The Manager was one of three vacation matches (see here and here) from the weekend I went on that girls trip. He wasn’t in town when we matched — he was celebrating a buddy’s birthday, on a boat somewhere off the coast. Because that’s the kind of thing that men who you hook up with on vacation do. Our rendezvous seemed unlikely to come together, but The Manager made it work, pulling off the kind of grand gesture reserved for someone you’ve met in real life, not a dating app stranger who you know will be leaving in a matter of hours. We met in a hotel, but considering my last hotel meetup, I had some anxiety. This was compounded by my just having unintentionally shoplifted a tank top from a fancy boutique, only to throw it away in a grocery store bathroom, security sensor and all (a story for another day).
We agreed to meet in the lobby. I walked toward him, made eye contact, waved awkwardly, and when I heard his voice for the first time, deep and smooth, I relaxed a little. In the room I took a moment to splash some water on my face before I sat next to him on the bed, chatting about everything but what we were there to do. When the tension hit a breaking point, I leaned in to kiss him first (when I’m ready for a kiss, I rarely wait). We knew our time was limited — I had a flight to catch, but he undressed me leisurely, kissing me in achingly slow motion, pushing me to the edge then pulling back to watch me squirm. He worshiped my body, prayed to me with his tongue. It was the kind of good that puts words like good to shame, and there were moments of unexpected intimacy and connection that surprised us both.
My plan had been to call a Lyft and head to the airport to meet my friends, but The Manager offered to drive me. We enjoyed swapping funny stories on the way, and as he unloaded my bag at the airport curb, we shared a sweet, slow kiss, which was interrupted by my rowdy, intoxicated friend who shouted at me as she went by. I couldn’t shake a faint smile from my lips as I navigated security and boarded my flight. I couldn’t shake the thought of his gaze as he looked up at me from between my legs. It was with only slight hesitation (because, really, what will this amount to when we live 700 miles apart?) that I texted him the next day: I can’t stop thinking about you. Tell me I’m not alone.
Him: You’re not alone. I have so many things I want to ask you.
And that’s how The Manager and I began our 8-week fling. Even in that brief period, we defied distance and practicality, managing to see one another two more times, each of us flying once to see the other. If I hadn’t written down the things I liked about him, I’m not sure that I could remember them now. For reference, I wrote the following in the “pro’s” column: kind, affectionate, sexually compatible, considerate. (I could have also included attractive — just looking at his face got me hot — and great at sexting. The man appeared to have studied at the romance novel school of sending naughty texts.)
But all good things must come to an end, and here’s how that part went down: The last time I saw him, he had tacked on a visit to my city after a week-long festival in Vegas with his concert friends. He’d barely slept, eaten terribly, and drunk more than his fair share of Vegas-sized libations. I knew I wouldn’t be catching him at his best, and that’s how I justified his behavior, his relative disengagement, his lack of enthusiasm. At the time (and even now), it seemed reasonable, but within a week of his leaving, he cut off contact without any explanation.
I was stunned. And hurt. I wasn’t heartbroken, though — I didn’t cry. I was mad at him, mostly for choosing avoidance over honesty. But it squared perfectly with what I’d come to know about him: when situations became challenging, he’d start planning his exit.
I’ve been dreading writing this particular post. Because there’s one detail of the story that I haven’t recorded yet. And it’s that before I noticed the writing on the wall, I booked a flight to see him. A non-refundable flight. And I’d reserved a rental car and an Airbnb…for five nights. So that we could take our time. Relax. Sleep. Enjoy one another without the constraints of a weekend trip. These are things we’d discussed wanting. Only now, I was left holding them alone. It took me a while to settle on letting go of the idea of going, even just taking a solo trip. The financial consequences stung, perhaps more than the ghosting…but only perhaps.
What did I take away from my time with The Manager?
- Chemistry is easy. “Feeling a connection” isn’t all that special. Physical attraction and mental fixation on a person are insufficient foundations on which to build a long-distance relationship.
- Don’t rationalize someone’s behavior. Building a repertoire of justifications for the actions of someone you’re seeing is an unhealthy pattern that minimizes legitimate issues and distracts from the truth that’s often there if you look at them more critically.