Witch Store: An Elegy

Do you believe in magic?

Witch Store and I were never meant to be together. He wanted to be Swiss Family Robinson – lots of kids, a nomadic artist lifestyle… I was attracted to what he is now: a passionate professional with his shit together. I find comfort in clutter and organized chaos, and he doesn’t get attached to anything, material or otherwise. He correctly observed that my anxiety around minimalism had to do with feeling like that person would have no room for me. I fell in limerance with him right away – we had the most incredible first date walking around midtown writing a treatment for a TV show we knew would make us rich (though as anti-capitalists, that was never the goal). I quickly learned that he throws away more brilliant ideas in a day than I will have in my life. It was easy to trust him not to hurt me in exactly the same way Eleven or Harold did – Witch Store is teetotal and is driven by desires beyond the sexual. Athletic, well-read, artistic, busy… he threw himself into projects and seemed to have perfect time management skills. He, like me, relished pushing himself to the limit and learning hard lessons.

Still, I knew it couldn’t last. My views on motherhood were largely formed by reading We Need to Talk About Kevin and, while we never explicitly said “This is doomed,” it played a huge role in me not seeing WS in a monogamous light despite being completely enraptured.

He never told me anything about himself. I never learned about his family (though I stalked his estranged brothers and their wives on Instagram for a few weeks – WS doesn’t do social media at all), or when his birthday is, or what he dreams about. His quietness during sex was unnerving at first, but once I learned to interpret his breathing, the silence became beautiful.

That theme – me projecting beauty and depth onto his dark canvas – blossomed into love. I told him everything and he stayed with me; it was more than anyone else could offer and more support than I’d ever received. Aside from discussing the latest development in some of his projects, he never really divulged any details about his hopes or dreams. He is a master of deflection and would always answer the same way when asked how he was doing: “I’m doing wonderfully, how are you?”

I spent hours staring into his bright green eyes, running my hands down his lean, olive torso (and then wrestling with him when he’d get ticklish) and playing with his long chesnut-coloured hair (I loved the way his ringlets bounced while we fucked). He was the first person to touch my feet without inspiring a body-conscious panic attack. He wore a perfectly-fitted suit to a party I threw to celebrate receiving my professional designation, which led to his status among my besties as a “Sexy Coat Rack.” He dressed like Patti Smith for my drag karaoke birthday party and sang a perfect, sultry “Mein Herr” before declaring that he would likely never do karaoke again if it’s all the same to me. That night after he left, I got more drunk than I’d ever been and texted “If you said so, I’d make you the only one.” He replied with “Sounds like something to discuss when you’re sober. Goodnight.” We never brought it up again.

I came close to ending it a handful of times. He confessed early on that he has resented his past partners for taking him away from his art (oh boy, my friends had fun with that). He elaborated later on, when pressed, that he had never resented me and used words like “refreshing” and “inspiring” to describe our dates. He would offer grand gestures in moments of passion and rescind them just as quickly. He invited me to join him on a leg of a grand six-week European tour he was taking, and took the opportunity I gave him to retract it a day later (I was going to say yes). He offered more than once to add me as a dependent at the university where he works so I could do some academic upgrading, or help subsidize braces. I always gave him an out there as well, and he always seemed grateful to take it.

He outlasted eight other flings in those six months. Smart, fun, troubled people who were better for me in some ways but none of the ones I was looking for. It was always Witch Store. I was bound and compelled. A raw vegan, he’d bring me my favourite vegetables and introduced me to fruit I’d never heard of. “Have you never had an atemoya?” He gasped. “I’m going to change your life.” He always had perfect avocados and one time slipped me a bag of peas (my favourite) on my way out of his apartment. He winked and advised I not eat them all on the way home. He facilitated a DJ gig for me at an after-party for a conference he organized, and he out-cycled me when we rode out to a small town beyond even the suburbs. He constantly surprised me sexually and kept track of my stories and friends.

I didn’t know him, though. I didn’t press it too often – even the basics, like favourite music. I knew he liked Radiohead (my least-favourite band) and he enjoyed Grimes when I played her in my DJ set. He wouldn’t let me take his picture. It was annoying, but part of his charm. We’d pitch awful Fringe shows to each other and I’d save the best ones in my Twitter drafts. He was the perfect mix of obnoxious and loving and beautiful, and he brought out amazing things in me.

One night he invited me to a concert, but wouldn’t tell me whose. My friends, who think he’s a Portlandia character most of the time, tried to guess. “I bet there’s going to be a didgeridoo!” One squealed with laughter. I was excited for other reasons: he was going to show me something he liked! I kept dragging him to my things and was now going to reciprocate!

He dropped a pin and said “Just meet me here.” He had made reservations at my favourite vegan restaurant, and I swooned. He winked and said, “Oh, I had no idea you liked this place.” We walked towards downtown, away from all the small venues. We arrived at throng of people and I realized that we were at a sold-out charity show where my favourite band was headlining. He surprised me with my favourite band! He let me hold his hand as I buzzed with delight.

He introduced me to some friends of his and they asked if we were joining them for the after-party. This had, of course, all been planned. We danced and chatted and were temporarily interrupted by the bassist of my favourite band. “Beat it, Slim. I’m cutting in!” he said, recognizing me. WS smiled and said “I was warned this would happen.”

The bassist and I danced and discussed the new album, but I was surprised – I was antsy to return to WS. I ended the conversation gracefully and said “Sorry, I’d like to get back to my date.” The bassist hugged me and told me not to be a stranger. I ran and kissed WS on his beautiful mouth and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

It was the best date I’ve ever had, but it didn’t solve the problem: I still didn’t know him. He did a lovely thing for me, but wasn’t including me. I was head over heels in love, though. Everything felt like progress.

I called it off with all my other flings. I didn’t even care if he loved me back: I’d tasted magic and anything less was ash.

When I asked him to be with me – no ambiguity, no other people (not that he was seeing anyone else) – I expected some negotiation. I didn’t expect him to break up with me. I made him a great dinner and we had great sex and we were cuddling and I just said “I want to be with you. Like, for real. A Real Thing.”
And he said, “What does that look like?”
And he said basically that he didn’t see himself long term with anyone.
That he has loved being a safe person for me but he would never be able to reciprocate my trust or openness because he just isn’t like that. It wasn’t a matter of paying my dues and earning his trust – he isn’t that person and never has been.
I confessed that I love him. He kissed me and told me he still wants to be that for me, but we both knew I needed more. We each cried, though we tried to hide it.

We spent five hours breaking up. We kissed and tried negotiating and I knew: for him, it would never be me. It might never be anyone.

It’s a damn shame. He’s magical and beautiful and he inspired new depths of creativity in me. I’m not sorry for any of it. If six months is all I get, that’s six months more than anyone else.

2017 was many things: the year I was doxxed, the year I received my professional designation, the year I finally felt secure in my amazing friendships… Witch Store was exactly what I needed when I needed him, and his legacy is the spell he cast on me the day we met: I’m trusting more, loving more and creating more.

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All For One, and One For All

My stupid toxic type-A personality is unhealthy in a lot of ways, but the one weighing most heavily on me is that I feel like I should be emotionally ready to want to date again.

Having gone on three first Tinder dates this week, I can say for certain that I am not ready. Still. Three very different people, all the same outcome: I just wanted to bolt.

One was a perfectly nice former pro soccer player-turned SQL dev who came out to the east end because I asked him to.
One was a beautiful English woman who spent our date inviting me out to kink events and roller derby practice.

One was a bartender who was an excellent conversationalist but physically I wasn’t at all into it.

And I couldn’t wait for each one to end. I kept thinking “I could be doing anything, or nothing, with the time I am spending here being polite and making jokes about early 2000s hip-hop.” It felt formulaic, because I know how to be charming and I know all the stories to tell that aren’t ~too much~. I was antsy.

I explained to a friend (who is going through a very similar phase) that I don’t even WANT to be dating right now, I just want to know that I am capable of it just in case something amazing comes along. It’s like anything else:

I feel like I should be doing something, so I do it. I have a shit time, so I don’t want to do it. I start feeling pressure to do it again, so I get antsy until I do it. Over and over. I used to have the energy for four dates in a week. These three left me exhausted.

Of course, my friend wisely said that I shouldn’t be doing anything I don’t want to do, it just doesn’t feel that easy. For me, getting Tinder dates is easy. Getting a second date from someone who doesn’t excite me is easy. Going to a sex club and getting propositioned is the easiest thing in the world. It’s been a long time since anything easy has appealed to me.

I *hate* the thought that Eleven being a dick to me for the last six months of our relationship has RUINED sex positivity and the pursuit of sex for me. He would pursue anything that walked by, including people and situations that weren’t okay, but then would have these “We have to sit down and discuss why I’m not attracted to you; it’s because I want to fuck everything and you won’t let me” conversations.

My type, under- or unemployed skinny sarcastic jerks who call me out and come from money, is the worst type. I think a lot of my hesitation comes from knowing how awful those people are for me, but still being laser-focused on ONLY being attracted to them. That type is all I have ever dated for twelve years, and that’s probably going to be a difficult streak to break. The next five, ten, fifteen people who excite me will be some variation on it, but I would have to be excited by someone first.

I had a patient on Thursday who knocked me off my feet. The problems in that statement are super obvious, and as a licensed professional I will never be able to act on it… but I flirted in a way I haven’t since well before Eleven and I broke up. I just found him so compelling.

He is type: My height; slight; a programmer who uses an obscure language on which he literally wrote the book; comes from enough money/sold enough books that he can work on his passion project full time… but he’s older than anyone I’ve pursued before (mid-40s) and has no social media presence except a home renovation YouTube channel. In fact, the only mentions of him on Twitter are “What ever happened to _____?” I have more questions than answers, but it’s nice to know I’m not completely dead inside.

So Tinder gets retired for another week, when I visit New York with my cool buddy Javert. Will we finally successfully use Tinder Social? I’ll probably have a better time if we don’t.

She has a system

I’ve been living in my new, single-woman apartment for a month.
I’ve been single for two and a half months.
I’ve been off Tinder for a month and a half.

For the first time in my adult life, I am actively not dating. I have too much rebuilding to do. I have to work on my professional development (I failed a huge professional exam I wrote a week before Eleven and I broke up), I have to work on my self-esteem (I derive a lot of my worth from dating weird/cool people, or feeling superior to boring people), I have to work on unfucking my body (I just started having to wear a medical device that changes the way I look; I am self-conscious about it), and I have to work on my trust issues.

That last one is going to be complicated. I’ve been cheated on, gaslighted or both in every relationship I’ve been in since 2011. Part of Eleven’s gaslighting even INVOLVED my established trust issues, saying “That’s just your trust issues talking. I don’t know why you let Harold’s behaviour dictate our non-monogamy. If you weren’t broken, you’d let me do x.” As far as I know, he wasn’t explicitly cheating on me, but he definitely kept things he and his partners did from me and was very obviously establishing a fuckit list. Being constantly told that all your suspicions are rooted in being broken is such classic gaslighting behaviour. I am still very angry at him for that.

Two weeks or so after the breakup, I was doxxed on 4Chan. I discovered that the guy behind that egregious compromise was a man I’d considered a good friend. I had attended his baby shower, his wedding and had even posed scantily-clad for some of his body-positivity projects. When we dug deeper, we learned that six of my friends (at least) had also been doxxed over the years. I felt sick. I had given him so much social capital over the years – introducing him to friends of mine who would later be compromised, retweeting his projects, laughing at his jokes… he was a ~woke feminist ally who punched up~ and seemed to care deeply for his female friends. Though he initially denied it, his fall was fast and fiery. It was well-publicized, so you probably heard about it if you follow Canadian news.

I am SO TIRED of providing social capital to mediocre, narcissistic predators who think they have a right to femme bodies, time and energy. Oddly, or perhaps fittingly, the men who hurt me and my friends have shiny progressive exteriors. They know what to say and retweet and they have female friends who’ll vouch for them. Eleven won me over initially through referrals by other feminists, most of whom still stand by him. The Feminist-to-fuck phenomenon has been documented to death, and I just trust no one anymore. A friend with a locked account tweeted this a week or so ago:

I immediately side eye ~woke poly dudes~ (and all dudes whose “feminism” is noticeably limited to “sex/sex work positivity”). Like, I see you when your “feminism” is focused on the benefit of your getting laid more.)

It’s been years since I’ve been something other than Sex Girl Who’ll Do Weird Stuff/Prude Who Gatekeeps, a particular modernization of the typical virgin/whore dichotomy. Inexperienced dudes are fascinated by my thirst and need for control. Experienced dudes are repulsed by the same. I haven’t been respected in a sexual relationship in a long time, and it’s been even longer since I’ve respected my partner sexually.

I have a tweet in my drafts that just says “Hot take: what if sex isn’t worth it?”

I don’t want to be in a relationship, and since I’m not sure that respectful sex could exist for me I am just… not bothering. That, mixed with not drinking, has saved me a lot of money and energy. I wish I could say that I’m being productive with my time – studying, running, setting up my place – but… I’ve watched a lot of X-Files. I’m not proud.

Relatedly, my DMs lit up as soon as I let it slip that I’m not dating

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(I have some Funny Quality Content 4u next time tho)

 

I dig you

I thought it would be too soon to meet up with someone from Tinder. I mean, I’m only just starting to pack up the condo I shared with Eleven. He even still has some food in the fridge that hasn’t even gone bad yet.

But, not to put too fine a point on it, I haven’t had a partnered orgasm this year.
I haven’t had someone excited by my body for significantly longer.

My friend Anastasia suggested we try Tinder Social with a friend of hers, which sounds awful, but I am a glutton for punishment (inasmuch as someone with my domme tendencies can be). I start swiping for all of us, and it’s… dire. Groups ranging in age from 21 to 45 or groups with one member who is 2165 kilometers away. I shut it down pretty quickly, but my swiping finger got itchy…

So I swiped for myself. I was picky as heck. I specifically wanted someone I’d probably never see again, because I had no idea how this would go. I live in high-tourist area, so my matches quickly filled with profiles that read “Here for a week!”

Then Rocky super-liked me. I am so torn about super-likes. They didn’t exist two years ago, which was the last time I really swiped for men, and I take them as a compliment but they aren’t going to sway me towards swiping back if I’m not feeling it. This guy, though? I was feeling it hard. Something about his huge brown eyes and stubble were extremely compelling for me. There was a bit of a BTSK vibe, which meant there was a bit of a Michael Weatherly vibe. He even had “In Toronto until Thursday for a conference” in his profile.

We arranged to grab a beer on Tuesday night, at a dark little pub walking distance from condo I shared with Eleven a fortnight ago. Prepared for the worst, I confessed via text that I had just been through a rough breakup so this could be weird. He said, “We’ll just take it as it happens.”

Rocky showed up in a slender navy suit and didn’t touch his phone all night. The conversation moved quickly. We almost immediately went for the fucked-up family TMI stories, and he shared stories of working up in northern BC (where he lives). After two hours, I invited him back to the condo. Any guilt I felt about bringing a person back to the white box I tried to make a home quickly dissipated when Rocky confessed that he has submissive tendencies.

I made him praise my body, which had only been touched reluctantly for the past year, and not at all in 2017. I made him beg me to touch him. I made him call me Ms. with a “Z” sound. I ran my fingernails so hard down his back he had raised marks the next day. I used him in a way that facilitated three orgasms for me. I was unprepared and out of domme practice, but we immediately made plans to meet up again the next night after the conference.

I washed some of my favourite toys, put on my boots and strappiest Agent Provocateur set and lounged around the condo feeling very glamourous and powerful. By 9:30, though, I hadn’t heard from him. I sent him a stern “Tell me where you are” text, and it was after 10:00 before he got back to me.

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I sent him a snapchat of my outfit, but was not going to try to convince him. He was effusive in his praise, but chose a good night’s sleep over our booty call.

I was a little peeved at the time, so I asked a few girlfriends if I could send them the picture too, and their praise and affirmation was more important than his would have been.

I don’t know if there’s a lesson here. It doesn’t really matter, I guess. It was something to get out of my system, and now I can focus on things like my move and the 5k race I’m running this week. I’ll likely never see him again, though he has texted me a fair bit since he arrived home.

I just need to keep myself further and further away from Eleven.

 

 

Plus Ca Change…

I’ve been single again for two weeks now. It’s weird and complicated and my emotions rise and fall like roller coasters surrounded by signs that scream “Not for the faint of heart or stomach.”

That simile works especially well because roller coasters are designed so that you end up right back where you started. The tracks are unchanging, and if you’ve ridden once or twice or seventeen times you learn the bumps and jolts.

I didn’t think I’d been here before. I thought that this was a new kind of heartbreak, accompanied by a new kind of disappointment and a new feeling of foolishness. Reading over my posts from my last round of life partner auditions just shows that I don’t learn from the mistakes I make. I fall for the same people – ones who excite me enough to think I can fix them, or bore me in ways that makes their inevitable rejection hurt less.

And I don’t know how to change that.

My breakup with Eleven can be summarized by quotations I’ve already written on this blog:

“At the time, I was living with Harold, and we were doing the typical things that couples do during the slow death of an unhealthy non-monogamous relationship. That night involved coming home after having eaten separately, lying on the bed and spending silent hours on our phones until either bedtime (when we’d each decide if we wanted to have sex), a stream aired a west-coast basketball game or one of us would pick a fight.”

or

“Spare me the self-flagellation, Catch. You wanted to ignore something until it went away and it’s not working out very well for you. The people in my life ALWAYS do this; the “I acknowledge my obviously shitty behaviour, point to a personality flaw upon which I can hang everything, and call myself an idiot before doing absolutely nothing to change my behaviour” thing. The men in my family PRACTICALLY INVENTED that crap.”

That might be the saddest part of all of this. It’s not the loss of the future I imagined where somehow Eleven worked as hard for us as I did. It’s not the loss of his wonderful family, or that he knows everyone and will have no trouble moving on because no one will hold him accountable.

It’s that I’ve had enough power to take myself out of these situations before, and I didn’t this time. I was so unhappy – we broadcasted what Carly Lewis calls, “the sort of chic pseudo-polyamory that conflates dishonest promiscuity with ethical non-monogamy and seems to propagate my peer group.” Meanwhile we were loveless and sexless and desperate to hide it, as if we cared what others thought. Eleven resented that he couldn’t act single while benefiting from all of my emotional labour, and I resented that he kept moving the line of what *I* had to do to satisfy him. Still, I stayed. I didn’t even PLAN to leave. I usually have backup plans upon backup plans, and the explosion two Mondays ago was especially devastating BECAUSE I was had no recourse.

What is it that Chvrches sings? “I never promised you anything I couldn’t do, and you never promised me that you would see things differently.” Lauren Mayberry, the goddess she is, says we should “Bury it and rise above.” I assumed the chorus was about putting a toxic relationship in the ground, but Genius claims otherwise.

Sorry to my fellow Scottish feminist princess, but I am sticking to my interpretation. This relationship is six feet under (and I can grieve as much as I need), but the lesson is the same: I bury it, and I rise above. I just have to fucking learn from it this time.

#Solemate

Between Lindsay Lohan’s freakout over matching with her brother and that amazing Conan O’Brien video with Dave Franco, we know that there are celebrities on Tinder. Even though I live in a pretty star-studded city, it hasn’t been especially common for me to match with anyone famous in their field. The guitarists of a few buzz bands, a moderately successful male model and about a dozen fake Drake accounts are par for the course for any of my friends who’ve been on the app for more than a week. One of my favourite Tinder stories to tell involves my only famous match: A since-traded player on my local NBA team.

At the time, I was living with Harold, and we were doing the typical things that couples do during the slow death of an unhealthy non-monogamous relationship. That night involved coming home after having eaten separately, lying on the bed and spending silent hours on our phones until either bedtime (when we’d each decide if we wanted to have sex), a stream aired a west-coast basketball game or one of us would pick a fight.

I had my Tinder app powered up, swiping right and left based on whatever nonsense criteria were important to me at the time. That was when I saw the profile of a deep bench player (we’re talking three minutes a game, if that). I freaked out, showed Harold and took a screen shot. He didn’t say anything about his occupation or height, but the pictures on his profile included himself dressed for a game in his home jersey. I swiped right. He did not.

I was only a little bummed. My team has a reputation of being a big family-oriented group of dudes who work hard and then go home to their kids, so not matching with one who is publicly married/a dad was fine by me.

The next night, Harold and I were back at it, pretending to be okay with spending time hanging out around each other. I was swiping my life away when another NBA player popped up. This guy was as deep-bench as it gets. Like, 700 twitter followers at the time we matched. I shared the profile again with Harold and we laughed. He had a picture of him holding a fish he’d caught and one of him with his grandmother. I screencapped and swiped right.

It was a match.

“Oh my GOD, T. Can you even IMAGINE having sex with that guy? Like, having him on top of you?” Harold went into more graphic detail than I dared consider without growing really uncomfortable. “Oh my GOD think of the shame-bragging you could do.”

I had no idea what to say to this NBA player. A quick google search showed that he isn’t married or a father, so I felt okay with initiating a conversation.

“Hey,” I started. “What’s up with all these Tinder dudes holding fish? Is it a big inside joke that women aren’t in on?”

“Hey,” He replied, pretty much immediately. “I dunno lol i guess it shows were good providers.”

“Makes sense. Up to anything cool tonight?”

“Naw football in my condo. go *NFL Team* lol”

I quickly asked Harold for some quick facts about his handegg team, and briefly talked out of my element about a recently injured quarterback.

“Oh u like sports?”

“Yeah, I’m a big basketball fan.”

“Me to wish i played more often lol.”

We talked for a little bit about how difficult it can be meeting new people in this city, and I got the sense that he was another self-described lonely dude.

Why anyone would pretend to be this guy over the other more recognizable players is beyond me, but I wanted to make sure he was who he said he was. I invited him to watch a hockey game with me at a very public bar downtown – walking distance from the condos the one year contract players lease near the arena.

He told me that, as there was a noon game the next day, he couldn’t go out drinking. I asked if he wanted to change the plan to grabbing burritos.

“I like burritos :)”

“Me too,” I replied. “Is that a yes?”

To which he replied “If ud like to come and pick some up and eat them up here with me then maybe i could do some eating of my own ;)”

To reiterate: An NBA player asked me to buy him a burrito in exchange for oral sex.

It was almost DEFINITELY the highlight of my tinder experience.

“Tempting!” I replied. And it kind of was? I quickly ran through every possible scenario. What if he wasn’t who he said he was? What if I go over with burritos and things start happening and I freak out? Am I going to be assaulted? What if shit just gets weird? Would this be worth it just to tell the story?

And that was when something clicked for me: Is something worth doing only for the story? The past decade of my life has been defined by that question, and I’ve always taken for granted that an interesting story is worth more than anything else to me.

It’s why I spent my teen years archiving everything that happened. A flurry of coincidences will one day make my life interesting. I think my life is pretty interesting now, but while my current partner and I have told and rehearsed our “how we met” story to near death, it’s weird living your life in hindsight.

And that’s what this NBA player would have been. A tale of groupie conquest (not that there’s anything wrong with that) wherein your Tinderella exchanges a jumbo steak burrito for sloppy bearded oral sex from a man twice my weight and four times my muscle mass. Not even glamourous.

“Well, I have a policy about meeting Tinder suitors in a public place first. For safety reasons.”

“makes sense,” he replied. “another time mabye.”

I didn’t publish the conversation online. He seemed respectful at least of my basic boundaries, though in our second conversation he called back to the possibility of toasted Mexican goodness.

“i just saw the worst movie ever!” He sent me, in response to nothing.

“Oh? I’m curious. What are you up to now?”

“lol im in bed.”

“I’m jealous! I’ve been working for hours!”

“And u still won’t bring me food. should i sweeten the offer?”

“Did you mistake the Tinder app for the Just Eat app? :-P”

“I just love food”

I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to go for it. It started feeling really sad, and Harold was taking entirely too much joy in the thought of his primary partner burrito booty-calling a man who could easily have squatted two of us on each shoulder. I was in a stage where I wanted to do exactly the opposite of what Harold wanted.

The last message I ever sent him was when he moved to a different team. I wished him all the luck and more playing time. He never replied.

Almost immediately after that, he started posting pictures on his instagram account of a gorgeous woman using the hashtags #solemate (SIC) and #onewomanman. I believe he is now married and according to all of the groupie forums (yes, those exist and they are a cesspool for self-hating women) they are very happy.

He and I won’t show up on each other’s list of regretful Tinder hookups, but you know my motto – “Je ne regrette rien.”

That’s that shit I don’t like…

I have heard my entire adult life how much it sucks being a single woman in my city, especially one who uses online dating apps like OKCupid and PlentyofFish. I was lucky in my experience with OKC: my first OKC date became a year-long relationship, my first date after breaking up with that dude was with a woman who would be my girlfriend for four months, and my first date in an open relationship with Harold (whom I met in University) was with a woman who is now a good friend.

I effing LUCKED OUT.

When I started on Tinder, the first person with whom I met up knocked me off my feet. I still haven’t posted about Gunner, mostly out of privacy for his current relationship with a very close friend of mine, but he set the “decent, handsome, communicative dude” standard on Tinder pretty high. I have met a LOT of super cool people on Tinder, and some very boring ones, but never someone who scared me or made me feel uneasy. I weed those people out pretty well, but recently one got past all my safeguards.

Walter Jr. and I had a bunch of mutual friends, and while he looked a little less clean-cut than my typical straight-laced paramours, his smile was crooked and white and infectious. He was quick to initiate or reply to messages, which was important after Catch. He was eager to get me back to his place to watch Adam Sandler movies and make out, but I was hungry and channelled the plan into dinner at my favourite vegetarian restaurant in an artsy neighbourhood.

On first glance I knew I’d never be into it. His hair was long and dirty; he was underdressed in dirty ripped jeans and a paint-stained flannel shirt that smelled like spilled beer. He twitched and mentioned male genitalia four times in the first five minutes. We walked around the neighbourhood talking about work (he’s an architect) though I evaded any specifics about where my stores are. I was ready to call it off before we even got to the bistro – I didn’t want to waste his time or mine – but the lure of vegan dumplings and homemade cream soda was stronger than my off vibes.

Halfway through the meal, he started speaking very loudly about how good my chest looks. I excused myself and went to the ladies room, rolling my eyes. When I returned, he’d taken care of the bill. Normally I’d offer cash for my half but I didn’t bother. I said I had to be up early the next morning, thanked him for the meal and ducked into the nearest subway.

He was persistent in asking for a second date, and I told him I had too much on my plate. After the second time he asked, this happened:

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What the actual fuck, Walter Jr. I gave him an out to just laugh it off and he just pushed harder for something that I’m clearly not into. With every subsequent message, my “I’m not interested”s became more blunt until FINALLY he fired off a fuming “Your loss” at me. Thankfully I haven’t heard from him since.

So many of my friends insist that this is par for the course with Tinder and OKCupid; that dudes never deal well with someone saying “No thank you.” There are blogs and instagram accounts and name+shame pages for men who are abusive towards women on Tinder. They still may be outliers but this guy is ruining the fun for everyone. What happens to Tinder when power users like me grow uncomfortable and limit their time on the app?

The next night, I received this message from another match who had looked familiar:

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I hate this. The best part of Tinder is that I can only get messages from people I approve beforehand. It helps me feel safe and welcome and helps ensure that people don’t waste as much energy as they would on other apps. Simply by matching, you know that any message is at least somewhat welcome. So why make something so ideal for both parties so hostile? Why abuse that tiny modicum of trust?