I’ve been called tenacious a time or two, as if that’s a bad thing. Although given how long it took me to find happiness, the moniker might just fit. I’m a runner. And run I did, around the block, in circles, from one man, city, and job to the next, in search of what I wasn’t sure. Like any good marathon, the race to contentment, was grueling, and there were some dating horror stories along the way.
As I approached the finish line, about to accomplish what seemed impossible only seconds, and decades before, I knew the trek was worth it. As for the dating bender that preceded it, I wasn’t so sure.
My 5 Biggest Dating Horror Stories, One at a Time
Mr. Good on Paper
At the turn of the millennium, when online dating was born, I denied the movement as long as possible but eventually followed suit when I snagged a business clad cutie on Match.com. A handsome and humble lawyer who showed me you can be successful and a nice person.
Three dates in, red flags had yet to wave, aside from the sharp gut pang that hit every time we kissed. When he offered to make me dinner, I shut the gut down and accepted. See Mom, I thought to myself, New York City is not the dating disaster that Carrie Bradshaw and her gal pals led us to believe. A couple days later I was whisked into his apartment, the smell of pasta, garlic and promise—brimming.
Then Mr. Wonderful introduced me to his snake, that was not-so-gently wrapped around his neck. In that moment, I decided it was my gut and not mama who knows best.
Mr. Quick Change
My thirty-fifth birthday lingered like a day-old doughnut, so when a friend’s husband offered to set me up, I agreed. I amped myself up the night of the date and told myself, this time would be different. And it was, right up until the moment Mr. Set Up showed up at my apartment in a stretch limo.
He reduced his chances of bedding me by opting for a silk leopard print shirt and satin pants. At our first pit stop, he ran off to get me a champagne spritzer—his choice not mine—and returned minus the drink, wearing a new outfit. This quick-change act repeated for the rest of the night until he settled on a trucker-style baseball cap and a shirt that made him look like a train conductor.
There is a certain age when you realize that set ups are a bad idea, my realization struck at outfit change number two.
The Good Guy
Everyone deserves to be treated like a princess, or so Mom liked to tell me, right after she reminded me that sex is a means to an end, not for pleasure. Enter Prince Charming, who one-upped dear old mom and treated me like a queen. After months of the royal treatment, in and out of the sack, I opened my heart to love for the first time since my divorce, more than a decade before. My bad boy habit had at last been broken!
Then my do-gooder hauled off and “friended” me. Days later when he failed to “unfriend” me, I texted what I thought was a cutesy note:
What’s your pleasure:
A. Coffee- let’s talk this out
B. Tea- let’s steep on it some more
Seconds later he types: D. None of the above!
The exclamation point was a killer.
I’ve always had a thing for the tech geek type, smart, sexy and a little silent. Joe Tech was everything me and my mother hoped for, employed, educated, good with numbers, and ready to commit. Except when it came time to get serious, his mood flipped from hot to frigid. I loosened the reigns, a girls’ weekend ensued.
When I returned, he called, I failed to answer. Let him wait I thought. The next morning my voicemail alert dinged. My morning wakeup call played, “I can’t be with someone who doesn’t call me back.”
It had been all of—a day. He ended with: “I can’t do this anymore.” Apparently, Carrie Bradshaw knew a thing or two after all. Being dumped on a Post-it note, in a text and most definitely on a voicemail, blows—big time.
Tippy the Wine Bottle Dude
Love had alluded me, but chasing my dream of a writer’s life would not. Off to Napa Valley I ran, to a life that turned out to be as sweet as the scent of crushed grapes during harvest. Freelance assignments flowed right along with the wines that poured freely, which is how I met Tippy the Wine Dude—who wowed me with wine talk and wooed me at exclusive winemaker dinners.
This guy knew his way around a wine bottle all right, sometimes polishing off an entire one of his own, often in one sitting. This is wine country way! I told myself. Then he showed up in the middle of the night yodeling outside my bedroom window, saying what I wasn’t sure since his speech was so slurred. During his tenth boozy rendition of, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the breakthrough moment hit with the force of a catapulted magnum-sized wine bottle.
Despite more than a trace of alcoholism running through the roots of my family’s tree, there I sat, window ajar with Tippy still crooning long after the harvest tractors had made their last lap around the vineyards. I slammed the window shut on the romance but the aftereffects of this relationship lived on. Tippy’s crash course in wine tasting, the famous winemakers I met as his squeeze, and our relentless tour of the harvest party scene launched my wine writing career.
Christina Julian does the dance as a wine and food columnist by day, novelist by night. Her first novel,The Dating Bender, debuts in August 2017. Her writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Enthusiast and Weddings California.