We first connected on Tinder in February. I was out of town for the weekend, at my friends’ very Vegas wedding. I was surrounded by couples and was absently flipping through profiles when I saw him — early 40s, with thick, sandy blond hair, a college professor and musician. In his short bio, he mentioned that humanitarian efforts were of great interest to him. Also, that he liked breakfast for dinner. Noted.
He checked all my superficial boxes — attractive, educated, creative but grounded (and employed!) and seemingly altruistic. I was intrigued. We traded a few messages, and then the wedding celebrations went into full force, so as things happen, the messages waned. I spent the rest of the weekend helping with last-minute wedding errands, watching the happy couple say “I do” to a pretty convincing, if possibly drunk, Elvis and reveling in post-wedding shenanigans.
It’s easy to move on with matches like these, but a few weeks later, after a disappointing coffee date with zero chemistry, I found myself looking through old connections and decided to message him. To my surprise, he messaged back almost immediately and asked if I would like to go to dinner and a play the following night.
Color me impressed. This guy was classy. Normally, I am hesitant to commit to a lengthy first date with a perfect stranger, but I absolutely love theater, and quite frankly, I was both intrigued and delighted by the gesture.
Still, I did my research beforehand. I found his profile on LinkedIn and ratemyprofessor.com and found dozens of positive reviews from students (mostly female) who spoke to his dedication as a teacher, plus his bonus good looks.
He offered to pick me up for dinner, so after I’d assured myself that I wasn’t meeting up with the next Ted Bundy, I gave him my address. He arrived promptly and was waiting outside when I came downstairs. He greeted me with a hug and a kiss on the cheek and then held open the door to his black Porsche for me.
On the way to dinner, the conversation flowed. He was engaging, asking me about my work, passions and views on life. Over dinner, we talked about our backgrounds (he was from the Southwest, I’m from Louisiana), how different the culture was in Los Angeles and our families. I told him about my dog and asked if he had any pets. He said he had them as a child but no longer.
On the way to our seats for the play that night, my date ran into a colleague and introduced us. “How lovely,” I thought. Watching the play, I had a moment of perfect happiness. (Plays are one of my very favorite things, and for many years, I would attend them alone or with girlfriends, as past partners had been less enthusiastic.)
I knew it might be fleeting, but that night, for an instant, I felt the promise of something new, something good, something that might work.
Back at my apartment, he walked me to my door, and we shared a lingering kiss. I thanked him for a lovely time, and he left, like a perfect gentleman. I fell asleep grinning.
The next week, he invited me to dinner and a movie at the Grove. The movie wasn’t great, but sitting in the back with his arm around me, I didn’t really care. I was with a sweet, handsome, smart guy who was into me and treated me like a princess.
After the movie, I invited him up for a nightcap. Things progressed in a delicious way, his touch seemed natural and intuitive, and I felt free. At the end of the evening, I walked him out, we shared a warm embrace and we promised to see each other again soon.
The next few days, I was bursting with giddiness. We texted, sent each other selfies, and went back and forth about the banal particulars and little excitements of our days. We made plans for the following week. I was counting down the hours and annoying my friends with my newfound perkiness.
The cause of (and solution to? Jury’s still out) all of life’s problems.
I searched his name, and up came a cozy photo of him — with a woman— and three children.
I stared at it quizzically for a moment. Could it be ... a relative? A cousin? I did a little more clicking. And then I felt my skin go cold.
It was all there. Old photos from their wedding — they had been high school sweethearts. Their three beautiful children. Their kids’ baptisms and other family get-togethers. And a more recent photo of him taking her to a concert just a week earlier.
I was shaking. How could this be happening? I took a deep breath and texted him. “Hey, can you please call me when you get a moment? I need to ask you a question.” A few minutes passed. I couldn’t wait any longer.
Finally, I texted again: “Are you married?”
He called back a few minutes later.
He was calm, maybe resigned. He said they were separated and that she knew he was dating. He said he had planned to tell me but that our last evening together was going so well that he couldn’t bring himself to.
I told him that I was shocked. And disappointed. And that I felt betrayed. (I understand not unloading all your personal baggage on the first date. But by date No. 2? That’s the time to say: “By the way, I’m married and have three children.”) I felt like a sideshow attraction, a ride that he had taken on a whim, an alternate life that he had tried on for size. I told him I needed time to process.
A few days later I texted him to let him know I still wanted to see him but that I was working through my anger. He texted back that if I really felt like that, it was probably best not to move forward.
Needless to say, I was disappointed, but more so to lose the dream than the actual man. He was “too perfect,” as they say. I try not to be too cynical, but I suppose there had to be a catch somewhere. (And the Porsche made a lot more sense in hindsight.) Even if we had reconciled, I don’t think the relationship would have worked in the long run. I would have feared that he was always wearing a mask, always hiding the truth. It seemed so easy for him, so fundamental.
I thought about reaching out to the wife, to the college, posting a review on ratemyprofessor.com, but in the end, I just let it go.
I came across his profile on Bumble recently. Same photos, same line about philanthropy and breakfast for dinner. I swiped left this time.
The author is a recruiting and talent manager in Los Angeles.
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