Some dates good; most dates bad. In ELLE.com’s Dates of Wrath column, anonymous daters share true stories of their very worst rendezvous. This week: FOUR locations, three girls, two friends, and one strip club.
It was one of my first Tinder dates, so I wasn’t as hardened as I am now. Also, I was like 22 or 23, so I hadn’t really nailed the art of dating yet.
He was handsome almost in a scary way. You know when somebody’s just perfect looking? When Tinder first came out, it was pitched as photo-based. At the time, I didn’t have a good sense of how you comb through people’s profiles for clues into their personalities. So I would just swipe right on people because they were pretty. I don’t do that anymore. The whole science of screening people on Tinder is an art in and of itself.
He struck me as a little bit of a sociopath. He had a very cold affectation, and he seemed to take pleasure in making me uncomfortable. He kept asking me if I was “drunky,” with a Y at the end, which just is so demeaning. We went to three bars. I really wasn’t into this person, but somehow I didn’t leave. I have no explanation for why I didn’t leave, other than the fact that I was kind of young. It’s not that I was afraid of offending this person, but I definitely had more trouble getting out of situations I didn’t want to be in than I do now.
I’ve always been good at holding my alcohol. I’m good at exuding a sober demeanor, even when I’m not sober. He kept buying me drinks; at a certain point, I had had so many, and was so drunk.
At one point it came up that I’d never been to a strip club before. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them; it’s just not something I necessarily envisioned doing on a Tinder date with a stranger who made me uncomfortable.
We’d been playing darts or whatever. At some point, he abandoned me for 45 minutes to go talk to two women who looked like they were on a date, on the other side of the bar. I didn’t know whether I should follow him or stay, so I’d kind of been sitting by myself. At some point, the girls waved me over, because girls are awesome and dudes are psychopaths.
Then, he came up with the idea of going to a fourth location.
It was gonna be a surprise. I’m not an idiot, and I kept being like, “Really, where are we going?” And he was like, “You’ll see.” He was calling a cab, so I texted one of my friends, being like, “Haha, guys. If you don’t hear from me in an hour or two, this is where I am right now.” Not that I thought he would murder me, but I definitely didn’t feel safe with this person.
We pulled up to a strip club, at which point the cab driver started laughing. My date got out of the car first. The cab driver said, “I have no idea why this guy is taking you here.” That’s when I said, “Okay, listen. We’re gonna go in here for 45 minutes. While we’re in here, you’re gonna pay for everything, and then when we get out, you’re gonna put me in a cab and pay for my ride home.” He was like, “Alright. Fine.”
So we went into the strip club. This guy seemed to know everybody in there, including the bouncer. He seemed to be kind of a regular, which didn’t exactly sit well with me. I was the only woman in there other than the bartender and the strippers. I have no issues with strip clubs—I just felt like this person was trying to one-up me, actively looking for things that might make me uncomfortable, and was excited by that.
The strippers were lovely; they made me feel very comfortable. They spent as much time as they could paying attention to me. At one point, one of them was shaking her butt in front of me, and he put a dollar bill in her underwear. The stripper turned and snapped at him, like, “That was for her, not for you.”
After 45 minutes, he did keep his promise—we got back into a cab. He tried to kiss me, and I didn’t move my mouth because I was so shocked and not into it. We pulled up to my apartment, and I never saw him again. The next day, he texted me, “Did you tell your boss you made it rain last night?” I forget if I answered or not.
The follow-up to this story is that, I have a friend who likes to Tinder for me. We were sitting in the park eating rice pudding, and she was swiping, and this guy popped up. It was the exact same photo, and my blood went cold. I could barely get the words out. I was like, “No, don’t.” She was like, “What the hell are you talking about?” I said, “You have to swipe left on that person. I’ll explain once you swipe left.”
I haven’t gone on any really awful Tinder dates since my early twenties. I don’t know. Either my screening got better, or I just got better at leaving. But with this date…I think it’s always been a flaw in my personality that if I feel uncomfortable, I won’t admit it to myself. Because this person wanted to see me sweat, I kept trying to keep him from seeing me sweat, by being the chillest, most comfortable person he would meet. Whereas I should have just been like, “No. I’m not going to a second bar with you. I’m not going to the third bar with you. I’m not going to a strip club with you.” Now, if I don’t connect with somebody, I’m like, “Bye.”
One of my friends loves this story. She’s told it to more people than I have. That’s the only good thing to come out of my awful dates—they bring a lot of joy to my friends. So if I could go back in time and undo it, I probably wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to take that away from them.