I Gave My Consent. He Gave Me Bruises.

My meet-cute gone wrong: Was it misaligned expectations or old-fashioned lying?

Woman in shower after giving consent but getting bruises in return Alliance Images | Canva

I’m straddling a man on his sofa, on our second date in a week, our third if you include the night we met at a neighborhood karaoke bar, where we both sang Juice Newton songs: “Queen of Hearts” for me and “Angel of the Morning” for him.

That night, I was dazzled by the meet-cute of this karaoke coincidence. His song choice felt fated and in hindsight, prescient. It came to add a new dimension to “Angel of the Morning,” and my understanding of how it addresses boundaries, desire, and consent.


“For it was I who chose to start,” indeed.

He spoke straight into my ear, over the warbling of whomever followed our Juicy performances. “You really do it for me,” he said, his fingers tracing the sleeve of my cardigan from my shoulder to my elbow. “Wanna go on a date and make out sometime?”

He was tall, confident, and handsy in all the right ways. I blushed as I gave my most enthusiastic yes, along with my number.

That first date was amazing. Chemistry sparking, our words as entangled as our hands and limbs, this man charmed my pants off, quite literally, as we shared our stories and similarities. I asked about his relationship status and he told me he’d been married for over 20 years, then with another girlfriend for four more right after. He’d been single since June and wanted to be in a long-term relationship again and was figuring out how to date to get there.


From where I sat  — giddy on gin and pheromones as we effortlessly touched and talked and kissed across three different neighborhood establishments  —  we’d seemed to have figured it out pretty well, together. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself but everything about this guy had an ease and a heat that felt intoxicating, magical.

I’d been on a few toothless (and tongue-less) dates and hadn’t been kissed  —  let alone, intimate with a man  —  in many months. I wanted this to happen, probably too much, as “too much” clouds my judgment and nudges poor decisions.

I took him home.

As we rolled around, I told him I wasn’t one for one-night stands, so I wasn’t quite ready. He pushed more but ultimately respected my boundary, and asked when he could see me again. I was thrilled we agreed to meet the next day.


We texted that afternoon, each lamenting how exhausted we were thanks to our late night. It was nearly 7 p.m. by the time we were both home and child-free. “Want to see my place?” he asked. Of course, I did.

So now I’m here on his sofa, on his lap with his hands all over me, high on endorphins and expectancy for the evening. I’m ready, and I tell him so. He invites me to his bed, but first, he has something to tell me, too. “I know you said last night that you’re not casual about sex. So I want to be upfront that I like you but I’m not looking for anything exclusive right now.”


I appreciate he’s being transparent with me but he’s rolling back on what he’d said the evening before. Intellectually, I hear him and note the disparity. Emotionally, my heart pangs and my pulse cools a beat, disappointed. But physically, I can’t  —  no, I just don’t want to  —  pivot.


I’d already negotiated with myself that even if this wasn’t going to be a Thing, I still wanted the thing to happen. I haven’t had the thing in a long time, and I miss the thing. So I tell him non-exclusive is fine, but not a one-night stand. I want him, but as part of dating him, and only if he feels the same way about me. He agrees.

So we do the thing. And it isn’t very good.

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I have realistic expectations of what first times can be like. Small surprises under clothing, parts not parting as they should, especially as men age and doubly so as we’re new to each other and need to wrap things up. But we went from two dates where everything felt just right to … whatever not-good happened that night.


Looking back, I can see some things weren’t good from the start.

His initial invite to just come over, which seemed sweetly familiar, now reeks of laziness. I arrived at dinner time, but he had no food in his house; I told him I didn’t mind, but I went home hungry that night, in more ways than one. His bedroom was disheveled; he hadn’t bothered to pull up his bed sheets.

Toward the end of the night, I glanced at the torn pile of condom wrappers on the floor. We went through many in his fumblings and my brain started mentally calculating if they were all ours before I caught myself and averted my gaze. I did not want to know the answer to that equation.

And then there was his touch. This part is harder to examine and trickier to explain. Kindly, he wasn’t receptive when I tried to tell him how I liked to be touched. Bluntly, he hurt me. His grabs and jabs and bites were too much. I tried to redirect him, and I said “Ouch” and “That hurts” more than once, but he didn’t adapt.


Now I’m bruised. Not just my heart and ego  —  though yes, we’ll come back to those  —  but the next day I got into the shower and gasped. Angry purple marks stared up at me from my chest, forcing me to confront some unsavory truths about our night together.

I did not consent to being marked.

I’m well-versed in the language of consent. I preach  —  and practice  —  the importance of using one’s words. And yet there I stood in my shower, feeling the sting of hot water mixed with the shock and shame and indignation and doubt that deluged all at once, unsure of which emotions were even fair to feel.


The physical bruises weren’t the most painful part. What stung the most? He went dark. No call, no text, no nothing.

When we navigated that conversation about our relationship model on the cusp of intimacy, I was not ambiguous. He wanted something not exclusive. I wanted something not casual. We were to enter a non-exclusive relationship, with an emphasis — at least for me — on that second word. That part was non-negotiable. And then he disappeared, violating our terms of consent.

I took my rage at him and turned it inward. Was this my fault for jumping in so quickly? If I couldn’t count on my words and my judgment of character to protect me, then what options did I have to negotiate the dating world?

I was downward spiraling and felt nearly powerless to stop it.


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So I turned to three trusted friends for advice. The first shrugged. “My boyfriend leaves me bruised all the time, it’s not a big deal.” The second was aghast and exclaimed, “Dana, he raped you! You need to go to the police!” Neither of these responses resonated for me. Both the bruises and his disappearance were big deals, but I wasn’t about to round that night up to rape.

I messaged a third friend and she hit closer. “I gotta be brutally honest here: this is upsetting to me. He did violate boundaries. Please take this as my concern and care for you.”

Her words moved me to tears and truth.


Until I read them, I was still questioning myself. Maybe my newness to non-exclusive dating was to blame? Maybe I was overreacting to a couple of bruises and a really busy week?

As I’ve shared this story with friends, I’ve noted the heightened concern around my bruises and a relative dismissiveness around his disappearance. My bruises have been rounded up to abuse, his disappearance was shrugged off as ghosting. To me, it’s a false classification. They’re intertwined, as the latter validates the egregiousness of the former. But there’s no question of which was the true consent violation.

My skin is thick. Bruising it came with pain but with ambiguity around intent. One woman’s "ouch" is another’s "oh yes." Yes, a more skillful lover would have noted the difference and adapted, but I could grant a lot of leeway in the name of unfamiliarity and desire. The damage was superficial.

But ignoring my words, our agreed-upon terms of consent? This undermined my psychological safety and left me emotionally compromised. And that is reprehensible, unforgivable.


Dating can be brutal enough. The only way to safely and respectfully initiate with a new partner is to speak the language of consent. What do you want, what do I want, are our wants compatible? He told me they were. But he knew they weren’t. He lied to obtain my consent. That violation shook me, and healing from it is going to take a lot longer than the bruises.

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Consent isn’t a single moment. It’s fluid and can be rescinded before or during any act, for any reason. But can it be rescinded after intimacy if one gives consent under false pretenses? Legally speaking, no. But I’m not building a criminal case. I’m exploring a moral one.

I can see I let my vigilance slip. I didn’t speak firmly enough in the moment, and instead accepted our initial agreement without revisiting it as his actions grew questionable. I allowed boundaries to blur like these bruises on my chest, now hazy blotches, nearly imperceptible after ten days.


But those invisible bruises inside my chest? They persist, taunting me from a deeper place than the visible ones ever could. Why did you let this happen? Why didn’t you protect us? That’s all those invisible bruises want to know.

I have no good answer but the truth: Because my heart is a fool.

And so I hurt, and I heal.

“Through the tears, of the day, of the years.”

“Angel of the Morning” includes this lament. But the sadness is small, just a fragment of the bridge; blink and you’ll miss it. Pay more attention and the lyrics take you through feminine desire, compromise, and heartache.


But what most listeners know is the belt of the refrain, exuberant and empowered.

“Just call me angel of the morning, angel.
Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby.”

The narrator leaves no ambiguity about what we’re meant to hear in this song. She wants to have sex with this man — but on her terms. It’s a song that celebrates how casual sex can be joyous when one’s emotional requirements are met.


What makes this song an expression of joy instead of heartache, even as he leaves her? Consent.

Unlike my misguided Angel, hers listens to her needs and honors them. He calls her Angel. He touches her cheek. So she feels okay when he slowly turns away. There was no need to take a stand. She didn’t beg him to stay. It was what she wanted, now.

Me too. Me too.

Sexual abuse is very common. 

RAINN reports that every 68 seconds, an American is a victim of sexual violence. Females are far more likely to be abused and assaulted, and 90% of victims who are adults are women. This is especially prevalent among women who also happen to be college students, which makes their risk three times greater. 


Anyone affected by sexual assault can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, a safe, confidential service. Contact The Hotline or call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member.

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Dana DuBois is a Gen X word nerd living in the Pacific Northwest who enjoys storytelling at the intersection of relationships, music, and parenting. She’s the founder and editor of Pink Hair & Pronouns, a pub for parents of gender-nonconforming kids, and Three Imaginary Girls, a music ‘zine. She's had articles featured in TODAY, Human Parts, the Stranger, and Seattle Weekly.