February, 1992. I was 19, he was 32. We worked together and had been dating for about a month. I went to his place on a Friday night, we hung out for a while, hooked up, everything was fine and consensual, whatever. It was around 9 o’clock when I got my stuff together and said I was going home. That’s when things took a weird turn.
“Why are you leaving so early?” he asked me. “Who are you going out with later?”
Huh? I wasn’t going out with anyone later. I was just tired, and we both had to get up early the next day. This paranoia had come out of nowhere, but for some reason, he absolutely did not believe that I didn’t have plans to go out with another guy later that night. He got more and more agitated and stood in front of the door, blocking my way out. Great.
I don’t know why he was so convinced that I was meeting someone else, and his actions were really unattractive and starting to get scary. But I wasn’t meeting someone else, and I really wanted to get out of there, so all I could do was keep telling him I was just tired. He started to calm down a bit, and asked me to just sit on the couch with him and talk for a little bit before I left. I did, and we talked some more, and then finally he said he believed me that I was just going home, and he understood I was tired, and he’d see me tomorrow. So I got up to leave.
“WHOA, DON’T WASTE ANY TIME,” he yelled, and grabbed me by both wrists, pulling me back on the couch and physically preventing me from getting back up. Apparently, it was ok for me to leave, but just not right away, even though I’d been trying to leave for close to an hour by now. We went through this super fun talk-try to leave-grab wrists cycle three more times until I finally got out the door. As I was leaving he put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and asked me if I believed that he really cared about me. I’m glad I didn’t laugh out loud, because I know how women laughing can be such a male berserk button, but it is legit hilarious that he thought, “I just hope he really cares about me,” was anything close to what was going through my mind at that moment. Not great at reading a room, that one. Then he asked if I wanted him to walk me home.
His ability to accurately read a situation sure didn’t improve overnight. The next day, at work, he started out by “forgiving” me for seeing another guy that night. Once he realized that I was more, “back off, psycho,” than, “please forgive me for cheating on you,” he got very angry. He told me we were done, and he wanted his copy of Hot Water Music back. Hence, I will always see being into Charles Bukowski as a huge red flag in a guy.
So when people say things like, “If a woman doesn’t like a guy’s aggressive behavior, she can always just leave,” [Mark Ratner voice: ‘and they say that a lot.’] I think, I guess you’ve never had a guy physically restrain you from leaving his apartment, how nice for you. I mean, that is actually nice for you, I don’t, like, wish it on someone. So if it’s never even occurred to you that an aggressive guy could block your way out of his place when you’re trying to leave, great, I’m so happy for you. I mean that sincerely, I don’t know why it keeps coming out sarcastically. Man,what is up with that?