Nice Guys Turning Toxic

Writing Another Creepy Nice Guy unexpectedly dredged up some strange emotions I’m unsure I can properly describe – except feeling utterly creeped out. Given my age and inexperience, I’m certain there were red flags I would see now that I couldn’t see then. I would imagine some of the red flag behaviors were overlooked, maybe even revered as romantic or whatever bullshit young women are taught. 

My body felt physically ill in the pit of my stomach a few times while I wrote and thought about the situation with Pilot. I don’t recall feeling like that when it happened more than 20 years ago, or had I merely forgotten or shoved the feelings away? I asked myself, why would I be more creeped out now about this than I was when it happened? Is it the realization, in hindsight, that I could have been seriously harmed by this person? Is it the realization that I have come across so many jealous, controlling men throughout my life – men that have frightened me enough to run away? Is it the realization that I survived these situations without becoming another statistic or Dateline episode?

Even though I met Pilot at my job, it didn’t seem to decrease my chances of a “nice guy” turning toxic. With modern dating sites and apps, the chances of becoming a Dateline story heavily increases. I used dating apps in the past, but I don’t believe I will ever use one again, for several reasons I’ve written about previously. Judging by some of the interactions encountered, I would imagine crossing paths with narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths is fairly common on these apps. 

Pending my divorce eight years ago, I was introduced to dating apps for the first time. Already aware of traditional sites like Match and POF, the swiping feature on apps like Tinder made it easier to sort, especially when users had more control over who could contact them. My mid-life phase of doing “crazy” things as a new divorcée consisted of getting tattooed, using dating apps, and being a cougar. However, I had a very active social (and drinking) life, so I tended to meet a lot of people when I went out. This was during a time when I was getting drunk often and not exactly using my best judgment. Drinking also put me at a higher risk of meeting creeps, because my guard was down. 

Shortly after I moved into singledom, a younger guy was standing next to me in a brewery and started chatting. Blonde and blue-eyed, he’d just returned from the army, having served time in Afghanistan. Army Guy acted more mature and intelligent than most of the other men I was meeting. At 25, he was charming and well-spoken and seemed to have a good head on his shoulders. No children, but he’d already been married and divorced. He was an amazing conversationalist, and saw each other maybe a handful of times, with the intention of being friends with benefits. 

Then one day, Army Guy got really weird. 

We had a hot make-out session on my couch, leading to sex. Army Guy was hovering over me, attempting to choke me. I told him no, because I don’t like it. He didn’t seem to hear me, so I said it again, told him to stop, attempting to pull his hand away. A deranged look in his eyes and not letting go of my neck scared the shit out of me. He had one hand on my chest with his weight and the other around my neck. I freaked out, not knowing if he was having some PTSD moment going on from his time in Afghanistan. I yelled at him to stop and get off of me, which ended the entire moment. I couldn’t trust him after that. 

I stayed away from Army Guy until I heard from him a few months later. We agreed to meet and catch up, and he apologized about the last time he came over. This time, he fell asleep at my house, but I didn’t want him there. He had school the next day, and I had work, so I couldn’t wait for him to get up and leave. As I watched him, I thought for a minute he looked sad, pathetic, and Shrek-like trodding down my driveway. Hanging with him was fun the first few times, but not now. Remembering that he’s quick-tempered and realizing the possibility he could be unstable, I told myself I wouldn’t be seeing him again. 

Sometimes I forget the bad things about people, because they have a lot of good qualities about them. 

Army Guy contacted me about a year later. He was deploying soon and asked me out on an actual date. This was a first, because the only thing we did was have beer at a brewery and go to my house. He picked me up on his motorcycle, we went to dinner and had a really great time. However, it would be the only really great time with Army guy. 

I’d forgotten good times with Army Guy were short-lived, because he was loaded with drama. When he contacted me this time around, I should have remembered the day he left my driveway, looking like Shrek, when I decided then that I didn’t want to continue seeing him. We met up two more times after our great-time date, but they weren’t actual dates. I started feeling like he was treating my place as a revolving door for his issues. It dawned on me that his visits now consisted of talking about his problems, us having sex, and him leaving. There was nothing mutual about the entire interaction. It was exhausting listening to someone’s issues when I had my own to endure. Besides, the sex wasn’t even something I remember enough to write about. He was too much work. 

And then something else happened. 

I’d never thought to ask if he lived with anyone, a roommate perhaps, because why doesn’t he invite me to his place? He moved from the original place when I met him to somewhere an hour away, “because it was cheaper.” He talked about buying a place but never elaborated on his current situation. When the truth came out, I wasn’t completely surprised, but it wasn’t what I expected, either. He was living with his ex, but they were broken up, and she was fucking another guy while he was deployed. Now it all made sense.

I was his escape. 

This time, when he left my driveway, I knew there would never be another meeting. 

Army Guy and I both talked about not wanting a relationship, but we remained friends. He enjoyed reading a dating blog I used to write. Then he suddenly became angry at me – upset that I hadn’t written about him! I told him I don’t typically write about people I am currently seeing or my friends. 

His temper showed through the text. He read something I wrote about a different army guy, a description completely opposite of him: “short, tatted, bearded.” 

Army Guy’s reply: “Yeah I’m fat, he’s not? Terrific.” 

Say what??? 

He appeared to be coming undone again, and because his ex was pissing him off, now the punching bag was me. This seemed to come out of nowhere, but now I knew Army Guy was a lot more insecure than I had seen before. I wasn’t even sure it was safe to remain friends. He was toxic, and his anger towards me felt gross. I could no longer deal with his issues. Later, I sent him a text saying, this thing between us isn’t going to work, even though there really wasn’t a thing anymore anyway. 

Starting at 7 a.m. the following day, I awoke to a barrage of text messages from Army Guy.

“Thanks for breaking up with me by text like a 16 y/o.” 

HA! As if I could go to his house!

The remaining texts were more insulting, blaming me for us not getting together during times I didn’t hear from him (probably with his ex), sarcastically saying good luck with a new business I started. He told me I was inconsiderate for not “breaking up” with him in person. I reminded him that in an actual relationship, I would know where he lives and not treated like a convenient lay. That’s when he resorted to “you were a shitty lay anyway.”

My last words ever to Army Guy before blocking him: “Cool. Well, the hot Norwegian lying next to me said I was a great lay.” 

I never saw or heard from Army Guy again, but I did see him on a dating app a couple years later. I swiped left. 

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