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The Saga of a Toxic Relationship

Jo is a mom of two stereotypical loud chihuahuas and has no qualm calling out misogyny, racism, and xenophobia.

The Hunt

Dating apps scared me. They always had. I pictured young, hot, 20 something's, living the glamorous LA lifestyle, in search of the same. As a curvier girl (plus-size, fat, however you identify yourself as) I didn't fit the criteria. Every time I thought about downloading Tinder I'd have a mild panic attack.

What if someone actually wants to meet me? What if we meet and I'm fatter than what he thought I was going to be? What if I'm uglier? What if he is so disappointed he says something rude? What if I'm drugged? What if I'm raped? What if he invited me back to his place and I'm trapped there?

I could go on, but I'm sure the message is clear. Between my low self esteem and the True Crime scenarios going through my head, I never had the gall to create a profile...until it worked for someone I was close with. Betty had been talking to me about someone she met on the app for weeks and he had finally asked her to be his girlfriend. She seemed thrilled so I decided to give it a go.

I was genuinely looking for a relationship though, not just a "hook up", so I laid down some ground rules for myself. I had to post a full body pic, something I felt was flattering but represented me honestly. I didn't want to be misleading. No swiping right on men who were half naked or full naked. I wouldn't swipe right on men who showed off pictures of stacks of money, threw up the middle finger, or had no clear pictures of themselves (if I was going to be vulnerable so should they). I wouldn't message men back who only wanted to hook up, invited me to come over and chill within 5 minutes of talking, or asked for nudes. It goes without saying if anyone sent an explicit picture or message would automatically be disqualified.

So on I went. And I have to say. It was such an ego boost. People actually thought I was attractive. It was the first time I had received so much attention and I basked in it. I knew these men didn't care about me, but it was still nice to be wanted.

I spent about two months on the app before I came across Jean-Ralphio. And I literally mean, Jean-Ralphio, the annoying but hilarious best friend of Tom Haverford on Parks and Rec. He was my favorite character, from one of my favorite shows. Sure I didn't know what the man behind the profile looked like, but his bio was made up of Jean-Ralphio quotes, so I swiped right. We matched.

I learned his name, Mark. He was funny and cute and he had a dog. We spent about a month texting back and forth before invited me to come over. He lived with his father, but on this particular night he was going to be out and if I came over he'd cook dinner for us and we could watch a movie. A Disney movie at that, in the original VHS release. He had me at dinner. No one had ever cooked for me so I went.

I was a nervous wreck the drive there. North Hollywood to Silver lake. 20 plus minutes of anxiety. The same insecurities coming back full force. When I was finally outside of his home, I called him and met him at the drive way. He was as cute in person as he appeared in his pictures and his dog was equally as adorable. We hugged and he invited me. True to his word there was a meal almost fully cooked on his stove. He surprised me with a bottle of strawberry moonshine. We had shared crazy drunk stories, one of his involved moonshine, and I had told him if he ever came across it again I'd love to try it.

We ate, talked, drank moonshine, and drunkenly danced and sang along to our favorite songs. We eventually moved to his bedroom and I'm sure you can all connect the dots.

I left him early the next morning, rushed home, and then rushed to work. To my surprise he texted later that morning. A brief conversation later, we made plans to meet again the following day. My excitement was only contained because I was at work. I'm sure if I had been alone I would have squealed and danced around stupidly.

First Red Flag

I should have ended things when he proposed a threesome. I chalked it up to drunk ramblings, but that night stayed with me throughout our relationship.

My day had been incredibly difficult, I was tired and hungry, and wanted someone to comfort me. I called Mark, he invited me over and mentioned his friend Clara would be there. Having no problem with this, I made my way to his place and was greeted with a bottle of Johnnie Walker. Stacey and I chatted with Mark interjecting every once in a while. She told me how they met and became friends and how close their relationship was. I felt a pang of jealousy and wondered if they ever had a sexual relationship. Immediately feeling stupid and insecure, I took a shot of the whiskey they provided and enjoyed the conversation.

It wasn't long before I was feeling the effects of the alcohol and it was evident my two companions were in a similar position. Mark became extremely flirtatious and constantly had his hand on either one of us. I was suspicious of his actions but not sober enough to do anything about it. At one point he placed his hand in between Stacey's thighs, in what was supposed to be a joke, but she chastised him when he did it again.

"I"m so sorry. You let me know and I'll leave," she whispered to me. I told her to leave and as she was collecting her bag, Marks father walked in.

We tried to act sober, but I'm sure he noticed the bottle and my glazed eyes. He murmured something about watching TV and locked himself in his bedroom for the remainder of the night.

I followed suit and went to lie down on Marks bed. I wasn't used to whiskey and it proved to be too strong for me to handle. Stacey and Mark stayed in the living room but it wasn't long until I felt Mark's body next to mine.

"Stacey really likes you. She's down to mess around if you are too," I could have cried. I was so uncomfortable the only word I could get out was no. He kept pushing. "I saw you checking her out. It's okay. I'm down. It wouldn't be weird or anything," he continued.

Mark knew I was bisexual (this post is about my relationship with Mark so I won't go into details about my sexuality) and had made a joke about a threesome previously, but now it was all too real. I reiterated that I didn't want to. I'm sure my discomfort showed on my face. He held me for a minute and told me they were going to get food, making me promise that I wouldn't leave. As soon as he left I drifted off.

I'm not sure how long I slept, but I was woken up by Mark again. He and Stacey had gone out to buy tacos and brought me some. I declined, I just wanted to sleep.

I drifted again.

Mark came in again. Woke me up again. He handed me water and Advil. I thanked him and he made a remark about how much more fun it would have been if I was open to exploring. He laughed and climbed into bed.

© 2019 Johanna Sanchez


Johanna Sanchez (author) from NORTH HOLLYWOOD on August 18, 2019:

I suppose they have. I don't know that any 20 something year olds choose to live at home. It has more to do with what they can afford.

As for dating apps, I didn't perceive them as bad. They only reason they scared me was because I was insecure. I was petrified about what people would think about me. And of course the good old fashioned notion that I might potentially meet a murderer. Although, I think all women on dating apps share this fear.

Thank you, this is the first piece I've written. I figured if I wrote about it, I'd be able to move on. It's kinda working.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on August 18, 2019:

I suppose things have changed a lot since I was in my 20s.

I moved from Indiana to Orange County, CA when I was 21 and me my girlfriend at the time lived together. After that relationship ended I either had my own apartment or had a friend as a roommate.

Back then it was far more common for people in their 20s to have roommates sharing a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment as opposed to choosing to living with one's parents. Most women would have no interest in dating a guy who was not out on his own back then.

I agree you didn't say whether dating apps were good or bad. However you did say: "Dating apps scared me. They always had."

Most people are not scared of things they perceive to be "good".

Naturally this is (your story) to tell and you're excellent writer as I mentioned. Red flags are based on each individual's likes/dislikes.

Johanna Sanchez (author) from NORTH HOLLYWOOD on August 17, 2019:


I wouldn't consider an adult living at home a red flag, its becoming increasingly common for people in their 20's to still live at home.

I don't comment on whether dating apps are good or bad, I just shared my experience and reservations on using them.

I think I should have made it more clear, but that's why I titled this a Saga, this won't be just one article. I'm not sure how many actually, I just wanted to share my story.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on August 17, 2019:

Excellent writing!

The article was very visual as well.

My guess most women would have called it a "red flag" the minute they heard a grown (man) was living with his father! :)

It's not surprising that many people who meet online have sex the first time they get together. I suspect it's all the texting and talking which takes place prior to meeting up that creates a rapport and familiarity which takes away the notion that it really is a "first date"

Odds are if two people met online there is less of a chance they'd become intimate right away and most likely a woman wouldn't feel comfortable driving to meet a guy at his house. She probably would not have pangs of jealousy with a guy she was not in a "relationship" with.

Ultimately it's not whether online dating sites are good or bad.

Everyone (chooses) who they will engage with. The site is just a (tool) for meeting new people. We're all responsible for having our own mate selection/screening process and "must haves lists".

At this point in the story I wouldn't say you were in an actual relationship. It is more or less a "situationship" where two people are still in the "getting to know you" phase and there is NO (commitment). More often than not at this point both people still maintain active online profiles and are keeping their options open.

The mistake a lot of people make is they become emotionally invested in someone who they are not in an exclusive relationship with. If they find out the other person is dating or have sex with other people the first thing he or she will tell them is;

"We never said we were exclusive!"

This causes some people to try and make exclusive relationships with people they barely know because they themselves are not comfortable with dating multiple people. Truth be told they HATE the whole dating process and want to take themselves "off the market" ASAP. Rushing into relationships usually leads to regret.

If you were looking for a job you wouldn't send your resume to (one company) and wait around to see if they offered you the position before sending your resume to other companies. Both the company and the candidate would conduct interviews with others as they search for the right fit.

Without a commitment this is not considered cheating.

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