I assume it’s common practice to do some amount of research when you’re dating or crushing on someone. For me, it usually goes beyond a simple Google search. I’m fortunate enough to have several friends who know everyone, along with every single person everyone has ever dated, who I can and do consult regularly.
If there’s a new fella on my radar, I make a quick inquiry with them and they can give me either an extensive background check or a simple “run the other way”, depending on my immediate feelings towards the guy. For, example, if there’s chemistry I’d like to explore, but I’m given a “stay away” warning, I proceed cautiously and make a point not to spend a good chunk of my day fantasizing about whether my last name would work better hyphenated before or after his last name.
(FYI, if you’re going to do research on me, I think you’ll find most of what you need to know on this very site. Or, you can do one better and ask me directly. I’ll probably tell you everything within the first two dates.)
For the most part, these warnings have been accurate and have saved me a lot of wasted energy and stress. But there was one heads-up from a few years ago that really takes the top prize and ultimately saved me a lot of serious danger.
My 30th birthday was a roast/This is Your Life-type party, thrown and organized by several of my closest friends, and attended by many. Towards the end of the night, one not particularly punctual bud showed up with several young but attractive guys she’d met a few hours earlier at a bar. I was kind of seeing someone at the time but was really drawn to one of these guys, who looked Brazilian and had beautiful hazel eyes. To my shock, he came right up to me, grabbed my waist and kissed me on the lips.
“That’s for your birthday,” he said.
I was stunned. And kind of aroused. I’d never met a guy with so much gumption. I quite liked it. The next day, my friend who’d brought the young’un told me the sweet-eyed fellow had asked for my number. I granted her permission to pass it along and by the end of the day, he’d called me and we secured a date.
The night before I was supposed to meet him for a seawall walk, I got an email from an address I didn’t recognize. The title: TO ANY WOMAN WHO COMES IN CONTACT WITH _____ .
I leave it blank because it was the name of the guy I was suppose to go on a date with the next day. And for my safety, we’re going to keep it anonymous.
It said: I am ____’s ex-girlfriend. I want you to know that he is verbally abusive and possessive and controlling. In the time we were together, he wouldn’t let me do anything or go anywhere. Sometimes he would come into my room and flick on and off the lights when I was sleeping just to fuck with me. He’s a psycho man and I’m not afraid to let every female in Canada know.
Well then, I thought. So much for an easy breezy seawall walk. I suppose I could have cancelled the date and chosen to ignore him, but being a journalist who appreciates all sides to a story, I decided to go ahead and see what would happen.
We met up at the seawall and he gave me a hug. I felt guarded and closed off, despite being majorly attracted to this guy. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should really be avoiding him.
After about half an hour of mindless small talk, I asked if we could sit down on a bench. I finally brought it up.
“Um, so, some anonymous person emailed me to tell you that you’re controlling and abusive,” I said. “I mean, I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of so I won’t judge you if it’s true.”
That was a lie.
The guy didn’t respond. It looked like there was something going on inside of him but he barely blinked and kept looking straight ahead.
“That’s interesting,” he finally said.
“Yeah, I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to think,” I said. “I mean, I don’t know you but that’s a pretty crazy email to get. Especially since I have no clue who this person is or how they found me.”
“I think I know…” he started.
I could see he was tensing up.
I asked if he was okay.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” he said.
He was kind of acting like a robot, albeit one that was suppressing a lot of angry emotions. He told me he was going to go home.
“This is kind of pointless,” he said.
I told him if he needed to talk, I was around, even though I really didn’t want to have anything to do with him ever again.
A few nights later, he called me at 11 p.m., wasted. He yelled at me incoherently for a minute and then I hung up. This happened a few times over the next week. I finally programmed his name in my phone as “Bad News” and knew not to answer when he called.
I suppose that warning email was like a traffic sign on a road with extensive construction. I could tell what was coming ahead of me, though I couldn’t exactly see it. So, I chose to patiently wade through the dangerous, unstable ground and then knew to take a completely different route in the future.
Hi reader! Let’s talk. Have you been warned about someone you were about to date? Send me a message at email@example.com or leave a comment below. I love hearing from you! Oh, and Like me on Facebook because this apparently changes lives or something.
April 12, 2012 3 Comments
The details aren’t important. All you need to know is this: I fell in love with Samara’s ex-boyfriend almost immediately after they ended their relationship. Then, he became my boyfriend. Samara and I didn’t like each other for a long time, regardless of the fact that we’d never been introduced nor spoken a word to one another. I remember my stomach dropping every time I’d see her out. It was pretty tense at times. But, despite the years of negative energy, we eventually became friends. Close ones at that. (The guy and I broke up after nearly four years.) Her wisdom has helped me through a lot of dark times. Two years ago, I attended her wedding. A few weeks back, I met her beautiful, two-month-old daughter for the first time. Hating on ex-girlfriends/the new girlfriend is a good way to get out frustration or bad feelings. But it’s also hurtful, immature and unproductive. Because of our unique relationship, I was able to have a chat with Samara about her perspective on the ex-girlfriend syndrome, a condition many women can relate to.
Me: Why is it so easy to hate or strongly dislike the ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, even though you don’t know them personally?
Samara: When your boyfriend finds someone new, you wonder what the new girlfriend has that you don’t. Especially when you try so hard to fit into the role you think they’re looking for and then they go for something completely the opposite. It’s definitely jealousy.
Me: It works the other way too. I was Facebook stalking an ex of one of the guys I’m dating. And she’s clearly beautiful and likeable and accomplished but there’s still this thing in me that wants to find whatever petty thing I can find to give me a reason to dislike her. I don’t even know this girl.
Samara: Well, at one point that girl and your boyfriend –
Me: Not my boyfriend!
Samara: Well, whatever it is, at one point, they loved each other.
Me: Yeah, I think that’s what it is. That’s the hard part, but you try to make it into something else. “Oh, look at her stupid hair. She’s clearly stupid because she has stupid hair.” Fuck, grade schoolers don’t even think like that. If a guy wasn’t involved, this girl would likely be my bud and I’d love her hair.
Samara: Like you and the hoop earrings you used to wear when you first started dating our ex.
Me: I forgot about those. I wouldn’t blame you if you thought I was lame for wearing those. My dad has this saying: “Jealousy is like the flu. The minute you feel it coming on, do what you can to get rid of it.” It’s a useless feeling.
Samara: I think it’s like this with everything: If you don’t love yourself, people won’t love you. I was trying so hard to be this other person and once I let go of that, I was thankful you came into [our ex’s] life because it took that relationship out of my life. Then I was able to work on who I was as an individual. But every situation is different.
Me: For me, I was always drawn to you. There was something that made me want to be friends with you. And you were pretty resistant.
Samara: I don’t know what it was. I think as soon as I was able to let go of that part of my life, it was okay. And we became friends. So, moving on makes a big difference. It also helped when my friends became friends with you, because you were humanized.
Me: It’s easy to forget that. The ex-girlfriend is a human. So is the new girlfriend. But when you’re 22, it’s easy to forget that.
Samara: That relationship taught me a lot.
Me: It served a purpose in both our lives. It’s certainly what brought me to you. I’m grateful for that.
January 20, 2010 1 Comment