THE WINNING LINES: Tales from my dating days #17

I’d been seeing a guy for a little while; he lived a long way away, so all our dates had been in restaurants and bars. Things had been going well, and I’d agreed I’d stay the night at his.

When I arrived, he was apologetic; there was a problem at work and he’d been thinking about cancelling, but still wanted to see me. However, he’d need to check in with work occasionally.

He left me with a drink while he answered a few emails. I checked out his books and his CD collection while he was gone (doesn’t everyone?) When he came back, he explained he’d have to keep an eye on his phone during dinner.

Well, there’s a difference between keeping an eye on your phone and giving it your full attention. We didn’t talk much during the meal, and he seemed to get more and more agitated about work. I tried to chat about his taste in music and books, but a frostiness settled; he shut the conversation down and went back to looking at his phone and ignoring me.

It just didn’t make sense. He’d said he was happy to see me, but his actions said the opposite. It’s not fun hanging out with someone who blatantly doesn’t want you there, and I wanted to leave; but I was 70 miles from home, I’d had a few drinks and couldn’t drive, and public transport wasn’t an option.

I was stuck at his. There was nothing that could be done but brave it out until the morning.

He had the one bed, so we both had to spend the night sharing it, keeping as much distance from each other as possible; not talking, not touching. I didn’t sleep a wink.

The next morning, he woke and said he had to get onto a conference call with work immediately. I said I’d leave, but he told me to stay, saying that the call wouldn’t take long. I didn’t want to seem rude, so I stayed.

Two hours later, he was still on his call, and I was feeling thoroughly stupid. Several times, I stuck my head around the door to say I’d be going, but he insisted I stay, that he’d be off the call soon.

Eventually, my anger and discomfort finally overtook my desire to be polite. Enough. He didn’t want me there, whether he was prepared to admit it or not. And—more importantly, although it’d taken me long enough to get there—I really didn’t want to be there. Time to go.

Time to go. As I headed for the door, he muted his call to tell me: “It’s been a long time since I’ve had anyone over to mine. I’m not good with having other people in my personal space.”

I drove home, angry and upset. I presumed I’d never hear from him again, but he phoned me three days later. Maybe he thought he hadn’t insulted me enough yet; he told me he’d called to explain that he didn’t want to “take the relationship any further, because you’re obviously much keener on me than I am on you.” And in the next breath, he asked, “Do you want to be friends, though?”

I laughed—a sharp, hollow, laugh—and said no, thank you.