First Date Fail – The Masterbator

During the winter of 2014 through 2015 I went on a sort of dating binge where I pretty much went on a date with any man that showed any interest (via online dating). I was in the process of healing from the breakup that occurred at the end of 2014 and was still learning my self-worth and value. I was still learning that even though I have a physical disability I still have every right to have standards. For quite a while I felt that if a man was willing to give me a chance despite my disability then I must give him a chance as well even if I felt no sense of attraction to him.

Needless to say, this led to many one and done dates and a few men that I saw a couple times. When I say “one and done,” I only mean we only had one date and never saw each other again. I’ve never really had the confidence nor the desire to have one night stands. But if that is your thing, more power to you – no judgment here.

Thus, I ended up going on a date with this man that turned out to be the worst and most ridiculous date I have ever experienced. Whenever I dated online or met men from dating sites, I would always speak to them for several days if not several weeks. I did this for many reasons. I wanted the men to get to know me as a person – specifically my sparkingly awesome personality, before they judged me on my physical disability. I hoped this would help them to see me as more than my disability. Also, I wanted to try to weed out those psychos that can be dangerous. Regardless, whenever you are dating online and meeting for the first few times I would highly, highly encourage always meeting in very public places.

So I had been talking to this man for a while, let’s call him Tim because I honestly cannot remember his name. But I do remember almost every detail of that date. Tim and I had been exchanging messages on OkCupid for at least a month and he had brought up meeting up several times. I knew I didn’t like him but figured I kind of owed it to him to meet up with him since he had taken the time to message with me for a month. The fact that I had delayed meeting him for this long should have been a red flag – and here we go again with red flags and me not listening to my instincts yet.

We first met at a restaurant in a town center that had many restaurants and a movie theater (very crowded and public). I had agreed to drinks and maybe a movie with him. There were so many warning flags from the very beginning of this date that had I excused myself early on then perhaps I could’ve avoided the second half of the date. So there we were in this restaurant sitting in a booth and I already feel awkward, as I often did on first dates. When the waiter came to take our order I stuck to water even though Tim offered for me to get anything on the menu. I knew in my gut I wouldn’t be seeing him again and so I did not want to take advantage of his generosity. As we began awkwardly talking while we were waiting for our drinks, he asked to see my hands. Since my hands are affected by my cerebral palsy, especially my right hand, this made me very uncomfortable. In fact, I usually keep my right hand hidden, generally speaking, and I certainly am not comfortable with most people touching my right hand.

As I put my hands on the table the dude grab both of them. It took everything inside of me not to immediately rip them away as I felt like this would have been pretty rude and I did not want to hurt his feelings. But really. I just met you like five minutes ago and you are seriously trying to hold my hands. I finally extracted my hands from him after several minutes and did not put them back on the table for the rest of the time that we were in the restaurant, which was only about 20 minutes. I found out as we were sitting in the restaurant that he had already bought the tickets for the movie (Charlie St. Cloud). This was another reason why I couldn’t make myself leave the date early. He had already spent money on our tickets and I would’ve felt guilty. So I forced myself to go with him to the movie theater.

I encouraged us to go and sit in the movie theater until the movie started even though we would be very early – like 30 minutes early. I wanted a reason for him to stop trying to hold my hands. However, I clearly did not think this plan through very well because obviously you are sitting right next to each other in a movie theater. So now he had even more access to easily touch me. Just great. We decided to sit in the very back row of the theater.

As I had not predicted at that time, this guy tried to hold my hand, tried to put his hand on my legs, on my knees, and on my arm. I think he was trying to be affectionate but I will tell you right now – I am not affectionate with people that I have just met in person for the first time. First of all, I don’t really like to be touched by strangers because my body randomly spasms and twitches and it embarrasses me. Second, I don’t know you so please don’t touch me. As I scooted as far away from him as I could in my seat and crushed myself against the armrest to try to put as much space in between us as I could – I also brought one of my knees up to my chest as a sort of barrier. Finally I told him I was still recovering from an illness (cough, cough) and I did not want to touch him because I did not want to spread germs. This was the most polite excuse I could come up with.

We were quiet for a few minutes as people slowly started to trickle in for the movie. Then I noticed he had put in his jacket over his lap. Next thing I know one of his hands is also under his jacket and now his jacket is moving in a rhythmic motion. At first I really couldn’t comprehend what was happening. But as his movements began to quicken and continue over the next minute or two I realized this guy was for real jacking off in the movie theater right beside me. What the fuck. This was it, I could not take it. I quickly excused myself to the bathroom. I stayed in the bathroom for about five minutes trying to give this dude enough time to finish whatever the hell it was he doing under that jacket before I returned.

The few friends with whom I have shared this story have all asked me why did I not just walk out then and there. Overall, I think I am too nice. Or at least at that time I was. He had paid for my ticket and while what he did was disgusting and pretty disrespectful, I would’ve felt guilty for leaving him there by himself. I have been randomly left during a date without any warning and it was the one of the worst feelings in the world. Also, as I was hiding in the bathroom I was quickly assessing how or why this could be happening. Was this guy just a pervert? He genuinely seemed like a nice guy otherwise. So I came to the conclusion or made an assumption that there must be something else going on with this guy.

Although my blogs focus mainly on physical disabilities and impairments, a lot of people have impairments that cannot be seen by the naked eye. These can include cognitive/developmental impairments, social impairments, or mental health illnesses – just to name a few. But these impairments that cannot be seen can negatively impact people’s lives just as much as physical disabilities and impairments. For this guy in particular, he appeared to have some social impairments that precluded him from understanding appropriate social boundaries and behaviors. This was just my personal and educational opinion based on my knowledge of mental health. At least this is the benefit of the doubt that I gave him because otherwise this guy was in fact just a pervert – but I really don’t think that was the case.

I went back to the movie and sat next to him. His jacket was still covering his lap but his hands were now resting on top of his lap. He did try to hold my hand a few more times for which I did not allow, but otherwise the rest of the movie went by without incident. When we finally said goodbye I gave him an awkward wave as opposed to a hug or any kind of physical contact because, as nice as I am – come on. Even I have my limits and ew. I did thank him for the movie and wished him a good night. He tried asking me out again a few months later. I don’t know if he forgot that we had already gone out or what but I definitely did not say yes this time.

I know we all have bad dates’ stories but that was my whopper. It taught me that I can say no to men asking me on dates and that even though I have a disability I deserve to also have standards and expectations to be met.

You have to respect yourself and know your self-worth before you can really find a potential partner. Otherwise, if you don’t allow yourself to have standards and expectations (and to know what these are for you) it is all of the more likely you may be taken advantage of. Lastly, you have every right to have boundaries and to enforce those boundaries

Happy Valentine’s Day! Until next time.

-Lorraine

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