Alone: A Love Story·Opinion

Why don't women walk away from a bad date? I'll tell you why

In the less-woke time of only a few years ago, I was like a lot of women. I didn't report the bad things that happened to me on dates. Or at work. Or in life in general.
'I was like a lot of women. I didn't report the bad things that happened to me on dates.' (Michelle Parise)

"The Bad Ones" is an excerpt from the podcast Alone: A Love Story by Michelle Parise.

I tell a lot of dating stories. Stories about wild nights in the wake of my marriage ending in 2012. 

There I was, 37 and single for the first time. Ever. Heartbroken over my husband's betrayal (a.k.a. The Bomb), I wandered into the confusing hookup landscape — dancing, drinking and stumbling home with strangers.

I make it sound fun when I tell these stories, but that's because I'm not telling you about The Bad Ones. Or even about how sometimes, the good ones can be bad.

In this story, I'm only telling you about the sweet and memorable ones. The good-in-bed ones. The ones that didn't hurt me, or scare me.

Almost all of this story was written as it was happening in 2012 and 2013. The time before the #MeToo Movement.

This is important. In that less-woke time of only a few years ago, I was like a lot of women. I didn't report the bad things that happened to me on dates. Or at work. Or in life in general, starting way back when I was a little girl.

It was just a normal part of life. A thing to get around or get past. A thing about being a woman in the world. Just, status quo.

So in the time after The Bomb, the time I'm telling you about, where I meet handsome young men and have wonderful and wild experiences … some of those experiences were not wonderful. They were not all easy.

I didn't write about The Bad Ones in my notebooks, where I always write everything. It's like I erased them the minute it was over and I was back on safe ground.

Sometimes, I didn't walk away from The Bad Ones. There are a million articles you can read now about why so many of us do that.

And still, even now, some of you wonder: Why don't women say anything? Why don't women just walk away when things are clearly getting bad? Why do women sit through a bad experience, and then text the guy "Thanks for the date" even after they were treated terribly? I'll tell you why.

I just figured there was no point.

Or, it was my fault for going on a date in the first place.

Or for being drunk in the first place.

Or for being single.

For being a woman who likes having sex. For being a woman with low self-esteem.

For being a woman whose husband had an affair and now here I was in some messed-up situation with some messed-up guy I just met, and phew, good thing I fought him and got out of it!

Good thing I thought of giving him fifty bucks so he would finally leave my apartment after I physically fought him to stop having sex with me — which he did — but then refused to leave, yelling at me for changing my mind, until I came up with the idea to give him money to get the hell out.

But report it?

Why would I report it?

Talk about it?

What would I say?

That another time I drank a lot and went to the home of a man I barely knew and then half way through he got crazy and not in a good way?

That he was one of the smartest, most interesting men I'd met after my marriage ended, but he was also the one that held me down with his arm across my neck.

He wouldn't stop, no matter how many times I yelled at him to get off me. It was like he was in a trance. He was a big man and I knew I'd be no match but eventually I said, so quietly in his ear, "I will fight you."

That worked, I don't know why.

But did I report it? No.

Did I write it down? No.

But I remember.

I remember that for some reason I sat there on his bed and talked with him for another half hour, about religion, soccer, true love and the concept of forever.

And then he walked me home and kissed me goodnight and this all seemed perfectly normal to me somehow. This all seemed to be just part of dating.

This is what it is to be a woman who goes on dates.

This is what is to be a woman who enjoys sex, and wants sex, but doesn't have the safety of one committed partner.

When this story takes place, I was resigned to a sad truth that to be a single, sexually active woman, meant sometimes things are great, and then here and there things get really bad.

And those times, I'd just suck it up and keep living and keep on dating and keep waiting for a unicorn to come along and be my boyfriend so I wouldn't have to roll the dice any more.

So I wouldn't have to take the chance that a handsome, smart, awesome guy I've been getting to know might hold his arm across my neck and say, "Not yet," every time I yell at him to get off me.

There are so many stories like that I could tell you, but so could we all.

Each one of us has a lifetime of stories. A lifetime of being chipped away at, and then if we speak up, being told not to be so serious or that we "can't take a joke."

If we speak up, then we have to sit and listen as our own experiences are explained back to us, handed over like corrected proofs.

In the less-woke time of only a few years ago, I was like a lot of women. I didn't report the bad things that happened to me on dates. Or at work. Or in life in general.

So we stay quiet. And then we're told we're complicit, it's our fault really.

So for now this is all I'm going to say about The Bad Ones.

The best thing we can do now is listen. Listen to the actual lived experience of women when they do try and say something about it.

Listen. Just shut up and listen.

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