Chronicles of Dating: Trusting Your Gut

02 May, 2015

We've all had relationships that leaving us pondering, "What the hell was I thinking?!"

It's inevitable really. Sometimes you end up not having as much in common as you originally thought. Maybe you just didn't hit it off. Or maybe you like the idea of being with someone more than the actual someone. The list of reasons can be ridiculously long and 9 times out of 10 it's just a case of "it wasn't meant to be". And after each of those failed relationships, we learn something new.

But there are those times that leave you thinking, "Phew.....glad I got myself out of that situation!" and wondering what kind of lesson you were supposed to have learned from that experience.

I've had a couple. Neither of which I talk about very often. One is still pretty painful (honestly, after 10 years you'd think the scars of what was a pretty bad emotionally abusive relationship would be somewhat healed, but they aren't) and will make me stop and question whether or not I really want to try and date again.

The second is one that really is tragic (in the true definition of the word, not the definition you'll find in Urban Dictionary) and not really my tragedy to share, but makes for a great story at dinner parties.

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Shortly after I started working at a new job (November), one of my coworkers had a friend (for the purpose of this post, I shall call him Jim) bring us dinner and hang out during one of our evening shifts. He was a pretty cool guy--totally into music (he may have even had a band, I can't remember), funny, easy to talk to, just a generally nice guy. Before he left, he gave me his number and told me to call him if I wanted to hang out. It seemed innocent enough, but there was something about him I just didn't like. I chalked it up to the age difference (I was barely 21 and he was in his late 20's, maybe even 30) and that he had a child (I wasn't ready to go there with anyone at that point in my life) and left it at that.

Because he worked for one of the vendors we used at my workplace and we had a similar group of friends, we saw each other quite a bit, always hanging out with a group. Each time I'd see him, he'd try to get me to go out with him one-on-one. "Just to the movies" or "a quick dinner". And if I saw him out at the bars, he'd want to buy me drinks and just hang out. Each time he'd ask, I'd politely turn him down and go along my merry way. I never worried too much about it, other than it was starting to be annoying. Honestly, how many times did I have to tell this guy I wasn't interested?!

Finally, after a couple of months (February), I ran into him while out with friends and he stopped me to say 'Hi'. I was fully prepared to give him  my same, "I really appreciate the offer, but I'm just not interested" speech after being asked if I'd like to get drinks, have dinner, etc. But this time, it didn't happen. Instead, he stopped to tell me he met someone. I always felt like it was an odd thing for him to want to tell me, but I was happy for him. I was glad to hear he found someone and I hoped they would be happy with one another.

After that, I occasionally ran into him, but it was never more than a pleasant "Hello" as we passed. I had all but forgotten about him until September of that year.

At the time, I had 2 roommates. One night, while watching the news with one of them, a story was breaking about a "manhunt" in the area. A local young woman (for the purpose of this post, I shall call her Jane--original, I know) had been kidnapped (for the lack of a better term) and found in one of area lakes. As soon as they said her name and showed her photograph, I knew she looked familiar but couldn't figure out why. But my roommate gasped and told me that the girl on the news was a friend of our other roommates. In fact, she was supposed to be helping our roommate with her wedding which was just a couple weeks away.

As the news story continued, they mentioned that Jane had had some issues with her ex-boyfriend, whom the police were trying to find. Apparently, when Jane tried to break things off with him, he didn't take it well at all and he started stalking her. They gave some details about him (name, age, general description) which could have been a hundred other people in our area. But then they showed his picture.

It was Jim.

I remember sitting on the couch, staring at the television, trying to wrap my head around what was happening. THIS was the guy I had spent weeks turning away. This was the guy who my friends had told me I was crazy for turning away. She was the girl he told me he met and who I told him I hoped he would be happy with.

Over the next few days, more details started to come out about what Jim did to Jane (the details of his aren't my story to share, but it wasn't good). And he was eventually convicted of her murder.

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I spent quite a bit of time dwelling on the fact that I could have been Jane. I could have been the one who met the wrong guy at the wrong time and had my life cut short.

But I wasn't.

I was lucky. I had a guardian angel (if you believe in that sort of thing) looking out for me and teaching me that sometimes, as ridiculous as it may be at the time, following that gut instinct to not do something is in fact your best move--no rational explanation needed. And for that, I will forever be grateful.

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