It was a hot day in June when we met, just three days and seven messages after we matched on Tinder. It was 2017, my summer of dating, when I went on more first dates in one month than I’d been on in my life. You see, I was an extremely awkward person in high school — and also deep in the closet — which didn’t lead to many (or, well, any) dates. And then came college. I finally accepted my very gay self, started building my confidence, and quickly ended up in a long-term, monogamous relationship. Four years and a breakup later, I’d been on maybe five first dates in my life.
I say this so you know that when we met, I didn’t have much dating practice, not because I think it should excuse my behavior toward you.
You were wearing a long, flowy pink skirt that night. You looked very pretty. During dinner, I said I liked the skirt and you said you’d just bought it that day. You didn’t say you bought it specifically for our date, but I’m pretty sure you did. We talked about Broadway and “Grey’s Anatomy” and coming out and roommates (you had one you hated, I had one I loved). I told you that my friend was going out of town over the weekend, and she was leaving me to babysit her cat. We talked about how much you love cats.
Then the date was over. We hugged goodbye, promised to tell each other when we got home safely, and went our separate ways — me back to Brooklyn, you deeper into Manhattan. As I walked to the subway, I reviewed our date in my mind. You were nice, funny, pretty, and smart. We got along well. The conversation flowed. There was no reason I shouldn’t want a second date. But as much as I enjoyed our dinner together, I didn’t feel like I needed to see you again.
And that made me feel like a terrible person. Why wouldn’t you give her a second chance, I asked myself. You can’t truly judge a person on two hours in an Italian restaurant. Chemistry or spark or whatever you want to call it is supposed to be a myth anyway, right?
So I asked you out again, even though I already knew I wasn’t interested. Even though I got home from our first date and immediately told my roommate that you weren’t the right woman for me. “But I’ll at least give her another chance,” I said. “She deserves that.”
Except that’s where I went wrong. If I hadn’t asked you out to brunch two days later, I wouldn’t have anything to apologize for. We would have had a perfectly fine first date. I would have politely let you know that I wasn’t feeling it. And we would have been blips on each other’s romantic histories (who knows, maybe I’m still a blip on yours). But I did ask you on a second date. We went to brunch. I had eggs benedict and you had pancakes. We had another perfectly pleasant conversation. Still, I was missing the butterflies.
It might have still been fine if I hadn’t told you that I had to go check on my friend’s cat a mere two blocks away from the diner where we were eating, and if we hadn’t had an extensive conversation about our mutual love for felines. How could I tell you that we were steps away from one of the cutest cats in the world and not invite you to come see her? It wasn’t until we were up the stairs and in the apartment that I realized how suggestive that invite must have seemed. As we walked over to my friend’s place, I was thinking about how to let you down easy. But you were probably thinking about the empty apartment and whether I was going to make the first move or if you’d have to. Why wouldn’t you think that?
Ten minutes in, you made your move. A hand on my thigh. A smile. Your face coming closer and closer to mine while we sat on the couch.
I freaked out. Turned my face. Jumped up and told you I had to go home. “Sorry, but I’m supposed to meet my roommate for grocery shopping,” I said. That was a lie, but I needed an out. I couldn’t let you kiss me (or more) when I knew I didn’t have feelings for you.
So we walked to the street and shared an awkward hug goodbye. No promise to text this time. And I didn’t. I didn’t explain my weird behavior or say that I was sorry. I just went home and pretended it never happened. You were the first and last woman I ghosted — and I do think of what I did to you as ghosting, even though you never texted me again, either. I think about what I did to you all the time. At first, I thought I was being nice by asking for a second date. But my determination not to rule you out prematurely resulted in me leading you on. And for that, I am truly, deeply sorry.