If you were a man who met me between March and July of 2014, you were lucky or perhaps going to be. These were the months just after I ended a 13-year relationship that had turned toxic and abusive, and I was ready to have sex again.
I was wrecked in so many ways. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I didn’t want a committed relationship or a one-night stand. That’s when I met my very own Christian Grey, living in Seattle no less, who introduced me to the sexual fetish of role-playing.
I met Christian on Tinder. From our messaging on the dating app, I learned that he was new in town, worked in finance and had a swanky top-floor apartment in a cool neighborhood. I told Christian what I wanted, which was basically a “friend with benefits” arrangement. This was what he had in mind, too, because of his demanding career.
We met up late on a Tuesday night, outside his office building downtown. He came out to my car, which I parked on a well-lit street. He was nervous, high-strung, attractive, fit and had long dark hair, which he ran his fingers through constantly. After some perfunctory small talk, he asked me what I was “into.” I told him I was just out of a long relationship and wanted to have sex without a serious commitment. I was in a bit of a self-discovery phase, I said; after being in a relationship where sex was never about my needs, selfishly, I wanted sex to be focused on me for a change. He nodded and smiled. Then he described his role-playing fantasies, in detail. I nodded and smiled.
Over the next couple of days, he sent me sexy pictures, describing in detail the things he would do to me. I kept telling him that role-playing was not what I was “into,” and he told me that was fine. One day, he became relentless. He begged me to let him come over, and I resisted. I was so new to this world of casual dating and sex, that while I was eager to discover it, I didn’t know how to do so safely. Looking back, I think I wanted what he was offering so badly that I convinced myself it was okay, or that it would be.
After a few days of this onslaught of digital sexual attention, I tentatively typed my address into the text box. He said he would be there at 10 p.m. When he arrived a few hours later, I offered him wine. He refused and kissed me instead. I was nervous, but he put me at ease and for the next 38 minutes he focused completely on me. He didn’t ask, intimate, nor did he assume that anything would be for or about him. After he’d determined that I’d been satisfied enough, and I had, he put on his shirt and left.
After kissing me goodbye at my front door, I stood there, stunned. I couldn’t understand what had just happened: A man I barely knew had just come to my house, pleasured me, asked for nothing and then left. When I looked in the mirror next to my front door, I was smirking. I remember feeling electric, giddy and, yes, satisfied.
The next day I couldn’t shake this feeling that I didn’t really know this person. He’d sent me pictures of himself in China, Rio de Janeiro, at the last Super Bowl with a VIP pass hanging around his neck. When I pressed him further to prove his identity, he sent a picture of his opened wallet, inside an Amex black card, the name hidden. I suppose he assumed that I would trust a man of means even if I didn’t trust his identity. And he was right. I did trust it in a way, knowing that a man of means has things he stands to lose.
A good friend came to town the week after my encounter, and when I told her about this situation we devised a plan to find out Christian’s true identity. We Googled, using the limited information we had about him. We did reverse-image searches, phone number searches; we zoomed into pictures of his office and his wallet like detectives looking for clues.
As we brainstormed, I remembered the night we met in my car. Prior to driving to his office I was trying to connect with him to get directions, but my phone kept dropping the call. He called me from the land line to give me directions. I scrolled through my call history and dialed that number. There was no Christian working there, but before I hung up I asked the name of the company. It was a prominent financial institution; I went to the website and found him listed under a different first name. Much of the biographical information didn’t match what he’d told me, but one thing did: He was new in town. But so was his wife — and their three beautiful daughters.
I texted him using his real name. It was several hours before he texted back: “What do you want? You could ruin my life.” I told him I knew I could, but that I only wanted one thing; for him to buy his wife flowers and tell her that he was lucky to have her as the mother of his children. He said he and his wife were “very happy,” had a “great relationship,” and in the pictures, they indeed looked blissful.
After he realized that I was not a vindictive or angry woman seeking to ruin his life for lying to me, he wanted to know how I figured it out. He’d used someone else’s pictures for his profile that looked enough like him. He’d used a messaging app and bought a separate phone for this extramarital adventure. I refused to tell him the small mistake he’d made that led me to his identity.
The trust issues I had prior to meeting this man were not helped any by our encounter. But over time, I wasn’t hurt by what he’d done, either. His choices were logical and simple; a man who had three young children was in search of sexual fulfillment; not unfathomable, even if deceitful and manipulative.
Pretending to be someone else is what he was “into.” His main worry was not deceiving me or his wife, but of getting caught. But was he entirely selfish? He sensed what I needed, even if I could not, and gave it to me without expecting much in return. Which is what he told me he’d wanted to do all along.
While I want to hate him for lying, I don’t. Because the night he came to my house, I was the lucky one.