I’ve been meaning to write this post (and a bunch of other posts) for ages. About two years ago now, not long after I first started using a couple of online dating sites, and just before the first time that I did work experience at a vet practice, a guy started messaging me. He’d recently moved from Cape Town to Edinburgh and was looking to make new friends. We chatted through the site for 2 or 3 months, and also chatted on the phone and video chatted once through skype (neither of which were easy for me!) before we finally decided to meet as friends. He was aware of my social anxiety and seemed to understand some of it, though certainly not everything. I was very reluctant to meet him, as I had never met up with anyone I’d met online before, and was particularly wary about meeting someone off an online dating site. Nonetheless, I agreed to meet him at my uni. My anxiety was so bad that I was completely mute and couldn’t even make eye contact with him at first. It was so bad that we had to resort to messaging each other through our phones despite being right next to each other. I did eventually manage to speak, though I was still extremely anxious.
As we were leaving, he pretty much forced me to hug him. This was even though I repeatedly told him I didn’t want to because it made me feel anxious/ uncomfortable, and actually backed away from him. But he hugged me anyway. As we were by this time standing just outside the main entrance to the building, this caused me extreme anxiety, as I felt that people were laughing at me for backing away from him. I kind of just froze.
We met up a couple more times, in Princes Street. The first time was at a coffee shop. I couldn’t even drink what I’d ordered in front of him because I was so incredibly anxious (both about being in a crowded coffee shop and having him observe me trying to drink it). He seemed somewhat understanding but also rather annoyed as well. It was on this occasion that I first realised he had a serious problem with cannabis. (I know you can’t get addicted to it in the same way as nicotine, heroin, cocaine, and so on, but he was very psychologically addicted to it). He’d talked about it before, but I thought it was something he used occasionally, not that it was something he did as often as possible. I think he was high every time that we met (which was always in public). On another occasion, we went to the Christmas market and he started talking about random nonsense such as three supposedly Mexican pigeons he had spotted, who had supposedly come to Edinburgh to sample the German beer at the market, but didn’t go to Germany because they couldn’t speak German. This randomness was somewhat amusing at first, but it soon became quite tiresome, as I just wanted to have a normal conversation. He clearly had the munchies and must’ve eaten about third of his own body weight in food from the market.
On another ocassion, we went in one of those rollercoaster simulators, and I ended up nearly having a panic attack due to how anxious and uncomfortable being in an enclosed space with him made me feel. I don’t think he realised how anxious I was on that ocassion. He kept encouraging me to try weed (seriously, what is it with people wanting to get me high?), saying that it could help my anxiety (not likely, if the SA forums are anything to go by). Obviously, I didn’t.
I don’t know if it was the weed or if he was just very perceptive, but he noticed things about my habits/ mannerisms that I don’t think other people would realise, such as the fact that I use clothes primarily to hide in/ hide my body. Some of these perceptions kind of freaked me out a bit/ made me even more uncomfortable around him. I’m usually very good at reading people, but it was very difficult to do this with him, again, probably because the fact that he always seemed to be high was throwing me off. Before I realised it was because he was always high, I found it mildly intriguing, as I don’t think I’ve ever drawn a blank when trying to read another person before. Once I realised, however, it just made me trust him less and less, and feel more and more fearful/ uncomfortable around him.
After we’d met up a few times, he told me that he liked me as more than just a friend. Yet soon after that, on multiple occasions, he cancelled plans for us to meet up in order to get high and play video games all weekend, and also continued to use online dating sites. The fact that he kept cancelling plans upset me quite a lot, as when someone cancels plans to do something with me, I automatically think it’s because they hate me/ I’m a totally unlikeable person who deserves to be rejected. He asked me increasingly personal/ inappropriate questions, such as whether or not I shave my legs, and if my SA means that I’m sexually frustrated (trust me, there are far worse things about having social anxiety disorder than sexual frustration). He also asked if I’d ever been sexually assaulted/ harassed, and mentioned rape far too often for my liking/ enough to worry me. I didn’t feel safe around him at all. And I couldn’t trust him as far as I could’ve thrown him. He didn’t really support me at all when I was depressed, and it seemed that he’d often ignore me/ not want to talk to me.
A while after the last time we met up, he invited me round to his place to “watch a movie” (all of the films he suggested were 18+ rated by the way), and became very annoyed when I declined. It seemed that he just wanted to use me and didn’t care about me or my boundaries/ my anxiety/ my feelings in the slightest. I think he just wanted to take advantage of the fact that I don’t exactly have people queuing up to date me, and of my social naivety (though I still don’t think I’m anywhere near as naïve as he seemed to think I was). When I called him out on this and said that I believed he was just using me, he once again became angry and stopped talking to me after that.
Even now, I still don’t really know what to think of the whole episode other than that he was an ass. Maybe people think that I’m making a big deal out of nothing, especially around his cannabis use. It’s not that I think people who use drugs are bad people, though it’s not something I’d want to do myself, and I couldn’t date someone who used illicit drugs, except perhaps someone who had used cannabis once or twice in their life and then never again. If someone uses any substance as frequently as he did, and walk around stoned in public, they clearly have a problem. He said that before he came to Edinburgh, he’d spent a year doing very little besides sitting on his mum’s sofa, getting high on a daily basis. Whenever I asked why he felt the need to get high so often, he never gave me an answer. He never seemed to reveal anything about himself.
I’ve noticed that for some bizarre reason, I sometimes can’t tell whether I’m attracted to someone or terrified of them/ really uncomfortable around them (and this actually led, briefly, to some confusion about my sexuality during my adolescence), and this was also the case with this guy. I wasn’t attracted to him; I was afraid of him and uncomfortable around him. When he told me that he liked me as more than just a friend, he asked me something like “Do you have butterflies?” I didn’t. At all. I can’t love or even like someone who I can’t trust and who doesn’t care about me. I suppose you’re probably wondering why I kept talking to this guy for so long if I didn’t like him and he seemed to be using me? The answer is that I was so lonely at the time, and valued myself so little at the time. Quite frankly, I’d rather stay single than go out with someone who just wants to use me. The whole experience has only made me more distrustful/ cynical when it comes to men, and it has made me reluctant to try online dating again, even though it’s probably my only chance of ever being in a relationship. The fact that this guy seemed interested in me did not improve my self-esteem at all. If anything, it only worsened it, because the very few guys who have shown an interest in me throughout my life have all seemed to just be desperate/ want to take advantage of me, rather than actually liking me/ finding me attractive. It just made me feel even more worthless and vulnerable. I felt vulnerable and ashamed just writing parts of this post. I hope I can eventually find someone who truly cares about me, will open up to me, and won’t try to force me into anything.