On My Arch Nemesis [UnHinged]

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and wrote a long story about my worst date ever. The idea was that I didn’t know it was a date and thought the boy had a girlfriend, but it turned out he had broken up with her the week earlier. He ended up putting his arm around me, asking me personal questions and getting hostile when I told him I wanted to leave.

When I put the event that way, it’s a bit understandable as to why I would mark it as a ‘worst date ever’. However reading the essay back made me feel like I was overexaggerating, that this event that still made me uncomfortable seven months later was no big deal, and that I was making it out to be something larger than it was. I was complaining about him insisting on driving me instead of driving separately, him walking up to my front door instead of texting me, and asking me personal get-to-know-you questions. At the time it all felt extremely uncomfortable, but once I put it down in writing, it seemed like the exact things you would expect a boy to do for you.

I texted Naia once I got done rereading the story. I was having a little bit of a crisis, feeling like my discomfort wasn’t validated. Naia and I talked a lot about boys back home while having our last dinner in Madrid. Since we both love to write, we agreed that one day we would publish a book called “Boys and Their Respective (D)Icks” about the cringiest things boys had done. Naia is one of the most logical and knowledgeable people I know, and if anyone could give me a straight answer on something, it would be her.

I sent, “If a guy asked you personal get-to-know-you questions on a first date, what would you think?”

Obviously, it was extremely out of context, as I didn’t tell her that I wasn’t aware it was a first date. I didn’t tell her the methodical and machine-like questions he was asking such as, “tell me your life story in two minutes”, “describe your childhood in one word”, “what does your perfect day look like?”

Naia responded, “A guy asking questions about me on the first date instead of talking about himself? A godsend.”

With that singular text, I was sent into an existential crisis. I now didn’t understand why this interaction that happened at the beginning of the summer had me swearing off boys for the next five months. On the first day of school, I was sitting in the library and looked up to see the boy, James, sitting at the table next to me. It physically made my stomach churn, and I buried my head deeper into my computer hoping he wouldn’t see me. Despite me telling James on the ride home from the date how uncomfortable he made me, how I thought he had a girlfriend, and telling him I didn’t want to hang out anymore, he still didn’t get it. He texted me almost every month to “check in” no matter how many times I left him on opened. I knew that in the library, he would think I would want to see him, that there would be no reason for him not to come up to my table, sit down, and talk to me about my time in Madrid.

Then yesterday, I was walking around campus when I ran into James’ best friend, Sebastian. For a bit of background, my friend Blakely is friends with Sebastian. Blakely was talking to Sebastian about me over the summer, and it turned out James and I were spending the summer in the same city, so Blakely gave James my number as neither of us knew anyone else in the city. Blakely and I didn’t really know James, we had just interacted with him a few times before, and knew he was super nice and outgoing. All the previous times we had run into him during meetings for the Student Government, he was hand-in-hand with his girlfriend. Blakely apologized profusely once I told her the story of what happened once I returned home that night.

I didn’t want to run into Sebastian, whom I didn’t know that well. I didn’t know what kind of twisted story James had told Sebastian about what had happened that day in May when we were supposed to just be taking a hike as friends. I looked straight ahead and kept walking, but Sebastian stopped me. 

He told me he wanted to be clear he wasn’t friends with James anymore. That James had been acting really weird after he broke up with his girlfriend. He told me Blakely had alluded to what happened between James and me and said he had done it with a lot of other girls as well no matter how many times Sebastian told him it wasn’t right. His exact words were, “I told him he couldn’t force girls onto dates with him by tricking them, but he didn’t listen to me.”

That was the idea that I couldn’t fully get across when I wrote the story the first time. Maybe these actions, on the surface, seemed like chivalry but in this reality, they were extremely invasive and forced. Every time I told him I could drive myself, he would ask for my address again. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, so I agreed. When he came up to my door, he looked through the small window on top of the door and saw me sitting in my living room. When I told him I wasn’t going to answer the personal questions he was asking me as we quite literally didn’t know each other, he laughed at me and told me I needed to learn to open up more and pushed me to answer. When I told him I wanted to leave, he didn’t even budge until I opened up the Uber app on my phone and told him I could get my own ride home.

It wasn’t the first time I experienced a boy not believing that my opinions or feelings were as valid as theirs, but it seemed to be the most significant time. In previous years these occurrences would happen in classrooms where we would argue over the validity of a fact that had a right and wrong answer. It would happen on the sports pitch when a guy wouldn’t believe you were good at a sport until you dribbled past them. It had never happened to me in terms of dating before though. 

It’s one thing to disregard someone’s knowledge or athletic ability and a whole other thing to disregard the thing that makes us human, your sense of identity and wants and needs. I had told him I didn’t want to be involved in the questions and I didn’t want to see him again, but he decided to make the decision that I didn’t truly know what I wanted. He was the one who knew what I wanted, even though we had never said more than five words to each other before that day.

In that moment, I knew what it felt like to have my girlhood absolutely stripped from me. 

Yours truly,



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