Reader Submission: Online Dating Led Me To A Polyamorous Player
By Karen Driscoll
I’d had enough. The dating scene in Los Angeles was running me low. I was tired of going out and being approached by corny dudes spewing one-liners like it was kryptonite. “Shawty, don’t beat yourself, treat yourself!” Side eye. I’ll pass. I needed something different so I decided to switch things up and try my luck at online dating. I had a good friend that found her bae turned hubby online and was living real life #relationshipgoals. I quickly signed up for match.com, waiting for prince charming to fall into my inbox. Match.com had the reputation of leading to the most second dates than any other site, but I definitely got more than that.
He was Haitian (yup – tall, dark, and handsome) and worked as an actor/bartender/acting coach. I was attracted to his sense of adventure immediately. On our first date, Jean suggested we drive straight to Coachella and spend the day vibing to good music. Now, my mama didn’t raise no fool. I had to decline the offer because – well – stranger danger is real. Had I known him better, I would have definitely accepted. It didn’t take long for me to feel safe with Jean. Whether it was asking how I was enjoying a meal, walking on the outside of the sidewalk, or holding me close while we cuddled on the couch, he had a way of making sure I was always comfortable. Jean was a gentleman.
One night I recall us going back to his place after dinner, getting hot and heavy in the bedroom, then hopping in the tub to cool things down. I felt like Nia Long in Love Jones. Jean was the blues in my left thigh trying to become the funk in my right. That night, we spent hours talking about everything from our spiritual beliefs to difficult experiences from our pasts. It was the first time I learned about the gambling addiction he had worked hard to overcome. Hearing this gave me pause because I wasn’t sure if there were uglier skeletons yet to be uncovered.
Dating Jean was fun. He was a breath of fresh air after dating men who couldn’t commit to calling me back let alone a relationship. When we would discuss what we wanted in the future, it seemed like we were on the same page. We were saying the same things like “we’re open to love.” But still, there was a disconnect that I couldn’t quite figure out. So I let things ride. Until one day it all came to a head.
One evening, Jean and I were chatting after his return from a Canadian music festival. He told me all about the dope artists he’d seen and the fun people he’d met. At one point, he said “it gets pretty romantic out there at night.” Pause. “What does that mean,” I wondered. Did this dude just low-key admit to having sex with someone else? I had to know for sure so I asked. He said yes. Sure enough “getting romantic” was code for “I had sex with a girl under the stars.” I was stunned. Jean shared this like he was telling me the weather. There wasn’t a hint of guilt or remorse. Then he said, “I told you I was open to love.” Suddenly, it all clicked. This was the disconnect. For Jean, being “open to love,” meant loving me, Jane, Sarah, and of course Becky with the good hair. Jean was polyamorous. A word he had never used until that night. Being polyamorous meant he wanted to be in a relationship with more than one partner and I wasn’t down for it.
After learning about the girl under the stars and a bevy of other women, I ended things with Jean. While I was open to love, it certainly was not that kind of love. For days, I questioned why I hadn’t seen the signs earlier. But the truth is, I ignored my intuition. Even though I couldn’t articulate it with words, there were times I felt confused after Jean and I talked about our future. But because I didn’t have the language for it, it didn’t exist. But it did exist and I’ve learned that when I feel like something isn’t right, it’s because it probably isn’t right. Let this be a cautionary tale. If you’re going to try online dating, you really need to tune up those intuitive antennas and listen to signals the first time. It just may keep you (and me) from ending up with a polyamorous player.