It was my first date after a breakup several months prior. I was nervous and excited, yet hopeful. The butterflies were wildly flying around as I walked to our meeting location.

This man sounded interesting to me—and seemed to have his life together. He was a lawyer, and we had similar interests in books, hobbies, and travel. We met in a nearby college town, went to a bar with live music, and had drinks. He treated me politely and walked me to my car, and I felt open enough to continue getting to know him more. From what I could tell, it had been a pretty good date.

About a week later, he began to text me a lot—and did not seem to appreciate that I was not as quick to respond to his messages. For me, it came across as a little bit needy. I started sensing some red flags, but as luck would have it, he asked me out to dinner the following Saturday. Nothing seemed seriously wrong, but I had a gut feeling that we weren’t a good fit, and I paid attention to what I was thinking and feeling.

Very directly, yet kindly, I thanked him for the invitation and again for the first date. However, I then told him, I did not feel like we were the right romantic fit, and I wasn’t interested in another date.

Several minutes later, I was shocked to receive a mean, vile text message that eventually ended with the snide comment, “Good luck with your next sugar daddy.”

It felt like an unexpected sucker punch.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I showed my mom the message. She gave me a big hug and told me to not even respond and just block his number.

While my feelings were initially hurt, this no good, very bad interaction revealed to me that I can trust myself when it comes to dating. I can listen to my intuition and pay attention to what I am feeling in my body. The red flags were real. I have everything inside of myself to make healthy, self-aware decisions when it comes to the type of man I want to spend time with, or in this case, not spend time with.

Several years before, I was not as emotionally healthy or self-aware. My habits of co-dependency, insecurity, and dissatisfaction with myself had led me not to trust my instincts, and I entered into an unstable marriage which ended quickly.

As I have navigated the world of dating since then, I have realized I am a smart, strong-willed woman. I know what I am looking for in a relationship and what I will not tolerate. I know I can trust myself to make good decisions when it comes to men, dating, and relationships. I will be okay because I can trust myself.

So, while my experience with this man was not a good one, I am actually grateful for it, because I learned that I can make healthy, wise decisions for myself. I do not have to tolerate poor behavior or actions from anyone. I have the tools and strength within myself to navigate these situations with grace and class. In this case, the right answer for me was already inside me. I had known, even before he showed his cards, that something was off—and I can take that skill of trusting my gut with me into my future dating life. 

Editor’s Note: Dating Unscripted is a Readers Write column. Share your own story here.

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