Let’s play Guess The Red Flags:
I’m not sure I have any questions about what I’m going to write, I just think I’d like to put all of it out there just so I can see how nutty it was, and see just how strange, if not bad, many of my decisions were. Perhaps to serve as a warning to others as well as for my own catharsis. I’ve never told the whole story at once.
I meet a PhD (biology) student via OKCupid, I’m 32 and she’s 26. Our first date we meet at a small, rather unique bar and have the typical conversation. I notice that she’ll rub her hands together intently—not necessarily furiously, but definitely with energy—over the candle, repeatedly. I blow it off, find it cute maybe. Walk her to her car, and that’s it. Figure what the hell, text her when I get back home a flirty message, get a response, not totally sure about the whole thing but interested. We set up plans to see the symphony, have a lovely time, I walk her to her door and she asks if I’ll kiss her—I do, and it’s hot, and she says she wants to see the orchestra again the next weekend. Her thesis defense winds up getting in the way and she cancels, and I bluntly ask if she actually wants to go out again, she says yes. Great. Later that night she sends me an email saying that she’s listening to the concert on the radio and wishes she could be there with me. We go out a couple days later, and almost immediately have sex.
Now it gets interesting.
About five minutes after the first time doing it (we wound up staying up til 4am doing it a few times), she says that she suffers from serious depression and has had suicide ideation in the past, talks about how she quit therapy due to frustration. I’ve been there, we connect about it. I see her both nights that weekend, lots of sex and some conversation. One night we’re getting started on her couch, and she claws into my back. The first time I sort of reacted, the second time I felt blood on my skin, which got more of a reaction. Then she does it again, on the same spot. Instinctively, I grab her wrists and hold them, and ask incredulously what she wants me to do. “This” she says with a smile. Wild sex ensues. And lots of cuddling after. She asks me in the middle of the week to go to the laundromat with her. Throughout all this, after she’s had a couple drinks she’d start telling me how nice I am to her and how I just make her feel so good about herself. At one point she asks how long I’d been on OKC (a month), and she says that she’s been using it for years, ever since it started.
That weekend we go out again, and she’s a bit colder. We go to her bedroom after getting home and she asks me why I’m so nice to her, and how do I know she deserves to be treated kindly. I brush it off. Wake up the next morning and ask her why she keeps bringing this up. She tells me that she’s not looking for a relationship. I say okay, I don’t really have the desire for something serious but how does she feel about continuing to sleep together. She thinks that’s fine. I leave. We see each other again a couple days later, and she’s very cold with me. No sex.
Later, she messages me online, complaining about a talk she has to prepare. I listen for a bit, and ask if she just wants me to listen, or if she’d like some feedback. She just wants me to listen, and continues to list her problems with the talk. It’s getting late, I say I have to go to bed, and that I’m sure she’ll figure out how to get through this because she’s made it this far anyway. That really pissed her off, and honestly, I can understand why, nobody wants to hear the old “you can do it!” schtick. I then write her a note apologizing, but seeking clarification about the nature of our relationship, because I’m not sure that “just sex” entails me listening to her problems or doing laundry together. She didn’t respond directly. I saw her again the night before I was leaving for a 2-week trip to New Zealand, and she was warmer with me.
A week later I’m in Auckland, working on some photos I’d taken earlier in my trip. It’s late. She im’s me, very friendly. Asking if I think about her. Said that she’s been thinking about me, and how last she saw me, she couldn’t stop staring ay my biceps. Flirty banter. Fun, light, cute. I go to bed.
A day after getting home, she asks me to come over. She hugs me, and asks me to squeeze her harder. I do. She wants it harder. I’m reluctant to comply. We have wild sex. Lying around, she tells me how she likes it when I squeeze her, and she’s pretty sure that I could squeeze her so hard it would kill her. She specifies that I should not do that. I agree. Neither one of us sleep that well with another person in the bed so we mutually agree not to stay over unless we’re too inebriated to drive home safely. We rarely get hammered, but occasionally do sleep in the same bed anyway—at one point, she tells me that she knows she’s very comfortable with me because she’s letting me sleep on the outside of the bed.
The following month or so features increasingly wild sex. We’d be undressed before getting inside her place. Most times afterward, we’d stay up cuddling and talking. Conversation ranged from typical pillow talk to some rather intense stuff—she talked in-depth about suicide ideation, being with a guy who yelled at her a lot and threw things at walls, getting pregnant at 21 just before starting grad school and having a painful abortion.
We go out from time to time. She texts frequently. She always texts the next day after we see each other about how much fun she had. She’ll also tell me she’s thinking about me, wishing she was in bed with me. Sometimes when I see her, once we start making out she asks me if I think about her, how often I think about her, what I think about when I think about her, and if I like thinking about her. Finally, curious myself, I ask how often she thinks about it: “all the fucking time” is her response.
Okay, cool. What part of this isn’t healthy, right? (<– sarcasm)
Periodically she’ll reiterate that we’re not in a relationship and it’s just sex, especially when it comes time for bed, and she wants me to leave. One time she notes that our sex sessions take a long time, and she says that if I want to “fuck her fast,” she’s fine with that; so I ask if she felt like that now, she did, so we partially undress and I finish quickly. She finds this extremely exciting, and immediately after I finish—while still inside her—she says, “now get the fuck out of here.” I gladly get off her, and start dressing. Then she softly says that she doesn’t want me to leave. I shrug my shoulders, kiss her, hug her, and say I’ve gotta get to sleep and head out the door.
Things go well for the next few weeks, and I take her out for her birthday. I got her some flowers, which almost had her in tears. We have a lovely dinner, and after having sex she coos at me to tell her something about me that she doesn’t know. I’m dumbfounded and don’t say anything. The rest of the week is fine, towards the end we had some very rough sex that wasn’t particularly great for either of us. The next day she starts telling me about how she has a deep-seated psychological need to be dominated as severely as possible. We hardly see each other for three weeks, she’ll make plans and cancel. I write her a brief note and say that I’m a little bothered by all this, that she’s been very curt with me, and that while I’d like to keep seeing her I’m thinking it may not be a good idea. She immediately apologizes and says she wants to keep seeing me. I say that this isn’t really as casual as we thought, given the emotional content of so many interactions, and she says that’s okay with her. We resume having sex, frequently. She asks for some amount of domination but I keep it in check.
She has a 3-week vacation coming up, and needed someone to come by her place, bring the mail in, etc. She says she doesn’t trust anyone else in her life around St. Louis, and asks me to do it. I agree. Things continue going okay, until she made an error in one of her experiments. She’s furious. She sends me a note saying that she would like to see me later that night, and she wants me to fuck her so it feels like she’s being punished. Before I go to see her, I get some flowers. Getting over to her place, things feel a little dicey, and we argue about an incident at a concert we’d attended earlier—basically, a couple of guys pushed a young woman in front of us, and I got pretty aggressive (though not physical) with the guys, and she disapproved of how I handled it. We settled it, started having sex, and just before it got to that time where I start “dominating,” she got a mildly fearful look and asked me to be gentle with her. Of course I was. I give her the flowers after, and get another near-tears response. It’s very sweet, and more cuddling.
She leaves for her trip a couple days later. She left me a small gift in her place, asked me to think about her, we talked a couple times after she landed in Europe and she was very sweet. That was virtually the last I heard from her during the entire trip. When she came back, she expressed zero interest in seeing me and we had a fairly ugly break-up sometime later. I was very sad about this, incredibly distressed but I somehow managed to stay focused on other things, get promoted at work and win a bronze medal in the national championships of the sport in which I compete. Emotionally I’m torn up. We tried “being friends” but it was awkward hanging out and not having sex. Much time passed and we stopped talking entirely.
A few months later, someone suggested to me that maybe this woman had Asperger’s and it made me question a few things, and it didn’t seem totally illogical though I’m wondering if maybe there was something more severe. I contacted her, she said she’d been thinking about me, we went out again and had a great time. We kissed and no more. A few days later we went for coffee, and she apologized for how she treated me after her vacation, and all the things she said during our breakup, and then apologized for how she handled our relationship. I said that much of it was indeed fucked up, but that I played a role too and that I felt badly about things I had said. She said that she wanted to start seeing me regularly again, but that she’d started seeing another guy who was into polyamory. He had a girlfriend, who herself was married. I said I thought that was odd, but that I didn’t want a committed relationship so I was up for seeing her whenever. I had a flight out of town shortly after this conversation was taking place, so no sex…we saw each other one more time thereafter, got into a fight about god knows what, continued the argument over the phone until our batteries died.
And that was it. I don’t remember much about the conversation, aside from her saying that she couldn’t be involved with me because she couldn’t have a boyfriend, and that she thought monogamy was an unnatural condition and a tool used to control women.
Three weeks later, I learned from a friend of hers that she’d slept with another guy on her trip, while I was watching her place. I went plaid. I was so angry I was shaking. I sent her a short, rather cruel note and told her to get fucked. She then started texting the person who told me demanding to know why this information was shared, which this person found unsettling. I called her, left a voicemail, and told her to leave this person out of it. So naturally, she called this person at 3am, which pissed her off. I sent her a note asking what part she didn’t understand about leaving the other one out of it and a few other (unnecessary) “choice” words. Never called her any names. I think I referred to her as a mockery of a woman. Typical angry BS.
It still bothers me from time to time. The relationship, what happened after, things I said.
But here’s what’s really strange. Since then, my life has improved dramatically, across the board, in every way. My friendships are rock solid, closer and warmer. I stopped having stupid arguments with my long-suffering parents. Until I settled down with my current girlfriend, without even trying that hard (I.e., wasn’t even on OKC) I probably hooked up with 12 women in three months. I got in even better shape, my creative work improved both at the office and personally. I’ve felt stable, healthy, composed, in control. But the experience I had with this woman still haunts me from time to time—there are likely no answers to any of it, no firm explanations. And certainly she’s not entirely to blame, I after all ignored red flag after red flag and at the very least enabled strange behavior.
The first flag was in her OKC questions. An insatiable sexual appetite, coupled with an interest in being the “slave” in a master/slave relationship. The second was right there in front of me, during our first date, as she kept methodically, rhythmically, intently folding and rubbing her hands together, over a candle, over and over again.
I could have walked away but I just couldn’t resist. Watch out for those rabbit holes. Sometimes it’s better to read the book than it is to be the story.
I can say one thing without any hesitation: before this relationship, I was happy to be one of those guys who “just kept finding the crazy girls,” and aw shucks why me. Little did I realize that I was probably behaving poorly myself in many instances, that I was ignoring flagrant warnings, and more or less finding a way to fulfill self-fulling prophecies when they didn’t fulfill quickly enough so that I could keep seeing the “crazy” ones and then wonder why oh why nothing ever worked out. Great method of dodging responsibility. High time I grew up. – BG