So how did I get here…well, okay, where do I start? The strippers. I’m going to start with the strippers.

The strippers were the catalyst, I think, that put us on this path, got us off track.

See, before the strippers, we were very much on track. As cliché as it sounds, we fell for each other hard. It was easy, everything fell into place, and it totally felt right. I know—but it’s true. I’d been so closed off before we met because I was scared that I would be disappointed, or get hurt, so I put this wall up. I had always been comfortable and confident being on my own, and because of this, I had never truly been myself or completely vulnerable with someone. But then he came along, and he was honest and kind, and funny. So funny. But I still had that wall up. I was tentative and I kept my distance, yet he continued to surprise me and excite me, and before I knew it, that wall had come crashing down, and with it, the weight I didn’t realize I had been carrying on my shoulders.

Fast forward five months. We are sitting on my couch one day, watching TV, completely on track, when he said, “Tyler called me last night, he asked me to be his best man.” I wasn’t surprised. He has this small, tight-knit group of friends he loves like family. He and Tyler have been friends since childhood, and Tyler had recently proposed to his high school sweetheart. I said, “That’s amazing!” I genuinely meant it. He was grinning, and kissed the top of my head, and said, “Guess I got to start planning the bachelor party.”  Then he made the “hang loose” sign with his hand and laughed.

His best friend was getting married. He was the best man, it was all great, really, but as he started planning—Vegas or Nashville, eight people, maybe twelve now—I had to ask. So I did. “Are you guys going to hire strippers?” I said this in a very nonchalant, kind of jokingly way, because obviously there were going to be strippers. All guys have strippers at bachelor parties like all girls drink alcohol from pink penis straws at bachelorette parties. It’s cool. Even though now that I’m saying this, the comparison is kind of ridiculous. It’s not at all the same thing. Strippers are paid to be sexy, to indulge fantasies for the allotted time they are hired, and they leave, it’s over, and guys then come home to their very realistic, less-sexy, unpaid, girlfriends. Anyways. He rolled his eyes, and said, “There may or may not be strippers.” I knew the answer, of course, but it was his tone, the look that flashed in his eyes. I know that sounds crazy, and it may have only lasted a second, but it was there. I saw it. Like he had a secret, you know? Clearly, he’d already put a lot of thought into this, and there was definitely something he wasn’t telling me.

I didn’t want to make a thing of it. I allowed weeks to go by, and I went along, listening to him spout details about this trip, the drama of picking a weekend, whether to invite their awesome, but possibly alcoholic friend Larry, the funny gif his buddy posted in their Facebook group, and all was fine. They settled on a weekend, booked flights. He’s going on and on about it at dinner one night, staring at his phone, barely present, and when he gets up to go to the bathroom his phone won’t stop buzzing on the table.

I know, I know, but it just kept going off, and I figured I’d silence it, and yeah, I looked. I thought, just this once, just to you know…but let me tell you, it was like opening Pandora’s box. There were just so many messages. Mostly about the bachelor party, some about work. I. Could. Not. Stop. I put it down before he came back, of course, but that night I couldn’t sleep.

You know that feeling when your mind is racing, and you just want to turn it off, but you can’t? That’s what this was. It’s like this fantasy kept playing over and over, but not the good kind.

And in this nightmare-like fantasy, I keep seeing him, sitting on a chair in a room. None of his friends are there, but this gorgeous, blonde-boobed vixen dressed as a sexy nurse is straddling him. Stereotypical stuff. And there he is, grasping those breasts for dear life, and she unzips his pants. He lets her, and the look in his eyes…

Riddled with guilt, he comes home early and rushes to see me, tells me what happened. Tears streaming down his face, he says, “I love you, I love you.” He begs for my forgiveness. Which eventually, I give him, but the trust won’t be there anymore. He’ll spend months and months trying to prove to me he loves me, that I’m the only one.

I think that’s what got me. Not him and the stripper…but me in this little fantasy. The fact that, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I knew I’d forgive him before he even hurt me. That I’d forgive him for anything, that I am that type of girl. I had always been comfortable and confident being on my own, and here I am, completely vulnerable with this guy. And I continued to have the stupid fantasy over and over—I still do—and it always ends the same: with me telling him it’s okay.

So I thought, I’ll stop this before it even happens, I won’t be that girl because I won’t give him a chance to make me that girl. Does that make sense? So, I started looking at his phone more often. Not all the time, but when he was in the bathroom, showering, whatever—just to make sure. Come on, don’t give me that look, who doesn’t do that sometimes? Because it may start with a stripper at a bachelor party, but where do I go from there?

When my texts went unanswered, I’d call. If he didn’t pick up, I’d call Tyler, or one of his other friends. I would be totally fine if he called my friends if he was worried. Wouldn’t you? And then the day before the trip, he told me we needed some space. That I’d probably do well with some space. Maybe see other people.

God, at first, I couldn’t believe it. It was not my finest moment, and that’s all I’ll say about that, but he was totally right. I just needed some time to do me, so we could get back on track.  And I’m doing great. We just need space for now.

It’s really great.

Anyways. That’s how I got here. God, I’m so sorry, I feel like I’ve been talking your ear off! Tell me, what made you decide to try dating apps?

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About Victoria Provazza

Victoria Provazza holds an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. She currently lives in Stamford, CT and teaches writing at Fordham University and Sacred Heart University. Her work has appeared in Story|Houston and Driftwood Press, among others.