As I sat across the table from a man who looked – and acted – exactly like my ex, I questioned whether internet dating was really for me.
It was 2007, I was in my late 20s, and I had only been living in Brighton for a year. Not knowing many people, I decided to sign up to a few dating sites.
My relationship of nearly five years had catastrophically fallen apart a year or so before, when my partner had a complete mental health breakdown. And, after a period of recovery, I was ready to meet new people, so I thought I’d give a new way of dating a shot.
I’d had a few first dates at this point. There were terrible ones – like the men who lied about their age or height, and those that turned up with a list of requirements for their future partner.
And there were fun ones, but they hadn’t produced any sparks.
And then I got a match with Nate*.
His profile didn’t say much and he only had one photo but, at first glance, he looked attractive. Although, admittedly, it was a dark picture. But after a few brief messages we agreed to meet up for a dinner date at a restaurant I’d always wanted to go to.
And so we met.
It wasn’t long before I realised that this man looked a lot like my ex. And, once we got to the meal, it became clear that he even shared mannerisms with him.
From the way he walked and talked, to the way he pushed up his sleeves before tucking into the food, the familiarity was disconcerting.
Nate was knocking back the drinks while I was taking it very slowly, weirded out by the similarities more than anything. As the meal progressed I realised that he was really drunk and I thought it would be best to call it a night.
We paid and left, my intention being to help him get a cab – but he had other ideas. As we turned a corner, and came upon his car – which was parked on double yellow lines – he proceeded to try and unlock it, to drive away!
He pulled back the covers and slurred ‘do you want to join me…?’ while taking off his trousers
Nate was barely able to stand up straight so I was very worried he would have an accident if I left him to drive home.
Despite trying my best, I couldn’t convince him to take a taxi and something in me – a nurturing habit leftover from the relationship with my ex perhaps – kicked in and I offered to drive him back to his house, as I’d only had one drink some time earlier.
Nate slumped in the passenger seat, told me his address, and we set off to his place.
Once there, I helped him into his house, only to discover that there was pretty much nothing inside – except for a mattress and bedding on the floor of the front room and a small child’s tricycle. He stumbled into the room and I went to get him a glass of water, to try and sober him up.
I was feeling a mixture of wanting to get away as quickly as possible and worrying for his safety but I thought if I got him water I could make a fast departure afterwards.
Coming back to where he was, I found Nate on the tiny tricycle circling the room. He then decided to tell me, while cycling, why there was nothing in his house.
‘So, I should probably tell you that this is my son’s tricycle,’ he said. ‘His mum took him and left me with nothing while I was in hospital recently.’
I stood there wanting to leave but aware that I couldn’t very well do so while he was telling me this. About to make my excuses, he continued: ‘I should also tell you I was first diagnosed as schizophrenic when I was 18 and I’ve had episodes since then. I was in hospital with another episode when she left.’
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Considering my ex had also developed schizophrenia during his breakdown, I was majorly triggered by this man. I felt rooted to the spot with a sense of shock. It was like I had been transported to a parallel universe where I’d met the doppelganger of my ex and however hard I tried to get away I would end up back with him.
I felt bad for him but this was not a great first date and I really wanted to be as far away from him and the situation as possible. While trying to work out what to do or say, Nate slid off the tricycle onto the mattress, pulled back the covers and slurred ‘do you want to join me…?’ while taking off his trousers.
Thankfully he soon gave up as he fell quickly asleep. I made a hasty exit.
A while after leaving the weirdness of the night hit me and I felt pretty shaken up.
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The crazy thing was that the next day, while trying to take all this in, I got a phone call. It was Nate.
He told me he had had a great time the night before, was now in a taxi (so now he’d take a taxi!?) and heading to my place.
‘So where do you live?’ he asked. I told him it hadn’t been a great night for me and wished him all the luck in the future and hung up. He tried to call me several times until I blocked the number and we never saw or spoke to each other again.
After a break I did continue with internet dating, had a few short relationships and ultimately ended up meeting my now husband of 12 years so I’m thankful it didn’t put me off forever!
So, How Did It Go?
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