We asked readers to submit their least romantic stories for our Valentine’s Day issue. To read the other tales of woe and regret, see the rest of our (almost) romance-free ode to Valentine’s Day.

I was talking to a guy online who seemed to be pretty cool. I decided I wanted to see what he was like in person, so we met for coffee. Instead of the six-foot-tall, lanky guy I was expecting to see, I met up with a five-foot-four guy. (Guys, a tip: don’t lie about your height. It just makes you seem ridiculous.) I had the first that’s-kind-of-weird gut reaction, but hey, maybe he was self-conscious about his height. I decided to let it go.

We got in line for coffee and it was immediately apparent that it was not going to work out. Instead of the playful banter I had been expecting, this poor guy needed to take a pause after every couple of words. I wanted to ask him if he had ever had a speech therapist. I kept wanting to give him encouraging smiles: You can get through this sentence! Go you! It was agonizing.

After I had told him a little about my life and my chosen career path, he started to look at me with this very peculiar smile. I asked him what was up, and he replied, “I mean, I don’t want to tell you I love you”—longest pause I’ve ever felt—”but you’re pretty cool.”


After that, it was time to take myself home. I let him know, and thanked him for the coffee. He insisted on walking me to the el, and as we got up close to the stop, he gave me a tight hug, and as I tried to let go, he said, “Man, I just want to kiss you right now.” I smiled and mumbled something about “maybe next time,” because I was basically in shock and trying not to laugh. (Bad on me, I know).

He contacted me every day for three days, wanting to know when he could see me again, saying he had tickets to a show, saying that was the best date he had been on. I basically ignored it all. Finally, the evening of the third day, I got a phone call from him, which I ignored.

Three minutes later, my phone buzzed. I had a voicemail. It went something like this: “Dear Elyse, I hope you know that I am suicidal because of you. You made me believe that I was falling in love with you, and instead, you threw me into the abyss. I have never been as close to anyone else as I was to you, and that’s why this hurts so much more. I want to kill myself right now. I hope you know that you are an evil person. You are just evil. Thanks.”

After a couple of panicked phone calls to the suicide hotline, I texted him the number and said, “I’m sorry. Please don’t ever contact me again.” He replied that he had “already called” (oh boy) and that he wasn’t a bad person. And neither was I if I had just made a mistake. I never saw him again.

To this day, whenever I make fun of my friends, they tell me that I’ve thrown them into the abyss. I just hope none of my female friends meet up with him there.