Don’t date a guy who treats you like leftovers

Don’t date a guy who won’t eat your cookies.

I added this dating proverb to my never-allow-this-type-of-man-touch-you-you-again bible that I keep on my computer. My sacred set of guidelines was impressively extensive because the warnings I distilled from my latest coupledom catastrophe were heavy and punchy.

In addition to the typical disintegrating mirepoix, this split stew contained a touch of dismantled cohabitation; a blob of a failed engagement; and the juice of a canceled wedding. I was brimming with heartburn, gassy humiliation, and regret — the beginning of which happened on our first date.

I had just turned 30. I wanted to wind down my “sexy-to-busy” corporate lawyer life and make time to date men I could introduce to my mom without rolling her eyes and sucking teeth, so I moved back to Los Angeles from New York. York City. I had heard unremarkable stories about dating in LA from my friends. However, I considered myself lucky that I caught the attention of someone with potential so quickly.

That someone was an old acquaintance from college. We reconnected at a friend’s wedding and we had a lot in common. Besides sharing a love for local rap music with smooth G-funk beats, we liked to drink brown liquor that makes your voice hoarse the next day, and we also shared a sense of importance, which I found appealing. Phillip had important jobs in the tech industry and earned degrees from major institutions (Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania). And he was ready to move back to LA (also his hometown) to start a family.

I wanted him to be “the one” and was willing to allow him to take the opportunity. I wouldn’t say I was physically attracted to him. I was seduced by the laughter we produced together. I found his sense of humor and familiarity very stimulating.

“I bought us tickets to the Street Food Cinema in Exposition Park,” he said. Tonight they’re showing ‘Purple Rain’. You’ve never seen it, have you?”

I hadn’t seen the Prince movie, but knew the song well. We were driving through West Adams and were already on our way when he finally released the details for our first date.

He had planned the surprise date for weeks and had even flown out of the Bay Area to take me out. I was impressed with the thought he put into the plans.

We buzzed and dug to familiar sounds of KJLH as he turned left from Jefferson Boulevard to Figueroa Street. The smell of chocolate and sugar filled the air in the car. I glanced back toward the well: a small cardboard box tied with a crossed lace bow. Content? Baked Goods from Milk Jar Cookies.

I grinned but kept my mouth shut. When he picked me up from my apartment in Miracle Mile, I had given him the cookies as a first date gift, as a thank you for making me feel happy and important. I was disappointed when he placed the box on the back seat of the car without looking inside. He had told me he loved freshly baked cookies, and I believed him.

We pulled into the Exposition Park visitor parking lot and got out. We were surrounded by people donning their best “Purple Rain” regalia and Prince costumes in memory of His Royal Badness. It had been about a month since Prince’s death.

I started to get myself cleaned up, tugging at the hem of my black, off-the-shoulder bodycon dress, and tying the laces to my black leather Chucks. I noticed that I was also dressed in mourning.

We first visited the various attractions of Exposition Park and exchanged frisky comments along the way. We admired a showcase of West Coast hip-hop photography at the California African American Museum. We grazed the rose garden, which at that time of year was a dry patch of thornbush. We tried to enter the Natural History Museum but were turned away by the flash of a guard’s palm, as it was near closing time.

Instead, we grabbed the cooler bag with movie concession accessories from the car and then made our way to a central room in the viewing area. He left the box of cookies.

“I’ll eat them later,” he said when I asked why he hadn’t brought them. My chest tightened with irritation. Again, I kept my mouth shut.

We lay down on our blankets, drank some Prosecco and talked close to Carmen Electra as she sobbed through her speech about the introduction of the cult classic. After the movie we extended the evening with a nightcap of hookah at Lotus on Flower before ending the night with me.

“How were the cookies?” I asked the next day.

Because he left them in the car overnight, they had hardened, he said. “I don’t like hard cookies, so I gave them to my parents. However, I appreciate the gesture.”

I felt unappreciated. I was furious, but I hid it. I continued to rant silently at my discomfort. I left it all buried deep in my bubbling belly and burning heart until I imploded four years later. Then he revealed that he was and always has been an impostor. He had waited until the month before he suggested that I finally get into monogamy.

When he admitted that he had flirted monthly, I was shocked, devastated, angry and scared. He confessed at the behest of our relationship therapist after he had already moved in with me and five months before our destination wedding date. We were done when I heard his confession, but it took me a while (a little over a year) to completely disconnect my life and I from his.

The warnings were there from the start. I turned my back on the signs and let my attachment to “importance” become more important. Milk Jar’s overlooked cookies foreshadowed our outcome. I had not been ready to see the truth in their prophecy.

Updated proverb: If you give a man cookies and he treats your treats as unwanted leftovers, he is indicating his intentions. So be prepared to talk about it or walk away. Your cookies deserve better.

The author is a writer and attorney living in Inglewood. Find more of her work at greenpoop.substack.com. She is on Twitter and Instagram: @greenpooplver.

LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious manifestations in the LA area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. The submission guidelines can be found here. Previous columns can be found here.

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