• My Worst Tinder Experience

    TRIGGER WARNING: THEMES/MENTIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ANXIETY

    Okay, this is a weird one. In the current climate of old, white men wondering whether birth control constitutes as a *gasp* NEEDLESS ACT OF MURDER!! We’ve seen an unsurprising number of debates, home truths and angry statements directed towards the very same men – who, indeed, insist on their girlfriends, partners, FwBs… unwittingly commit to birth control in the name of ‘pleasurable sex’.

    Everything seems to be tailored towards the pleasure of the man. Despite the fact that the pill can cause both mental and physical anguish; such as depression, weight-gain and high blood-pressure. I’ve tried my very, very hardest to ignore the intrusive feelings and memories this situation has bought up for me. In fact, I’ve tried my very, very hardest to ignore them full-stop. But, what is JNSQ if it isn’t about honesty first and foremost? I’ve never regretted breaking a taboo, and I don’t intend to begin now.

    Don’t worry, the birth control thing is totally relevant. As you’ll find out. No spoilers.

    I joined Tinder before they introduced the age limit. A few months into turning eighteen, I’d frequented the dating app for about ten months. My age range at the time was set to 18-24; a factor, I’d decided, was appropriate for myself at the time. Looking back, I wasn’t a ‘mature’ eighteen-year-old. Tinder was a scary domain, far too much for me to take in at that age. I was only just a legal adult, with little-to-no self-esteem, naively searching for a long-term relationship. You know all of this already.

    It was in this narrow window of ‘a few months’ when I met a new guy. For the sake of this, we’ll call him Mr. C. Three guesses as to what the C stands for. He was mid-twenties, attractive, charismatic and charming – all of which he was fully aware of. Within the first couple of weeks, he made me feel incredibly special. Gross and cliché, I know. We’d chat normally, about normal stuff. Finally, I thought. I’m not talking to another greasy sixth form boy who shamelessly pesters me for nudes every 2-3 business days. It could easily be looked at as platonic, with a side order of heavy flirting.

    Things quickly began to escalate; we’d arranged to meet up a couple of times in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays. He was at uni, though, which meant it was intrinsically difficult for us to match our schedules up against one another. After two weeks of backing-and-forthing, however, I decided to bunk one of my English lessons and meet up with him. Naughty.

    A few days before we’d agreed to meet up, red flags were slowly beginning to show. I’d like to reiterate at this point that I was barely eighteen, with zero relationship experience. I received a text from Mr. C one afternoon, which read;

    Oh yeah. Hope it’s okay, but if we’re really doing this, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t have contact with any other guy. I’m a bit possessive like that haha.

    Naturally, twenty-year-old me would think; okay, he seems like a prick. Time to put him in his place. Eighteen-year-old me, however, concluded that I must be really special for him to want me exclusively!

    But, that’s the thing. He only wanted me to remain exclusive to him. Cleverly, he didn’t mention anything about him not talking to other girls.

    A few days went past, and I was without a care in the world. The meet-up went great. He really seemed to care about me. We chatted a lot, kissed a lot, and he even cuddled me. That had to be indicative of wanting more than physical stuff, surely?

    Well.

    As the months rolled on, Christmas came and went; and relations increasingly started to strain. Suddenly, he was too possessive. He decided to ghost me a lot, which became wearing after a while. He wasn’t really like my friend anymore. Whenever he deigned to give me the time of day, there was always an ulterior motive.

    WARNING: It starts to get a little dark from here on out, so if you don’t want to continue reading, I understand.

    It was always about nudes. He knew his power. He knew he could get any girl, anytime. He knew I knew it. So, whenever I declined, he’d threaten me with that. I often asked if he was staying exclusive to me, just as he’d asked me to do for him. He told me it was none of my business. He’d send me pictures of his own, and demand I say nice things about him. He didn’t say nice things back.

    The situation started to get worse after he’d taken to blowing up my phone at 2AM, demanding to meet up, or ‘help him get off’. A lot of people can function on little-to-no sleep, of which I am not one. Particularly on a college night; which worsened my Anxiety anyway. I’d tell him this.

    Can we not talk about this in the morning?’, I’d ask. ‘I’ve got to be up at 6 for college’. One of the most memorable replies he gave was, ‘if you still want me to be around tomorrow, you’ll adapt to my kinks and do what I want’.

    I broke down in front of my friends at least twice a week, on average. I’d never felt so undeserving, worthless, ugly in my life. Constant sexual harassment, which is a term I’m only beginning to get used to, wore me down until I was running on empty. My friends told me to bite the bullet and block him, but it wasn’t that simple.

    He’d also taken it upon himself to continuously pressure me into going on the pill, or getting the implant. I’d explained to him, time-and-time again how the pill made me put on weight and I found the implant unnecessarily invasive. ‘But, sex doesn’t feel good with a condom on!’

    Well, fuck you.

    Actually, no thanks.

    The worst part about it is that I let it carry on for a whole year. He caused me so much grief, Anxiety (proper noun), self-hatred, and more. The only break I got from him was when he decided to give me a break. There was no let-up apart from that. It came to a close in October 2017, when I found out he’d been manipulating a mutual friend of mine in the same way. After confronting him about it, he blocked me.

    But that still wasn’t the end.

    Last summer, having been with my lovely boyfriend for five months, unbeknownst to me; he unblocked me and messaged me again. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I blocked him.

    And, just so you know, I savoured the moment.

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    Hannah Van-de-Peer
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