Emily is a 34-year-old sales representative. She describes her style as “fun and casual — most of my off-duty looks are ‘athleisure.’ ” Emily’s friends would describe her as “Friendly, caring, funny and a bit cheeky. I like to get the conversations going and keep the laughter rolling.” Emily likes “Dancing, shopping, reading, playing sports and having adventures.” She says “I am looking for a good guy with an adventurous streak. I get bored with ‘nice guys’ and stressed out by ‘bad boys,’ so someone in-between would be ideal. He needs to respect women and have a sense of direction.”
I was working out of a hotel for a few days, during a big professional conference. I met Bryan at the hotel bar with a big group after we had all attended the same event. I was at the other end of the table for most of the night, so I didn’t talk to him much, but he seemed like a nice-enough guy. He paid for everyone’s drinks, which impressed me.
The next day, I was on my way to the hotel gym and ran into Bryan near the elevators. We talked, and he said that he wanted to invite me to have dinner with him that night, but he already had work-related plans in place. I was surprised, since we hadn’t really interacted that much. He asked if I would meet him later to watch some of the U.S. election coverage at the bar, instead. It was a stressful day, so I said yes — I was looking forward to doing something relaxing. Bryan was older than me and ahead of me professionally, but seemed harmless, and even kind of “nice.”
That night, I got to the bar first. It was kind of empty, which made for a weird vibe. Bryan arrived and offered to buy me a drink, which I accepted. We got a table and started talking about the conference and about our jobs. There was a baseline of professionalism between us, but the mood seemed really up in the air — it felt like it could go a couple of different ways. I was happy to just go with it, until we got to know each other a bit better. We got along well, and the conversation was light and easygoing. I was curious about him and his line of work, so I was asking him all sorts of questions.
As the cocktails kicked in, the conversation started to take on a more personal tone. After I asked him about his life, Bryan told me that he had kids, which didn’t surprise me, but then he confessed that he was still married to their mother. He told me how young he had been when he got married and how predictable things had become — his marriage was “no fun” — and then, the next thing I knew, he was asking me about my life. In fact, he went straight to asking me, “What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done, sexually?”
I got very uncomfortable. I told him that I was very boring, trying to subtly send the message that I didn’t want to talk about anything like that. Even after I tried to shut him down the first time, he kept pressing me, and I kept deflecting. I couldn’t believe that he would get pushy after he revealed that he was married with kids! I got the sense that he hadn’t talked to a woman on this level in a while. I’m an open communicator, and men often tell me they feel very comfortable talking to me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have boundaries.
Finally, Bryan asked me point-blank if I wanted to continue watching the coverage together somewhere else. I asked him where, specifically, he had in mind? He said, “How about in my hotel room?” I politely declined, and told him that I would be heading back to my own room. We took the elevator upstairs together, and on my way out, I told him to go home and bring some “fun” back to his relationship with his wife. He just looked at me as the doors closed.
The next day, he texted me saying that he hadn’t had a “night like that” before, and that I was, like I had said, “boring” for leaving early. He also told me to reach out if I needed any help with work, but I didn’t take him up on the offer. I did decide that the night had been, at least, informative.