I don’t know why I went. When I initially downloaded Tinder my friend who’s used the app for years warned, “Just always make sure to meet in public first.” I didn’t listen, and thought it would be fine to go for a coffee at a stranger’s house. Here is my story:

“I’m here,” I message. Blue ticks. The gate opens. The apartment block is small, an old-school Cape Town building in Tamboerskloof. Big windows and balconies. I get to 201. The door is open, and I hear him from inside the flat, “Come through!” Literally, a lamb to the slaughter.

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Should I just leave? His profile was normal. Plus, upon Googling him, I discovered he’s a relatively well-known local artist. It was raining and super cold that day, prompting him to Whatsapp me, asking me to come to his place instead of going to the spot we pre-arranged in town.

“I have a fireplace…” He reeled me in. Better his than mine, I considered. With dating apps, it’s not rare for people to meet at each other’s homes – mainly to hook up. Some have called Tinder the dawn of the dating apocalypse, while others now see it as the easiest way to meet a partner. Or to get a fix of sex.

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Meeting at another’s home might just be the 2019 version of a cheap date. Cutting directly to the chase, that is. I was still very new to this dating culture when I decide to go on this in-home date – so my naïve intention was a cup of coffee.

We meet in his kitchen where he’s busy brewing coffee. “Wow you look beautiful,” he says as he gives me a quick hug. “Thanks. Nice to meet in person,” I respond. We sit down to enjoy our coffee, and hopefully each other’s company.

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The coffee was strong, but the company so very weak. He was a cocky, arrogant man with very little interest in me, my life or me being comfortable in his home. His responses came across as patronising, and he lacked basic manners.

I desperately wanted to leave 15 minutes into the date. But leaving someone’s home is slightly more awkward that exiting a bad date in public. What do I even say, I panicked.

A 2018 study found that women are more inclined to have people-pleasing tendencies - we don’t say "no" enough. The study also showed that these pleasers tend to exercise very low ‘self-care’.

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Why was I protecting his feelings? HIS! Taking responsibility for this, should not be my problem. That’s bad self-care. As women, we are taught to be pleasers, to be ‘nice’.

This often translates as saying yes far too often. To things we don’t want to say yes to. Saying no is not selfish, it’s choosing yourself.

I forced the words out, “I don’t like the way you’re speaking to me, I think I’m going to go.” He didn’t like that. And I suspect it has happened to him before. He questioned my train of thought, but when I didn’t reverse my decision to leave, he said “Then go. For f**k's sakes.”

He didn’t get up. I showed myself out. Going to his house was not the smartest thing ever, admittedly. “It could’ve ended much worse” they’d say.

But the point is: we must leave when we feel awkward. Not just when we’re at the point where we feel a situation is dangerous. Rather please yourself. Protect yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s self-care.

Have you ever made a dating mistake that you regret or learnt a valuable lesson from? Share your story with us here.

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