A few months ago on a windy night I went out to dinner with a young man in my roommate’s hot pink date dress. He was leaving for London and we, who hadn’t spoken much since our freshman year friendship, were catching up before his big goodbye. My confusion over whether or not dinner was a date ended when our meal did—before it began. We met up late and the restaurant we had in mind was closed so we wandered back to our friend’s apartment to hang out with a group of people I hadn’t seen in semesters. I was ready to leave the room after watching part of a corny Netflix movie about evil piranhas so when my phone lit up with a message from the guy I had barely started talking to, I excused myself.
About an hour later I was sitting on the top level of Airline garage with a chocolate frosty-haired young man and a smug feeling of date-night redemption. He seemed intelligent, easy-going, friendly and had the right amount of quirkiness. As we looked out over campus and the Dallas skyline, I peered over the side of the building at the ledge a few feet beneath us and the drop that followed. “I bet you can’t stand on that outer ledge there,” I said, flashing my eyes at the sidewalk below. I was taunting him. Suddenly the wind sent the chiffon skirt of my dress flying upward and I quickly attempted to gather it against my thighs. “Wow,” I said laughing, “It’s only the first date and you’ve already seen my underwear.” As I turned my head to the sound of his laugh, he was making his way over the side and onto the ledge. “No don’t do that!” I said in shock. It was too late; he was on the other side of the building resting his arms on the wall between us. I stepped towards him and looked at the cocky smile written across his face. I guess I had to kiss him now. I leaned over the other side of the wall, and though he was the one standing about 60 feet off the ground, I couldn’t have felt higher.
It wasn’t long before it all came crashing down. I knew this guy had a bit of a reputation but after a multitude of warnings form various people, it struck me. I had gone on a date with Mr. Manwhore. Every time I saw him thereafter, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that he wanted to make another one of his conquests out of my head. The solution was to hold off on hooking up. This and my own paranoia is what caused our fling to fizzle two weeks later. It was months before we saw each other again.
Suddenly, he was back in my life and across the table from me at a Japanese restaurant wearing the same cocky smile. He worked through my fear of being another notch, but things didn’t end there. Weeks after we had started dating I was still bothered by his past. Every time his name came in to conversation, it was followed by remarks about his reputation or how I was going to be categorized with the people that helped him get it. He was a good boyfriend to me, but was it worth the possibility of his name rubbing off on mine? And then I thought, maybe the double standard isn’t as one-sided as we think it is.
Women like men who can get other women, but when is it too much? I liked knowing he had the ability, but wasn’t crazy about seeing women who had fallen subject to it whenever I went out. It bothered me that he didn’t seem to have more respect for sex. It bothered me that every time I told someone I was dating him I was only discouraged. But mostly it bothered me that I liked him so much and couldn’t tell if this all was a legitimate reason to end it. Was that guy standing on the other side of the building just a smooth operator or the sincere gentleman I thought he was?
I would like to think that it’s as easy as, “Well if you like him, then that’s all that matters” or, “So if you’re already having doubts, why bother?” but when it comes to relationships, things are never so black-and-white. Then I wondered, what if his history doesn’t have as much to do with my indecision as I think it does? Was that all that was holding me back? You can date a guy that’s perfect on paper or one with a resume that’s scarier than a 60-foot drop onto a campus sidewalk. Either way, you run the risk of falling. Sure, it’s nerve-racking but in the end, you just have to decide if the kiss is worth it.
If it is, don’t take his history personally and be prepared to stick to your guns when people make remarks. If it isn’t, be sure of your choice or you’ll be stuck wondering if you should try to make it work. Keep in mind people have reputations for a reason so watch your back but don’t withhold trust unreasonably, just take it slow. When it comes down to it, you’re going to go with what makes you happy so don’t be afraid to forget about the expectations; sometimes you just need to do the unexpected.
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