To distract from my frustration with my inability to have an honest discussion with a friend about turning our relationship into something more, I decided I needed to meet someone new. I matched with him on a Tuesday morning, that night we were sitting across from each other. He had a penchant for dive bars and had found a dingy one complete with an asshole bartender and impressive jukebox.
We hadn’t exchanged much information before deciding to meet, so when he told me he didn’t live in LA, I was momentarily annoyed. He went into an elaborate story about how he’d been hired by IAC on a four-month contractual basis to test out a potential event planning job. At the end of the contract if they wanted to hire him, he’d have to decide if he wanted to move to California. He explained he was in the process of a potential life change and wasn’t sure what he wanted. Our banter was too playful and fun not to get sucked into it, so I decided not to dwell on where he lived and to enjoy the moment. He reminded me of a friend back East who was full of stories and personality. Most importantly, we shared a love of indie rock. It took me a while to prove when it came to music he didn’t need to teach me things I already knew. Back in the 90’s, he’d worked for a highly regarded indie rock label and regaled me with outrageous anecdotes from what appeared to be a glorious time in his life. I liked being entertained instead of being entertaining, for once. The night was filled with jukebox music, beers, laughter, and ended with a kiss.
The next day he texted me and invited me to meet him for a drink after work near LAX before he flew out. I happily endured 40 minutes in rush hour traffic to meet him for a quick drink at an even divier bar than the last. We were talking about how kids these days cried at the drop of a hat and were generally unable to handle difficult situations when he said, “oh I tell my son he’s a pussy all the time.” The look on his face told me what I needed to know, but I listened with mild amusement as he backtracked and stumbled with his words. He “clarified” he meant his sister’s kid, who lived with him on and off. He even came up with a name for his nephew / son. I nodded and didn’t say anything in the moment, but on the drive back home, I was overcome with a strange feeling everything he’d told me was a lie.
The next day he sent me a personalized Spotify playlist I half-heartedly listened to. Over the next couple of days, I responded to his texts because I had no concrete reason not to. But I couldn’t shake the feeling something was off, so I enlisted the help of Google. The moment I discovered he did indeed have two children (who were well into their teens) and a wife, I texted him and asked if he was married. He responded he had been, but had gotten divorced the previous summer. Since there was no way for me to definitively prove this without seeming like a psycho (what was I going to do, ask to see his divorce certificate), I let it rest. The next morning, I got a text letting me know he was heading to Vegas for work in a couple weeks accompanied with an invitation to join him. I told him I try to avoid Vegas whenever possible (which was always), but he was welcome to come to LA and I’d grab some drinks with him. He’d said he’d try to make it work and get back to me.
But then the next morning, he texted me a selfie in which noticeably in the background was a white shingled house. A quick Google Maps search told me he was at the house that was listed in his name (and his (possibly ex, possibly not ex) wife’s name) in Vermont. When I asked him where he was, he said Rhode Island, but that he was heading up to New York City for work very early the next morning. His LinkedIn profile said he currently (and had for the last eight years) worked in business development for a company in Burlington, Vermont. In the morning, I called that company and asked for him. When the receptionist transferred me to him and I heard his voice, I hung up.
My priority was extracting myself from the situation before he booked a flight to LA, so I texted him moments later that I was looking to meet someone who currently lived in Los Angeles and was able to pursue something longer term. He texted me back and said he understood, lavished me with compliments, and said he’d get in touch if he decided to take the full-time job in LA. I easily could've left it at that, but as the hours wore on, I was still bothered by what had transpired. I went back to his profile on the app and ran through the conversations in my head. In retrospect, he’d lied about his age, his job, his schooling, his whereabouts, where he lived, not having kids, and who knows what else, that was just what I had proof of. I struggled to come to terms with the fact that I’d let him get away with it. I was uncomfortable with the idea that he’d most likely do the same thing to another unsuspecting woman because I hadn’t held him accountable. So I texted him the following:
"Initially I just wanted to extract myself from this situation in the most civilized way possible even if that meant not revealing I knew you were lying, but I’ve changed my mind. It wasn’t hard to confirm that so much of what you’d told me was a lie. It’s pretty easy to guess the reason behind your lies and I’m sorry for you that you’re in a situation that you felt the need to do it. But you should figure your shit out before pulling someone else into it. I don’t know what the app’s policy is on fake profiles (clearly neither of those photos are you and your age and education is inaccurate), but I’m happy to look into it and to report you since my only wish is that you don’t do this to anyone else. Because as you know, no one ever wants to be lied to”
I was nervous he was going to get defensive, become offensive, and I’d have to block him, but I was prepared to do what I had to do. To my surprise he easily admitted he’d lied, said he had no excuse beyond that his life was a mess and he’d been lied to himself. Thankfully, he was smart enough to acknowledge that was one story I had no interest in hearing. He went on to say he needed to take responsibility for his life and get sober. He apologized, thanked me for calling him out, and promised he’d get himself together. I wished him the best. He texted me another song, I didn’t respond.
Obviously, I’m thankful my intuition protected me from getting too deeply involved with him. I have no idea what he’s going through or what’s he’s been through, but it’s disappointing he drew me into whatever it was, if only briefly. His exact reasons for lying, I’ll never know, but I can only hope he won’t do it again. I’m satisfied I did what I personally could to prevent him from wasting someone else’s time in the future, but not naïve enough to think he won’t. A part of me wants to understand what goes through someone’s brain when they spin a web of lies like he did, but these days I can’t wrap my head around the current state of humanity. So little of what goes on in today’s world makes sense to me, I’ve given up trying. I may not be able to control what other people say or do, but I can control how I react to it. I can speak up, stand up for what I believe in, and respectfully call people out when they behave badly. And yet again, I’ll take what I need to from this experience to make it worthwhile.
Men have been trying to see what they can get away with for a while. As most of us know by now, they’ve gotten away with a great deal and have typically come out unscathed. I’d like to think that one of the few good things to come out of 2017 is that men are getting away with a little less. Hopefully one day, we’ll let them get away with nothing less than behaving like respectful human beings.