At what point in matching with someone on a dating app do you give up your right to say no? At what point when you’re chatting with someone over text do you give up your right to say no? At what point after you’ve met up with someone in real life do you give up your right to say no? Oh that’s right – never.
I’ve written about it before and, no doubt, I’ll write about it again before my dating life is over but feeling in someway coerced into making a decision you may not have been fully comfortable with when dating, happens more frequently than I would like – which is never.
And I’m talking about everything from staying for one more drink, to kissing someone, to letting someone come up to your apartment, or asking someone who has come up to your apartment to leave. You could put it down to being too nice but, for females, it can also come down to fear.
We walk a fine line between not caring what others think of us and doing what’s right for us, and knowing all too well that a single, solitary, even unintentional, dent to a man’s ego can result in their behaviour towards you changing very quickly. We witness it as early as the school playground when if a girl doesn’t like a boy back, he’ll start being mean to her. Which, interestingly, is also the same way that he shows he likes a girl (,which is fucked up and a whole other problem for a whole other post).
Of course, I’m not talking about all men, I’m not even talking about most men, but the problem is when you’ve just met a man you have no idea if they may fall into that category. Having said that, you also hear of people that have known each other for years, never thought they were that type of person, and one day something flips.
The most WTF version of this I’ve witnessed on a regular basis is when messaging guys on a dating app. Everything’s going fine until they ask for “pics” or ask a sexually explicit question before we’ve even established the basics, and I decline. The change in their tone and language, and the quickness with which they can become incredibly angry is entirely unwarranted.
I’ve been told to “fuck off”, been called frigid, a cocktease, a time waster, all sorts. And it really affected me to begin with. I hated feeling like I’d in some way led someone on, while all the time trying to remind myself that starting a friendly conversation on a dating app wasn’t leading someone on.
But at least when it’s only in an app or over message, you don’t have to worry too much for your safety. More just his safety in case he bursts a blood vessel in anger about a girl he’s never met not wanting to send a picture of her naked body to him. Shocking.
When it’s in person however, it can be a different story. I definitely felt that way a little at the end of the night with Whistler Teacher Slash Photographer, and I remember distinctly having the thought in my head when Irish Tech Triathlete didn’t seem to want to leave my apartment.
What I’d never had was a guy so explicitly tell me I owed him something, until the night I met American East Coaster. I know it’s a very generic nickname, but he had actually been the first East Coaster I’d met up with… so we went with it.
He was 37, had not long moved to Seattle for work in some medical field or other, and was up in Vancouver for the weekend by himself just to explore because he’d heard it was lovely. He wasn’t wrong. I spent Saturday morning after we matched messaging him all the fun stuff he should do while he was here.
There had been talk of us meeting up during the day or for dinner but I had plans and it wasn’t until much later at night that he messaged me to check in on my night that I said I’d actually just got home. By this time it was after midnight and I was done drinking after a long day so didn’t want to meet up for a drink like he suggested.
Instead, I’d clearly got a second wind and suggested that we go for a walk. He was just heading back to his hotel from a bar near mine so I said we could meet up a couple of blocks away and then walk to the seawall from there.
Walking Vancouver at night is one of my favourite things to do. It’s such an incredibly safe city and, despite me living right downtown, it can also be incredibly quiet at night. So a walk wasn’t the craziest idea. Thankfully he agreed, but probably partly because I think I made it clear if he didn’t want to do that then we weren’t meeting up!
And so we did, and I got to show him Vancouver by night. And it was fun! He was a really nice guy, super chatty and kinda funny. But I didn’t find him super attractive. Still, as I was feeling with dating in general now, there’s something about just meeting people you otherwise wouldn’t, that is a win regardless of the outcome.
As we walked, he noted a couple of times that we were going in the direction of his hotel. Which I was fully aware of. I’d actually planned the route so that he’d end up back at his hotel, and I would then just finish the last few blocks to mine. Now, I’m aware dates usually end the other way, with the guy walking the girl home but given where we were walking and the fact he was the tourist and I obviously know my way about, I decided he should go home first.
But while I thought that was a nice gesture on my part, he had somehow taken this to mean that if we were going back to his hotel first then I was obviously going to also be stopping there… um, no. I had designs on bed. My own bed. By myself.
So we get to the hotel and there’s this awkward moment when he carries on walking toward the door and I hang back to initiate the goodbye. He turned around surprised “are you really not coming up?” Um, no. I explain that really was never my intention and he hits back with “well that’s not what it sounded like in your texts. Why don’t you just come up for a bit?” And this started a full on back and forth about how our night was going to end.
For every time I said “no” he either came back with something about me having intimated something else to him, or trying to convince me to. But that was how he was making me feel, like somehow I owed him a trip up to his hotel room.
In the quiet Vancouver street at 1.30am, I was glad I could see the hotel concierge from where I was standing and so firmly, for the last time said “I’m sorry you thought this was something else, it was honestly just a walk. It was lovely to meet you, enjoy the rest of your time in Vancouver.”
Rather than accept it and reply courteously, or even not accept it but at least still be polite, he told me it was bullshit, threw his hands up in the air (not in the “like you just don’t care” way though) and turned around to head into his hotel.
Before I was more than a block away my phone pinged with a message. Oh god… And right enough it was him. Again, telling me it was bullshit and asking if I was serious. As if, I don’t know, somehow that would make me change my mind and head back to his hotel for a night of wild sex? I didn’t reply, there was no point and the day had now caught up with me, so it seemed best to just go to bed, in my house, on my own, as I’d always planned.
But I can’t let messages go unanswered – I don’t know if it’s because I’m too polite or I just love a convo – so the next day I replied and just said I was sorry if he was upset, that was never my intention and, again, wished him well on his last day in Vancouver.
Rather than just replying with something civil, or even just not replying, he decided to start screenshotting me parts of our message conversation and marking them up with red lines and red circles, clearing hinting that these were the phrases that led him to believe he was picking up a sex date on the corner of the street last night, and not just someone to go for a walk with.
He actually marked them up! Took the screenshot, went into edit, chose ‘Markup’ and got busy with his virtual red marker. I was shocked but also kind of impressed by his dedication to his argument. But mostly, I was just seriously pissed off, which I hadn’t been before. Before I’d felt kinda bad, really hadn’t wanted to upset him, but knew I was in the right.
Now? Now, I was about to give him a lesson in how to treat women. Or at least I would have if he hadn’t blocked me on Bumble. So I missed my chance.
But here’s what I would have told him – even if I had explicitly said in my text “let’s meet up and have sex”, while yes there could be some surprise, or disappointment, on his part if those plans changed, I still wouldn’t have owed him the sex I talked of previously.
And I know some people will say, meeting up with a guy from a dating app after midnight, even if it is only to “go for a walk” can only mean one thing. And to that I say, fuck off. There is NO circumstance, no way of meeting, no time of day, no setting that determines that I owe a man anything.
There is power in “no” and the power is mine.