When I started dating, my life felt like a Fellini movie. I’d been with one person for thirty-two years, so going out was shiny and hyper-real. But after a while, dating became sitting around Starbucks listening to some guy in software sales lament his failed relationships. (240 calories per 16 oz chai latte.)
I didn’t realize most relationships have a “honeymoon phase” after which people devolve into themselves. Sometimes after just two bloody marys. Some people are victims of their self-imposed limitations. Other guys are just dickwads. In the interest of learning from my mistakes (don’t say “revenge,” don’t say “revenge”), here’s three type of guys to avoid.
1. The Closet Misogynist
I dated a hot, rangy cowboy with a fringe of blond hair and an evil sideways glance. But after several sizzling dates he came over to my house, swilled way too much Cabernet, and told me he could have had sex with a twenty-four year old model visiting his ranch for a photo shoot. Then he passed out drunk on my sofa.
The next day I reminded him about the model. He accused me of being jealous. Nope. Just finished.
I should have been more observant earlier. On our first date, he had discussed quantum physics. But later, he explained his views on what a woman wanted in a man. Which turned out to be a sick reverie on penis envy and submission. His relationship history showed self-imposed alienation.
He was a cowboy Don Draper. Much as I fantasize about living in the world of “Mad Men,” Don was not kind to the women in his life.
I learned that even if a guy is hot, if he has nasty views on women and/or sex, don’t hang around. I had thought “so what, he’s fun,” but he had a mean streak. I should have picked up on it sooner.
2. The Freudian Disaster
For a few months, I dated a rich, sixty-five year old artist, aka “Mr. Crankypants.” He was usually peeved about something, often thinking some long-suffering associate was trying to get something for nothing. He lived in a multi-million dollar house, but only bought these really small portions of food.
I could drive the forty-five minutes to see him, and he could keep changing the times we were to meet as his own schedule changed, but he could never come to see me, because, well, he just couldn’t. For the first six weeks, he was charming and chivalrous.
Then he got in a very minor car accident. I called him twice, missing him once when he was out to dinner, but it wasn’t enough. The next day, I got a nasty rant that his girlfriend should know to contact him the day after too. I never contacted him enough. And there were problems with food and with sex.
He’d previously told me about his glamorous, but withholding and self-centered mother. As he mewled on, I felt him speaking to her through me. When he had a second meltdown a couple weeks later, I asked him to stop, but he said, “his shrink did not want him to feel resentful.”
The signs: Like a child, he had to get his way, having a tantrum if he didn’t. He was uncomfortable about sex, but blamed me. He’d been in therapy for years, but hadn’t grown. I shouldn’t have been impressed because he looked great on paper. I couldn’t just slot myself into someone else’s enviable life.
3. The Potential Abuser
A few months after my husband died, I had a wonderful boyfriend. He was nine years younger with warm, tawny skin, lots of ink and a mohawk. He was “poor, broke, and hungry” (his words) but he cooked for me every night. He loved when I read my writing to him. He comforted me about my late husband.
But, he became moody and increasingly jealous. He’d say “You are mine, aren’t you?” a phrase which I’d loved at first. He said “I love you” too often. When I’d say it back he’d joke, “good, you better.”
Over time, he got upset if I even called a male friend. My clothes suddenly looked “like I’m advertising.” He’d pose tricky questions about where I was, who with, and why didn’t I answer his Facebook posts? He’d claim I’d missed dates, but I didn’t remember agreeing to them.
He discouraged me from going to yoga. A couple times when he was acting jealous, I’d ask him to leave, but he wouldn’t. To my horror, much of my conversation became “Are you mad at me? What’s wrong?”
Once I’d ended things, he tried cajoling and bargaining. He offered to see me only two nights a week. He texted how his life sucked and he really needed me now. I finally went out one night and threatened to call the police if he came to my house.
The signs included excessive jealousy, attempted isolation, bargaining. I finally trusted my instincts. And if you can relate to any of this, you need to trust your instincts too.
Ok, I feel really dumb now. Anyone else want to share?