Yes, Brian (or Brad, or Brett, or Ben) – I’m talking to you.
You’re sitting across from me at the bar you suggested we meet at, conveniently located in your neighborhood. Your hair sits high and tight, as if you handed your hairdresser a photo of Justin Bieber and told her you wanted ‘those vibes.’ You then flashed her a toothy, bright, Crest-Whitestrips-enhanced smile that made her falter in her professional demeanor, just for a moment.
But that’s what always happens, isn’t it? Girls see you and they swoon. You can’t even make a run to the grocery store without receiving shy smiles and lengthy stares from women (young and old) that you’ve never met before. Those out with their friends will raise their voices a few notches, giggling more than is believable, in an attempt to get you to notice them. You do – but you don’t show it. That would give them power. You need to keep the power.
And, keep the power you did, there on our date. You sipped a beer as dark as mud (and probably just as appetizing) as if it was water. You “gained a taste for it while you were studying abroad in Copenhagen junior year.” That’s also where you took a wine-tasting course, which you cited when you complimented my choice of vino. I thought it was just white wine, but your validation makes it that much more special.
As the waitress set our drinks down, you winked at me. “A beautiful night with a beautiful girl.” My heart responded by doing a triple-backflip, and butterflies suddenly blossomed in my (slightly buzzed) stomach. And a beautiful night it was, filled with stories of travels, schooling, and crazy experiences with friends. You showed genuine interest, the corners of your sky blue eyes crinkling with laughter, you rolling up the sleeves of your crisp checkered button-down so you could set your elbows on the table and lean closer to me.
Once you had paid the bill (insisting that it was your treat, that my company was pleasure enough), you walked me to the Metro, despite my urging that it was out of your way, and that I would be fine. You left me with a lingering hug and a promise to text me later. I floated home, oblivious to the harsh lights of the Metro car and the putrid smell of the riders around me. What a perfect date.
The next morning, I bolted out of bed at the sound of my alarm and hurriedly checked my phone, anxious to find a text from you. Instagram like, Instagram like, Tinder message, TEXT FROM… Mom, hmmm. There was nothing. It was fine, I’m sure you’ve been busy! You probably just fell asleep, like I did. You’re probably not a big texter. I mean, you never took longer than a few minutes to reply to a message before our date, but… it’s Tuesday. Tuesdays are busy. That’s it.
The text comes at 6:30 PM, while I’m at happy hour with another potential suitor – this one nice enough, but not nearly as heart-stoppingly charismatic as you were. I sneak a peek at my phone while my date is in the bathroom, and my breath stops short.
“Hey, J! I had a good time last night.”
Oh my gosh oh my gosh OH MY GOSH, he likes me! Can it be? I mean, yeah, he spelled my name wrong in the text, but he must just be rushing and nervous like I am! I need to text him back… but I can’t respond too quickly. I mean, I don’t want to look desperate, plus my date is coming back…
My date suddenly seems… lackluster. His jeans (ugh, jeans? My date last night wore pressed khakis) are a bit too big, and his hair a bit too unkempt. He’s drinking a Blue Moon – kind of a girly beer – and he’s speaking a touch faster than I like. I find myself thinking of ways to get out so that I can text back my dream man.
Can I tell him that I have some work to finish up before tomorrow? Or, maybe, that I completely forgot to call my mom back earlier and needed to do so before her bedtime? Does it even matter? I’m not interested anyway…
He pays the check, and I stand up a beat too soon, which he notices. He looks nervous, and offers to walk me to my apartment, but I insist that I’ll be fine, and I suppose I’m convincing because we hug and then he stands there as I dart off. It’s not two minutes after I’m in the door of my apartment that Nice Boy texts me.
“Hey! Thanks for hanging out with me tonight! I had a great time – are you free later this week to grab dinner?”
Ugh, I think to myself. Way too nice. I just left, I’m not thinking of future plans yet! I make a mental note to respond to his text eventually, and return to the text I’m really interested in.
And so it goes. Waiting for texts from Fuckboy with baited breath, his smile taking up every corner of my brain. I’ll send him a text one day asking if he wants to grab dinner, and wait. And wait. And wait.
It’s noon – he’s probably been in meetings all morning.
It’s four – wow, he must be so busy at work!
It’s eight – maybe I should just make something for dinner.
At eight-fifteen my phone would vibrate as I stood over a steaming pot of pasta, and I would almost knock boiling water all over myself in my hurry to check my texts. Finally, it’s him!
Hey, J! I’m about to start up a movie on Netflix – wanna join?”
No apology for a late response. Never an apology. The Fuckboy operates on his own schedule, and expects girls to shape themselves to it. He also seems to have developed his own spelling of my name, but… I’ll tell him later. I check the clock again. 8:20. By the time I get to Columbia Heights, it’ll be about 9, and I need to wake up early tomorrow for the gym… hm, but being a little tired isn’t bad, right? Not if it means getting to see him!
THIS is the mindset he instills. THIS is toxic.
You gain power by making yourself unavailable. You leave each date on a positive note and tell us that you can’t wait to see us again, and then you become absent as a ghost. By making us do the work, you ensure that we become increasingly invested in this one-sided ‘relationship.’
Each text response takes longer and longer. Five hours one day… nine hours the next… TWENTY-FOUR the next. You make us loathe every other person who dare text us, to get our hopes up, only to have them come crashing to the ground.
Unless, of course, it’s 2 AM and you’re looking for sex. Then texts and phone calls come rapid fire until I’m at your apartment, filled with a mixture of hope (that you like me) and dread (that you’re using me).
Guess what? It’s the latter.
Guess what? You can go fuck yourself.
I’m NOT cancelling dinner plans when you come through at the last minute. The people I’m going out with can spell my name.
I’m NOT dropping everything to go to your place when you booty call me late at night. Lord knows I’ll just end up in an overpriced 5 AM Uber anyway, smelling like sex and regret.
I’m NOT believing your excuses. You’re not a brain surgeon. You’re not Secretary of State John Kerry currently negotiating a cease-fire in Pakistan. If you WANTED to hang out, you would make time.
But you’re not about shit.
I’m done with fuckboys. I’m done chasing you down. I’m done being manipulated for the sake of the game. I’m done.
Y’all can still buy me drinks, though!