So … About Your Friends … (Southern Belle)

So … the Experimental Daters are dropping like flies … in a good way!  First Champagne Hero was taken off the market, not once, but twice in the last few months!  Then Fader admitted things have gotten all serious with The Prefect!  And there are whispers that The Coincidental Dater is not so single any more … 🙂

So how is Belle faring on the other side of the Atlantic?  Well, she’s learning some uncomfortable truths about new relationships …

Miss Twenty-Nine xxx

As any of my friends can tell you, I’m pretty much a 0 to 60 mile-an-hour person when it comes to relationships. In the past six years, anyone who got past the three or four date mark has become a long-term relationship, which is why I’ve been struggling to write an update recently.

The Ukrainian and I have pretty consistently gone on one or two dates a week since he returned from Amsterdam. Coffees, meals, parties.. I’ve met some of his friends. He’s met some of mine. Some of my friends really like him, a couple are unsure which is funny because that’s exactly how I feel. The more time I spend with him, the easier and more comfortable it becomes. It’s not a lightning bolt situation where I knew immediately I wanted to spend as much of my spare time as possible getting to know him better, but as the weeks have progressed I’m definitely warming up to this apparently “normal” speed of things.

One of the things that made me genuinely unsure of future potential was the first time we slept together. As Twitter knows (I’m sure I’ll pay for that indiscretion at some point) it was less than impressive and I saw little room for improvement. He’d made me wait so long for it (yes…. he was the one who wanted to wait) that I’d already surmised sex meant more to him than me.  I hadn’t had chance to explain how important a healthy physical relationship was to me based on past experiences, because there had just been crazy making out and then.. he’d leave! Since then, I’ve learned some things and had some really honest conversations about his history that put everything into perspective. And yes, the sex has got 100% better. Which is great!

There is however, a new issue.

This weekend, I met his Russian friends.

I’d met the American ones previously and got along really well… (Apart from the fact they kept dropping the girlfriend word constantly and to my mortification).. but this Saturday, I had the most bizarre experience since arriving in the States. Each one of his friends brought food to the house; we made some salads and had drinks through the evening by the pool. The men greeted me with handshakes and a head nod, not even offering their name. The women were much friendlier, joking that they’d been teasing him about my existence as he’d been talking about me without me joining them for drinks at any point. I’d never expected an invite to his Russian evenings because honestly, I have my own things to do. I digress.

Out of 5 men who attended, 3 were the most misogynistic, sexist, ignorant asses that I have ever had the misfortune to meet. While interested in my UK origin, there were no questions asked about my family, friends, hobbies or work. What was mentioned was the following.

A woman’s place is to serve and support the man of the household.

Education for women is fine, it serves to make them better wives.

Rape is something that women invite and typically deserve.

Dressing inappropriately and against her partner’s/husband’s wishes makes her a whore. Red lipstick was mentioned by name as an example.

Women are only interested in men if they have cash or diamond rings attached to them.

That I was clearly an intelligent woman because The Ukrainian was a real catch.

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I’ll expand on that last point for a minute. Half the conversation throughout the evening was conducted in Russian and most of the above delights came from one man. A man who by his own admission has travelled to Russia and a small village to find a woman who is aware of her place in the world and grateful of the opportunity to serve her man of the house. The Ukrainian was talking (in Russian) to the other half of the group when all this was being talked about.

I could not believe my ears. As a victim of rape at 16, my blood was absolutely boiling. The only reason I didn’t completely lose it was out of courtesy to the Ukrainian and the fact I wanted to be able to discuss it with him later. During some of the tamer conversation, he leaned across to give him a kiss and I asked him if he knew who he was dating. He laughed and asked what I meant, to which I may have said that if he thought for even a second that I had a modicum of 1920’s housewife in me, he was barking up the wrong tree. He laughed, kissed me sweetly and said he knew exactly who he was dating.

The evening continued. Repeated references to the Ukrainian’s parent’s wealth. The girls giving me advice on what to wear for the family wedding that I’m supposed to be attending in two weeks: “Black. Simple. Plain. Nothing too showy or his Mother will dislike you”.

Now… we’ve not had the discussion about my personal finances. However,  I do know how much he makes – he’s job hunting at the moment, and I’ve helped him with a couple of negotiations. I’ve not lied, per se. He knows I was in Thailand for my birthday, that I own my house, car and that I’m going to Belize for two weeks in a short while. I certainly haven’t told him that in a good year, I’ll earn four times as much as him.

I’ll say something though; I have never been as insulted as when this asshole friend kept insinuating that I was clever for dating him because of his money. If I didn’t like the Ukrainian so much, I would have taken my payslip and rammed it down his friend’s smug, chauvinistic throat and then helped his Russian bride–to–be leave him!

I have never had to sit through an evening and be judged by my gender instead of my person. It was jaw droppingly awful.

There were some really nice parts to the evening too. Unlike the rest of the guys, mine constantly checked on me, translated, offered to get me things. Russians toast with every drink. The third drink is traditionally to women (ironically) and what he said was thoughtful and sweet. He is not his friends.

After the guests had left, he asked me what I had thought. I was honest and said I’d been horrified and beyond offended by some of the comments. When I repeated it back,  I got a two part reaction: immediate apology and then.. rationale. His Russian friends spent much more time in the former USSR than he. They received a very traditional upbringing.   Thes sshole in question was hurt very badly by an American woman, shamed his family and has reverted to the old ways by command of his father.

I was pretty blunt in my response.

Rape is not something I have ever, or will ever, allowed people to belittle and if that happens again, I will say something. That I wasn’t judging him for his friends but had some real concerns based on what I’d heard. That I couldn’t understand how the respectful, well educated, intelligent guy I’d got to know had friends who thought this way.

He agreed and said how he could see it would be a complete shock based on the guy I’d gotten to know. We went to bed and talked for hours more until I’d put the feeling of disquiet back in its box.

The feeling is back today.

When you’re dating someone, are you also dating the friends? The family? How can you ever really know what people believe deep down?

I am so happy for Fader and the news of her relationship with the Prefect, but because of the above for now I’m still single, figuring things out and resisting all things “girlfriend”.

Belle xx

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#Wednesday Dating Club

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