The Build-Up (Narcissistic Exes Part 2)
This post has taken me a while to write, because to be honest even remembering some of the events that happened, even a year later, makes me angry. But I do think I'll regret not at least reflecting on what happened (and warning other prospective online daters).
As we left off, Nic had texted me after the parking lot kiss with a invite for a third date. He proposed curling, and we had a moment of confusion where I thought he was referring to working out aka bicep curling. He said he'd look into it, and I took the night to think over whether I wanted to see him again.
When I woke up in the morning, something had mentally shifted in my mind. Despite the repulsion at the kiss I felt the night before, I was suddenly excited and eager to see him again. Even more amazingly, my first ex was no longer on my mind. It was as if the kiss had erased him from it - certainly I still felt sad at times, but the deep heart ache was undeniably gone.
Nic asked me whether I wanted to meet Fri or Sat, and since I'd planned an outing to go out with some of the recent girl friends I'd met from a Facebook group that Fri, I told him Sat. That Sat, another guy, let's call him J, also asked me to go on a third date in the morning to the local NC History and Science museum.
Sat finally came, and unfortunately I went a little overboard with the drinks on Fri and woke up barely functioning on Sat. I'd arranged to meet J at his townhome on Sat morning, so reluctantly I drove over. It was clear I wasn't looking forward to this portion of the date, and the hungover feeling certainly didn't help. I was bored the entirety of the date as we looked at the rather unimpressive displays at both museums. J cracked borderline mediocre jokes and told me he liked war movies, which didn't really jibe with my own interests.
We ended up going out to eat as well at a place called Raleigh Times (a place I'd gone to on my first ever Bumble date, but I pretended like it was new to me), and I recall texting the two girls I'd hung out with the night before complaining about how long the date was going. They told me to hurry up and end it as I had to get ready for Nic that night, and I recall giving J an awkward and rushed hug goodbye once we got back and then changed for the evening date.
There had been some back and forth earlier in the week about the date. As mentioned, Nic had originally suggested curling, but it seemed the spots were closed. To my surprise, he then asked if I wanted to come over to his apartment. I thought that was a little forward, and initially agreed but then backed up and asked if he wanted to do a drink near him instead. His response was very forward - he asked if I was nervous about coming to his apartment and worried about being alone with him. He said that he wouldn't do anything I'm not comfortable with and that we could just spend the evening playing Mario and games. He also sent me a photo of his ankle, which was swollen at the time from him tripping on it during a kickboxing class.
I could see he was genuine, although in the back of my mind I was a little unsure what to think of his almost overly forward nature. His texting style was this strange combination of extremely formal (think always full sentences and correct capitalization / punctuation, including periods) combined with this weirdly direct tone. It was also rather infrequent, although we weren't texting enough at the time for me to notice much. The other thing he texted me that day was instructions for me to eat ahead of time, as he claimed he would have loved to cook for me but that he couldn't stand too long on his ankle. But that I was welcome to his frozen veggies if I wanted. It felt like a dressed up excuse to just not have to provide food for me (and being too lazy too cook), but given it was date 3 and I didn't particularly want to eat during our date either I didn't dwell long on it.
I ended up agreeing to the date in his apartment, but only after some extensive Googling to ensure there was nothing strange I was potentially walking into (basically just found his address history). I ended up arriving there that evening, and immediately felt an air of awkwardness when I walked into the room. I was however impressed with the apartment - it was only a one bedroom, but inside a fairly nice and new complex (he mentioned he was the first ever resident in the complex and had lived there 2 years previously). It was decorated in a modern, tasteful fashion with lots of colorful art and gray minimalistic colors.
We spent the first couple hours alternating on games, and it was then I realized I neither really enjoyed games nor was very good at them. He had quite the collection so we played Scrabble, Bananagrams, and later tried Mario party on his Nintendo Switch. I was still reeling a bit from the night before and the tiring events of the day, so that didn't help with my overall lethargy. And even though I'd originally been reluctant to meet in his apartment in order to manage expectations, I had started to secretly hope he would try to make a move. After all, I realized I was attracted to him and maybe was starting to like him more than I originally thought. I was still wary of him being a playboy, but that in a way made him more appealing in terms of fundamental attractiveness.
Finally, past 11PM and after an hour of hoarders in which we finally cuddled and did something more than just platonic, I indicated it was late and he said "Leaving?" before swooping down for a kiss. It ended up being much more than that, and we ended up fully making out. I was impressed with his physicality (keep in mind I'd only been with my ex at this point).
At one point we ended up on his bed (though didn't do much beyond making out), and I asked him a question on how many other women may have been in the bed with him. His response was "you're the first person who's been here in over a year" which later I found to be a bit of a half truth.
Following this date, I realized I really liked him and a trigger went off in me where I started to see him as a true long term prospect for dating. He seemed to have his life together, he was smart, he was handsome, and he seemed genuinely interested in a relationship rather than just playing around.
Over the next few weeks, we met several more times. During the 4th date, I came over to work with him during the day. There was definitely a feeling of awkwardness, but I originally thought it was fine as it stemmed from me liking him and being nervous around him. But after that date, he wrote a text citing that he felt there was an "invisible curtain of awkwardness" between us, which again felt like another too-direct text comment. Sure I'd felt that, but surely that was something normal for an early date and also it was weird to directly point that out, especially over text almost as a half veiled accusation. But we proceeded, and he cooked for me (risotto) during a future date.
We then started doing dates at my house, and eventually he met my mom. He noted how I open up and chat more naturally at night, and during one cuddling session at night mentioned that "yes this would work" as if he'd contemplated it not. He brought up the awkwardness as well during this point, which again seemed premature and also almost accusatory to me, as if it was a huge unapproachable flaw vs just a natural stage of getting to know one another (especially as I'm someone who takes a while to open up to people). It was always prefaced as a version of "this isn't a reflection on you" but it would take an accusatory spin.
Regardless, we ended up happily dating for the next couple months, until the next set of issues started.