When it comes to dating disasters, I have had my fair share of f**kboys who have used me for sex, ‘benefits’ or in the case of some have had girlfriends when they were ‘seeing me’. While I have both laughed and grimaced at my readers own dating disasters in equal measure, there are some ‘online dating scenarios’ that have filled me with sadness. When it comes to mental health, we are often too quick to dismiss someone who is displaying signs of erratic behaviour as simply ‘being crazy’, when in reality these people need encouragement to get the help that they so need. And this was the case with today’s guest post author Alan Moore, whose online dating experience did not involve f**kgirls, children or golddiggers, instead his online dating narrative is far darker than you could possibly imagine. But rather than turn his back on his date and ignore her attempts to ‘hurt herself’ , he went out of his way to get her the help that she clearly needed. Because while in the online dating world you hear the hilarious stories of f**kboys and their ‘Playboy ways’ for some, online dating is a way out and an escape from the reality that they are living. And that is the saddest reality of all…
In a way I can relate to ‘Louise’/ ‘Sarah”s struggle with her mental health; she was abused by her ‘ex’ who took advantage of her, causing Sarah to have suicidal thoughts and take drastic measures to cope with the pain , by using self harming as a coping mechanism. While she might not have been ‘ready’ for the online dating world, she was forced to seek alternative measures to keep her safe as she was scared that her ex would come and find her again. And as someone who has her own mental health struggles linked to abuse and violence- I was abused as a child by my stepmum- I too used ‘dating’ as an outlet to mask my pain, as I was not ready to accept the fact that I needed help, or that I was still plagued by the demons of my past. While many would not be able to cope with Louise’s/ Sarah’s haunting narrative, even though Alan was scared and confused, he still followed his heart and attempted to find her ‘warm shelter’ and a safe place where she could truly talk and be listened to. Most of all, it might have put him off online dating but I want us all to remember that when someone is showing or exhibiting symptoms of mental health issues, to not dismiss or call them derogatory names like ‘crazy’ but instead offer them a helping hand in support. Now over to Alan…
Hi My Name Is Alan Moore And This Is My Online Dating Experience…
*This story is absolutely true although the names are changed to protect the person involved.
My story starts a couple of years ago.
A friend of mine had gone along the online dating route and suggested I have a go as he had by whatever gauge, had success. I chose one of the free sites, signed up and completed my profile accurately. I felt that if I was open and totally honest then my potential date would not have any shocks or surprises.I had seen various warnings and read articles on being prepared and not falling for any dodgy stuff, so I felt relatively ready to enter this world of online dating.A week in or so I got a message from a person saying ‘Hi, I like your profile’, so I replied saying thank you and asking how she was. Naturally, this evolved into a full conversion making its way onto the private messaging app built into the site. The conversation seemed normal, positive and we both seemed to be looking for the same sort of things, living, loving, traveling, fun and smiles.
Over the following two weeks we moved onto WhatsApp, there we could prepare for the first actual voice to voice call.
Now the story starts…….
The time had come for the first voice to voice call, so I found somewhere quiet, cleared my throat and anxiously clicked call. She (Louise) answered. The call seemed rushed, stressed and something not right but me being me put this down to nerves and let it go. We had lots of these calls and every time the same happened, anxious, rushed, quiet, stress and just odd. But I still blindly just let it go. Another week passed so we arranged to meet in a small village for a drink on a Saturday evening. The general idea was to have a more social, laid back date, rather than a full-on date with dinner, flowers and maybe the movies.I showered, got dressed and made myself smell nice and mentally prepared for meeting this potential girlfriend for the first time. I jumped in the car and headed towards the pub where we were to meet. My phone rang, I was driving, I could not answer….
I pulled over and rang the number back. ‘Is Louise there?’ I ask, ‘Louise, no Louise here’ is the reply. I apologise and hang up. The phone rang again from the same number, it was Louise. I didn’t mention the names thing at that point, but she asks me if I could pick her up from her house, I agreed.I went around a corner and I could see her standing there, with a suitcase.I pulled over, she ran around the car, jumped in and said ‘DRIVE’.I drove off thinking ‘oh my god’.We headed to the pub we originally agreed to meet and during the small drive we engaged in light conversation, she tells me that her name is really Sarah and that she was afraid to use her real name.A mile or so into the journey, suddenly she ducked down. I carried on driving and five minutes later she sat back up and explained that she had just passed a house with some of her family members in.
From here I will tell the story as it happened.
We get to the pub, she leaves her case in the car and just takes her handbag. In my mind there are a million questions that I need answers to. We go over to the bar and I ask what she would like to drink, she replies wine, so the easiest option is to just buy a bottle.Five or ten minutes later I make my excuses, get up and go to the loo. I return to find the whole bottle of wine and her glass drunk within about 3 minutes. The only thing remaining on the table is my coke.I order another bottle.She then tells me why she used false names, for personal security. Fair enough I think.
She tells me she has left her partner, a policeman who is mentally abusing her. She shows me her arms, covered in cuts from self-harming and her wrists are still bandaged from a suicide attempt. She tells me she has tried to kill herself several times.The conversation gets very intense, talking of suicide attempts, depression, self-harm and running away.Later in the conversation Sarah suddenly asks me if she can come and live with me and that she has nowhere to go. I say no, it isn’t possible. This question was asked several times with increasing desperation during the evening.The second bottle of wine is now inside her. She suddenly bursts into tears and sits on the floor in the middle of the pub crying. I try and calm her down. The crying turns to anger and back to sadness. Suddenly she gets up and runs into the toilet. I sit at the table with all these events running through my mind.
I’m growing concerned about how long she is taking in the toilet, based on her current mood.I get up and go to the bar and explain to the barman my concerns and that I am going into the lady’s toilet. I enter, make myself known loudly, I hear rustling, that rustling like taking Ibuprofen out of the plastic wrapper, I shout ‘SARAH, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’.I kick the door in, she is holding an empty packet of anti-depressants. She tells me she has just eaten them all.I ring 999 with the packet in my hand.She grabs the phone, I am shouting, she needs to throw up….quickly.The phone is hung up. I can see the 999-people ringing my phone back. I ignore it at this point.She throws up, runs out of the toilet and out into the rainy night. I got to the bar and apologize for any damage, the bartender kind of understands.
I wait 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes, I don’t know. Time now seems not important to what’s going on. I don’t understand the situation. I am scared. I do not know what to do, who to ask for help or anything.I pay the bar bill, grab her handbag and jump into the car. I never drink and drive just in case and luckily this attitude paid off this night.I am driving around in the rain trying to find her for what seems like hours. Suddenly, in the distance I see a soaked person, walking in the rain, hair stuck to her face and head low. I pull over beside her, wind the window down and ask her to get in. She refuses, I ask sternly, very sternly for her to get in the car out of the rain.She gets in and almost with a sense of pride, shows me her wrist. She had been trying to cut again with glass. She then tells me she was looking for something to hang herself with.
We drive back to the pub in silence and go back inside where it is warm and safe. The bartender kindly makes her fresh strong coffee.We engage in conversation, I am doing my best to support her, trying desperately not to let this night be her last alive. Slowly the coffee kicks in, and the conversation resembles normality.She tells me that a local church has been supporting her with depression, anxiety and self-harm and we agree that this is the best place for her to be.I dropped her off at the church and drove home. She emailed a few days later telling me she was ok, and do I want another date.
I didn’t go back to online dating.
Have You Ever Had Concerns About Someone’s Mental Health When On An Online Date?
Alan Bloor’s Blog:https://quitelocal.com/