We had met on Tinder. I had been single for about six months. I had just moved to a new, exciting city and I decided to go on an actual date with an actual person instead of just swiping purely out of boredom and to get the occasional ego boost.
He was an artist and he had cool looking hair. We’d gone for drinks at some bar where hipsters hung out at weekends. We had discussions about obscure art house movies, our favourite place to get breakfast in the city and how he knew a guy who had recently converted to scientology.
He paid for everything; I offered but he insisted. He suggested we have a drink at his place, which wasn’t far from the bar we were at. It wasn’t that late. Although there was a slight hesitation on my part, he seemed like a proper 28 year old grown up, someone who was pretty respectful and easy-going. We had a fun time together and I didn’t have much else to do. So I went to his apartment.
Within thirty minutes or so, I had left.
The next day, I retold the full story to my friends over lunch. The artist with cool hair had made a move after I’d finished my first glass of wine and I had said no. I said no, because although he seemed interesting and cool, I just didn’t fancy it. I hadn’t met up with him to have sex; it was to meet someone new, do something different on a Saturday night and if I liked him? Bonus. Reason enough, no? The artist with cool hair tried to charm me into it a bit more until he finally got the message: I wouldn’t be putting out. In an instant the mood switched and he looked at me rather coldly, sighed in an exasperated manner and then said: “Well, I can’t say I’m not disappointed.” I was so taken aback that I didn’t reply at first. He then made a comment about the reasoning behind my refusal. His theory was that I wanted to see him again, which is why I wasn’t sleeping with him.
Then he made me feel awkward enough that I left. My friends snorted and did the whole ‘what an idiot/you can do better/girl power’ speech that we females are so skilled at doing, and I knew that they were right. But I didn’t dare tell them how I actually felt about it. I felt stupid. I felt embarrassed. I felt guilty.
I began to question my own decision to not sleep with this person. Was I wrong to let him pay the bill? Was I wrong to accept the invitation back to his apartment? Had I led him on? Whatever the reason behind his reaction, I felt awful and felt like I owed him something. I barely knew this individual, we had spent approximately three hours in each other’s company, and yet I felt bad for not letting him take it further.
That was the first time I felt guilt about this kind of situation, but it would not be the last. Some don’t expect sex on first date, but of course, some do. It stems from this new attitude toward relationships and sex, where pretty much everything is casual until it isn’t. There is a certain expectation that comes from meeting someone for the first time and it has filtered from the dating apps on our phones into real life situations, where you meet a person for the first time in a bar, share a cheeky kiss on the dance floor and then the expectation to go home with them is pretty much a given. Of course, some just want to hook up and there isn’t a problem with that. We are part of a sexual revolution that isn’t as judgemental as ones before us.
But you can’t read minds. You don’t know if that seemingly nice Tinder match wants to actually get to know about you and your hobbies, or if sex is the only subject they’re actually interested in. Being straight forward and saying ‘I’m not in this just for sex’ is one alternative but it isn’t really a realistic one. Discussing our reasons behind going on a date is not something a lot of our generation tend to do. We are too ‘cool’ to actually communicate what we want when we first meet someone, in fear of looking like absolute weirdoes.
This feeling of guilt derived from not fulfilling someone’s expectation and giving this guy the wrong message could have come from a number of things, but I began to wonder if it was all because of the dating app we had used to communicate. I’m not saying dating apps are entirely negative (I’ve used Tinder since and have met some ace people from it) but they have certainly changed the way we act toward people we date. Dating apps definitely have provided us with an easier solution to finding a partner and it has given us so many more chances to meet others when our relationship statuses are looking rather bleak. It also opens up a world of opportunities for us to connect with one another when we might not have been able to in other ways; maybe you would feel too shy to approach someone or perhaps you just don’t get out that much. But there is no denying that they have definitely altered our attitudes – it’s easy to ignore someone you matched with, it’s easy to cancel at the last minute and it’s easy to put someone on the shelf, whilst you browse other potential partners. It is also easy to make assumptions about what the other person wants, judging by their choice to go on a dating app.
The more I came to think about it (and this was quite a long time ago now, so I’ve had a lot of time), the more I came to the obvious realisation that I had absolutely no reason to feel guilty. But it still bothered me and in an annoying way, it still does. Maybe he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend and purely just wanted easy sex from some girl he met on a dating app but I didn’t really want a boyfriend either. Just because I don’t want to have sex on first date does not mean I want them to be my boyfriend. His comment that the only reason I wasn’t sleeping with him was so that he would be intrigued enough to see me again was the thing that struck me the most. Did he honestly believe that I was playing some sort of sexual game to manipulate him into seeing me again? Did he not come to the conclusion that maybe I just didn’t want to have sex with him? Depressingly, I can believe this – but that also comes from this attitude that we have to play a dating game constantly to get what we want.
Does anyone really have time for that? Nope. Bye. Next.
It really is as simple as this: no one is entitled to my body. No one should be allowed to put pressure on me. No one should make me feel bad for ‘disappointing’ them. We need to learn that we should not expect sex from anyone, be it a man or a woman. We should not feel pressured to take part in something that we may not want to do, just so we don’t get the reputation of being a tease or a prude. We should not be made to feel stupid or that there is something wrong with us just because we don’t put out to some handsome douche-bag we met on a dating app installed on our iPhone 6s.
But every story needs an ending and amazingly, mine has one. About a month ago, I was on a way to a club with my friends. We were being silly and singing, barely paying attention to anyone else around us, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Hey,” an American drawl said “I know you.” I glanced around and behold, it was him; the artist with the cool looking hair that I had disappointed by not sleeping with him. “We went on a date once, right?” he said and I did the only thing I could do to get him back for making me feel so bad. I looked him right in the eyes, cocked my head to one side in an ‘I’m trying to remember who you are’ fashion and said “did we?” And instead of feeling guilty about it, I hoped he felt just as disappointed this time as he did last time. Just for an entirely different reason.