By its nature, online dating involves a lot of scrolling and swiping. Scroll, swipe, click, repeat. Everyone blends in; no one stands out. The hope is that eventually someone's photo will leap out at you like a pop-up ad. It's like pulling the crank on a slot machine hoping to find a match.
That's why I perked up one day when his photo caught my eye. He had a great smile, teeth that were perfectly aligned. He seemed intelligent enough, handsome enough, nice enough. His profile revealed that we had a few things in common and a photo showing him on a boat gave the subtle impression that he considered himself to be both active and "quite a catch." I sent him a message.
Within a week or two, B. and I agreed to meet. I suggested Cat & Fiddle in Hollywood because of its large outdoor patio and proximity to where we both live. We hit it off, conversation was easy and I genuinely enjoyed myself. We even kissed awkwardly just as the valet was bringing his car around. We agreed to meet again.
"Where do you live?" I had asked him at one point.
"Beverly Hills adjacent," he said.
I didn't really know what that meant. It sounded like a real-estate ad, but OK. When he didn't offer up any date ideas, I suggested we go bowling at Pinz in Studio City for our second outing. I'm impressed he didn't squabble about having to drive to the Valley. In fact, he seemed thrilled with the idea. We met there and bowled a few games that night, had some great laughs and continued getting to know each other.
Throughout the evening, he was affectionate, caring, interested in what I had to say and treated me very well. It was quite obvious that he was really into me. I felt like this could go somewhere. It was only later, when we grabbed drinks and an appetizer at Jerry's Deli, that I had any twinge of discomfort. This is, when he leaned in and announced that he had a "surprise."
"It's a little early for surprises, isn't it?" I asked, clearly caught off guard. I braced myself.
He smiled sheepishly and whispered, "I bought all your books. On Amazon."
"Wow, that's… flattering." I took a long sip of water, unsure of how I felt about this.
"Sometime, I want you to autograph them for me," he added.
I didn't know how to respond. The flattery instantly oozed into creepy territory. Yes, I've published books on Amazon, but it's not like I'm some famous writer. I'm no one. I mean, I'm someone, but nobody you would know.
"I didn't mean to creep you out." B.'s smile turned into a sad frown. "I wasn't even going to tell you."
I relaxed a little and tried to convince myself that it's just a rookie move by a genuinely nice guy. He was merely trying to impress a girl he liked, right?
We continued seeing each other. By all indications, he was head-over-heels into me. He treated me royally and bought me flowers. He also called every day, texted a little too often and wanted to see me all the time. Everywhere we went, he insisted on taking photos of the two of us, documenting our every move.
I wasn't quite ready for this level of a relationship, but when we were together we always had fun. In fact, anything I wanted to do, he wanted to do. We went to Dodgers games, art exhibits, the Getty Villa, L.A. Live, the Nokia Theatre. He was always up for anything. That was great, but after a while I began to wonder. Isn't there anything he wanted to do?
This made me start to wonder about a lot of things. It became quite clear that he had a considerable amount of growing up to do. "Beverly Hills adjacent" turned out to be an apartment with no parking. He didn't have soap in the bathroom, or hand towels or trash liners. He slept on a worn futon on the floor. (Later, he bought a real bed and a coffeemaker and said I "inspired" him.)
For all these reasons, I become increasingly hesitant about him. As B. sensed this, he began roping me into intense conversations about the state of our relationship. He became frustrated and emotional, wanting so desperately for me to be right for him, when it become glaringly obvious that I was not. He wanted to get closer and said there was something wrong — with me. He sent me a questionnaire to determine my level of "emotional neglect," then called and asked me to report my score. I suggested that maybe I wasn't the right person for him, but he was set on convincing me I was wrong.
"I want to club you over the head and drag you to my cave," he said one day, a seeming joke but said with such intensity that I had serious doubts it would end well.
I decided the best course of action was to become the worst girlfriend ever so he'd break up with me. I figured it was the safest, nonconfrontational option. I ignored his calls, didn't answer his texts and avoided seeing him again. It was a gamble, but it worked beautifully.
Until, one day, he caught me by phone.
"I don't think we should date anymore," he said.
Liedle is the author of "The Best Days Of Mabel Gordon" and "This Is How We End" and is currently working on her second short story collection. She is on Twitter @cococaffeine
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current 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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