First date slammed for ‘gaslighting’
Having tapped my fingers on the table for far too long, pondering where my 'special bloke' was, I decided to get proactive and head out into the wild and find him myself.
I swiped left and right, got in contact with an ex or two and really threw myself back into the dating scene. Amazing how a looming birthday can make the need to find someone seem all that more urgent.
And so it was that I found myself at a bar ordering the second cheapest red wine on the menu and chatting to a potential future boyfriend.
Now there is a reason you should never date when you're 'thirsty' and it's simply because you tend to lower your standards a little. You settle for things that don't work in your favour. As turned out to be the case.
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Let me set the scene for you.
I met a guy on Hinge. His photos looked cute and he seemed to have an active and fun lifestyle.
I arrived at the bar and looked around for the guy that matched the pictures on the app. I couldn't see him, but in the corner I could see a guy waving at me. I politely waved back and kept looking. He kept waving. I soon realised this was the guy in the pic, just a little different.
He was roughly 10 to 20 kilos heavier (now calm down trolls, I very much fancy a dad bod, especially in the winter months) and the bloke simply didn't look like his picture. I scolded myself for being shallow and pressed on with the date. Now you're going to think I'm lying but I honestly got about three sentences out during the whole date.
He was a chatterbox which I can forgive because, hey, if anyone knows a thing or two about nerves, it's me but he wasn't really talking to me, he was talking at me.
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After what felt like a lifetime of hearing about all the ins and outs of his sales job, he eventually realised that I had barely spoken a word so he said a little too sharply, "OK, miss radio extraordinaire, tell me about your job?"
I tried to explain what I do but he abruptly cut me off and goes, "Erggh, I, I don't listen to the radio."
So he asks "what did you do before that?" and I explained I worked in TV and he cuts me off again and says, "I hate TV."
He then explained to me that my job was "cute" but his required a much higher intelligence. Yes, he said "cute".
In-between calling me babes and darling, and a couple of "jokes" about me going home with him, he started commenting on my looks.
"Hey you have squinty eyes!" he said out of nowhere. Then, "you don't look too bad for a 36 year old" and "aren't you freaked out that you've missed the boat?"
The boat to where? I decided it was time to hit the road.
I politely made an excuse to leave but he insisted I walk with him up the street so I could check out his car. I made some fake "oooh that's a nice car" statements before hightailing it out of there.
The whole date just felt like he was having a go at me, my career, lifestyle choices and general persona.
I walked home from the bar pondering what the purpose of his statements were? Was I being a sensitive sausage or were they designed to gaslight me?
Gaslighting is a new(ish) dating term that's defined as 'a form of emotional abuse and manipulation that is difficult to recognise and even harder to break free from. It can add to a sense of confusion by sending mixed messages.'
For example, a person you're dating can be perfectly nice to you but then hit you with some criticism that makes you feel somehow less worthy.
Like you are lacking something. According to psychologist Dr Robin Stern, gaslighting can undermine the self-esteem of even the most confident person. It is designed to make the perpetrator feel in charge, like they're holding the power. My only question is … why?
Now don't get me wrong, I'm very open to creative feedback, especially from people I admire and seek advice from. Lord knows, I'm not perfect.
But the truth is, most of us have been gaslit at some point in our lives, so I've come to realise that when you can spot the technique, it's best to shut it down and leave it where you found it. Not my problem honey.
He texted the next day to see if a second date was on the cards. Umm, no, it was not.
Jana Hocking is a radio producer and collector of kind-of-boyfriends | @Janahocking
Originally published as First date slammed for 'gaslighting'