That Night

Last year, tired of feeling unwanted, worthless, and alone, I did what many of my college peers do. I decided to give Tinder a chance.

At first, I just used it for the attention I so badly craved. I swore to myself I’d never meet up with someone I matched with, that it was just too much and not at all what I wanted. Most guys I matched with would stick around for a bit, trying to convince me to meet up, until they inevitably gave up and moved on.

But then I matched with John*, and he seemed different.

He mentioned something about meeting up, but when I told him I don't do that he just continued with the conversation. We ended up talking for about 3 or 4 weeks about everything. He’d ask me about my day and we’d have an actual conversation about life. I felt like I had found a new friend if anything. As we slowly got to know each other I found out he was a senior at UNCW and even had a sister in a sorority.

It sounded perfect. Harmless. Nothing could go wrong.

So, after a glass of wine and a little encouragement from my entire suite I decided to invite him over one night.

We hung out and nothing he did alarmed me. If anything, I only grew fonder of him. We watched The Office and ate some popcorn I made for us. It was like meeting up with an old friend and I couldn’t have been happier. To be honest, it felt right. It felt like a dream.

I kissed him when he left and for the next 2 weeks I imagined what cover story I was going to have to use when I introduced him to my friends. A bit farfetched? Maybe a little, but again, everything felt perfect.

We kept talking and the next weekend he invited me over to his place. I couldn’t say it enough; Everything was perfect. Or so I thought.

That night, I went over to his place and instantly he started pushing me too far. I protested and told him I wasn’t comfortable, and at first, he acted like he understood and respected my decision.

But then he began making comments. He made me feel guilty for drawing a line, then he started using things I had told him in confidence against me. I felt humiliated and, once again, worthless. John was supposed to be the solution to these feelings but they crept up once again.

So, I gave in.

I left that night feeling really, really empty. I don’t even know how to explain it. Life just felt surreal for a while.

When I got home that night my roommate asked me how everything was. I proceeded to lie to her and tell her everything was great but he was “kinda clingy” so I didn’t think I was going to see him again.

She was one of the first people to hear that lie. For the next 3 months, I told it so many times I began to believe it myself.

That night felt like a distant memory after a while but sometimes I would find myself thinking about it. Trying to figure out where I went wrong, where I could’ve prevented it, which was an easy answer. I blamed myself a lot.

How could I be so stupid? So naïve to believe I could’ve actually had a real relationship with a boy I met off Tinder. Of course, this happened, it’s an app primarily used for people to hook up. I should’ve known. I should’ve been smarter.

I started drinking excessively every weekend. It wasn’t uncommon for me to wake up and have to text a couple friends to piece together the story of what happened the night before. While it was embarrassing there was a little part of me that enjoyed it. For a little while, I really did forget about what happened. It wasn’t even lingering over me because I’d be too drunk to remember. I loved it. I quite literally lived for it.

After a while, I began to convince myself nothing happened. I mean something happened but it wasn’t a big deal. I mean, I agreed to it therefore everything was fine. I told myself I couldn’t have this mindset that something happened just because he didn’t text me back within the couple days that followed.

I fooled myself. I really did convince myself and just continued on with my life.

It wasn’t until one night I was talking with one of my good friends about life when she started talking about how an ex-boyfriend of hers would manipulate her into doing things she never really wanted to do. I just sat there and listened and realized. That’s what happened to me.

She was the first person I confided in about that night. When I began trying to convince her that I did agree to it, like I had convinced myself, she stopped me.

“If he had to convince you or guilt trip you, it wasn’t consensual.”

I tried to argue with her but after a while, I couldn’t. Because she was right.

I ended up confiding in a couple of my close friends and with their love and support, I was able to realize what John did wasn’t okay.

That night occasionally comes back in flashes, but that’s okay. I’ve realized there are some really messed up people out there and while I wish it never happened, I can only hope others can learn from my story because, sadly, it isn’t as uncommon as one may think.

 

*This name has been altered.