As I sat at my work desk swiping through guys on Tinder I asked myself, “what’s the point of this?” Holding onto the one story of one friend who met her boyfriend from the app, and are still together three years later, I continued to swipe. Even though I had gone on nothing but numerous cringeworthy and unfulfilling dates I thought, if it could happen for her, it could happen for me.
Finally I came across a guy who sparked my interest. He was incredibly handsome but with no description. I swiped right anyway figuring that it didn’t matter because even if we did match, he was never going to say anything. Just like the dozens of other guys sitting in my match queue.
I was wrong. He messaged me right away and shortly after we moved our conversation to Whatsapp. After a week of consistent ‘Good morning’ text and flirty conversation we made a plan to meet. I said to my coworker, “If this guy’s an asshole I’m done with dating.”
This may seem like an exaggerated statement but this wasn’t my first rodeo. After dating for 10+ years I was no longer the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed optimist I was in my early twenties. Whether it was guys who got too handsy on the first date or the ones who were so terrified of commitment that they would freak out if I made plans two weeks in advance, I had had enough. I had no interest in meeting another guy just to waste two months of us getting to know each other only for him to reveal himself to be an asshole. That story was a reoccurring one in Berlin and I was over it.
So I walked to meet my date with no expectations of it going well. Either he wasn’t going to look like his photos, we weren’t going to hit it off, or he was going to give me some predictable monologue about how he wanted to keep things “open”. Men seemed to think that having open relationships or being anti-commitment gave them an excuse to dick women around.
As my date approached me on the sidewalk, I was overwhelmed by how handsome he was. From his photos on his dating profile he was ridiculously good looking but the man who stood in front of me took my breath away. So I figured, if he’s that good looking and still single in his mid thirties, he must be an asshole.
Instead, by the end of our first drink together I saw no hint of that. He was humble, kind, a good listener, and we connected on so many things. He also got major bonus points for reading my blog before we met. He told me all of the things any woman looking for a decent guy wants to hear: “I’m not into playing games,” and “I believe in being with just one person.”
As the night went on, one drink turned into several more at different bars in Friedrichshain and those drinks led us to falling asleep next to each other. The next morning we woke up, got breakfast, and spent the entire next day together. He was doing everything right. For once, I didn’t feel like I needed to convince a guy to spend time with me, he was the one who wanted me to spend time with him. Even though those full 24 hours went unbelievably well, I was still skeptical. As with all my other dates, I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
To my surprise, his stellar behavior continued. Shortly after we met we made our relationship official. For weeks we spent everyday together. I kept telling my friends he was too good to be true because I had never been with anyone like him. He was kind, supportive, present, and I didn’t have to consult a fortune teller to find out how he felt about me. He made me feel safe like I could stop being cynical and guarded about finding love.
Then suddenly, a storm rolled into town. It was as if someone flipped a switch and turned him into a completely different person. We stopped spending everyday together, our text exchange decreased, and he was no longer the open book I had met just weeks before. Even though I was completely confused and blindsided by his change in behavior I wanted to be there because I saw myself in him.
Someone who was self-sabotaging. Someone who felt like they weren’t deserving of a good relationship, who had previous partners put them down and in turn made them put themselves down. Whenever I looked in his eyes I saw that he needed to be uplifted and I didn’t want to let him down. I tried to hold onto those first few weeks because that guy had to still be in there somewhere, right?
He wasn’t. And I had to face the fact that the other shoe had finally dropped. The man who originally treated me like a gem suddenly started treating me like dirt. In an instant, I went from feeling butterflies to utter disappointment.
No one I confided in could figure out why he suddenly went from Prince Charming to Mr. Hyde but they could figure out that I deserved better. I tried my best to get back to those first few weeks but there was no going back. The version of him that I was holding onto was gone. My head was spinning at how quickly things had taken a turn for the worse.
The rapid demise of something that started off so beautifully led to feelings of self-doubt. How naive could I be to fall for someone so quickly? Feelings of self-loathing. How could he treat me so poorly when I didn’t deserve it? And then feelings of general hopelessness. When someone can completely change their behavior towards you at the drop of a dime, how do you ever know who to trust? Ultimately, the entire situation amounted to feeling hurt and disappointed.
As I tried to pick up the pieces and move on, a thought occurred to me. Instead of allowing myself to be heartbroken by another asshole, maybe I should put on another face. A face that makes men feel like they’re important, valued, and respected, then, out of nowhere, begin to treat them as poorly as possible.
Despite the heartbreak I had endured, my heart was still too whole to behave that way. I could never bring myself to tell someone I care about them, only to make them feel unimportant. The way we treat others is our choice but be upfront about who you truly are. If you’re an asshole from the beginning then at least the other person knows what they’re getting themselves into.
Image via marskid12