I learned an extremely valuable lesson from the last man I dated. Something I will carry with me always as a single woman, and I am sure it will save a lot of men from heartache. I met “Mark” we will call him, two months ago. I used the infamous Tinder dating app in meeting him. He seemed like a nice guy so I agreed to go out for dinner one night.
Right from the start, Mark spoiled me, treating me to a 100-dollar steak dinner on just the first date. He met me there with flowers. I thought it was so chivalrous and sweet.
But I knew right there on the first date — my feelings weren’t that strong, but I was hoping they would grow. Praying at one point even! He treated me like a queen. I knew I wasn’t that attracted to him looks-wise or personality-wise, but I felt I should give him a shot. Why? Because he treated me SO. GOOD. He wined and dined me, bought me gifts, adored me, listened to me when I was upset, was emotionally supportive, was sweet to my little girl, complimented me, and even helped me a little financially at times. Good god, he made it hard to leave. Especially during Christmas time when I was struggling as a single mom with no child support. And as I have written several times on my blog, how a man treats you is super important.
So I waited.
And I kept dating him. And I kept dating him. And I spent more time with him. And I focused on the things I did like.
My attempts to get this heart beating were failing. So I tried a new approach.
I let him around my daughter thinking maybe watching him be a great male role model would help me fall in love with him? For a while, this did seem to work. I was so appreciative of how he treated her. It was admirable, truly, and soon we were enjoying pizza and movie nights and doing all sorts of things together. He would come to her cheerleading practice with me, and it was sweet. It really was. For a few weeks, I felt amazing. It was magical sharing my sweet little girl with a man. Having someone there to laugh at the silly things she says with me, was a delight. I loved being able to share my favorite person with someone, I really did. I hope to have that again someday, and with someone I can actually have feelings for.
So where did it all go wrong and when? Well, I would say from the start.
I should have told Mark I wasn’t interested after that FIRST date. I knew how I felt. I was only lying to myself thinking I could feel more than I did. I wasn’t interested romantically. But I thought I could grow feels. I told my family I had met a great guy who treated me and my daughter amazingly, but that my feelings weren’t that strong? I didn’t know what to do! I knew how rare it was to find a gentleman who doesn’t play games and treats you well, so I thought I should wait, wait to grow feelings.
They told me that sometimes you can grow to love a friend as more than a friend. So I continued to date Mark, but all the time I felt tormented because deep in my heart, I knew something was missing. Dammit-I just didn’t love him. I had to face the truth of my feelings or lack thereof. God, things would have been so much easier if I had loved him back. He would have done anything for me. ANY-thing. I would mention not having this or that and lo and behold, he would buy it. It would show up. He delivered flowers to my work and showered me with affection. He did everything a man should do for the woman he loves. Everything. What girl wouldn’t like that?
Christmas was just around the corner and I was feeling more and more like Mark wasn’t the guy for me. He didn’t even do anything wrong. It was just him. Who he was, was not someone I was in love with. I liked him, enjoyed his company, and had respect for him, but I never fell in love. I knew what I had to do. I felt terrible. TERRIBLE. I knew how bad it would hurt to tell him how I felt. Staying began to feel unfair to him because I knew he wanted marriage and I couldn’t see that with him. I felt like it would hurt him much less to leave now than say a year or two from now.
I couldn’t bring myself to break up with him to his face. I knew he would cry and I hate goodbyes so much, so I text him. Now, before you judge me about breaking up with a man over text, realize first, I am a writer. I write better than I speak. Writing allows me time to organize and present my thoughts. I wanted him to fully understand why I was leaving — I couldn’t see myself marrying him.
I am in my thirties. I don’t believe in dating someone if I cant see myself marrying them one day. A high standard I realize, but it is my standard nonetheless. Dating someone you know you’d never marry wastes their time AND yours. This means the only option is inevitably breaking up one day. So sure, I could have kept on and dated him for a year, two years. But I KNEW the day would come when I would be done. Because I know my heart. I know I want real love. It’s what I want more than anything in life.
I sent my text. It was long, kind, and thorough. I hit send and ran into my living room and covered myself with a blanket. I knew a bomb was about to go off and I felt scared and awful.
Well, Mark FAAAREAKED out.
He did not handle it well — at all. After receiving my polite break-up text he proceeded to:
- call me crying and called me a bitch
- Facebook my family members and tell them he’s sorry and he wishes he could have been a part of my family.
- Tell me he loved me and wanted to marry me one day (we dated for two months yall — two.)
- Leave snarky biting comments on my blog posts calling me a “liar…heartless, possessing no feelings, and a hypocrite.
- Drive by my house and leave random things on my porch. Freaky.
YALL!…..He went CAAHRAY. Women always get the bad wrap for being crazy. But does any of the aforementioned sound just a little bit crazy to you?? Uh. Yeah. Men can get just as cuckoo.
I left out the worst one too. Sending me texts and a phone call telling me he feels like killing himself. I know this has happened to people before — you break up with someone and then they threaten to kill themselves, making you responsible for their death. That is one the CRUELEST most inhuman things you can do to a person in my opinion.
I even dialed 911 at one point but then hung up. I decided to FB message his best friend and tell him what was going on. Thankfully, he went over and calmed him down.
So what did I learn over this fatal attraction? You guys, here is my advice — don’t wait to grow feelings for someone. If you aren’t feeling it after 1–3 dates, end it. Seriously END. IT.
I would give anything to be able to go back and Unhurt this person. I mean he called me sobbing. I could tell he was in extreme pain. I hate that I hurt him — hate it. But I could not bring myself to settle. I want REAL love. The kind you feel and choose. I have to retract some of what I said in a previous blog entitled “Love is a Choice Not a Feeling.” I am not so sure anymore. I think perhaps you feel quite a bit when you love someone, perhaps in the beginning and then it goes in waves in and out from there. That is probably closer to reality. But what do I know? All I have are my experiences to go off of.
I do know after this experience, I will not ever do this to someone again.
Mark wouldn’t be hurting right now if I would have walked away after date one. He would have never gotten the chance to fall in love with me and he wouldn’t feel the pain of losing what he hoped for. “I had so hoped you would be the girl I marry.” Crushing someone’s dreams like that — I can hardly put it into words. I felt awful for him. He hung up on me still sobbing. I literally had said everything I could and we both sat on the phone in silence while he just cried and cried and cried. If I had left that first week, it would have only been a tiny sting of rejection. I am going to go with my gut next time. I don’t think I can grow feelings for someone I am not that into in the beginning. And this is my new truth. I know there are people who have. People who were friends for years and perhaps one of them had feelings and the other only came to feel more for them later. I mean, yes, it does happen. But I think it’s rare. And as a general rule, I don’t think that’s how love happens, and certainly not for me.
I hope Mark will be okay. I really do. He is a very kind and sweet man. I wish I had fallen for him. I know he would have treated me great. But I am that crazy person who shoots for the moon. I am too much of a lover to accept anything less than all-consuming love. I have to feel something. I want to fall in love. I want the whole package. And if I can’t find that, I can honestly say I’d rather be alone. Because being in a relationship when you know you don’t feel as great as they do about it, sucks.
Again, my advice is not to wait to grow feelings. Save that person the heartache. Let it go from the start if you aren’t feeling it. Either it’s there or it’s not. You can’t force things, including your own heart, into love. But saving them from hurt isn’t the only reason you shouldn’t do it. I now am thoroughly freaked out that I will find hate notes on my door or he will show up to my work etc. Some people don’t handle rejection so well, and you could be dealing with some scary stuff afterward. Say goodbye early, it’s the kinder choice.