already pushing boundaries.

            If he’d managed to go home with her, I think even if he didn’t assault her, she still would have had an extremely difficult time getting him to leave. That would have been the guy who was “too tired” to drive home, so that he could stay the night “I’ll stay on top of the covers; I promise.”

            But he probably would’ve assaulted her.

            I actually freak out a little when men (yes, just men, because I haven’t had these things happen with any other genders) invite themselves to my place, instead of the other way around. It’s like they’re purposely cornering me. At least if I go to their house I can probably leave (as long as I provide my own transportation). No one goes to my place until they’ve shown me they aren’t going to be difficult if I tell them I’m done visiting.

  61. I think this situation is, tragically, very, very common. And I went through the same inner monologue: “Why am I so uptight? Do I just not like sex? Am I being mean and closed?” I wish high school health classes taught this “escalating kino” and “negging” bullshiteroo. And disgusting that we will keep running into men that pull this scam. more so, because they make us suspicious of the genuinely nice and thoughtful people we may meet. The last time this happened to me, it was actually quite edifying. “Stop angling for entry into my apartment. We’re not having sex tonight.” Response: “oh, I was just actually interested in casual late at night stuff. So this won’t work out.” Solved my problem for me.

    1. I discovered that my answer to “why am I so uptight” was “because these guys are not behaving in ways that enable me to be comfortable, and I do not feel ready for this.” Someone who thinks it’s my responsibility to override my natural reactions so that they can get what they want is not for me. And uptight me knew that implicitly, even when my conscious thinking brain did not. Worse still, some of these PUAs are deliberately acting in ways that make women tense, and then manipulate them into overriding, because the cognitive dissonance suits their ploys far better than genuine relaxation does. It’s better for them that the woman not trust her gut or be able to hear the NOPE.

  62. And LW – you didn’t over react. This guy is dangerous and you sensed it.

    Also some of your crying may have been because you permitted kissing but knew on another level that he was scary and bad. That would have made me cry 😟

    1. Yeah, I was thinking that – LW actually listened to the voice in her head who was telling her “you never let yourself have fun” and let down her guard a bit at first, thinking that maybe something good would come of it. And instead, she got served this platter o’ dog poop. Someone managed to get close enough to her to touch/kiss her who then turned out to be an icky slimeball. That’s a very valid reason to be upset!

      And LW, if there is any part of you that reads all these comments commending you (rightfully!) for defending your boundaries and thinks “well, but I didn’t defend my boundaries at first, so maybe it’s part my fault” – nope nope NOPE. None of this is your fault. The fact that there are asshats who will thank people for letting down their guard even a little bit by being boundary-pushing creepers is 100% on the asshats, and not on you. This guy was a creeper asshat when you relaxed your guard around him, and he was a creeper asshat when you pulled your boundaries back up. He would have been a creeper asshat no matter what you did, and not immediately divining that he was a creeper asshat is not your fault.

      (Of course, if that thought never crossed your mind, then please ignore the paragraph above. I just remember that when someone sexually pressured/assaulted me, I spent years thinking “but I let him make out with me beforehand, and even enjoyed it – so I must be part to blame!” and it took me a long time to convince myself that this idea was horseshit. So I may be projecting, in which case, I apologize.)

  63. Well done, LW. Your sensors are working perfectly. Avoid that guy like the plague.

    As captain says, it is irrelevant that our society is, in general, more comfortable having sex and getting physical earlier in relationships these days. A relationship cannot work, cannot be enjoyable, and cannot be healthy, if it does not progress at a speed that is comfortable to all the people in it. If your speed happens to be slower than theirs, then the other person needs to give you the courtesy of slowing down for you. If they don’t, they don’t really put enough value on what consent is, and you need to head for the hills.

    I like, “I’d like to get to know you better/spend more time with you before getting physical. Tell me about your hobbies/pets/work/whatever.” Anyone who balks at this, “How dare you not let me rub myself on you when you don’t want to! You’re unusual and unfair!” is someone you immediately know to get far, far away from. A normal, decent person might be a little disappointed, but won’t have any problem with, you know, not being all rapey and manipulative about it. That kind of attitude is not the norm; most guys aren’t like this. You aren’t out of date in your expectations for the dating game, you just got stuck with a horrible piece of scum who was very good at making you second-guess yourself.

    Also, jedi hugs to you because what an awful experience. You dodged a bullet, that’s for sure.

  64. Haven’t had a chance to read the rest of the comment, but just wanted to make the point:

    You are feeling bad about shutting this situation down right now. You feel like you over-reacted, right? And nothing happened in terms of him hurting you. But that doesn’t mean that the potential wasn’t there. You might have avoided that successfully.

    If you hadn’t shut it down and had felt pressured to be alone with him and he had hurt you? You would also feel bad about not shutting the situation down. You would possibly feel like you under-reacted, like you’d seen the signs listed here and instinctually knew that he was acting a bit dodgy and ignored that. And it’s so easy to feel like that makes it then somehow your fault or responsibility that he hurt you.

    We women are trained to take responsibility for men’s actions. We’re trained to feel self-doubt and self-loathing (see the interior ‘did I overreact? Why do I always do that? I am such a fun-killer!’ dialogue) even when we’ve *done nothing wrong*. And you feel like crap about yourself if you do shut it down. And you feel like crap about yourself if you don’t shut it down. There’s no winning.

    I had an incident last week where I was amongst friends and drinking (far too) heavily and then a monogamously partnered friend’s boyfriend kissed me not ten minutes after I’d thrown up because of alcohol. Sexy, right? You wouldn’t *believe* the knots I tied myself in the last week over it when I didn’t even start anything, don’t fully remember what happened and didn’t consent. ‘Did I kiss back?’ ‘Was it just those two kisses?’

    So shutting it down or not shutting it down, you would have felt like crap even though nothing would have been your fault. It’s not your fault that he was acting in a sleazy, worrying, potentially dangerous manner. If he’d gone a step further and hurt you, it wouldn’t have been your fault. You listened to your instincts and shut it down and you’re safe. That’s so great. You don’t owe him any consideration and – as my friends told me after the kissing incident – this whole thing reflects WAY more on him as a person (his skeevyness around consent, pressuring a stranger re sex, lying about pressuring a stranger re sex) than it does on you (a new date-r who’s self-conscious about how she’s doing and if she’s too guarded).

    You are just the right amount of guarded. X

  65. LW, I was literally shaking with rage by the time I finished your letter. I wanted to physically manifest in the past and punch that cockweasel right in the snoot. What a legitimately horrible person.

    “You’re very anxious” –YEAH, THANKS, because he’s MAKING you anxious by behaving like a creep.

    “The attraction will fizzle” …wow. Beyond the creepy stuff, that one’s just sad. He’s straight up saying that the longer women know him, the less they want to bone him.

    I wish that dickgoblin a lifetime of lonely blue balls until he learns not to be a creep.

    You did EXACTLY RIGHT. Dating is rough, and having a date that unsettling straight out the gate can throw you a bit, especially if there were parts of it that were nice. But this guy was bad news and consent issues from a mile off, and you did right to trust your instincts. Go you!

    1. You and I both had physical reactions to that letter, at the exact same point! I actually leaned back from my screen a bit when he started in on the “you’re very guarded” thing. (Also, “I’m in the restaurant business” = “I’m a waiter”. WE ALL KNOW THIS. And there’s nothing *wrong* with being a waiter, I’ve been there myself and it’s a tough job, but yeah, that’s what “I’m in the restaurant business” means when you start flinging it at total strangers. “I AM A WAITER WHO FEELS IT’S NOT OKAY TO BE A WAITER SO I AM GOING TO PRETEND TO BE A VERY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSPERSON. AND USE ‘WE’ TO INSINUATE THAT I AM PART OF A CROWD OF VERY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSPERSONS.” (I knew a guy who owned a restaurant once. HE was “in the restaurant business.” And he was also a giant dingus. So hey, the subject of LW’s letter is halfway there!)

      Where was I? Oh right. I thought the whole “you’re guarded” thing and “bla bla I’m a businessperson” was bad enough, and then the rape story came out and it was like RUN, RUN LW, RUNNNN WHO THE HELL SPEWS ANECDOTAL SUPER-LIKELY-TO-BE-APOCRYPHAL RAPE APOLOGIA ON THEIR FIRST GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKIN’ MEETING WITH A TOTAL STRANGER NEVERMIND SOMEONE YOU ARE HOPING FOR FUTURE SEXY TIMES WITH??? even though the title totally gives away that LW did, in fact, wisely run away.

      In short, the scene in my head while reading this letter was suspiciously similar to this scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd6aLnPHqeE&feature=youtu.be&t=47

      On a side note, this site is really good at making me feel hope for the world thanks to all the great advice of CA and the fantastic support in the comments, while simultaneously instantly ramping my inner dialogue volume up to 11.

  66. Hi! I usually lurk, but I just wanted to say to LW: you did a great job, and I’m sorry people are sometimes awful. I wish you all the luck in finding awesome people who make you happy in the future.

  67. Yup. You did the right thing; you’re not uptight, he is at the very least someone who is trolling for someone he can pressure into whatever he wants to do and then convince them it was okay ex post facto.

    This is not, NOT just “dating nowadays” or whatever. Honestly, I think dating was always super miserable, but you can very much avoid men like this. Listen to what people tell you about themselves, and believe them. For whatever reason, terrible people will often TELL you how terrible they are as though it were a joke or something? So listen to them. Never be afraid to just leave in the middle of a date. If someone makes you feel pressured or weird, make an excuse and leave. Or just excuse yourself to go to the washroom and then leave. If you pay as you go on drinks, or are having a coffee, or even if you can pull the server aside and pay on your way out, just do it. It seems awful but doing that kind of thing actually always felt awesome to me.

    I spent about five years going on regular first dates, mostly meeting guys from OKCupid. Basic safety tips: communicate via the website; don’t give him your phone number or email address until second date or later. Don’t give him your full name. If you have an unusual first name or identify your field of employment or study in your profile, use a nickname or something. It’s okay to have hard boundaries about geographical desirability, age, appearance, marital or parenting status, etc. Anyone who says it isn’t is wrong (your friends may do the “give him a chance” dance sometimes); tell them it’s not up for debate. If *you* choose to relax your standards, that’s one thing. Nobody else gets to tell you to. Take cash on a date so that if you do have to get out, you can hand the server a bill and leave. Be ready to lie about where you live if you feel it’s necessary. Arrange a safe call if that seems good.

    Also, I’ve had really good luck with, when I was interested in something casual with someone, just saying so. If they want something more serious, well, at least you both know. Also, always pin down the plausibly deniable ask-out. “Are you asking me on a date?” Just nip that shit in the bud. 😀

    1. These tips for dating are all really good, especially the part about not feeling bad about peacing out on a date that makes you feel uncomfortable. I have one other OKC tip that seems tailor-made for the LW’s situation.

      LW, I feel much the same way you do regarding physical intimacy: I enjoy it very much, but I am not comfortable with anything physical (kissing, light touches, hugging, sex, etc.) until I know a person very well. “Very well” for me means that I have known them for AT LEAST a month.

      I was going out on OKC dates and got the feeling that the “default” that a lot of people were working from was “kiss on the first date, sex on/by the third date”. That pace for intimacy does NOT work for me, so I ended up spelling things out VERY CLEARLY on my profile. For example, in my “The most private thing I am willing to admit” section, I wrote: “I don’t like to kiss on the first date. If I think it’s going to happen, I get too nervous to enjoy the date.” In my “You should message me if” section, I wrote: “You should message me if you are fine with taking your time when it comes to relationships and physical intimacy. I am ultimately looking for a relationship, but it takes me at least a couple months before I feel comfortable committing to one.”

      Having that language on my profile helped me a lot when it came to negotiating physical intimacy. In fact, a few of the guys that I went on dates with after I put that in my profile commented that they appreciated how clear I was about my preferences. It might feel weird or “prudish” at first to write about your boundaries this explicitly, but I have found it to have a very positive effect.

      1. I finally realized OKC means OKCupid. I was wondering why there were so many single people here from Oklahoma City.

        1. I used to live in Oklahoma and the OKC acronym still really throws me sometimes for exactly this reason. 🙂

      2. Yeah, I tried a lot of different styles of information on my profile and eventually ended up with something that really worked for me, but it was basically completely counter to all the “professional advice” about how to handle a dating profile. I also have an extensive interpretive guide to men’s dating profile photos that I occasionally explicate on twitter, and have been told it has been very helpful to others. 🙂


    I’m sure other people have already said it, but it just bugs me so much. In the nerdy circles, we’ve finally started to push back against that narrative of “well, maybe he doesn’t understand body language.” “Maybe the soft no was confusing for him.”

    But in your case, he doesn’t even have that plausible deniability. HE COMMENTED ON THE FACT THAT YOUR BODY LANGUAGE WAS SENDING HIM “no thanks” SIGNALS! He actually pointed it out. Not only did he notice, but he drew attention to the fact that you were uncomfortable with the way he was acting. And he did it by basically saying, “Hey, your body language is telling me that you’re uncomfortable. Can you…not be that way so I can bone you.”

    UGH, NOPE. I want Steve Rogers and Raleigh Becket to manifest and teach him the error of his ways.

  69. Hi! Adding yet another voice to say that I agree he was boundary-pushing, icky, potentially dangerous, and awful, and the LW was so right to get out of there, but also that I probably would have been doubting myself too. It seems so obvious and black-and-white seeing it all written out like that, and from a third-person perspective, but it’s so hard when the person doing the nope-ing is you and so much of society has been telling you that nope-ing is unreasonable and mean. Props and sympathy for the LW.

    Meanwhile, I hope this isn’t too big a derail, but I’d love a little of that outside perspective myself about something… I’m pretty darn sure in my own mind that I reacted appropriately to this one dude about a year ago (a year ago! but I still sometimes feel icky about it!), and most people I’ve shared the story with have agreed with me, but a couple of (smart, kind) people have indeed said that I was overreacting… And I guess I just want some validation to quiet my brainweasels? So, story of a (maybe?) mild creeper…

    I met the dude at a public event organized around a fun and non-sexual activity. We were seated nearby and interacted through the activity, but didn’t exchange more than first names or talk about meeting or anything. A day or two later, he’d added me on facebook (I’d commented on the event venue’s post so it wouldn’t have been too hard to find me in non-stalkery ways), and asked if we could hang out. He was polite and friendly and suggested meeting in another public and non-threatening place to do more of the activity we’d met doing. I hadn’t felt any romantic or physical attraction to him but am always happy to make new friends and he wasn’t asking for a “date” anyway so I went. Things were fine. In the course of the next week, we met twice more, once at a movie (that he insisted on paying for even though I asked him not to, so I insisted on buying the snacks, which he let me), and once at my parents’ house where I’d been staying, where once again he behaved like a gentleman. All told, this was meeting four times in the first week and a half or so of knowing this guy.

    Then I got really busy with work, and told him so. But he kept sending me a ton of messages on facebook, including just little tiny pointless things about what he was up to at that moment, something I totally do too but with old/close friends. Then he informed me, on a Friday when we had no plans at all for meeting or any contact whatsoever, that he was going to be in an area with no cell reception for a couple of hours that evening, so I shouldn’t worry if I couldn’t contact him. Ummm… OK? I wasn’t even thinking about you, dude? (Did he expect ME to tell him when I wouldn’t be in contact for such a short time on a day when we weren’t planning anything anyway? I’m starting to feel a little weirded out…) Then he said he wanted to see me over the weekend and I explained that I was still working super hard to finish work for a deadline on Monday, so wouldn’t be able to do anything before Tuesday at the very earliest. He replied with, “Don’t make any plans Tuesday. I have a surprise.” Here was where I felt VERY uncomfortable, that just a couple weeks after meeting he thought it was fine not to ask but to ORDER me to clear a day for him, and expected me to agree to just get in his car and go to whatever his “surprise” was. Granted, I’d been in his car before and it was fine. Granted, I’d said Tuesday was the next day I might be free. But after that I made excuses for Tuesday because I was feeling quite alarmed. I ended up being either genuinely busy or “busy” for the next several times he invited me to things, and ignored his still frequent messages on fb for months. To be honest it also kind of weirded me out that he also didn’t even acknowledge that I was ignoring him, but just kept talking as though there was really some kind of mutual conversation going on. He finally stopped trying when his birthday came and went and I didn’t comment. Later I quietly defriended him.

    I’m pretty sure in my rational brain that I had every right to decide not to spend more time with someone who was making me feel so uncomfortable, but a few people have said I was pretty hard on the poor guy who probably didn’t mean anything by those things that creeped me out and how was he supposed to know what the problem was when I didn’t tell him? (but he DID know how to behave better; he knew to ask me to a public place the first time and to be respectful at first!) And I still just feel this weird nagging feeling… although I’m not sure it’s really guilt so much as just residual “ew”.

    1. You didn’t overreact. Say he wasn’t creepy or doing anything weird by overinvesting in you (um, he totally was, but say he wasn’t): You weren’t enjoying his attention, or planning your weekends around him, or wanting to have those conversations, so, voila, NO DATES. Rejecting someone is NOT subjecting them to a horrible fate, it’s just, “Hey, thanks, but I’m not into you that way, but I hope you find someone who is.

      1. Yes, exactly. I don’t understand the concept of “you were hard on the poor guy who just likes you and is unaware of his behavior.” What are women supposed to do, go on dates with guys they are not interested in so as not to be “hard on” them?

        This dude was way over invested in you and yet he didn’t try to clarify things by expressly asking for an actual date, instead he stealth dated you and behaved like a boyfriend when he was not.

        The part where he told you he was out of cellphone reception for two hours is creepy. I have had 2 guys do similar things, one was someone I had exchanged a few messages with on a dating site, and he suddenly told me that he was going into meetings for the next couple of hours so I should not worry but he would message me immediately after. As if he was a baby goose and I was the person he had imprinted on.

        The second was a dude I interviewed (I am a journalist) by phone ONCE. He added me on FB, which was OK because that’s how I communicate with some sources. Then he started to message me ALL THE TIME. I unfriended after he told me that he was flying to another country so would be out of contact for the flight but he would message me immediately he landed, as if we were married or something. It was way too much and I didn’t like it.

      2. Thanks so much for this reply! Again, that’s more or less what I’d been telling myself, but it’s such a big relief to hear that from someone whose opinion on such matters I respect so much!

    2. You didn’t overreact.


      You felt weird about his approach so you gave him soft noes.

      That was clearly the right thing to do, because he didn’t hear your no for quite some time.

    3. “I’m pretty sure in my rational brain that I had every right to decide not to spend more time with someone who was making me feel so uncomfortable, but a few people have said I was pretty hard on the poor guy who probably didn’t mean anything by those things that creeped me out and how was he supposed to know what the problem was when I didn’t tell him?”

      You can actually drop most of this sentence. Pare it right down to *”I had every right to decide not to spend more time with someone.”* And yes, you did have every right. You can make that decision for any reason, or no reason. “Just not feelin’ it” is a perfectly good reason, you don’t even need the many creepy reasons he gave you. No one is entitled to your time. It’s a gift that you can hand out to those you feel are worthy of receiving it. People who try to stalk you? Not worthy.

    4. “…just a couple weeks after meeting he thought it was fine not to ask but to ORDER me to clear a day for him…”

      Seriously — HE was the one overreacting!

    5. Here’s my reaction to what you wrote.
      – after the ‘I won’t have reception for this time thing.’ hmm, seems weird, he seems to be more invested in this than I am
      – after the tuesday thing: whoa, he must think we’re dating!!

      I’m an anxious and conflict averse person and I think after the Tuesday thing I would’ve forced myself to send him an fb message or something else in writing. “This is awkward and I’m sorry if I’m wrong but I’m getting the impression you might think we are dating? I was thinking we are new friends just getting to know each other, and I’m not ready for this level of interaction/not interested in dating.”

      I’m not saying this to suggest that you did it wrong, but more that you rightly noped out of a situation that was weird for you. The situation was weird. He somehow ratcheted up the relationship in his brain in a way that made things totally awk to the point you didn’t want to talk with him or see him anymore.

    6. Totally NOT an overreaction. A long ranting FB diatribe on how awful he was would have been an overreaction. A slow quiet fade? Perfectly within the bounds of normal, reasonable behavior.

    7. It sounds like he was very invested not just in having a relationship with you, but in getting it to go quickly; so much so that when you were unavailable through work, he tried to play catch-up or filled it in on his own. He also seems to be a proponent of the “be confident and assertive and you will make others go along with what you want to happen” school, because he acted as though you had agreed to a first date (which then had to be postponed, while the relationship in his mind progressed even though you were busy) when you hadn’t. Ugh.

      You did not owe him control over your first available free time, just because you’d been busy, and he acted as though you did. And he didn’t seem to need your agreement in order to make plans for you, which is a big red flag. Only yes means yes, and not only had you not said yes, he hadn’t even asked.

      As for being hard on the guy, you disengaged slowly and softly. Not going along with his massively presumptuous plans for you is not being hard on him, it’s being honest with yourself.

      I confess to being confused by people who are all “how was he supposed to know that escalating and being presumptuously possessive of your time without even trying to get your consent was creepy, give him a chance.” I go for Nope. It’s not just the creepy behaviour, it’s what it signals — that the guy does not put a priority on your consent, and has probably built a relationship in his head. There is also the overriding matter of your lack of interest in him in the first place.

      This isn’t necessarily mild creeperdom, just a mild appearance of it. Your story looks rather familiar to me; in my case, the dude ended up stalking me off-and-on for eight years. (Mostly not in person, fortunately.) From time to time, someone was enlisted to tell me that I should overlook how he’d acted in the past and give him another chance, blithely ignoring that I’d never been attracted to the guy in the first place. The biggest red flag of all was that he’d never considered my utter lack of interest to be an issue.

      1. Oh my gosh, you bring up so many good points here. I really appreciate this in particular: “that the guy does not put a priority on your consent, and has probably built a relationship in his head. There is also the overriding matter of your lack of interest in him in the first place,” because it puts in words a couple of things I had trouble articulating or even acknowledging to myself.

        When I originally got his message about that Tuesday, I remember feeling IMMEDIATELY uncomfortable but not sure why it bothered me so much, and because my dad happened to be in the next room, I ran it by him. My dad is an incredibly awesome guy but can be extremely dense about social subtleties sometimes, but here he actually agreed with me instantly that this particular message was weird, and that’s pretty much exactly the reason he gave – that it looked like a warning sign to him of very controlling behavior. (Dad also handles a lot of divorce cases, and when I first saw the recommendation for “Why Does He Do That?” here I remembered seeing it on one of Dad’s bookshelves, because he had it as a work reference, so I guess he’s seen things like this before.) He did say that it could be innocent and just clumsily said, but that he didn’t blame me for being weirded out and in fact was relieved to hear that I was. And again here, you’re putting it in much clearer words than I was able to articulate myself, that the guy did not put a priority on my consent.

        And yes!! Your lack of interest in a guy is enough to not give someone a chance, whether he’s been a stalker or not! I totally and completely agree with that! In my case, I wasn’t even thinking of it that way because my lack of attraction to someone is totally irrelevant when I am just getting to know them as friends, so if I gave him “another chance,” it would just be as a friend… but I’m not sure why I was still even seeing it that way when that was clearly not the chance he wanted anyway.

        On another note, I remember a completely different guy who totally put me off on our second or third date by acting very entitled and as though he were my boyfriend already, when we were not anywhere near that stage in my mind (and honestly, in my mind, no one is officially dating unless they have explicitly said it to each other). I was complaining about the guy’s behavior to another male friend, who laughed and said I was being totally unfair, because I would have actively liked the exact same behavior if I’d only been more attracted to the guy. At the time I felt stuck, like, yeah, you’re right; why am I so unfair? But hey, doesn’t the fact that I WASN’T that attracted mean something? And the fact that I was not sending any signals, explicit or otherwise, that I wanted to be at that stage? Isn’t that a rather vital difference?

        So yeah, thanks for putting that all into words. And I’m sorry you had people petitioning to you on a stalker’s behalf. That really sucks.

        1. Yeah, a lot of this. “You’d be okay with it if you were attracted to him.” Um, yeah? Life isn’t kindergarten and women are not the classroom toys; we don’t have to give everyone an equal chance to play.

        2. Glad it helped!

          In defense of the petitioners, they were mostly suitably horrified once they got my side of the story and realized they’d been talked into helping him harass me. Second chance? He never had a first chance, and “fairness” isn’t a consideration. Roles in my personal life are not subject to labour laws. And sometimes it turns out my lack of interest is a very good thing indeed, I hate to think how long that stalker could have persisted if I’d ever gone out with him.

          As for the problem you identify with the “it would be ok if you’d been attracted to him” excuse: Exactly. If you’d been more attracted to him and acting accordingly then he *wouldn’t* have been ignoring your signals and acting as though your responses and consent were irrelevant, because your signals would have been encouraging rather than discouraging or neutral. It wouldn’t have been so presumptuous and a sign of entitlement. It’s a massive difference in acceptable behaviour, based on needing the person in question to be responding appropriately to us. (Even attractive guys can respond inappropriately and without concern for what we want, as described by the OP.)

        3. Dating is not a democracy. You don’t need to be ‘fair’, you just need to be the basic level of honest and considerate as in other areas of your life.

          (Although have total and free permission to be ‘dishonest’ or ‘inconsiderate’ if you feel unsafe. Your safety overrides everything including basic politeness.)

          1. If dating was a democracy, certain male celebrities would be unmarried and having a date every day with a different fan they’d never met, based on votes arranged somewhere online, because their one vote plus the one vote of the person they want to be with would be overwhelmed by the collective “he has to date each of us once” votes. The “dating should be a democracy” people never want to give women the vote.

    8. One thing we know for sure, the guy does not know how to act appropriately. Sending a flood of Facebook messages when you are busy: inappropriate. Telling you he’ll be out of contact for a couple of hours for no good reason: inappropriate. Ordering you to clear time for him: inappropriate.

      People who do socially inappropriate things like that make me wonder what other basic rules of social actions are they going to violate? Whether it’s cluelessness, malice, being mind-controlled by alien worms, or some other factor, it still indicates they are dangerous, because they may violate social norms. Protecting yourself from dangerous people by avoiding them: priceless.

      (Plus, it was probably the alien mindworms. He’s patient zero, and if everyone gets creeped out by him, we’ll avoid the alien mindworm plague You were helping to save humanity.)

    9. Okay, so, I’ve sort of been that guy (except I’m a girl, but you know) – I tend to get a bit excited when I meet a cool new person, and when I was younger I was even more hopeless than I am now at ‘reading’ people, so I’ve definitely gotten over-invested and over-enthusiastic (moreso with friends than people I was Interested In, probably). And looking back, I cringe – not because ‘oh, poor me, some of* those people got scared off and stopped talking to me and they should have given me a chance!’ but because *I was probably making loads of perfectly nice people who maybe even would have liked to be my friends uncomfortable*. You weren’t mean to him, you didn’t tell him he was a gigantic loser, you just gently disengaged. That’s perfectly reasonable as a response to that behaviour, *even if* he didn’t ‘mean anything by it’.

      *some of them were just as over-excitable as me and we became great friends, which is probably part of why it took me so long to realise where I was going wrong

  70. I want to go on a rant re the “guarded” stuff and call it out for the bullshit it undoubtedly is, in addition to the Captain’s excellent remarks.

    Some people are guarded and grow increasingly so when some a-hole tries to push their boundaries, as in this case. Self-guarding mechanism engage! Great!

    Some people ARE more guarded in general. Especially on a first date, but maybe in most dating, or when they’re still in the very early stages of getting to know any new person, or maybe just in life in general.

    “Guarded” isn’t a bad thing. Some people have been really badly hurt, perhaps by dating partners, and they’re brave enough to try again but they still go out with their walls up. Some people like to just sit back and watch and see if a person’s words line up with their actions before they try and let their guard down. Whatever, totally makes sense in their specific context but also kind of in a general dating context.

    As someone who has been on two dates in the couple of months in the aftermath of a dating partner sexually assaulting me, I definitely fit the “guarded” bill. I went on a date with a guy who a) made a rape joke b) argued with me over whether it was a rape joke once I’d called him out on it and c) realised in horror that it WAS a rape joke and that he hadn’t realised it… I guess because he’s not that clear on consent stuff? We had previously talked a little bit about sex and I’d mentioned that enthusiastic consent was vital to me, as was communication. Then soon after he made a silly joke about enthusiastically consenting to like, a particular ice cream for dessert, but only after we had an open negotiation about it. And then at another stage he’d asked me a question and in answering I’d sort of drifted away from his original question and he came back and said “You didn’t answer the question. Why are you avoiding it?” like it was an interrogation instead of a date. The question/answer was in fact harmless and I’d just moved away from answering it by chance, but had I actually not wanted to answer and been trying to avoid it, calling me out on that would not have helped any. His thing was that he wanted to “know me deeply”, after a couple of hours. Whatever.

    My point is that sometimes guards exist for a reason that is completely unknowable to a brand new dating partner. Noticing someone’s guards (or we could just call them boundaries) is always valuable information – if you can see that someone’s getting anxious then you stop doing whatever shit is making them anxious. But also sometimes there’s subtle information being communicated; someone saying “I’ve been hurt before and I’m on my guard to make sure that kind of hurt doesn’t happen again”, and if you try to be all “look at me, I’m so observant and sensitive, I notice that you’re guarded! And I’m going to call that out! Like it’s a bad thing!” then you’re either a douche who’s deliberately trying to throw someone off-balance (like I believe is happening in this case) or you’re banging right into someone’s trauma and you don’t even know it and maybe you treat it like a funny joke.

    I’m not saying someone should guess or magically know that their new dating partner has been sexually abused and guard accordingly. But the cost of not being a douche is exactly zero. It’s not hard to be sensitive and remember that everyone has a history and a personality and comes to the table as a fully-formed person with their own limits. And I don’t even know whether most het guys think about this, but given the rates of sexual abuse amongst women especially there is a non-zero chance that they could be dating a sexual assault victim at some stage. So, don’t potentially trigger them by calling them out on being “guarded” or some shite. Yeah.

    rant end/

    1. “You seem really guarded” is never a legit thing to say to a new person, dating or otherwise, unless it is the lead in to asking if you have done something to make them uncomfortable/if there’s something they need you to change in your behavior.

      1. “Excuse me miss, you seem really guarded. Are the security officers here for your protection or ours?” (if the person is wearing a face mask and is strapped to a dolly, then the guards are probably not there for her protection.)

  71. One thing I noticed you mentioned about this guy – he was “cute”, apparently physically attractive, and somewhat personally charismatic. This is something I want to pull out and highlight, because one of the things which always gets brought up whenever a guy is accused of rape is “but he’s a good looking guy; why would he have had to rape someone to get sex?”

    The expected logic, of course, being that because he’s a good-looking guy, he therefore cannot be a rapist. Or because he’s a popular guy or whatever.

    The actual truth is good-looking guys, popular guys, and powerful guys are often the ones who drift into rapey territory out of a sense of straight-up entitlement – they come to see female adulation and female company as something they’re deserving of as a result of their success. It’s why there are regular reports of date-rape by high-profile sportsmen, high-profile businessmen, high-profile entertainment personalities and so on; they’ve come to regard the sex as being part of their remuneration package, so to speak, and are very offended when it isn’t immediately offered.

    Incidentally, you didn’t over-react to this guy. Over-reacting would have been luring him into a dark alley and slitting his throat in an act of pre-emptive dating pool chlorination; shibari with his own entrails; sucking his soul out via his eyeballs or something along those lines.

    Nopeing the hell out of there is a perfectly reasonable reaction and well within the bounds of acceptability. So too is feeling wrung out emotionally and physically as a response – and sobbing is a reasonable and understandable reaction to dealing with an adrenaline overload (which is probably what was causing your stomach to knot up and feel queasy too). You were coming down from a fight-flight-flee situation. Our brains live in our bodies, and not only can they cause bodily turmoil (as in this case) but they can also be affected by it.

    1. The powerful, whatever their source of power, also may rape as a way to affirm their entitlement. It’s not a true entitlement unless they can take it freely and get away with whatever they choose to, ignoring matters of consent. For the PUA sort, they’re manipulating women and using their charm as a source of power, but the same still applies: even if they’re attractive and should have no trouble finding someone to consent, they may get more of an ego trip out of getting away with boundary violations and manipulating their targets into bad situations. As well as practice for future attempts.

      1. See also: the human garbage in the creepshot communities on Reddit, who find photos of women utterly unenticing if it’s revealed that the pics are taken with consent. Like dude, you’re on THE INTERNET – if you’re not a rapey creeper who gets off on the violation of consent there’s literally PETABYTES of porn out there featuring consenting adults.

      2. Ugh yes I’ve read too many articles where people interviewed rapists who specifically said that if their flirting with someone actually got an enthusiastic response they got bored, they wanted to have to coerce someone into something they didn’t actually want to do.

    2. Not to compare human beings to possessions and/or monetary goods, but it’s sort of like saying that very wealthy people cannot possibly steal or evade taxes because THEY DON’T NEED TO. Are you fucking kidding me? That happens all the time. Either because they’re the kind of sociopath who feels entitled to take whatever they want because those very qualities were the things that helped make them successful, or because even the smallest threat to that power and wealth causes a desperation and panic that drives them to do very stupid things. I would guess that very wealthy people are prone to bigger theft than the poor because of access as well as the sense that they “deserve” said wealth. Same goes for good-looking, powerful men and rape.

      1. There are a lot of studies where poor people were more likely to hand in lost wallets with all the money intact, etc. (Generally because they empathise with the possibility that the owner literally doesn’t have any other money, which doesn’t track so well with rape, because women and sex aren’t possessions, but it semi-backs up the ridiculousness of the argument.)

  72. What a creep! Your instincts are great, LW!

    As to the “luck” of having a potential rapist/obvious mysoginist/overall creep to show himself on the first date — I’d like to tell you all a story.
    A few years ago, when I was still at university, the flat next to mine was rented by super nice musicians: a Singer, her brother (The Pianist) and her best friend (the Musical Theorist). We’re the same age, they were new to the building, we became friends when they needed to borrow a frying pan and eggs, I helped and was invited for yummy crepes. One evening I got invited (along with my corkscrew). It turns out, Singer’s crush was coming over. Later I learned that Theorist had a weird feeling about the dude and wanted a second opinion (she didn’t trust Pianist, as he was her BFF’s baby brother). The dude was very pretentious, had an extremely pretentious and douchey first name, which was not his fault, but the fact that he insisted on using the full douchey form instead of a more common and obvious nickname was. Anyway, he seemed OK, though slightly stuck-up. The evening was going great, mostly thanks to our hosts and wine (and my corkscrew). Somehow we started talking about our neighborhood and a shady street nearby, which is not very pleasant at night, but we had to pass it to get home from the cafe/musical district. Anyway, someone (probably Mr. Pretentious) said that it’s not that shady, so I told them that actually I had been groped by three drunk guys there on my way home from a bachelorette party. The “funny” thing about that was I studied martial arts and on that same day we learned a “ducking technique” that helped me get away from from them (AND START THE FASTEST SPRINT OF MY LIFE). I remember concluding: “well, thank god they were super drunk, so I could RUN. Everyone was shocked by the story, exept for Mr.P, who said: “Oh, and you were probably also SUPER WASTED” and something that them grabbing my bum was my fault. I said, truthfully (and with an icy look): “Actually, I wasn’t drinking that day”. He then blabbered on that he didn’t believe me “What? No alcohol at a hen party? Impossible?”. My hosts and I exchanged looks. The dude was never seen in our building and Singer recovered from her crush immediately.

    1. I’m sure you realize this (and it seems like your friends likely realize this as well), but even if you had been drinking, it still wouldn’t have made it your fault! Why is it that being drunk excuses a portion of the population from any responsibility for their actions, but for another portion of the population, makes them not only completely responsible for their actions, but also the actions of others?

  73. the “are you worried about being a slut” and the “oh you’re totally ‘guarded’ totes not a reasonable boundary” is just…ugh. I fucking hate negging, it comes wrapped in ‘concern’ and ‘oh you should self-improve’ and it isn’t and I just ugh. Do they not stop to understand that just because they get an end goal out of it doesn’t mean that damaging the person is worth it? It’s so fucking selfish.

  74. Yeah dude. I’m 99 percent sure that “male friend of his in the military” wasn’t someone else, but rather himself.

    He’s a rapist. Go you and your ninja-like instincts for avoiding a potentially tragic situation.

  75. I find it heartening that all the commenters are getting the same “nope” vibes and are able to spot and name manipulative behaviour.

    For me, personally, I’m so bad at spotting manipulation for what it is, and it’s something I’m trying to teach myself.

    There’s this post going around Tumblr which is a screenshot of an adult man saying “It’s a shame that you’re 17” (or something to that effect) and the response from the teenage the statement was directed at ripping him to shreds. Her response points out that trying to make her feel bad about her age is a manipulative attempt to make her feel more mature and want to qualify herself to him. And I just wanted to applaud when I saw that. Men used that shit on me when I was a teenager and it worked. And I just love that collectively teenage girls are able to use the internet to have these conversations.

    And while it would be infinitely preferable if PUA subculture had never blighted the planet, I do appreciate that we are able to name and reject the manipulative tactics they use. Because these sorts of tactics were used by assholes before they decides to give them ‘cute’ names like negging.

    1. One thing that helped me a lot was focusing less on identifying specific techniques, and more on recognizing that I was feeling uncomfortable about someone/something and allowing myself to be uncomfortable and responding appropriately, whether that meant distancing myself from a person at a party, dialing down how much I shared about myself, leaving, whatever. The key was doing that even though I wasn’t able to name specifically what was bothering me or why it was a problem. Usually I would figure out some time later.

      This was NOT easy, I must say – 4 years of therapy and it still doesn’t come naturally – but I feel a lot more confident out in the world dealing with assholes.

      1. CA has helped me with framing this, too. Before I got here I often framed my discomfort as being uncomfortable with MYSELF rather than with THE WAY THIS OTHER PERSON IS TREATING ME. To wit: beating myself up about “he’s so NICE, why don’t I LIKE HIM MORE, he’s so SAD now” instead of “ugh why is Sad Dude talking to me about his feelings when I already stated that my feelings are Take Those Away From Me, gross”

        1. This is such a great point!

          I always assumed *I* was the awkward uptight weirdo who “couldn’t get along with people” and “couldn’t take a joke,” and that that’s why I felt weird/uncomfortable in various situations, but lo and behold, I went out into the world of not-my-bullying-family and not-the-mean-kids-at-school-who-also-bullied-me, and suddenly, I was comfortable! And I didn’t feel like running away from all the interactions! And I thought the jokes that people made were funny! And people thought my jokes were funny!

          Spoiler Alert: My discomfort in most social situations growing up wasn’t discomfort with myself – it was discomfort with having to be nice to people who thought it was cool to minimize/negate/ignore my feelings, to make jokes at my expense, and to treat me with general disregard and disrespect. Funny how, as soon as I surrounded myself with respectful, kind, interesting people who were interested in and kind to me, I no longer felt uncomfortable.

      2. Yup. You don’t need to be able to come up with a logical justification for why you feel uneasy or uncomfortable about something before being allowed to stop that something. You get to shut it down/walk away just because it makes you feel uncomfortable, and that’s enough of a reason.

        Which, come to think of it, ties into the ‘logical people’ discussion that was going on a couple of posts ago. The problem with the awful people described in various letters on here as ‘very logical’ isn’t that they actually are very logical (if they are, it’s incidental) but that they don’t accept your reactions or emotions as valid unless you can back them up with a logical argument judged by zieself to be of sufficient strength. Big warning signal. (Sorry, tired & posting in a rush so that may or may not have been very clear.)

        1. Attempting to reverse the onus of proof — so you supposedly have to go along with something unless you can immediately and clearly justify why not — is a ploy common to many manipulative techniques, and also implicit in many social situations. Those who pull this often deliberately set up situations to make people confused and thus unable to satisfy the “requirements”. These “very logical” people are often trying a quite flawed argument with a narrow basis, hoping they’ll get it accepted before you realize it’s crap or you figure out what’s subconsciously bugging you.

          Besides, “I don’t want to” is a crucial basis for any reasoning about things that I might do. It should always matter that I don’t want to, even if I don’t understand where that comes from.

          1. Attempting to reverse the onus of proof — so you supposedly have to go along with something unless you can immediately and clearly justify why not — is a ploy common to many manipulative techniques, and also implicit in many social situations. Those who pull this often deliberately set up situations to make people confused and thus unable to satisfy the “requirements”. These “very logical” people are often trying a quite flawed argument with a narrow basis, hoping they’ll get it accepted before you realize it’s crap or you figure out what’s subconsciously bugging you.

            Please note: this is also a tactic-of-choice for internet trolls, “culture warriors”, and lots of other such nuisances. The guy who is asking you repeatedly to provide your “evidence” for anything you’re saying (and his half dozen identical mates who also want this evidence spoon-fed to them bit by bit… what, did we suddenly get stealth-colonised by a bunch of avian invaders or something?) but who won’t accept whatever it is you’re saying in response unless it’s qualified to the point of incoherence; the sea lions who show up trying to shoe-horn their particular grievance into each and every situation – they’re all using this particular tactic. Their hope is that we will either invest so much effort in trying to prove ourselves correct that we get worn out and stop arguing, or that we’re going to miss the fact they’re not arguing from a reasonable basis (and indeed that they’ve set things up as “heads I win, tails you lose” through their rhetorical posturing).

          2. Yes, indeed. The go-to-move of manipulators everywhere. They also take advantage of social assumptions regarding discussions, especially on topics that you’re invested in, to make it so that you can’t be right until they agree that you’re right — which they never will. Like the creep who acts like you have to justify, to his satisfaction, why you’re not having sex right that minute. No, that was not what was needed to be shown.

        2. “Yup. You don’t need to be able to come up with a logical justification for why you feel uneasy or uncomfortable about something before being allowed to stop that something. You get to shut it down/walk away just because it makes you feel uncomfortable, and that’s enough of a reason.”

          This is true in all kinds of situations, but I think there’s a whole extra level on which it applies to dating. After all the WHOLE POINT is to find someone you like and want to spend time with. If you don’t actively want to be around the person, the entire exercise is pointless.

      3. And I think that’s exactly what The Gift of Fear was for, really. He names the behavior, of course, but emphasizes that, really, it doesn’t HAVE to be identifiable for you to recognize that something is wrong and act accordingly.

    2. “And while it would be infinitely preferable if PUA subculture had never blighted the planet, I do appreciate that we are able to name and reject the manipulative tactics they use. Because these sorts of tactics were used by assholes before they decides to give them ‘cute’ names like negging.”

      Absolutely agree with this. Pick-Up “Artistry” is despicable and gross, but it is kind of convenient that a large group of creeps got together and essentially wrote playbook of their creepy tactics, which women can peruse at their leisure. It makes it much easier to identify them at a distance and come up with effective shutdowns. I have had the satisfaction of calling out a guy who tried to “neg” one of my friends at a bar. I wasn’t as smooth or scathing as this xkcd comic, but I felt so vindicated by the brief look of horror he threw me, followed by a speedy exit as though pursued by (feminist) bear.

      1. Indeed, it is good that they have encoded this shit that we may call it out!

        Some “hilarious” attempts at “negging” that have come my way:

        “You’re not one of those cat ladies, are you? All the cute girls I meet lately have a cat.” Me: :pulls out phone, shows 10,000 cat pictures that reside there:
        “Is that an engagement ring or do you just want people to think you’re engaged so they won’t hit on you?” Me: “What answer will get you to go away the quickest?”
        “I like fat girls. They try harder.” Me: “Try harder at what?” Douche: “You know, sex stuff. They’ll get freakier to convince dudes to stick around.” Me: “You must know a lot of sex tricks to get people to look past your shit personality.”
        “Your friend is cute. Are you her wingman or something?” Me: “I’m the anti-wing-man.” Douche: “What’s that?” Me: “I’m good at making annoying dudes go away.”

        1. Oh wow, these are all gold and being filed for future reference.

          When I encountered Negging Dude, I was just like “I’m sorry, but are you negging? Was that a neg?” (I was kind of genuinely fascinated, as I didn’t think PUA had that much traction on my side of the Atlantic and part of me was like WHOA LIVE SPECIMEN.) He gave me a look that basically communicated OH SHIT I’M BUSTED (I guess he didn’t realize that ladies also have internet access these days?) Then my friend was like “Negging? What the hell is negging?” I started to explain but barely got a sentence out before Negging Dude realized that he absolutely had get back to his friends because they were probably leaving immediately.

        2. My OKC profile mentions power tools and working on my house, but it’s literally one brief sentence in among the other stuff. One random dude’s entire email message consisted of, “You don’t have [low-cost low-quality brand of tools], do you?”

          My dating memoir just may be titled “I Got Power Tool Negged On OKCupid”.

          1. Hilarious! “No dude I use only the finest quality power tools thanks for your concern. P.S. You are a power tool.”

  76. Oh Captain, an we please have an extensive post dedicated to the High-Pressure-Sales-Technique as employed by PUA douchebags?

    The pattern is clear here:
    1. Negging – “You seem guarded” is a ‘typecasting’ variety of criticism that is designed to ‘correct’ your behaviour of mistrusting him and makes you doubt your own initial trepidation with a guy who is a total stranger to you.
    2. Kino – Immediately using that as an opportunity to touch your leg, despite your initial ‘guardedness’. He made you drop that boundary and immediately stepped over the threshold to touching you.
    3. Testing the waters – An anecdote about “false” rape accusations (that happened to a “friend”) is bound to make anyone uncomfortable, but he’s particularly trying to A) gauge your reaction to that scenario, B) manage your reaction to that scenario, to make you accept it as “not really rape”, because then he can make you think that when he pushes your boundaries to something sexual, it’s “not really rape”.
    4. Escalation – Turning the conversation to make-outs in 20 minutes? He’s focused on one outcome – getting his orgasm, using your body.
    5. Objection Handling – You say “No”. He tries to reason you out of it. Charity muggers are trained to do this twice, and then drop the sales pitch, because refusing to accept that someone doesn’t want to donate money is harassment and will get them punished with a massive fine (£10,000).
    6. Adding Pressure – “We should do this soon because the attraction is here now and if we wait it will fizzle out” is him artificially creating a deadline and trying to force you to make a decision (he’s already primed you not to say “No” in case that makes you a bitch).
    7. Seclusion – He wants to get you alone. Away from witnesses, to somewhere he has total control over the outcome. This will later be used as his excuse “She went into a room alone with a man, what did she expect??”
    8. Gaslighting – Making you think you’re being too guarded, or paranoid, or uptight, or crazy for not wanting to do what he wants you to do.

    If he reads Pick-Up guides, the chances are he is a vile misogynist, who seeks to manipulate and control women, and is surrounded by other vile misogynists who will validate his douchebaggery and reinforce the toxic, embittered hatred of women who are always Slutty McSluttersons whether or not they actually go home with him or not. These forums are not about how to get dates and be good company, they are about how to rape women and get away with it. (See Julian Blanc, Roosh V, Heartiste)


    LW, Always, Always, Always trust your instincts – they are absolutely spot on, and you have dodged a bullet. Nobody should be making you uncomfortable, and then using your discomfort against you. That is not how good potential partners behave.

    I hope you find one of the good ones out there – someone who will be into spending time with you outside of a bedroom, or in a bedroom, doing whatever makes you both feel happy and comfortable. Someone who doesn’t just keep you around for booty-calls at 2am (seriously, what the f? Making plans THAT short notice is just a power-trip, and is an asshole thing to do). Someone who knows that “Casual sex” means a relationship without progression beyond X level of commitment, as decided by both partners, not “We fuck without my having to put any effort into treating you like a human being”.
    These cool, considerate, exciting, interesting, fun and affectionate people exist, and would love to meet someone like you to have some mutual fun dating times, LW.
    You’ll waste less time in finding the right person if you can learn to spot a Douchebag at 10,000 paces, but the great thing is that you already have the ability to sense the danger. Now you just need to be confident in your ability, and learn that it’s ok to state clearly what your boundaries are, and to simply get up mid-date and walk away, without giving a shit what that asshole thinks about you. You don’t owe anyone anything!


    May you have many fun and enjoyable dating experiences in the future, LW. 🙂

    1. Damn, that was beautiful. It was like a play book of Douchebaggery and how to avoid it. *slow clap*

  77. Captain, thank you for putting this ‘let me tell you a fake rape story!’ behavior into perspective: “Did he have no cute pet stories? Has he never had a job? Has he seen zero movies and read zero books? Has he never heard music? Did he not have a childhood or a place where he grew up? Did you not meet somewhere on the time-space continuum where there were other people to watch and speculate about?”

    It never quite clicked with me that people telling pointedly disturbing stories are testing the waters – I don’t know why, it’s glaringly obvious when I think about it, but this is so amazing. This is one of those light bulb moments, and I sincerely thank you.

    1. Yeah, I met up once with a guy I met online and we were having lunch and one of the stories he told was having met a prostitute on a bus who he made a point of mentioning was black (I am black so…), and the story involved her coming onto him. And when I was telling my therapist about it and how weird it was and I was like, “Was he grooming me???” and my therapist acted like that was a weird way to react. But telling a vaguely sexualised and then racialised story like that at a first meeting?

      At best he was a shitty conversationalist and at worst he was a very gross guy.

      1. Holy smokes, yes, I think he was grooming you. My eyes are bugging out reading this. I thought it was bad when a guy came up to me in a bookstore and said “Are you a Jewess?” as some sort of come-on line, but seriously, the racial/sexual stuff with that little story is going to give me the creeps the rest of the day.

        1. A Jewess, OMG. I don’t think I’ve heard a live person use that word, just people in novels set in the late 19th century or the early part of the 20th. Did he say “twenty-three skidoo” also?

        2. My grandfather said ‘Jewess’, but he was 85 when he died four years ago. Also, he never asked strangers what religion they were, because some rules of good manners have always existed. The one time I heard him say it was when he was talking about a film Rachel Weisz was in and was trying to remember her name: ‘you know, that actress, the beautiful Jewess’. More of a descriptor in that context, rather than objectifying.

      2. I like your final line, because it points out how valid it is to be uncomfortable whether the person is trying to groom you or not. At best, they’ve just demonstrated they’re really weird and uncomfortable to talk to, so why would you bother sticking around to find out where they fall on the spectrum from crappy, racist conversationalist to actively manipulative rapist? None of the options are good.

  78. I don’t think I have anything to add except a sort of general wish to run screaming into the dawn. Ew, you were on a date with someone who actually told you up front that he thinks women lie about rape!!!! That’s like being at a job interview with someone who shows you his machete collection and talks about how he thinks secretaries turn down their perfectly nice bosses too often!!!! You made the right call, he is a creepy-creepy-creepster with no social judgment.

    Also, you pushed your boundaries a little bit to see how you felt about the whole “let’s kiss right away” thing, and you found that [absent some theoretical Other Governing Factor – I mean, we all occasionally meet people we’d totally make out with immediately] you don’t really like that! Good job, you!

  79. I read these sorts of posts with horror and intense attention. I’m happily married to an awesome guy and sometimes I think I oughtn’t read them — they are too much the good advice I wish I’d gotten as a teen and young adult. I get a twitchy thinking about the guys who used these techniques on me and the crap I went through with because of it. But I’m a grown up now! And healthy and reasonable! And have a great husband!

    And then I look at my daughter, nine, and I keep reading the posts. These have been tremendously helpful to MY understanding the boundary issues involved and teaching HER about her body and her boundaries. She’s reached an age when I can point out things on the subway… “See that man talking to that lady? See how she’s got her shoulders turned away from him and she’s answering him with just one word answers? That’s a ‘soft no’ and he’s ignoring it. He thinks what he wants is more important than what she wants. That’s not okay. Here’s what I would do in that situation….”

    LW, I’m glad you had a good sense of boundaries and got away. I’m so so sorry you had to go through that and I wish it hadn’t happened. If it’s any consolation, I’m hopeful that your story and stories like yours will help me educate my daughter so that she doesn’t have to go through the same thing. Or, if she does find herself on that terrible date, she can just get up after the “I had a friend who was accused of rape” conversation and walk the F out of the place. Because she’s not trying to figure it out on the fly (like you had to) but was forewarned and forearmed.

    (Goes back to scribbling the “How to Date” syllabus …)

    1. On one hand, I just read your comment and thought “Wow, what a great Mom… I’m so happy I don’t have a daughter who I need to teach about behavior like that.” Then, I sat back and thought: “I have a son. He needs to learn about the *exact same thing*.”

      Thank you.

      1. I honestly felt a little teary reading your response, because YES. Yes, teaching our sons about behavior like this is honestly the only realistic way out of this quagmire.

      2. Ditto here. I recently complained to our school because I put a lot of time and effort into teaching my boys about gender, sexuality, diversity etc and they regularly reenforce the crappy, harmful, horribly mainstream stuff. There have been times when my (now 10) autistic son has told off his teachers for needlessly gendering something.

        1. See above (or… below? the threading confuses me this morning) re: the cookies you are due for being an awesome parent. Hihg five!

          1. Aww shucks! But I do feel like it’s the “bare minimum” ala “treating women like they’re humans too”.

            How is teaching kids to respect other people (and animals, and the environment…) not the bare minimum?

      3. I will 100 percent bake cookies for every person who teaches their sons this. I make excellent cookies, too. You just have to come to Boston to get them. Thank you for understanding how important it is! High five from the internet!

      4. It’s also worth bearing in mind that although we generally assume we’re raising kids of a given gender, we may find out we’re raising kids of another (or no) gender. And actually, sons probably need to know how to stay safe*, and daughters need to know how to be safe for other people, come to think of it.

        *Blargh, that phrase comes with a whole lot of victim-blaming baggage and I don’t mean it like that, I just mean, it’s worth *everyone* being helped to pick up on ‘that behaviour is skeevy and it’s okay that I feel uncomfortable, I’m gonna try and go somewhere else’ type stuff. You can’t ‘safety tips’ your way into never, ever being at risk of Bad Things, but you can help yourself to have better chances of spotting bad situations earlier and learning ways to get away from them is good, too.

    2. That first paragraph was straight out of my own head. But I have, nor never will have, a daughter to pass this stuff on to. But you do, and you are doing it. I want to stand up and applaud your awesome mum-ness. And I want to thank you, too, for giving your daughter what so many of us never got before we came here. I reckon your girl will be all right.
      Peace. X

    3. I’ve got a nine year old as well, and we’re working on the same types of conversations. “Boundaries and how to enforce them” is going to be a topic that comes up explicitly sometime in the next couple of months.

      My husband also recently read a Reddit thread that was asking women when they first remembered a man commenting on their body. He was horrified by the answers; I was unshocked, but we both realized that the “How to respond to jerks on the street/bus/public place” conversation needs to be moved up. That we have forums like this to recommend to our children is awesome. I would have been so much less awkward as a teen/YA if I’d heard some of this stuff.

      1. When I was 15, a dude at a religious function (a co-religionist!) offered my dad money if he could take me on a date. Not that that was the first time a man commented lasciviously on my person, of course.

      2. Holy cow, and I just realized…my dad’s response was “she’s fifteen” not “what the fuck is wrong with you, you creepazoid?” (Dude was in his 20s best case scenario.) And I looked about 11 until I was 17, and then 15 until I was in my early 20s.

        1. I would like to recommend the book “A Brother’s Price” to you. The setting is one were men are rare and treated as valuable property. And yet, when the male protagonist’s sister is offered money for a night with him, she tells the woman that her brother isn’t livestock.

          It is sad that we live in a world where fictional men in deliberately misandristic fantasy settings are treated better than real-life women in allegedly equal countries. (I assume you are from the US.)
          How on earth did that dude think it was even remotely okay to try to BUY you? Your father should have thrown a Bible quote at him. Genesis 34:31. (TW if someone wants to google it) That’s what I would do … if I could remember the phrasing well enough to quote it. (Okay, in reality I would just look very blankly at creepy dude and decide it must be a nightmare because such horrible people clearly cannot exist in real life, but that is just me).

      3. Not 100% body commentary but the look it came with certainly implied it. I was about thirteen when my kinda-skeezy uncle told my Mum that there was no point spending money on my education because I’d just be married in a few years anyway. The look on my Mum’s face when she rounded on him was a beautiful thing, tho.

  80. I’d rather get a few false positives on the rapist-detector than miss one and get raped. For women, the stakes are higher in terms of harm to you vs. harm to a nice guy’s feelings. It is totally ok for you to go “meh, not into it” or “not comfortable” for whatever reason. Those are complete sentences to, just like no

    Also, he wasn’t a nice guy. Try and write it off as a bad date and move on with your awesome self…

    ThatHat’s comment – spot on.

  81. Oh, LW, you’re doing great! You noticed all of this crappy, boundary pushing behavior and you bounced, even though you were feeling some of the effects of his manipulation and it was emotional and exhausting. That’s ok – that happens. It’s like radiation or something. Knowing it’s there, knowing the danger, and getting away as soon as possible doesn’t fully protect you from the effects.

    I just wanted to chime in on the “how is dating done” thing, as someone who only started dating around as an Old (also on the internet) and ran into quite a bit of this stuff.

    A lot of people are overly fond of broad generalizations, even scaling up to non-existent rules that they take for granted. Very little of what we assume is “How X Is Done” is actually a requirement, but rather a series of choices. Everyone dating, yourself included, has ideally made some choices about How Dating Works Best For Me. (Including your crappy date, who has apparently decided that being a manipulative creep is what works best for him.) You’ll hear people tell you their own choices as though they’re rules – don’t sleep with them on the first date, always get physical on the first date, always go dutch, never pay for yourself, always plan first dates for this time or that time, be flexible, and on and on. Perhaps you will decide to adopt those rules, perhaps you won’t.

    Everything is permissible (assuming consent of all parties) and nothing is required.

  82. I’m definitely on board with the “you dodged a bullet” bandwagon.

    That, and I’m totally signing all of my notes with “sex and pancakes” now. Except, you know, to family and coworkers. Maybe.

  83. I just wanted to chime in with some words for dating encouragement to the LW. You did the right thing not taking things further with this guy, but not JUST because he was a creepy PUA monster.

    This “I think I missed how easy it was between me and my ex, and now it’s like, ahhh, weird dating is my new reality!!” is what you should focus on.

    When you find a guy who you actually like it will feel comfortable, or even exciting. You will be able to talk about things, you will click. Maybe it will take a couple dates, but at the very least it’s not going to make you feel like you’re in Predator VI – PUA in the Urban Jungle.

    Worst case, after a date with someone worth your time, you should have a pleasant happy feeling of meeting a new fun person who maybe you would like to date. (At best that heady buzz that actually makes you WANT to touch them.)

    Don’t let go of your standards for feeling comfortable, or for feeling a real connection, because dating sucks. Getting to know someone you like SHOULD be easy, it SHOULD be fun. If it isn’t, then they aren’t a person you should be dating, no matter how good they look on paper.

    This is important because you should know that there are more reasons to not continue to date a guy than “he might be a rapist.” I just don’t like him is also a PERFECTLY GOOD REASON. And you didn’t seem to like this guy, he didn’t make you comfortable, and he put you on your guard.

    Not liking him is the only reason you needed to not go home with him. And we’re all glad you didn’t like him.

  84. Reblogged this on mrsmorleystea and commented:
    This from Captain Awkward points out oh so much.

    The date’s sheer horribleness, his PUA techniques, listing those techniques, and the comments!

    I want everyone to think some more about the ways in which he violates (or at least tries to violate) the LW’s boundaries.

    We all should.

    And just need to add: only a slime bag tried this crap. The rape story? Wow

  85. Chiming in to say: TOTALLY TRUST YOUR GUT. You were right, you were right, you were right.

    I really wish there was a cryptodouche signal we could tattoo on their auras or something. It would save a lot of awfulness.

  86. OMG. I’m sure I’ll have more to contribute to the conversation later, but for right now, I need to get some power tools to ratchet my shoulders away from my earlobes. Just reading the description of that dudes behavior has all of my warning bells ringing, and I actually did a full-body Eww-Icky shake.

  87. LW, I think the thing I admire you for the most is that you actually told him *why* you were not going to do what he wanted you to do, rather than escaping to the ladies’ loo and climbing out of the window. If I had been in that situation I might have just gone ‘OH NOES my contact lens is escaping I must go to the ladies’ and fix it’ and then snuck out somehow (I wouldn’t have fitted through the window). Everyone is right, you handled the whole situation in an exemplary fashion. As for the crying afterwards, my musician friend has an expression ‘adrenalIN, adrenalOUT’ – she experiences it after being on stage, but it happens in lots of other situations where you have done something stressful and scary and survived.

  88. You did NOT overreact. This dude was gross and creepy.

    My personal policy when I was dating was very simple, and it cut out a lot of the creepers. This was after MUCH HARD EARNED experience (read: a lot of bad dates).

    I have told so many women friends this, and had to learn it for myself:

    If someone crosses my boundaries/makes me feel uncomfortable, I am no longer socially obligated to be kind or polite. Example: dude walks up to me and my gal pal and inserts himself in our private conversation. I said “This is a private conversation, I’d like you to leave now.” He broke social protocol, so I did as well. He awkwardly left.

    1. Coffee only first. My terms. I would usually give an end time. (Hey I can meet you for coffee on Tuesday from 2-3). It would always be DURING the day, NOT at night, so there would be zero expectation of sex.

    2. After 20 or 30 minutes, I would excuse myself and go to the bathroom. In the bathroom I would ask myself: Self, are you having a good time, or would you rather be ANYWHERE else? Do you WANT to spend the next 30-40 minutes with this person? Do you feel comfortable? If the answer was “sure” or “yes,” then I would continue the date. If it was on the “welllll, I guess so,” or “NOPE” spectrum, I would go out and tell them “I’m sorry, but I need to go.” (or… This has been weird – I’m going to go) The bathroom is key because you are physically removing yourself from the situation and giving yourself the time and space to actually clarify how you feel.

    One dude, after sadly too much time, I said “I don’t think either of us is having a good time, so let’s go our separate ways. The night is young, I’m certain you can meet up with other folks tonight. Have a good evening.”

    3. No dudes in my house. Period. Unfortunately, dudes took “Want to watch Battlestar Galactica” to be code for “I want to have wild, crazy monkey sex with you.” wtf!! In the times where they WOULD be going to my house I would say in no uncertain terms “We will NOT be having sex, this is NOT code, do you understand.”

    This was even true with my now-fiance. He missed the last train back to his base in Seoul, and instead of saying “Well, I suppose you could stay with me” I said “Hmmm that sucks. What are you going to do?” We found him a sauna to sleep at (I miss Korea!).

    4. If dudes hyper react to ANY of my boundaries, I would NOPE the fuck out of there. Maintaining a physical or emotional boundary is normal and healthy, and if they are trying to make me feel weird about it on a first or second date, they can’t be trusted.

    After having lived in one-night-stand-ville for so long, I had a hard time with transitioning to healthy, monogamous relationships, ie. dating. I made a policy for myself that if I didn’t trust them with X, I didn’t want to trust them with my body. For example, if I didn’t feel comfortable with them in my apartment by themselves, why would I give them free access to my body? If you don’t know my middle name, why should you know what my genitals look like? If I wouldn’t feel comfortable handing them an unlocked iphone, why would I let them explore my body? plus, If I couldn’t hold hands with them in public, I absolutely didn’t want to let them touch me anywhere else.

    I absolutely don’t think that should be everyone’s rule, but it really clarified in my mind that IT’S NOT SELFISH OR PLAYING GAMES TO NOT GIVE SOMEONE SEX.

    In other words, you reacted normally. He tried to feel you out and wanted you to be compliant in whatever way possible. He was a predator, and you maintained a perfectly reasonable boundary. Non-predators understand the need or desire for wariness around strangers and do not make you feel weird about trying to keep your mind and body safe. Predators use guilt/shame to artificially lower your guard.

    There are absolutely cool dudes out there. You absolutely can find what you’re looking for. This dude is not one of them.

    1. “2. After 20 or 30 minutes, I would excuse myself and go to the bathroom. In the bathroom I would ask myself: Self, are you having a good time, or would you rather be ANYWHERE else? Do you WANT to spend the next 30-40 minutes with this person? Do you feel comfortable? If the answer was “sure” or “yes,” then I would continue the date. If it was on the “welllll, I guess so,” or “NOPE” spectrum, I would go out and tell them “I’m sorry, but I need to go.””

      This is applicable in all social situations, and we ladies are so trained not to do this check in. If you think “I really want to just go home,” you’re right. Do it.

    2. Oh gods indeed. One of the moments of crystal clarity before I broke up with one of my terrible exes was:

      1. He did the thing that I specifically told him not to do on my computer.
      2. Guess who doesn’t get admin rights anymore!
      3. Guess who doesn’t get to know any admin passwords anymore, either!
      4. If I don’t trust him with admin rights on my computer, *why the hell am I planning to marry him*?!?!
      5. My new friends who I met not even two months ago would not do the thing on my computer, and I could trust them with admin accounts.
      6. This all seems bad.
      7. I could probably fix the disparity by just dumping his ass.

  89. 3) There is probably language in your area for this that works as kind of code words. Where I’m from I would say I’m not into hookups but I’m ok with friends with benefits or casual dating and sometimes I do one-time hook ups with friends, but I’m also looking for a long term relationship if one comes my way. Where I’m from the word hookup definitely implies ‘we are gonna fuck today and then maybe not after that depending on how it goes,’ so saying you’re not into that might communicate a lot about how you need a bit more time, especially if you’re looking for something you could add to a dating profile to try to screen people a bit more, for example.

    5) I recently had a similar experience and it wasn’t even a date. I went somewhere and this dude latched onto me and I gave him a chance but by the end of an hour (I guess we kind of had a ‘first date’ sort of interaction) it was clear he was more interested in dating than friends and I was clear that I did not want to date him or give him my number because he was being pushy about getting my number. I ended up giving him my number and felt so fucked up and anxious afterwards, but also guilty somehow for not being chiller or something? I think that voice telling you you need to be chiller is basically our shitty rape culture talking. You went on a date with this dude, you gave him a chance and did connect in some ways, but in other ways something was off about the interaction so you ended it. That is ok and you are not an asshole, that dude pushed your boundaries! You did well LW, it’s just hard to see that when you’re in the situation. Probably I did well too by giving that guy my number and not making him mad and getting away from him to a safe place where he couldn’t follow me. It just doesn’t really feel like you did well in these situations ><

  90. Whats so depressing about this is how common it is. Like everyone here is correctly identifying the badness, but actually wading through it in the dating world? I got so sad and angry that I had to stop dating for a while. LIke 50% of OKC dates with dudes like this. I sometimes feel like feminist-internet reality, and real world reality are so far apart that my brain can’t reconcile the two.

    1. Are you using the questions much? For me I find it helpful that they let you have a long list of questions and give you people’s answers. What I’ve been finding works for me is to not even message people or respond to them unless they’ve answered a significant number of questions (and not just the superficial ones), and I’ve checked what it was we disagreed on and made sure I could respect their answers. Of course people can still lie, but it certainly seems to improve your odds. And a surprising number of people see no reason to hide their disturbing views, because they don’t think there’s anything wrong with what they believe. I’m sure it’s partly the luck of the draw, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how nicer and more interesting the people I’ve met online were than I expected (though maybe I just had low expectations, LOL).

      1. Seconded! Questions I use to screen OUT people:

        Is a woman who’s had sex with 100 people a bad person? (Bonus points if they answer differently from the “is a man” question!)
        Would you strongly prefer to date someone of the same race as you?
        Do you think homosexuality is a sin?
        Should men be the heads of their household?
        No means no!

        I mean, I have also had Some Dude write to me (with my clearly stated FEMINIST profile) saying how awesome and cool and smart I seemed, but surely I was only a feminist because I hadn’t considered his VERY REASONABLE POINT, and then he spent, like 2000 words explaining how if I would just see things his way I would be much happier. Because after trying to mansplain feminism to me, he tried to mansplain HAPPINESS. LOL.

        1. Don’t forget the question about whether women are obligated to shave their legs. People who answer that “yes” usually also correlate strongly with not great answers on the other questions, too.

          1. This, and the ones above listed by bluestgirl, are all on my deal-breaker list too. I do shave my legs and prefer them that way in the summer (forget winter; I’m a sasquatch!), but the minute someone tells me I HAVE to, it’s another story!

        2. Another question that might apply especially to the LW’s stated intimacy preferences is the one that says: “Say you’ve started seeing someone you really like. As far as you’re concerned, how long will it take before you have sex?”. Looking for someone who answers ‘3-5 dates’ or ‘6 or more dates’ is probably a better idea for the letter writer than someone who answers ‘1-2 dates’.

      2. I totally agree; I think most people DON’T lie about their possibly deal-breaking views because they believe they’re right! Seen from the other perspective, if someone sees my views that I’ve honestly expressed through my profile or questions and finds them offensive, that’s just fine! Clearly we’re not compatible, so go right ahead and use that as a reason not to write to me! And there are absolutely a few questions I check every time before meeting someone, and certain answers that get a quick “nope” regardless of any other awesome stuff on their profiles. I’ve still had what seems like more than my fair share of bad OKCupid dates, but I also have waded through a lot of profiles I realized I didn’t even have to bother giving a chance. And I wish there were something more like OKCupid that I could use in the country I’m currently living in, because I really do learn a lot from those questions.

        1. I’ve been known to nope out of an online dating profile because the person makes spelling or grammatical errors. (I’m not talking about typos.) I’m a writer for a living, being articulate and literate is important to me, and while I realize that may cut me out from some people, it’s a pretty good proxy for me.

  91. Reminds me of a time years ago I was on a trip with a group of people I knew through a club, and in the evening some people were drinking and I’d gone off to another room as I didn’t feel like joining in, but one guy started loudly telling a story about a guy he’d read about who accidentally got a woman he had casual sex with pregnant and then got so angry when she refused to have an abortion, that a couple of his friends followed her on the way home one night and crept up on her and ambushed her and beat her up, specifically making sure they punched her repeatedly in the stomach, in hopes she’d have a miscarriage. The guy telling the story was all about ‘Don’t you feel bad for the guy, though? Wasn’t he in an incredibly difficult situation? Isn’t it a really difficult case to judge, ethically? Shouldn’t the judge have been more lenient considering the extenuating circumstances?’ etc.

    I’d never hugely liked him to start, always found him sort of obnoxious and never felt massively drawn to get to be friends with him, but he really hadn’t been much in my consciousness. Well I certainly stayed WELL AWAY and treated him as an unsafe person after that! I also listened carefully to what I could hear of each of the other people’s reactions and was reassured at how they sounded disturbed by the story and by the way he told it, and even spoke up and verbally disagreed, despite seeming a little shy. They also just knew each other from the club and weren’t particularly friends, so I decided I felt reasonably safe that I was in a group of decent people with only that one not-entirely safe one.

    Nothing else of interest happened on that trip (nor did I ever hear any stories about the guy, but then our social circles weren’t close enough that I necessarily would have), but that night did disturb me enough to refine my criteria a bit for circumstances under which I’ll go on road trips with people I don’t already know well (there are still scenarios where I will, though – I’m just more deliberate about it and there are a bunch of conditions where I will or won’t). And made me think more about how important the whole group dynamics of a situation are, too.

    1. That story is seriously messed up. The heroes are the guys who assaulted a pregnant woman? Glad to hear there was actually a judge involved, and that hopefully everyone got charges pressed against them. Also glad to hear that the other people were equally disturbed at this story.

      1. I don’t think he went so far as to suggest that they were heroes. Lots of hemming and hawing about what a ‘difficult situation’ they were in, and how strong the provocation for the attack was, and lots of talk about how crazy and unacceptable the woman’s behaviour was, but he still at least gave lip service to the idea that it was probably ultimately the wrong way of handling it.

        Actually I got the impression that if he hadn’t been drunk he wouldn’t have told the story, as he was aware enough to realize his view would be seen as at least ‘controversial’ and he liked being liked and respected. But after that I sometimes think that maybe it’s good to see people drunk, at least once, to find out what’s hiding underneath their social filters.

    2. That story is just horrible. Like, it is not a difficult ethical situation. Do not assault people? Do not assault people (bad enough) attempting to cause enough damage… I mean, that story is horrible, and it’s awful that he thought it was ethically ambiguous, like, WHAT?! YIKES. YIKES.

      1. Seriously it is actually pretty hard to do someone enough damage to deliberately cause a miscarriage!

      2. I know. I just kept imagining that poor women, walking home and then those two guys pop out, and the moment she realizes it’s real, they ARE there to attack her, and the fear, and the pain, and trying to get away…

        Meanwhile I’m pretending to be asleep and listening to this conversation in the next room aware that I’m in a cabin in the woods alone with three drunk guys and no keys to the car, and one of them thinks THIS is an ethical dilemma. I’ve definitely become a little more deliberate about fun road trips since then…

        But it was also interesting, and extremely reassuring, to find listening to the conversation that my initial impressions of each of the guys were totally right-on. The obnoxious guy who ‘I guess is sociable and outgoing and pleasant enough to be around but I don’t really like him, he kind of seems like one of those guys who’d be a bully in high school’ was indeed just superficially sociable rather than truely likeable or kind, the quiet guy who seemed a little shy but quite nice, was, etc. And my sense that I was OK as long as I stuck to the group and kept my interactions with jerk-guy both public and superficial and uninteresting tuned out to be true, too.

      3. I know. I kept imagining that poor woman, walking home and then seeing those men approaching (or did they leap out and sucker-punch her out of nowhere?), and the moment when she realizes it’s real, they ARE there to attack her, and the fear, and the pain, and trying to get away…

        And meanwhile I’m pretending to be asleep, listening to this conversation in the next room, aware that I’m alone in a cabin in the woods with no keys to the car with three slightly drunk guys, one of whom thinks THIS is an ethical dilemma. I’ve definitely become more deliberate about fun road trips since…

        Although it was also very interesting, and very reassuring, to find that all my initial judgements of each of the guys turned out to be right-on. The one I could see was sociable and easy to get along with but I didn’t really like, who I remember thinking was OK enough superficial company in a group but seemed like the kind of guy who was probably a popular athletic bully in high school, did turn out to be superficially sociable rather than truly likeable or kind, the quiet guy I thought seemed a little shy but quite nice, was, etc. And I turned out to be right that it would be fine and even have a good trip if I kept to the group and chatted with the nice guy and kept my interactions with jerk-guy public, group-oriented, minor, superficial, sober, and uninteresting.

        1. Oops, I posted again because it didn’t seem to have posted. I guess it was just delayed a moment!

  92. LW, you have a lot of great responses already, but I want to chime in here, too: You did absolutely the right thing. Your instincts about this guy were spot-on and I am so glad that you did not let yourself be pressured into going somewhere alone with him. You dodged a bullet, I truly think so. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how you reacted, and if I’m ever in the dating scene in the future (I’m currently married) I will remember you as a shining example of what I should do on a date with someone who is making me uncomfortable.

  93. Never heard of “escalating kino”, and wondered what it was. So I Googled, like you do.
    The Google results page made me feel sick. Oh my fucking god.

    1. I didn’t even end up clicking any of the links – just the titles were enough to put me off my lunch. HOW IS THIS A THING?!

    2. I googled to and one of the first links to a blog I found was one of the PUA creepers describing one of his friends who wasn’t a PUA going over to talk to a strange woman and putting his hand on her motherflipping waist! and the PUA creeper was like, “And then the worst thing that can ever happen in a man’s life happened” and that worst thing was that the woman “panicked and made a “don’t touch me weirdo””” face.

      This was to indicate why his friend needed the PUA technique of escalating kino, not why he shouldn’t try to touch stranger women.

      Also, it was like, “Ha, wow, I wish a weird facial expression as a direct result of crossing an obvious no-shit Sherlock boundary was the “worst thing” in woman’s life. Way to prove at least half of that Margaret Atwood quote, douchecanoe, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

    3. Ugh. I never heard of it before, and now the phrase is conflated in my head with Mike Myers talking about “Operation Kino” in Inglorious Basterds. Which is somehow making it feel even creepier to me.

  94. I have this feeling like “Are you worried about being a slut?” is a very manipulative thing to say, but I’m having trouble articulating why.

    Like, maybe using the word “slut” spontaneously is supposed to be a reminder that “you’re only not-a-slut until you stop doing what I want”. It seems very threatening, like it suggests that the moment you have sex with this guy he’s going to immediately start calling you that (note that it’s “being a slut” not “seeming a slut”). But why the heck would a guy trying to convince a woman to be more sexual than she wants to be bring up the risk of being seen as a “slut”?

    Anyone understand this?

    1. My impression was that that’s his super-creepy way of trying to pretend to be a decent human being for long enough to get himself laid.

      “Something is stopping her from instantly falling into bed and opening her legs for me… what could this problem be and how to fix it? Let’s see… oh, I remember something possibly useful I read on PUA Forum For Creepy-Creepers – people were talking about how often what holds girls back from providing sex when they’re supposed to is that they’re worried about being seen as sluts. So, what’s the formula for fixing the ‘Fear Of Being Slut’ glitch in my attempts to get sex? Wait, I remember something else… girls like it when you show you appreciate their feelings and problems, that’s it… I’ll ask her if she’s worried about being a slut! I’ll look so sensitive and understanding and she’ll be all over that!”

      Or maybe not. Whatever his turgid reasoning was, at least we know the salient point for the LW and any other woman unlucky enough to encounter this shit is “Very creepy creep is doing creepy things. MOUNT THE NOPETOPUS! RIDE AWAY VERY VERY FAST!”

    2. Because he’s hoping to trigger a “No, of course I’m not worried about that! I am a free and independent woman, and I will prove it by sleeping with you!” response. It’s sort of the sneakier version of “What are you, a prude?”

    3. Because it doesn’t occur to him for a minute that it could be about what she actually wants or doesn’t want. He’s so wrapped up in using the threat of perceiving her a certain way to get what HE wants that he can’t fathom that she has any preferences at all. Women are just blank canvases in this worldview: when we have sex, it’s because someone has successfully bullied us into it, and when we don’t, it’s because someone (or, like, “society,” man) has successfully bullied us out of it.

      1. Yes, it’s all of that. It’s a question that takes what the woman wants off the table. In my experience it’s also a sort of ego-defense for the man, because if rejected he can tell himself a story about how it wasn’t that HE was rejected, it wasn’t that the woman didn’t want to sleep with HIM, it was because of fear of being labeled or some other reason that has nothing to do with him. See also: “I thought you were cooler than that” etc

      2. The are-you-worried-about-being-a-slut guy reminds me of a guy I dated briefly after meeting him through an online dating service.

        In many ways he was very neat — professional, worked as a therapist at the prison, looked nice, etc. However, at some point we were talking about our pasts (I mean, my gosh, I was in my 40s by then) and he ascertained that I had had more sexual partners than he, and he just could *not* handle that.

        We had been at the point of setting up a time to Do the Deed, and he was telling me that he just felt really insecure because I had so much more experience than he and he really wanted me to take the lead on everything, and I said, look, I don’t have any experience with *you* so we’re in the same boat, right? And I used my words and told him that when he said things like that I felt like he was being judgey in a backhanded way and please to cut it out, but he just couldn’t let go of it, so I dropped him. (And then he told me that *I* was the one with the problem.)

      3. Yes. It’s filtering a legitimate social observation – “Women police their own desires because of misogynist shaming” – through a misogynist idea – “Women are the gatekeepers of sex” – and arriving at illogic: “Women refuse to give up the sex because they’re too ashamed.”

    4. Yeah, there are a few things wrong with the question:
      1) It assumes that being a slut is an actual negative thing a person can be, which immediately fits into a sex-shaming and sexist worldview
      2) It’s a form of typecasting, aimed to make the person less willing to defend their boundaries to show they aren’t afraid of that
      3) It’s setting the victim up to blame themselves for the boundary violations, because they acted slutty
      4) It’s just incredibly presumptuous to ask someone about this area of psychology without a really good reason. I could see a therapist having a context to ask this question in a neutral tone. But on a date? It’s deliberately trying to probe at sore spots and asking if this is one of yours.
      5) Trying to find other people’s sore spots immediately makes me worry you intend to try to use them against the person unless you have a very valid reason for the probe (such as doing this within the context of a therapy session)
      6) It assumes the reaction is not simply a completely reasonable response to the situation. If your first response to somebody’s reactions is to look for deep psychological reasons behind them rather than simple, obvious ones like, she probably just doesn’t like X, then… I’m not actually sure how to finish that sentence. But it’s a problem. You shouldn’t do that. It’s definitely a red flag. Actually, it’s a sign of out-grouping. The actor-observer effect points out that humans have a strong tendency to overvalue the effects of circumstances and undervalue the effects of personality traits for their own behaviors and of those that are within their in-group, while doing the exact opposite to others, especially those not in their in-group. So, leaping to personality judgements rather than circumstantial factors is a way to other somebody. It shows they are nowhere near Team You yet.
      7) It feels like the guy is already trying to fix the date. Captain Awkward has had a lot written about the dangers of trying to fix people. Unasked for attempts to fix someone is bad. But it does feel like a step in trying to create a relationship where Dude is the analyzer of what is wrong with you and then keeps poking you about it until you meet his personal view of right.

      There’s probably more. You’re right that this question feels really band and worrisome. It’s hard to fully dissect the whys of it. These are the best guesses I can come up with. But it just reeks of not showing the person you’re asking it respect. Which I think most unasked for attempts to probe into someone’s psychology do. (I absolutely love psych, but there are many good reasons psych students are warned not to try to analyze their friends, and especially not to do it out loud. I have mostly learned to keep such opinions to myself except when explicitly asked for them.)

    5. Another thing they do is to prematurely sexualize the conversation. Say slut, say rape, act as if it’s completely normal and if you feel uncomfortable you’re probably just too uptight and GUARDED. Pushing boundaries, more of that pushing boundaries

    6. The other day something similar sort of articulated itself for me, that “frigid” and “slut” are actually almost the same thing coming from guys like this. Frigid means “won’t sleep with me” and slut means “sleeps with people who aren’t me”. But apparently slut also means “sleeps with me”. Which… actually is pretty accurate, because they sure as hell don’t respect the women they trick into sex.

    7. It is an expression of a major PUA belief, that women will put up token resistance to sex “at the last minute” because they’re afraid of being seen as “sluts”.

      The implication is obviously that women don’t *really* mean no, it’s just this performance they go through, and the PUA should keep pressuring/manipulating them in order to get sex.

  95. Even if this dude was just somehow clueless regarding Dating 101 and Soft No and Appropriate Topics For Conversation – you still get to ride the nopeasaurus-train-opus out of there and away from him. You get to see, “You know what, dude, you’re a startup and I’m looking to invest in something more established. It doesn’t have to be a sure thing, but something with a solid foundation and some good business practices in their back pocket.”

    You don’t have to teach guys about Dating 101 or Good Conversation or How Not To Be A Creepy Creeper. You get to say “No. Ew.” And walk away.

  96. LW, you did good. You responded appropriately. You kept yourself safe. Go you. Keep trusting those instincts. Follow people’s suggestions to refine your dating profile and screening process. There are great men out there who will treat you well and make you feel great. Don’t give up on that hope.

    My first date happened when I was a freshman in college. I was with the guy who had just asked me “to go with him” after hanging out together in a friend’s group in the dorms for the last month or so, and we were on a double date with another couple from the same dorm group. We went to a live music performance together. The music was great, and our friends got up to dance as did many others there. My date/boyfriend wanted to dance too, but not me. I was 17/18 with poor body image, shy, awkward, and uncomfortable in the public gaze. I wanted to just sit and enjoy the music and my friends’ dancing. But he whined and pleaded and demanded and pressured. And when I resisted and stubbornly remained in my seat, he stayed too instead of joining the dancing, but was angry and sulky the rest of the night.
    He made more uncomfortable, not less. He had no interest in what my needs were.

    [TW: possible sexual assault/rape]
    And that played out in our sexual encounter a month or two later. He constantly pushed, and I said no, not yet, I’m not ready until I didn’t. Because I was worried about being a cocktease, because I thought this is something I should want to do. And so finally, one night I didn’t stop him, and I complied. It is still one of the most painful experiences of my now middle-aged life. Again, he didn’t care about my comfort at all. And he dumped me the next day. I was traumatized and terrified of intimacy for well over a decade. It took a very long time to be able to talk about it, and only recently did I start to consider what happened to me as maybe rape. After all, I didn’t say no and deny consent verbally. Frankly, I didn’t realize at 18 that I had a right to give consent proactively or to deny consent and that other people didn’t have rights to my body.

    This was someone I knew, who I thought was a friend. He didn’t respect or care for me and my needs. He didn’t try to understand me or make me feel comfortable. That is a reasonable bar to set for people already in your life and people you’re just getting to know. Reciprocity, respect, trust. All take time and effort. Demanding compliance on a first date–entitlement and danger.

    1. 😦 I’m so sorry that happened to you.

      I’m not sure why, but this story really strikes a chord with me. It reminds me of my first college boyfriend (see “cryptodouche,” above). It’s not the same, because I wanted to have sex with him, but . . . he didn’t respect or care for me and my needs. He was selfish. He put me in uncomfortable positions, physically and emotionally, if they suited his desires. My comfort was not a prerequisite for sexytimes to proceed. In fact, I think he kinda liked it when I was uncomfortable. [TW: genitals] He had a small penis*, and he had feels about that, and one of the ways these feels expressed themselves was, I think, by his liking the idea of making someone uncomfortable with his penis. Like, he wished it were big enough to be able to do that, and since it wasn’t, he would try to achieve the effect other ways. I don’t think he wanted to *hurt* me, but I do think that my physical discomfort might have aroused him. [/TW] Gosh, this is making me all nervous and teary. Poor young Leonine. I wish the world had done better by her.

      * [TW: genitals]: I do not mean to suggest that there’s anything wrong with a small penis, or that dude-persons need to feel any particular way about the size of their member, or that dudes with a smaller member tend to act like this. I didn’t care about his penis size. *He* cared about his penis size, and for that reason, turned sexytimes into psychodrama. It was . . . burdensome. At best. Sex should not be a burden.

      1. Ugh, this sounds like the worst. He should never have made those problems your problems.

    2. Oh no! I had hoped that story about his behaviour when you didn’t want to dance would end with you telling him that you are not his girlfriend anymore. 😦

      Thanks for sharing the story – makes me so much more confident that I am doing the right thing when I get the hell away from dudes who try to pressure me into anything, regardless how harmless the activity in question may be.

  97. As a side note to all the very-true stuff others are saying, there are two things I notice about this story:

    1. You, LW, were much more forthright with him about what was wrong than I am used to seeing people be. (“You told me you think things that are rape are not rape & tried to pressure me to get alone with you”? That. Is. Awesome. All the points for honesty where it counts.)
    2. He was horrified.

    I am really glad those two things happened. If there is any hope for him to become a decent guy (and the rest of his reaction sucked, but the horrified part makes me think there might be a tiny hope?) then you have given him food for thought that may help him toward that. I am really glad you were feeling strong enough to put the truth out there in a way that could accomplish that.

  98. You sound like a great girl. I gave up on dating. I went to Church and with in 3 months God put my perfect mate right in front of me. We have been married now for 8 yrs and 2 kids and a baby girl on the way. I pray you get out of the bar scene and wait till marriage for sex.

    1. Cool story. “Waiting until marriage for sex” is not a guarantee of happy anything, though. My rapist loved going to church.

  99. Just wanna jump in here and say playing D&D and eating pancakes sounds like a fucking kickass date.

  100. I agree with everything here, except: “If you can beat me at Scrabble three times in a row I’ll consider it.” DO NOT tell a man that you may have sex with him after he completes a task unless you are super sure you will want to have sex with him once he does. A single guy that does not get laid much will complete the task for sex, and do whatever he has to do and be whoever he has to be to get said sex. After the sex, you’ll discover he’s the same douche he was before you gave him the task to complete.

  101. You’re not the weirdo here, Awkward Dater. Not by a long shot. The guy sounds like a creep, and nothing about how you described the way your date evolved over the course of the night sounds natural at all. Sounds to me like he was going through some fairly obvious motions.

    “I’m in the [X] business and we [Y] and I can tell that you’re [Z].”

    Good Lord, If someone said something like that to me during a date, I’d probably laugh right in their face, pat them on the cheek, then get up and leave. That’s just…wow.

    Also, Did he bring up his friend’s rapey story unprompted by you? Creepy. Also why is he bringing his friends up like that in the first place?? It’s a sure sign that he himself is pretty boring once you get down to it. No in this instance you’re the normal one seeking a normal, natural thing. I hope you find it.

  102. Late reply, but this reminded me of something I haven’t thought of in decades. I completely pushed this out of my mind, but it’s so similiar in some ways to the LW’s experience. When I was a young teen (13-14), my mother worked as a coordinator for a local religious group. An older boy (16-17) was kicked out of the youth group for dealing drugs…I also heard he had sexually assaulted a girl, but I didn’t know the full story. The boy (we’ll call him Tom) was the son of another coordinator, and one day she brought him along while she was visiting with my mother. I’d only interacted with him an handful of times previously, and really knew very little about him.

    I have to admit that my mother was pretty terrible about safeguarding me from possible predators (she had no issues with my older brother’s 26 year friend trying to groom and date me when I was all of 12.) She showed Tom to my room and left the two of us alone together despite knowing his past. Tom IMMEDIATELY set to work on pushing my boundaries and gaslighting me. I was a very straightlaced kid (and I’m very straightlaced adult). He used all the same lines as the LW’s creep. “You need to relax,’ ‘you’re so guarded’, ‘you need to relax more.’

    Then he put his hand on my leg. He started at my knee, and then would inch it very slowly higher and tell me to stop when I wasn’t comfortable. And I WAS uncomfortable, horribly so, but here was this older boy who seemed cool, who I wanted to impress, and who was telling me I was a kill joy and a kid if I told him to stop. So I let him move his hand higher, and that’s when he started praising me and telling me how impressive it was that I would let him do this, other girls didn’t….

    Looking back, I can’t help but be impressed at how damn good this 16 year old kid was at manipulating me. In the end, nothing happened (due to my mother calling us downstairs), but by the next day I felt sick that I had let him touch me at all. Today I understand it wasn’t my fault, but for a long time I felt so WEAK over it.

    I guess my point, LW, is that creepy creeps comes in all ages, sizes, and masks. But the tactics they use…the gaslighting, the praise when they’re encroaching on your boundaries…those things seem more universal. There are other ways to manipulate people, but if a guy starts off a date with those tactics, you’re absolutely justified in waving the red flag and getting out of there. We’re so pressured to just ‘give a guy a chance’, but there are so many non-creepy men out there…why SHOULD we waste our time on the ones who show off their inner 16 year old punk kid right off the bat? Life is too short for that.

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