Dating Red Flags: Too Much Groping and Not Enough Listening

Zachery drove towards the city with one hand on the wheel and another desperately clinging to a relationship he lost long ago. His hand squeezed mine in an uncomfortably tight grip, but I didn’t complain. Sitting as far away as I could from him, gazing out the window, I considered myself lucky that the hand at least stayed away from my legs after billionth time I told him to remove it.

With his brother and my best friend in the back seat, we made our way to our dinner reservations, where we were meeting a group of friends and their dates.


The best part of my junior prom night was just before dinner. We were so early, that it made no sense to sit in the restaurant. As such, we took a little detour to a Toys ‘R Us near by. There’s nothing like browsing a toy store while decked out in prom glory.

This idea was the brainchild of my friend and I. Her boyfriend, Zachery’s younger brother, wanted no part in our shenanigans, but Zachery made sure to come so he wouldn’t have to loosen the death grip he had on my hand. I was content in the knowledge I would break up with him in two weeks and decided to let it all slide. We had our fun and nearly encountered disaster when my friend tripped over a speed bump.

Lucky for us, Zachery’s brother was in the car to immortalize the moment.

205160_1003690050589_79_nHaving wasted enough time and escaped catastrophe, we made out way to dinner.

I was so happy to have the uncomfortable silences of the car interrupted by all my dear friends as we sat at dinner. Many had boyfriends who graduated the year before or who attended other high schools, so it had been a while since I’d seen some of them. I got great big hugs from many.

As we settled into our table, I could already see the anger and distress in Zachery’s eyes. Already, I had given up caring. I was already angry and more than happy to distract myself by talking to everyone else. I don’t remember him engaging in much conversation, but that was pretty typical for him.

Also typical was that damn hand of his. At first, I just pushed it away, but it always came back. Sometimes, it’s come back higher, like he was trying to wrap his hand around my inner thigh. He was far to close to private areas for comfort and I kept telling him to knock it off. I pushed his hand away with more harshness and still, not five minutes later, it would return.

Each time I told him to leave my legs alone, he would say, “sorry, I forgot.” I knew that was bullshit. Certainly he had a memory span greater than a goldfish.

Dinner went on. Eventually, I stopped speaking to Zachery entirely. I ate my food, chatted with friends, and discreetly shoved Zachery’s hand away every five minutes. Maybe he could have used a good dose of embarrassment. Perhaps teenage TK should have stood up, yelled at her date and thrown a drink in his face just like the movies. Unfortunately, under her anger, teenage TK was embarrassed and scared. She was terrified someone would notice.

Once the meal was over, we again had some time to kill. Some people excused themselves to the restroom while others got out of their seats to congregate with people on opposite ends of the table.

I got up as well, to sit next to one of my friends dates who lived in a town many hours away. It had been a while since we’d seen each other and had enjoyed catching up with him and everyone else on that side of the table. Every once in a while, I would glance at Zachery. Still not speaking to anyone around him, he sat their seething and sulking. Again, I decided I didn’t care. He could speak with friends if he wanted. He could pick his butt up out of the chair and come join my conversation. I wasn’t going to ignore my friends and ruin my night just because he wanted to be the focal point of my attention.

Eventually, it was time to make our way to the roller rink that would act as our prom venue. Currently, the place was filled with parents surrounding a long red carpet that cut the rink in half. Those of us who had signed up lined up in another room and prepared to make our grand entrance.

Standing in line, surrounded by peers, some of who were my friends, some who were bullies and some who were neither, Zachery decided to put his hand on my ass. And here I thought his hand on my leg in public was embarrassing.

My anger shot to new heights as I moved his hand to the side of my torso – where it was supposed to be for the walk. It was a repeat of dinner. He kept putting his hand on my ass and I kept moving it, reviving my earlier refrain for him to knock it off. Each time, as if on que, he responded, “sorry, I forgot.”

As the announcer finally reached us and we made our way down the bedazzled roller rink floor, I couldn’t wait for the actual dance to begin. I had it in my head that I would be able to avoid him as I moved between conversations and dances between friends.

Zachery would make sure that wouldn’t happen.

Where was your high school prom held? Did you dance only with your date, or did you also dance with friends? Any theories on why Zachery wouldn’t knock it off? Seriously, to this day I have no idea why he wouldn’t listen to me. Do you buy his ‘sorry, I forgot’ excuse?



41 thoughts on “Dating Red Flags: Too Much Groping and Not Enough Listening”

  1. You know that I’m old enough to be your grandma, TK, but while reading this I shook my head, thinking of my prom in the 1960’s and repeating, “The Horror…The Horror…” Nothing changes! The worst part of my prom, besides the you-belong-to-me inappropriateness of the placing of hands was the constant argument to remove my “hippie earrings” because they embarrassed him. I was finally told to “stop being a hippie” or we were through. No contest! As to your questions about why? All part of the biological imperative to reproduce, I suppose 🙂

    1. I guess biology is good enough of an excuse. I still feel like he should have been able to act like a human being. I really think he knew the relationship was over at that point. Clearly he wasn’t bothering to save it either.

  2. This has been an incredibly engaging story. Great job taking an uncomfortable part of your last and turning it into a conversation. I’d say he didn’t know how to view women as people, rather than possessions. I hope he’s learned since.

    1. That’s my impression too, that, or he thought that was how women were supposed to be treated or wanted to be treated. I often wondered if he had friends giving him poor dating advice on how to get in my pants. I wanted to wait for the right person, which would require a lot of dating before sex. If that’s all he wanted, he was barking up the wrong tree.

    1. I know. I mean, I’m female, but I feel for the men sometimes. I know these guys are in the minority, but still, every women I know has at least one story of being disrespected and/or objectified by another man. Luckily, I’ve seen some men stand up. It may not do much, but just approaching someone and telling them to knock off their disrespectful behavior can make a world of difference. At the very least, it can show the woman there are respectful men out there.

    1. I mean, I know there’s that assumption, but he knew I wanted to take is slow and knew I was uninterested in having sex. There was no way that was happening and I made sure he know that. That was one thing I made a point to vocally say. Even if he thought he had a change, he certainly wasn’t going about it in a good way.

  3. I don’t buy it for one minute. I think he was possibly doing it as a malicious sort of revenge, maybe because he was externalizing the source of his frustration; instead of realizing or admitting that it was his fault for being weird and handsy, maybe he figured you had led him on or were playing with his emotions for your own sick amusement (though obviously you weren’t doing those things.)

    I had a friend who did the same thing a lot, though not in the same way. He wasn’t very good at school, and he wasn’t very good at work . . . to this day he and his family are happily on welfare, which I just don’t get. Anyway, any time he got in trouble or stuff didn’t work out, suddenly it was someone else’s fault, someone in charge, someone who was in his face or persecuting him in some way. He was always being “persecuted”, and sometimes would get to sounding like a conspiracy nut.

    Zachery’s lame-duck excuse only adds to the idea that it was not only not a genuine play for nookie he’s making, but it was also quite superficially a game he was playing, and not a very nice one at all.

    1. I hate games. I have no time for it anymore and, honestly, I really didn’t have time for it then either. The funny thing in all this is that if he would have just said something to me, tried to talk to me about his frustrations, our relationship may have continued. I don’t think it would have ever worked out, but it would have lasted longer.

      1. Well that’s the thing, right? He had real issues communicating — maybe that fed into his frustrations as well, but you’re right, most people really don’t have time for that noise and communication is a huge deal!

  4. First of all, as an avid fiction reader/writer, I love the way you opened this. I felt like I was reading the opening lines of a novel. So kudos on that. Anyway, I was homeschooled throughout my formative school years, so I can’t really offer anything on prom. As for why he wouldn’t knock it off, I absolutely don’t buy the “I forgot” excuse. My guess would be that it was purely an attempt to garner your attention. I’m sure he would have preferred an affectionate response, but when you’re unhealthily obsessed with someone, you’ll take attention in any form and the physical contact was a sure way for you to respond to him, if only to push him away. At least you were focused on him for that instant.

    1. I guess. He certainly wasn’t trying to save the relationship though. My senior year of high school, there was a girl who was home schooled who came to prom with us. I guess each home schooled child is different, though. I know she was involved in a lot of school activities, like 4H and sports.

  5. I’ve heard boys call the touching thing “checking their boundaries” in my HS guys would do this to their SO until they stopped moving their hands away or stop telling them to stop.

  6. Ugh, no, I do not buy his “sorry, I forgot” bullshit. That sounds like when a guy date rapes a girl and says “sorry, I got carried away.” I’d be curious to know how this guy ended up.

    1. I probably won’t give many details on how he ended up, but I can tell you it’s not good. My friend eventually married his younger brother, so even after we broke up and he graduated, I got all the gossip through my friend.

  7. Wow, this guy sounds like the prom date from hell. As for me, I didn’t go to my prom. I stayed home and watched the movie Carrie. 🙂

    1. hahaha. I was so the type to refuse to go to prom, so I don’t really know why I went. I guess I figured those years was my only chance to have that experience. Good or bad, I wanted to have it.

  8. Chapter TK – first off, i do empathy well, so in the beginning of this, damn, that sucks to her your side. poop. as far as that a$$hole is concerned? he was just acting out..he didn’t know how to formulate his feelings into gestures…he over-reacted and made passes that were over the top and embarrassing to him and you. just an opinion..i can relate though – H.S. dances were such a clusterfuck in my world anyway..;)

  9. In terms of how to behave, if you respect a woman and demonstrate your value, make her feel comfortable and then it can proceed at a pace she feels comfortable with. It’s a shame he couldn’t recognize your discomfort and behave appropriately.

    1. I know, but every woman has a story like this, whether it’s a story from one night or one relationship. I guess it’s just a part of life.

      1. A lot of it is a failure with boys being unable or unwilling to conduct their emotional and physical response to women or haven’t been mentored into maturity. I recall the overwhelming need to be tactile, how clumsy it made me, the frustrated wonder that blinded me to the cues that were given but I grew up. I’m sorry that it happened to you and thank you for sharing that experience.

  10. There is a lot of expectation around proms, some innocent and fun, some heavy with relationship overtones, some blatantly sexual. I went to every prom and formal I could from freshman high to senior. Sometimes it was a chance to awkwardly date girls out of my league. Other times to have a great time with a girlfriend. But once I took a girl who I learned didn’t give a fig for me just before the dance. I was not happy to be forced by polite society to take her to the big event but did my duty. She used me as an escort just so she didn’t have to sit at home while her girlfriends partied. My displeasure was a little less asinine as your date’s. I didn’t engage in small talk with her, paid more attention to other girls and danced with them. Took her home promptly and left without a peck.

    As for your date. He just showed his true colors. Knowing you were breaking it off, he was not hampered with having to be polite in hopes of more sugar later. His actions were about aggression and humiliation, not romance or seduction. You dodged a bullet.

    1. I can only assume he knew the relationship was over. I mean, it was pretty obvious to me. Still, he seemed surprised when I actually did the deed, so I don’t really know.

      It’s a shame you got used like that. The really sad thing is, depending on the circumstances, you may have been more than happy to be her escort for that reason had she been honest with you. I had a blind date for senior prom and we basically went with each other because our friends knew neither of us had a date. As it ended up, we didn’t spend a lot of time with each other at the dance. We just didn’t click and were there to hang with friends more than each other. There were no hard feelings, though, simply because of our honesty.

  11. I liked that you shared this story and how you are so open about things. As far as Zachary was, I think that guys have only ‘one thing on their mind,’ when they are teenagers. I am sorry he was not more respectful towards you.
    I had fun at my prom, but it was meant to be with a different guy. I broke up with him, over a silly high school thing, then went with a guy friend. Turns out he is gay, all grown up now, as I am in my fifties. I am hoping to see him at our 40th h.s. reunion, but he usually doesn’t come. My real boyfriend rode his bicycle over to my house after prom and asked me to go out all summer, until I went to college. I did this and wish I had the memory of prom shared with him. Time is such a funny thing, goes far too quickly. Take care! Robin

    1. People think about sex all the time, but even so, most manage to respect each other and back off when the object person of their affection tells them too.

      We’re always funny as teenagers. We make odd decisions based on petty excuses. It’s hard to behave otherwise when the pettiness of grade school is all you really know.

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