He seemed nervous to kiss me at the end of the night; he almost seemed unsure if he should go for it. To calm his anxiety, I pulled him into me, showing him that I wanted him.
We parted ways with flimsy plans to meet up sometime or something. I felt accomplished. I’d just kissed a man I’d been pining over for months. I looked forward to our next meeting. But something that he said kept praying on my mind.
After dinner we had reconvened for some drinks, with a brief intermission so that I could go walk my dog. We didn’t stay long, but the intensity of the conversation deepened. At one point he nonchalantly commented, “down the road if this gets serious and we end up living together-“ the rest was just noise. What the fuck was he talking about? I hadn’t even finished my drink and he was talking about living together. The panic sank in. This was accelerating too quickly. I wasn’t ready.
Something just didn’t feel right. I went back and read through our texts. Without the smoke screen of infatuation, I could see the sinister nature to his dark humor.
Was I spinning this into something it wasn’t because of my fear of commitment? I couldn’t just bail after one date. I’d romanticized about this man for months. I was dating my deep seeded crush. I decided to give it another chance.
I took an impromptu trip to Los Angeles one weekend after a slight mental breakdown and separation anxiety from my newly pregnant sister. We kept in touch during my trip. He frequently asked if I had told anyone about our date, which I had. Both people I had told were coworkers, who both strongly warned me not to get involved with him. I was more receptive to the warnings now. But my morbid curiosity had a hold on me, paired with his pheromones; a toxic combination. I knew that I couldn’t just cut him off. I had to get him out of my system.
When I landed in Newark I turned on my phone to see a number of texts from him.
“WELCOME BACK TO LAME TOWN!” He was quoting me, but still it made me smile. I filled him in on my flight home and the new friend I had made during the flight. There was a lot of turbulence during the flight, turning the end of the flight into an eruption of motion sickness. (If you have ever seen the movie Stand By Me, think of the pie contest scene.) I cradled my head, fighting off the urge to puke when a neighboring passenger began wailing about how sick he felt.
“Shut up and suffer in silence like the rest of us!” I hissed, followed by numerous groans of encouragement.
I told him this story to which he replied, “you are terribly perfect.” It’s incredible how a simple compliment can alter your perception. I overlooked a multitude of glaring flaws because of this comment alone.
He asked me how I planned to get home and I told him that I had left my car in economy parking.
“You should have just let me drop you off and pick you up.” That was a little weird. But also, a nice gesture.
“I appreciate that, but since I was so short on time it made more sense just to drive myself. Thanks for the offer!”
“No. Seriously. Next time let me take you.” My face got hot as I read his last text. Initially it was a nice gesture, but now he was coming off as controlling. Threatening, almost.
“Come over after you get back?” He continued. I told him that I was tired and would not be able to make it. “Pussy.” He replied.
Ew. I was so turned off. But, it was late at night. He had probably been drinking. Not to mention he didn’t have the best social skills. So, again. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He asked me to be his Valentine. Against my better judgment, I obliged.
Compliments of the hospitality industry, we were both working for Valentine’s Day and could not meet up the night of. Instead, he offered to have me over for dinner. He openly disagreed with my vegetarian lifestyle but promised that he would create something edible for me.
I was all in for this plan. I wanted to see where he lived. You can distinguish so much about a person by the things they keep. The way that they keep them.
He greeted me at the door and invited me into his home. The aroma of bland food filled my nose. Tehe, he’s trying. I mused to myself.
I entered the kitchen to see a steak sitting out on the counter. My eyes scanned the room to see no other items out for preparation. Just the steak. Was my dinner already in the oven?
“Did you make anything for me?” I asked, pointing at the steak.
His face lit up. “I’m steaming some sweet potatoes!” I waited for him to continue. He did not.
“And…” I prompted. He slowly turned to face me, his face frozen with confusion.
“Well I, uh, I have some eggs.” I struggled not to seem ungrateful, but he had offered to cook me dinner. He worked at a gastropub. He had allegedly dated a vegan. Clearly, he did not try at all.
A fucking potato. Could he have been more of a cliché?
This dinner was a solid metaphor of our relationship. An afterthought. It was the beginning of a landslide of disappointments and uncomfortable conversations that always lead me to think, “what the fuck is wrong with me that I’m entertaining this shit?”
One night I hit my breaking point. I could no longer ignore the fact that he was completely full of shit. I was alone in my room folding laundry, playing Tom Segura’s stand up in the background. My body froze before my mind recognized what it was hearing.
“When I was real young, and I would ask if he’d killed anyone, he would just say that war was a complicated thing. As I got a bit older, he said that they’d throw a grenade into the enemies trenches too see what happened. When I returned from war, he placed his hand on my shoulder and looked me into the eyes, and for the first time, we felt like equals. And all that he said to me, is that there is no greater feeling than killing your enemy.”
That fucker. He had relayed that entire bit, passing it off as his own life. I started reeling through everything we’d ever spoken about. It just didn’t add up. He claimed to have a PHD, but worked as a bartender? Dr. Bartender? Both of his grandfathers were in the S.S. Army, yet his mother was from Colombia? The marriage, the war, how could he have been living in Ireland when he was a student in America? Shit, he even lied about the amount of tattoos that he had.
I invited him over to confront him. I just wanted him to drop the act. I still wanted to know who he actually was. He came over after work and changed out of his work clothes. I put on Tom Segura, he complimented me on my choice of media.
“I thought you had 8 tattoos?” I questioned as he pulled off his shirt. He looked at me suspiciously.
“But I only count 4.” He rolled his eyes at me. Obviously, I just hadn’t noticed. Even though at this point I had memorized every part of him.
“They’re on my back.” He grunted. No, they were not. I had counted. He was so obviously lying. Just then the bit began.
We both sat in painful silence as our first conversation as involved persons relayed verbatim in the background. His web of lies was beginning to unravel along with his inflated sense of self.
I had noticed that he would spew straight up fallacies as fact, hoping that I would be too stupid to connect the dots or know what he is talking about.
What I had feared had become painfully apparent. I was dating a pathological liar/narcissist.