I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I’ll “find a nice boy at church.” Or, whenever I start dating someone new, my mother’s first question (without fail) is, “Where does he go to church?”
Obviously, religion tends to play a large part in my dating practices.
And I will admit, most of the guys I’ve met at church have definitely met the religious criteria that I’m looking for in a potential partner. My faith is a significant part of my life and dating someone with similar values, spiritual beliefs, and practices is important.
Hence, why meeting guys at church is an appealing prospect.
And you would think that meeting a fellow churchgoing guy would mean he automatically checks off all the boxes for what you’re looking for when it comes to a dating relationship that might turn into marriage, right?
During the 2011 Superbowl, I convinced my friend Eliza to come with me to a churchwide Superbowl party held at our main campus (with promises that I would make delicious food for the potluck). I don’t particularly like football or really understand it’s rules (nor do I care to) but I figured it was an excellent opportunity to not only expand my social circle but maybe meet some single guys (cause most of them like sports, right?).
Eliza and I ended up seeing a gaggle of people we knew and the evening was a good mix of pretend football watching where I rooted for not-Pittsburgh (e.g., the Green Bay Packers) and socialized (the perfect way to spend a Superbowl, in my opinion). After the game ended, Eliza and I walk out into the main lobby to grab our containers. There were still some mini cheesecakes left but some people were still grabbing them, so I asked if they wanted to take some home with them.
A few guys immediately stepped forward and cleared out the containers, praising my culinary skills (let’s be honest, from scratch mini cheesecakes with homemade strawberry filling is delicious). Eliza and I got to talking to a couple of them, one of whom was Matt, and as we turned to head out, he asked if I wanted to hang out sometime (and this time I knew this was meant as a date).
Our first date was at the Art Institute of Chicago. I love going to museums with people I barely know because if you (God forbid) run out of things to say, you simply point at a painting and comment, “What do you think the artist is trying to say here?” or “Isn’t that an interesting technique?”
At one such moment, Matt and I came across The Picture of Dorian Gray (so named for the Oscar Wilde novel of the same name) and I commented about it’s link to the book.
And received a blank stare from Matt.
I know that I’m well-read and have probably read more novels than multiple people combined, but I thought for sure Dorian Gray was a title the majority of people are at least familiar with by name. Apparently not. Matt had never heard of the novel… or the movie(s)… or any of the pop culture references. I don’t mean to be a literature snob, but really?
I figured, maybe he was nervous. Perhaps he thought he knew the novel but was afraid he might be wrong and didn’t want to look misinformed? Who knows. Whatever his excuse, it still didn’t detour me from a second date with him.
But it should have.
Matt and I met for our second date to hang out with some of his med school friends at a local bar. We hung out for a bit and then he asked if I wanted to go back to his place to watch some Netflix and I agreed (I should preface this is long before “Netflix and chill” was a phrase).
At his place, we grab food and Matt picks The Expendables to watch and in my naiveté, I actually thought we’d watch the movie.
I feel I should take a moment to describe what watching movies with guys was like for me up until this point. In high school, my lack of a dating life meant that I didn’t really watch movies with guys I was interested in. Plus, the absolute terror that accompanied the idea of getting caught by my parents would have likely prevented me from doing so. In college, it was strictly forbidden to be in a situation with a member of the opposite sex that would allow you to make out (after all, making out leads to sex and conservative Christian schools do not allow that). We had to have a shoe in the door, both feet on the floor, and at least one light on (this was in addition to the consistent rounds done by the RA). So, I’m sure you can understand why I thought actual film viewing would occur.
So, I settle in to watch the movie but soon find that Matt has much different ideas.
I should say that even though I am a virgin, I have definitely had my fair share of make out sessions. I am, after all, a human being and find it quite enjoyable.
However, I’m not typically in the business of making out with guys I barely know on the second date (I won’t even let a guy kiss me goodnight until the third date or so). You can imagine my surprise when Matt leans over, wraps his arm around my shoulders, and leans in to kiss me and I’m thinking, “Aren’t we supposed to be watching this movie?”
Again, please remember that I am extremely naive when it comes to the dating world. While all my friends were muddling their way through first kisses, first boyfriends, first breakups, and whatever other “firsts” come with high school, I was too busy studying to get into a good college, being a member of every school club and sport that struck my fancy, and volunteering. You can imagine that at this point I’m in the midst of a very steep learning curve as I’m learning the rules of dating everyone else seems to know.
Now, I do like Matt. He’s attractive and he has this southern accent that is incredibly charming, so after my initial shock, I think to myself, “Why not?” and go along with it.
Until he starts trying to take my clothes off.
I stop him and inform him that’s something I’m not comfortable with. He tries to smooth talk his way into it. I maintain my ground. Then he does something really random, he stands up, declares that he’s “hot,” and takes his shirt off.
I tell him again that I’m not interested in being this physical with him, stating that I’m waiting until marriage to have sex. And with that he comments, “I can be your first.”
Uh… did you not listen to what I just said?
At this point, I’m really upset because I feel as though my trust has been shattered. I felt hurt that the guy I met at church didn’t have the same ideals as me; I distressed with Matt because I expected him to have the same Christian standards as me and to uphold these; and I was angry with myself for not seeing the signs.
So, I did what I do whenever I’m in awkward and uncomfortable situations: I left. I told Matt that I didn’t appreciate his intentions and informed him I was leaving. Like a petulant child, he rolled his eyes, laid down on the couch, and turned his back to me, effectively dismissing me. I ended up letting myself out and walking three blocks to the nearest busy intersection to grab a cab (as Uber had yet to arrive in Chicago).
What a gentleman, right?
A few days later, I got a text from Matt, simply saying, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be the person you needed.”
The thing is… I wasn’t even sure what I expected but it certainly wasn’t someone who didn’t respect my boundaries and let a young woman try to find her way home at 2am…