I’d never dated in my entire life. I’d either been single or in a relationship, however that happens. When I finally got out of a six-year abusive relationship, I was ready for all of the awkwardness of dating. I was actually excited for it. In fact, I was so excited that I downloaded Tinder the night that I broke up with my ex. I had no idea what I was looking for, other than the complete opposite of my ex boyfriend.
I knew I needed a rebound to help reintroduce me to the dating scene. Here I was matching with strangers online less than 24 hours since my breakup. I definitely was not ready to be dating, but I wasn’t aware of that yet. I wasn’t aware that I have PTSD and bipolar and I had no clue how difficult it would be to date, even just casually, while balancing my mental health. I also didn’t realize how strange it would feel to flirt, date, and be intimate with other people after several years with only one person. Not only was I rusty, I was a socially anxious wreck.
I swiped right on anyone that seemed kind, adventurous, or funny– again, the complete opposite of my ex boyfriend. I hadn’t begun the long arduous process of addressing my low self-esteem, which is why I swiped left on anyone I thought looked “out of my league.” Now I know that there is actually no such thing as leagues and I shouldn’t take movies as serious references for how life is. I didn’t see the point in swiping right on people I assumed were going to swipe left on me. This strategy is how I got my Spring situationship, The Lobster.
The Lobster got his nickname not because it is a reference to your person being your lobster from Friends, but because of Larry the Lobster from Spongebob. Although, if I was creating nicknames based off appearance, he would have been Patrick Star. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t call him Larry. Larry just doesn’t feel like the name of a twenty-something year old. He didn’t complain when I called him The Lobster, so the name stuck.
We texted and spoke on the phone for about a month before we met for the first time when he brought me lunch to work. I was hesitant about meeting him in person so I was using my demanding job as an essential worker to buy me some time. He found a loophole by offering to bring me lunch. When he did this and we met for the first time, two things stood out to me. First, I was really taken aback by the effort this man put in for my lunch. It was homemade and took into account the strict dieting rules I had for myself at the time. He made me a vegetarian version of a buffalo chicken lettuce wrap– low carb and veggie friendly. Not only did he make this for me, he drove about 40 minutes to bring it to me and he brought me a succulent as a house warming gift for my new apartment. Definitely went out of his way to impress me or maybe just to sleep with me.
The second thing that stood out to me was his appearance. Admittedly, this is a much more shallow takeaway. The dad bod I was into. I don’t like people that are in too good of shape. I like normal, but strong, bodies. Dad bods are nice because they are snuggly. It was his height that threw me off. He advertised himself as being 5’6″, which is already on the shorter side for men. But when he brought me lunch, I was eye level with him. Now, I’ve never thought I was a shallow person but clearly I was mistaken. I couldn’t get over the fact that this man was the same height as me, 5’4″.
We went on an actual date about a week later. This was still early in the pandemic, sometime in April, so we grabbed pizza and took it to eat at a park. We sat there and talked for five hours. I couldn’t remember the last time that I spoke to anyone for that long. We had good conversational chemistry. When he dropped me back off at my place, I think he was trying to go in for a kiss, but it was hard to tell since I awkwardly panicked, grabbing the leftover slices of pizza and taking off for my front door practically sprinting. I liked this guy and we had fun, I just hadn’t kissed another man in more than six years. I felt like I was back in middle school– attracted to the opposite sex without any idea of how to interact with them.
We continued dating for about a month and a half. He continued cooking for me, which I don’t think I can ever get used to. I lived with my ex boyfriend for five and half years but I could count on one hand how many times he cooked for me. He refused to make vegetarian food. Meanwhile, I was dating another non-vegetarian and he would put in the effort to make me the best meals– this guy was a pro in the kitchen.
The cooking wasn’t the only thing that felt so different compared to my ex. The Lobster would call when he said he would, show up when he said he would, and kept his word every opportunity he had. I had gotten accustomed to the flakiness of dating an addict. Used to my partner going MIA on binges for days, sleeping in his car, and letting his phone die. Also, nothing felt forced– not our conversations, our plans, or our intimacy. We would watch movies and TV shows that I wanted to watch, too. He never complained like my ex. We would easily decide on dinner or lunch plans. All of it was easy.
I thought having sex with someone for the first time was going to be more impactful in some way. I was definitely nervous. It wasn’t just about being with someone new, but I was now admitting to myself and others that I had been raped on multiple occasions and not just by my last boyfriend, I’d been sexually assaulted and harassed at one of my jobs, and I’d been assaulted when I attended UC Santa Cruz. These were all events I had kept secret for several years and the burden of keeping them secret was taxing on my sanity. The Lobster knew that I had been raped more than once, so I was worried this would impact his experience with me– without ever pausing to think about how it would impact my experience with him.
Every time we had sex, I was tipsy or drunk. Hate to admit it, but it made it easier. He never made me feel pressured or uncomfortable, which I am thankful for even though I shouldn’t be. Being thankful for basic human decency is a little embarrassing. It shows people the extent of my abuse without having to spell it out for them. The sex was mediocre, not the best or worst I’ve ever had. The only downside was I felt like I was the star of the show when I really prefer for it to be an equal effort. The lackluster sex is not why I ended my first situationship.
The Lobster is a classic love bomber– someone that is constantly showering you with gifts and attention for fear of losing you. This is a huge turnoff to me. I love my space and I don’t like when people by me things, besides food because I love to eat. I had told The Lobster on more than one occasion I was not looking for a relationship at the moment but he kept trying to make it happen. I could tell he was falling for me so I needed to end things before he got too attached or I really did damage to his feelings.
After I had ended our casual fling, he dropped off flowers at my job with lunch for me. He had already gotten them before I called it off. This was his justification for bringing them to my work. I had made a joke to our security guard that morning saying, “If someone tries to bring me flowers today, tell them I don’t work here anymore.” Sure enough, about two hours lated the security guard was walking into the office with flowers, lunch, and a Raiders face mask– major love bombing. My bestie was there, along with several other work friends, when the flowers were brought to me. She documented my meltdown on her snapchat and likes to remind me of how mortified I was by showing me the video.
The Lobster taught me that just because someone is better than my ex, does not mean they are the right person for me. Would we have had a decent relationship if I entertained the idea? Yeah. Would I have been settling? Yeah. I made a promise to myself when I left my ex that I would never settle. I intend to keep that promise.
I did make the mistake of giving The Lobster a second chance. He immediately jumped back into smothering me with attention and gifts mode. I learned a valuable lesson, when a situationship doesn’t workout, trust your gut and don’t give multiple chances. Trusting my gut is difficult, since I am so used to being gaslighted, but I get better at it with each person I date. No matter how annoying he got, I’m glad The Lobster was my introduction back into the dating world.
The song that reminds me of The Lobster: 2 A.M. by Jay Wile
The sentence left on my fridge by The Lobster: “Now me upgraedin boyfriend with interwebz. Not I sorry I can haz happee.”
Zodiac sign: Libra.