I need guidance before I can move forward with the decision to exclusively date a man I met on Tinder. I pressed the pause button on my dating life for a few months when Covid started. Last month I decided to resume dating, however I don’t want to do what I’ve done in the past and date two or three guys at once until I decide to date one exclusively. For right now I’ve decided to date one guy at a time. I went on two dates with a guy from Tinder, Kevin. And we have a third date planned this weekend, but I’m having second thoughts.
Another guy on tinder piqued my interest today, we engaged in a lengthy conversation and he asked me out on a date this weekend. I want to date mindfully more than ever right now and not juggle multiple guys. I don’t want to say no to this new guy I started talking to just yet. I’m not 100% sold on Kevin, he seems like a sweet guy, I just I don’t know. He brought up a topic on our second date that gave me pause.
His father died earlier this month, I expressed my condolences, and I asked if he was close to him, and I received more info than I bargained for. The father died of liver failure, he was a lifelong alcoholic. He said that they had a roller coaster of a relationship. He said he was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to him, his siblings, and his mother. He said he beat up his mother quite often. He then said that the alcohol turned him into a demon, and he truly was a loving husband and father. He said when he wanted to be, he could be the best husband. So, that was a lot to take in on our second date.
The next morning, I started thinking over what he said about his dad being a loving husband. And it just all of a sudden did not sit right. He was defending a wifebeater? Loving husband and wifebeater just don’t seem to go together. And now I’m on the fence if I want to date someone who can brush off watching his mother’s abuse like that. Would you want to give this guy a third date?
A couple of months ago, I was in the park walking my dog. I noticed a woman a few feet away, wearing a mask, so all I could see were her red-rimmed puffy eyes. I asked her if she was okay. She pulled her mask below her chin and smiled. "Yes. Thank you. It's just been a rough last few days. My sister died."
Having lost my own sister - a relationship that became toxic and strained in the months before she died - I stood there while this total stranger unloaded all her family drama on me. She didn't know me. I didn't know her. None of that mattered. She was processing her sister's death as best she could and I was happy to listen.
Sometimes people need to dump all their thoughts on the floor, like an emotional jigsaw puzzle, in order to piece their lives back together. This woman in the park. Your date, Kevin. Their loss is still fresh. Compounding the grief is his history of childhood trauma and complexities of his relationship with his father. That adds a whole other layer to his grieving process. He knew his father as two people: a loving parent, and a monster. Addiction can do that to people. It sounds to me like he was being objective when he described his father and his childhood, which is a good sign that he's not having trouble regulating his emotions, which indicates he might be more emotionally stable than you think.
And remember, you asked him if he and his father were close. As Sarah, my Dateology podcast co-host said in our most recent episode, that's a great example of how those follow-up questions about things better left unspoken bite us in the ass. Did he overshare? Absolutely, but maybe he did that because he felt you'd understand or listen without judgement. He's likely still trying to process his feelings. The lines of what's appropriate to share and what isn't are blurred right now for him. Don't hold that against him. If you don't want to go out with him, that's okay, just don't use his vulnerability against him. The last thing he needs right now is to be shamed for behind honest when you asked him a question.
That said, if he shows signs of emotional dis-regulation or volatility, you are well within your rights to disengage. Also be careful of things moving too quickly. Trauma can affect your ability to keep your emotions in check. You can go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye. So, if you think he's coming on too strong or seems too attached, definitely take a step back. Not just to protect yourself but so that this guy can do what he needs to do to get on a path to healing.
I know. It's a lot to take on. We want our relationship to be rainbows and puppy dogs for those first few months. That's not always possible for some people. That doesn't make them any less deserving of love. My depression makes certain days exceptionally challenging. My body aches. I can't concentrate. All I want to do is sleep. I cry easily. For some people, that's a lot to take on. Thankfully, though, not everyone feels that way.
I would give Kevin another shot. I understand why you're leery of moving forward with him, but understand that he's probably kicking himself for being too open with you. If he shows any signs of not being in a good place emotionally, tell him you'd like to press pause for a bit so he can take care of himself.
I would also go out with the other guy as well. You're not bound to anybody. Just be sure you're not going to look for a reason to ditch him, too, when things take a turn towards the more serious. Before you do take any additional steps with either guy, be honest with yourself about what you want and can offer. Your conflict might not have anything to do with Kevin and everything to do with your own ambivalence about commitment.