I met him on Tinder. Newly single and not ready for another relationship, I was just looking for a friend — someone to talk to, go to dinner with, you know, before I left on a month-long trip abroad, where I'd planned to clear my mind sans boys and dating drama.
He was a charmer; also, Colombian (I'm half-Colombian). I told him I didn't like Colombian men, except for my dad. He said something nonsensical about disproving my theories. I waved him away. But I let him spoil me, nonetheless. Fancy dinners, endless bottles of wine and interesting conversations; he was just witty enough to hold my attention on dates from Los Feliz to the Westside.
"You're so hard to read," he said to me one day in the car. "I can't tell if you like me or not."
He asked me my feelings on marriage, kids and men with kids. He'd never been married, nor did he have kids, he told me. We were having fun, tons of it, until he pressured me to commit. "It isn't the right time for me," I said. "But I do enjoy hanging out with you."
Before I left on my grand European adventure (Los Angeles to Miami by car, New York to London to Paris to Prague to Berlin by plane and train), he told me he was also leaving — for Miami, my hometown — to see his family for a month. A long time, I thought, for a working man, but who was I to judge? I tend to run away from things, and just maybe he was doing the same.
It wasn't until the day before his flight to Miami, after I'd promised to take him to the airport, that he texted he had something to tell me.
"Then tell me now," I said.
I don't do well with suspense. Turned out, although he would be seeing his family, relatives weren't actually why he was going to Miami. His ex-girlfriend — that's what he called her — was pregnant and would be giving birth to their son 10 days later. He wasn't running from Los Angeles or a woman or a job, but toward a tiny human who would soon change his life.
His son! Suddenly this bit of fun became much more complicated. I was speechless; I wanted nothing more to do with him. He begged me to let him explain.
"Fine," I said, already knowing that I probably wouldn't believe a word he said. He had the unfair advantage (because he's a dude) of being able to hide something from me that had I been in his shoes, I would not physically have been able to hide.
Either way, I let him explain. I drove him to the airport. "I'll never see him again," I said. And then he sent me flowers on my birthday, just two days after his son was born.
And then, of course, we did see each other again. He continued to try to win me over. "How's your kid?" I'd ask politely. He showed me pictures, a proud new dad. I wished him well, while pulling away.
And then he purchased my return ticket from Berlin. The more I ran, the tighter he grabbed onto something he hadn't had a firm grip on to begin with. I left for Europe; we spoke here and there. I returned to the States a month or so later, and then we never spoke again.
Months after losing contact, I got an email from his baby mama. "A little boy will not be raised by his father and a new family will not spend Christmas together because of you."
I wrote her back. Although it wasn't my duty to clear the air, I felt the need to stand up for myself. I told her that I'd met him on a dating site and that he didn't immediately disclose his baggage or baggage-to-be.
The unfortunate situation here is that two smart, capable women were lied to. And while I have been able to move on with my day-to-day things, including dating, she has a lifetime ahead of her to share child-rearing responsibilities with a man neither she nor I was able to trust.
After this experience, I'm not necessarily more guarded, but I am a little more inquisitive and observant when dating new people. I'm at a point where I know what I want, so it's easier to weed out guys who are a little shady or don't have the criteria I'm looking for.
Cheesy, but as much as it may be upsetting or eye-opening, the truth should always set you free (when it comes to dating and life in general).
The author is a freelance writer who lives in Atwater Village and has written for Marie Claire, Seventeen and Getty Iris, an online magazine.
L.A Affairs chronicles the dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments, or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com
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