I Slept on a Bench.
I don’t like to believe the worst about people but I should have wised up sooner.
A Date in Every Country: A Series
Location: Oludeniz, Türkiye
Activity: Sunset viewpoint
Time: 1 hour
Will see again? Nope
Connected via: Tinder
They can’t all be good.
This is a less than ideal story but I promised authenticity so here it is. While I had plenty of matches here in Türkiye, I couldn’t keep up with all the offers to meet up. I had already gone out with one paraglider pilot (see the previous post) but another one had been texting me for several days. We chatted on and off but I was keeping pretty busy as I had made several friends. I respected his perseverance in asking me out and when my plans changed, I agreed to meet up. I was changing locations to the next town over as I was going to be hiking with a new friend I'd made starting the following day. A few hours before I took the bus, the weather took a turn and I was dreading walking through the rain with all my luggage to catch the bus. He was gracious in offering me a ride instead of taking the bus between towns. It was a quick 20 min drive but he went out of his way to come and pick me up. He was cute and immediately asked why I had taken so long to meet up with him. He launched into a big spiel stating he could have taken me paragliding, showed me around town, planned all of these things for us. I reminded him I was leaving the next day to start this hike early in the morning. He was familiar with it and was able to share some of the challenging points which were quite helpful. He was quick to offer several activities if I found myself staying longer.
With the hike starting the next day, my friend and I were planning to sleep on the beach that night as it's not far from the trailhead. We would be camping on the the hike so this was the start to more than one night in a cozy tent. As the weather was getting bad, my date kindly offered to help me find a place for that night as camping might not be ideal. I could tell that he liked being given a problem and finding a solution. He was a very direct communicator and this included conversations about intimacy and his desire to be physical. I was direct in my response, promising nothing as I didn’t know this person and we had literally just met. He replied that he respected my choice and left it at that. My friend whom I was to camp with was already in town and we had made plans to meet up once I arrived. The pilot was anxious to show me a beautiful sunset viewpoint but I told him I was only available after I met up with my friend. He helped me drop my things off at his shop in town and I left him at the shop as I headed to meet my friend.
Over dinner she proceeded to tell me about the paraglider pilot she met. At this point, I’m getting a clearer picture of these guys and how they operate. My previous date had been so lovely so I can’t judge them all but I was sensing a potential trend among paraglider pilots and female tourists. She was still intent on camping on the beach that night but with the weather being so questionable I told her we needed a backup plan if the weather turned nasty. Plan B was to head to the shop where I left my luggage if she needed a spot to escape the incoming weather. I would meet up there later.
This new guy had let me know before we headed up to a viewpoint overlooking the beach and mountains that he had to run a client to the airport later so we only had 2 hours but he would be free after that errand. I said no worries as I would simply hang out with my friend again while he was busy. I’m always in search of a good viewpoint so we headed just a few minutes up the mountain to overlook the beach below. You know those summer storms where it’s still warm but the sky can’t decide if it’s going to be an angry black or baby blue. I love this type of weather and the storms that inevitably follow. The storm was brewing as we take in the tumultuous view. He’s very passionately talking about his business and how he’s worked hard to get where he is. He believes in manifesting and tells me of his goals and passions. The rain rolls in with sunset colors over the water in front of us and an ominous black cloud coming in from behind. Thunder and lightning swiftly follow the rain and we get in the car to continue the conversation. I must confess the setting was rather romantic with the storm outside and us safely tucked away in his car. We kiss a little and things start to get heated. Confession: I may have died laughing when he asked if my boobs were organic. It took me a second to realize that he meant natural. Practically the same thing right?! LMAO.
Well here’s where things go south. I very clearly told him a physical boundary I did not want to cross and he chose not to respect it. He was quite assertively trying to convince me otherwise which I did not appreciate. I quickly confronted him and he was not a big fan of being called out. I'm not sure he was used to being told no or confronted. He immediately copped an attitude, behaving like a child who didn’t get their way. The mood was instantly ruined and he packed up quickly to head to the airport as planned. No biggie as I knew this in advance. I didn’t appreciate the attitude but we had a conversation in the car about it as he seemed to chill out a bit. I took time to explain my boundary and he said he understood.
We had a hilarious moment in the car when his employee called because some random girl showed up at the shop seeking refuge from the storm saying she had permission from the owner. The employee did not believe her. Well this was my friend who did have permission so she's texting me saying some guy says she cant be there. Meanwhile the employee is texting him saying there's this random stranger saying she knows the owner. They seem to be having a bit of a showdown so we ended up FaceTiming them together to clear it up. Laughs were had and we managed to clear up the confusion.
We made a plan for him to drop me by his shop to meet my friend and come back after he was done to pick me up. We would have the second part of our date and as well as sort accommodation if the storm hadn't blown over at that point. We drove down through the crazy rain and lightning and I arrived to the shop to see my friend who has taken shelter from the rain hanging with the employee, both seemingly annoyed with the other. It was amusing to say the least. Shortly after I arrived she left to go hang with her pilot friend and I was left to wait for my date's return.
HE NEVER CAME BACK.
I knew he was with a client so I didn’t bother him. I kept waiting, patiently at first. My friend texted me to check in and when she realized I hadn't heard from him, she offered to let me come stay with her. She was on the outskirts of town, plus it still seemed early and Turkish people stay out late so I didn’t want to just disappear on him. Well that was a mistake. I think women are often encouraged to be polite even in situations when that is not an appropriate response to the behavior we are presented with. The hours ticked by and I still had a hard time believing that he had just abandoned me at his place of business. There’s no way he just left and is never coming back. RIGHT?! We made a freaking plan. I’m at his place of business. Did he really just ditch me here?! The storm is still happening and I didn't book a different place to sleep tonight cause he assured me he would help! WTF?! My patience had flown at the window but I had too much pride to text him and ask where he was. I had to laugh at the sheer absurdity of the situation; it was either that or rage. My friend had left with her tent. I was officially stuck and it was as if the skies had opened up as the storm raged on. Fitting weather for how I was feeling.
I SLEPT ON A BENCH IN A PARAGLIDER SHOP ACROSS FROM A MAN NAMED AFTER A FISH.
Unfortunately, I hadn't booked other accommodations as we were pretty set on camping and my backup plan was based on the man assuring me he would help if the storm continued. I took far too long to realize that he was indeed leaving me high and dry. I don’t like to believe the worst about people but I should have wised up sooner. He never even looked at my texts again. This after he was super responsive just that afternoon and every day prior. To say I was shocked was an understatement. So much for the hospitality he bragged about.
I will say that all was not lost and while I wrestled with different reactions from feeling foolish to shock to anger, the evening was not a complete bust. His employee was so very kind and helped recover the evening as best he could. He bought me a beer and sat on the front porch of the shop listening to the rain and singing songs. I introduced him to Radiohead and tried to convince him why sad music is amazing. (A weird love of mine.) He pulled out a guitar and serenaded me. Before you get any ideas, he was more than a decade younger than me so no option there. Hours passed and I was enjoying the conversation enough not to focus solely on how shitty his boss was. I could have walked to hotels at midnight to try and book a room but the storm was raging and I was indoors, somewhat protected. The employee had been a welcome distraction and thank goodness this meant I was not left staring at the clock all evening wondering where this human was. The employee apparently slept in the shop, to protect the gear I think, and by 11 he started to get ready for bed. Without asking he made his bed and started making one for me as well. He set up the 2 separate beds and was kind enough to give me the only pillow. I felt comfortable with him after having spent so many hours hanging out and decided that this unconventional setup would work for the night. I slept surprisingly well considering it was 2 benches shoved together. He even made me coffee in the morning before I left. He was so very kind and a bright spot in an otherwise negative experience. The man in question never showed up for work the next day. Not sure if this was planned in advance or if he was just being cowardly. I'm unsure what my response would have been if I had seen him but thankfully I never saw him again nor did we ever communicate after the fact.
Ultimately there were lots of “I should have…” I felt foolish and reminded myself that I should have listened to my gut. He showed me his true colors when he did not respect my boundaries and even more so when he developed a bad attitude. Despite having a conversation where I thought it was cleared up, his childish response of ghosting was inexcusable. I should have left with my friend when she offered me a place to stay. The complete lack of maturity to simply not communicate at all was extremely frustrating. Well that and the fact he had the AUDACITY to watch all of my stories the next day on my instagram. WTF?! Can you say BLOCKED?! In hindsight, there were lots of things I could have done differently but sometimes we (in this case me) aren’t thinking clearly in the moment. I do know this, there’s no requirement to be polite when someone crosses a boundary or makes you uncomfortable. I shouldn’t have to explain my boundary or convince someone why it exists. I made mistakes, they won’t happen again. I’m reminded that the dating world, even when in fabulous foreign places, still has plenty of asshats. Stay safe out there and follow your gut.
Teaser: The next date proved to be sweet and kind in every way, a much needed recovery from this last one.
Loni James Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.