Help me process my anxiety about a really fun date I had
September 7, 2017 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Not sure why I feel so anxious now. If you are really bored, feel free to read this extra long post and help me out.

I went on a first date on the weekend that ended up lasting about 7 hours. I guess this is not unusual, but I don't think it's ever happened to me before, and I feel weird about it and am having trouble sleeping, and I don't understand what my emotions are trying to tell me and what they mean.

I started talking to a guy online on the weekend that I had 96% match with on OKC. He seemed really cool and passionate about music, and we chatted for a bit about what we were doing that night.He said he was trying out outfits to wear to an event, and I asked him to send pictures and he did (nice pics of him in suits and stuff). I didn't mean anything sexual by it, and I don't think he did either. I had written on my profile that I'd rather meet in person than have texting conversations. so he asked me if I wanted to hang out late in the weekend.

So we met for brunch the next day. When we first started talking, he wasn't putting on any airs in order to seem sweet or charming. He actually seemed kind of tired and a bit cranky (not at me, just in general-- not rude, just tired). I find I tend to mirror other people's behavior, so his lack of pretension made me feel at ease with not being excessively polite or sweet (or other typically feminine characteristics that I sometimes feel compelled to exhibit on a first date due to shyness). Looking back, it feels like we skipped through the initial first few steps of conversation, or dating rituals, and went straight for interesting topics (which is kind of scary but exhilarating too). Not because I felt like he was prying, just because it seemed like our minds both gravitated to the same types of topics (mostly music). Also, we studied the same academic field, so there was already a lot of commonality to explore.

So after that he asked if I wanted to hang out in the park. So we walked to the park and spent about 2 hours walking around the neighborhood, having silly conversations about squirrels etc, and then ended up back in the park sitting on a bench for about another half hour. Then he said I owed him a beer for making him walk around so much (I had kind of teasingly made him come on some little errands with me, maybe subconsciously to sort of to gauge how interested he was).

So then we went to the pub. We kept talking there for a couple hours, and had 2 pints each (is that too much for a first date?). We talked the whole time, no awkward silences. At one point he asked my age, and I found out he's 5 years older than me. (29/34)

After that, we left the pub and it was starting to rain outside. He started saying things like "This date was almost perfect. But you know what would make it better?"

He grabbed my hand and we ran under an awning to escape the rain, and it was there that he started making out with me. I definitely wanted to kiss him, but I didn't like the fact that he stuck his tongue in my mouth like, right away. Plus, I don't really like making out in public, so I let it go on for a little while but then pulled away (but not in an obvious way). So then we went back into the park. (No one really initiated the continued hanging out, it just kind of happened).

By then it had started raining more, and we sat at a bench by the pond, and sort of huddled under my sweater. Which was sort of perfect like a tent, and so the kissing continued. Then his hands started going around my belly and getting nearer to my breasts and I had to gently push them away. After that, he said he had to go home.

So we started walking and eventually came to the part where we had to part ways, and it was kind of weird because he just said "Ciao", and then we parted. It was kind of abrupt and strange and I felt weird after.

I got home at around 9pm, and I honestly could not sleep at all, and haven't been able to sleep since. I've been feeling emotionally perturbed and keyed up ever since. And last night I tried to figure out why, and started having a lot of anxiety.

One thing that I discovered when I was writing last night was that this guy reminds me a lot of an old roommate that I had about 7 years ago who was kind of emotionally abusive to me when I was going through a depression (basically a lot of teasing and mocking about the fact that I was single that was supposed to be playful but actually really got under my skin and affected my self esteem).

This was someone that I was repulsed by, but a little bit attracted to at the same time, and someone who definitely has issues with women and has a problem considering them as equals. His face and hair are very similar, his smile looks almost identical, and his voice sounds the same (they are both originally from the same Middle Eastern country and have the same accent due to having the same first language, so maybe in my white-girl mind I somehow associated them together.)

When I began thinking about this, I started getting really anxious, as if I had somehow let that old roommate back into my life and let him get under my skin again.

Once I processed that feeling and realized how weird and nonsensical it was, I felt a bit better. But still, I'm so confused about the whole thing. On the one hand, it was the best date I've ever had, and the most fun I've had with someone in a long time. On the other hand, I feel somehow threatened or vulnerable or unsafe because it feels like we got close (emotionally) so fast ( the physical stuff was not the perfect timing, but that's not what's perturbing me). Also, there's the confusing aspect of his weird goodbye.

Judging by the way the date started, he has a personality style that doesn't tiptoe around people, he speaks his mind (not in a rude way, but in a way that's maybe different than most of my close friends). This is similar to the roommate I mentioned a few years ago, and that encounter ended up being something I would not want to repeat, but I don't know if that has anything to do with the new guy at all.

My questions:
Does anything in this story sound like this guy put up red flags, or am I having some kind of weird flashback?

If not, does it sound like he just thought of it as a chance to have sex, and not a chance to have an emotional connection? Did I do anything to inadvertently give him a signal that I was DTF?(I'm not)

Also, does this kind of reaction mean I shouldn't be dating right now?
Also, is 5 years a big age difference, is that why I feel threatened?
Is the fact that he's doing a PhD affect this (ie: he's probably not looking for a relationship and is only going on online dates to distract himself from schoolwork?)

And lastly is all of this reaction because I don't believe an amazing connection like that can happen in real life and I'm looking for reasons why it mustn't be?
posted by winterportage to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does anything in this story sound like this guy put up red flags

The lack of boundaries/interest in consent is not awesome.

does it sound like he just thought of it as a chance to have sex

It's possible.

Also, is 5 years a big age difference


is all of this reaction because I don't believe an amazing connection like that can happen in real life

Interestingly, until I read this line I didn't see any evidence in the story that you felt an amazing connection. You had some substantive conversation and called it "exhilarating," but everything else sounded neutral to negative. Are you sure you really like him at all? It could be that he jumped into the intimate conversation because of the first thing I said: bad boundaries, attempting to force intimacy.

I'd have felt weird after this date, too.
posted by Miko at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2017 [11 favorites]

He got a little handsy for my taste on a first date, but that's really subjective, everyone has different preferences about that thing, and it doesn't necessarily mean anything.

The age difference is absolutely not a big deal.

You already know that you are an anxious person, I think that the excitement of this rather intense date you just went on has you spiraling into anxiety and worry, dredging up memories of a shitty roommate who teased you for being single, and making you think of ways this might not work out.

You should just try to see him again soon and see where it goes. You still barely know this person. It's possible that he said "ciao" and peaced out abruptly because he wanted to have sex and lost interest when you didn't want to, but if that's the case, he isn't the guy for you and you can stop thinking about him. Or maybe he's just kind of a nerd and says "ciao" at the end of dates because he's awkward! There's no way of telling from how you describe this date whether he is looking for something serious or if he was just looking for a fun day with sex at the end, and I can basically promise you that you didn't give off any "signals" that you just wanted to fuck. Some people are just down to have sex on the first date. It's good that you set your boundaries!
posted by cakelite at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: 1. Yes, red flags. First, he seems to have radiated from the start that this date was all about him, up to and including his decision to get physical with you without getting any kind of consent, and through his abrupt departure. You are getting a very clear message that he is not considerate or thoughtful or even polite. Your spidey-sense is letting you know that what reminds you of your ex roommate is the likelihood of more of this if you keep seeing this person.

2. I think he wanted to get physical with you, so he did. People this self absorbed have a big emotional connection with one person: themselves.

3. Age difference doesn't sound at all important. I do think he's going to be attentive to his own needs and projects, now and forever, but that's a characteristic, not just because he's doing a PhD right now.

4. I don't see the amazing connection here. What I see is that things went well because you catered to him but for your little errands (and it is another red flag that he complained about that small deviation from his preferences.)

Keep looking. For someone who is kind, polite, considerate, and genuinely interested in you.
posted by bearwife at 10:58 AM on September 7, 2017 [17 favorites]

Having a first date that long, with that much conversation and intimacy, would throw anyone off. On the plus side, you guys clearly wanted to keep hanging out, talking, etc. On the negative side, he wasn't great at consent.

People leave abruptly sometimes because farewells make them anxious, or they just don't know how to handle to end of an intense first date, or they're jerks. We can't really know, and neither can you unless you decide to see him again to find out more.

It does seem like you could use some therapy to help you figure out what you want in relationships, how your past experiences might influence your behavior now, etc. You did a good job of picking apart your own anxiety some, and it sound like having a neutral professional add to that could be really useful to you going forward.
posted by ldthomps at 11:06 AM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a somewhat anxious person who craves intimacy, depth, and vulnerability, so the feeling of "wow! what a strong and instant connection!" mixed with the vague unease of "this got so intense so fast!" is familiar to me. This feeling is sometimes a sign that a person has boundary issues, and is unwilling to create an atmosphere of safety before diving into intimacy. This includes how he treated physical things - though it seems you enjoyed yourself, he didn't really give you space to feel safe there either. My guess is that you want that kind of intensity, but you'd like it to happen a little later in a relationship, after you've had some time to warm up to someone. That's absolutely a fine way to feel.

If your gut wants to give this guy another chance, I'd recommend keeping it in public again and maybe capping the time (like get dinner together and then head home after). Basically see how he reacts if you put the brakes on a bit. If he eases up and you feel more comfortable you can discuss your expectations RE relationships and sex in a few dates. If he keeps pushing your boundaries you are well within your rights to drop him. And if your gut is telling you "ehh, this is all too much for me" then move on and find someone who naturally takes things a little slower.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 11:12 AM on September 7, 2017 [19 favorites]

I think you should text this guy and ask him on another date, something with a specific time and location like dinner on Sunday at 7 at [place]. And I think that when you ask him on a date you should also text him that the last date moved a little fast for you, that you're not a fan of public displays of affection in general and even then the making out and groping so soon isn't your style.

It sounds like you guys could have a connection, maybe. I've had a pile of really great first dates--some of them go somewhere and some of them do not. It's too early to tell, but I think it would be a shame to let your anxiety stand in the way of getting to know someone that you clearly like a little better.
posted by phunniemee at 11:42 AM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Plus, I don't really like making out in public, so I let it go on for a little while but then pulled away (but not in an obvious way).

dude, he felt completely free to be obvious about putting his hands and face on you without asking, you don't have to be any less obvious in your reaction. I get it, I would do exactly the same thing and feel exactly the same obligation to somehow extricate myself from discomfort a guy had caused without in any way letting him become aware of it. but it's a bad instinct and it helps bad people more than it helps you (and me). some people don't like to ask because they think they can just tell what's ok, but the price they have to pay for guessing is finding out that the other person didn't like it. they know that.

I always let first dates go on way too long if they're going well and it always seems like a bad idea in retrospect. but I mean, four hours is still the longest I've ever let one stretch out and I don't think more than that is a great idea. the better it goes and the longer it goes on, the more of a let-down afterwards. and the second date is never as good after a first one like that.

I think talking about actual subjects instead of quizzing each other on personal stuff is much much much better and better boundaried, for a first meeting with a stranger. that's not a red flag. but the handsiness is. he doesn't know you at all, so the first time you pull back is his cue to wait until you take things a step further. taking turns escalating is basic manners and how he finds out if you're actually into it. and even if you felt no physical threat at all, it's just an intrusive little sign that as much as you might like him, you don't know him at all, and he's not really acting like he remembers that. it's freaky. all stranger-dates are like this to some degree, but if you feel particularly uneasy I think you have good reason/instincts.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:46 AM on September 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I think you're feeling uneasy because he acted entitled to your body and then cut things off when you weren't comfortable with it. That is a huge red flag about his behavior. You should be able to feel 100% safe with the person you're dating, and it sounds like he's a bit unpredictable in an unsettling way. Trust your gut.
posted by delight at 11:52 AM on September 7, 2017 [16 favorites]

Echoing the people above who are saying: listen to your gut. It's telling you that something about him doesn't feel safe, and, while it could just be the possibility of change he represents, there's a good chance that it's his attitude towards boundaries and consent. I'm not saying don't go on a second date, but be alert to how respectful he is, physically and mentally. The rush into an unearned intimacy is a common abuser's tactic. It's also something that may appear to be happening in the awkward process of trying to get to know someone. You need to be really conscious of the possibility of option one as you proceed. It's so much worse to get enmeshed with an abuser than it is to be a little unecessarily stiff and formal with a normal date.
posted by praemunire at 12:16 PM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not seeing any red flags, personally. When you let him know where your boundaries were, he respected them. He wasn't great at establishing consent, granted.

I'm seeing communication issues between two people who just met, and because of a very long and intense first date, thought there was more intimacy there than actually was. Once the boundaries were communicated, though, things worked better.

As for the 'ciao', I wouldn't read anything into that.

I would go for a second date, one with the set boundaries of an activity or event instead of this ill-defined marathon, and see how he behaves.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:25 PM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

It sounds like you shouldn't be dating this guy right now. After date one you shouldn't have any big questions. If you're not gung ho fuck yes about someone, with or without any reason, there should be no second date.
posted by sockermom at 12:31 PM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

He started saying things like "This date was almost perfect. But you know what would make it better?"

Then his hands started going around my belly and getting nearer to my breasts and I had to gently push them away. After that, he said he had to go home.

...because he just said "Ciao", and then we parted.

Eww. Don't give this loser any more thought or time. He just happened to have to end the date when you gently rebuked his attempts to escalate things physically? Yeah no. If you had been receptive to him feeling you up, I'm basically certain he would not have ended the date.

Also, the cheeseball lines like "This date was almost perfect, you know what would make it better?" and just saying "Ciao" as farewell are AT BEST due to insecurity and AT WORST ridiculous Sam Malone-style machismo. Neither of those makes for a great romantic partnership.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:08 PM on September 7, 2017 [7 favorites]

I was with you up til the part where he disengaged completely when you didn't let him feel your breasts in public.

Sorry, I know it feels gross to know that someone went on a date with you just because they were hoping to get laid that night when you're not on that page, but I think that is what happened here.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:34 PM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah, it sounds like he just wanted to get it on.
posted by heyjude at 3:36 PM on September 7, 2017

I would not want another date with a man who groped me and then said "ciao." I don't care how sparkling the conversation was. (And by tired/grouchy/unpretentious, do you mean he considers himself too deep and important to be nice to you?) These guys think they're one in a million but they're a dime a dozen in my experience.
posted by kapers at 3:46 PM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

This may just be because I'm a gay guy and physical interaction doesn't have quite the same consent worries, but the main thing that strikes me weird is

He actually seemed kind of tired and a bit cranky (not at me, just in general-- not rude, just tired).

If you don't start a date trying pretty hard to make a good first impression, what the hell are you there for?

Just the same, if you aren't bothered by the way he handled the making out and your boundary-setting, I'd say first dates (even long ones) are just one interaction and if you're feeling interested, it could be worth a second date, maybe well defined and in public as people have been saying.

The anxiety could be lots of things, including the old roommate or just...a long plunge into immediate intimacy of a kind is an intense and sometimes unsettling experience.
posted by Smearcase at 3:46 PM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think It's awesome you are aware you can be repulsed/attracted. Someone once went too far with me with no protection or consent yet I still think about how great everything was up to that point. And I mourn the whole thing.
posted by kapers at 3:48 PM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This sounds so similar to my ex that I'm not 100% convinced it isn't him. Mine didn't put on any airs because he didn't have any, except when he was trying to convince me to not be upset about how he had violated one of my (few, clear) boundaries yet again. And then only in public.

The goodbye made you feel weird because it was weird. That's not how a decent person says goodbye to someone they like, not at this stage of a relationship.

From what you've described, it's possible he's not neurotypical and also, independently of this, a dick. You have a history of not letting yourself gfto when someone mistreats you? Then you owe it to yourself to be extra strict about becoming emotionally (or otherwise) intimate only with people who place a high priority on respecting your boundaries and ensuring your well-being.

I'm confused by the age thing. Was his age on his OKC profile something other than 34?
posted by notquitemaryann at 4:45 PM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The red flag for me is his arrogance. He was giving off cranky vibes from the start, and didn't feel the need to be charming or on his best "I don't know this person very well" social behavior. And the abrupt "ciao" at the end of what he agreed was a near-perfect date... who does that? Every date or even friend-meeting I've ever been on, there has been some bit of social nicety at the good-bye. "It was great meeting you, let's do this again some time!" or something. Not just "welp, bye."

He just sounds manipulative to me. Blowing hot and cold. Being intense and intimate so that you will feel like this could be something amazing, but not trying very hard to be nice, so a little seed of doubt is planted... "does he like me or not?"... which for some women would have the effect of making them feel a bit desperate to be liked by him, which gives him the upper hand plus a good chance of getting laid by a woman who is now worried about pissing him off or disappointing him.

I guess bottom line is, feeling repulsed-attracted just sounds like a terrible start to a relationship. The repulsed part is there for a reason. And if you are attracted to someone repulsive, that just smacks of some sort of codependency looking for crappy relationship in which to bloom.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:47 PM on September 7, 2017 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: I wanted to thank you guys for helping me process this way faster and with less angst than I would have had alone. I think I got wrapped up in his confidence and cool style and mistook anxiety for 'exhilaration.' I think I let my guard down a bit because I knew he identifies as bisexual and I thought for some reason he might be more aware of issues like consent ( WRONG). For the record, I didnt really feel like I was being 'groped,' I mean, I enjoyed kissing in the rain, but I didnt want it to go farther. He didnt actually completely disengage after that, we still hung out for about a half hour after. But I do think the two things were related.

I don't know if I'll go out with him again, but I definitely will not be waiting and hoping he'll text. Crisis averted!
posted by winterportage at 6:42 PM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

You have great advice above, so I'll just add my two cents on how to process feelings when you're not sure how you feel.
You asked how you should process your feelings, but ultimately since none of us were on the date with you, only you can decide how you feel about it. Have you tried any visualization exercises? Try running through the date in your mind. Take your time and let yourself ruminate on how you were feeling. If you could go back and change any of the date, what would you do differently (i.e. leave earlier, tell him that you didn't want to be kissed etc). You can even write it down if that works for you. What you decide to change about the date are things you should implement in the future. You have so much more power than you give yourself credit for, and letting yourself be in control and comfortable is your utmost concern from now on.
The other thing that I do is run through the whole scenario (or in your case, just read your question back to yourself) as if it were a friend asking for advice. What advice/ input would you give to said friend? By removing yourself (temporarily) from the situation, I find it much easier to be honest with your feelings.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 8:06 PM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I could absolutely feel the chemistry in this first date from your well written account. Reminds of some of my earlier dates with my now wife.

Your questions:
1. No I don't see any red flags here yet. There was obviously a lot of emotional and physical chemistry. I don't think he crossed any boundaries by getting physical. If he kept going after you subtly brought the physical stuff to an end then I'd be concerned. He was just being a guy making his move reacting to what you describe as good chemistry.

2. Tough to say if he just wanted sex. It's possible but there's a lot pointing to a good connection beyond just physical.

3. Your reaction is normal. You met someone who you connected with. That can make a lot of people anxious.

4. 5 years is no big deal.

5. PhD thing is tough to say.

6. Maybe...i think you were definitely scared by the great connection. And that's ok...its normal I think. You'll get a lot more answers by asking him out on a 2nd date. Obviously if he doesn't want to youve miscalculated the chemistry. If he does then go out and see what happens. Maybe take it slow with the physical stuff. Though if you feel the connection and you're ok with getting physical I see nothing wrong with that. Overall just try to have fun and enjoy the journey. Who knows where it'll take you.
posted by ljs30 at 9:27 PM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

My first date with my now husband lasted until the next morning but at no point was he cranky, when he kissed me I had definitely been giving him signals and it wasn't super aggressive. He didn't try to touch my breasts in public, he never would. I'm also a very anxious person. I had dates similar to yours. I had dates like this and I slept with these men and they ghosted me. It's tough when you're anxious to trust your gut, but I am glad you asked metafilter. There are a lot of red flags and you shouldn't feel these things on a first date. And be careful with men who feel entitled to your body. I wouldn't trust them.
Another question of yours, 5 years isn't a big difference. Especially at your age. I'm 32 my husband is 37. It's a good gap.
posted by shesbenevolent at 6:56 AM on September 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Some of your language indicates you need to be clearer with yourself, and then him, about what your boundaries and desires are. '2 pints (is that too much for a first date?)', 'I don't really like making out in public', 'I had to push his hands away'. In particular, 'He started making out with me', rather than 'We started kissing'.

I think you feel weird because you aren't clear on what you wanted and therefore don't know if this lined up with what you wanted. Also, his gruffness/crankiness and abrupt 'ciao' doesn't line up with the intimacy you felt through the middle of the date.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 6:11 PM on September 8, 2017

« Older American Thanksgiving in Montreal   |   Best side trips from Singapore Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.