(The Root) —
"I met a guy who told me that the moment he saw me, he knew I was 'the One.' He asked for permission to court me and then started saying he was my man. I found out that he went on a date this past weekend and he's been telling the other woman he's interested in her, too. I addressed the situation and told him, 'I'm done.' He went off on this rant, saying that I'm overreacting, he's single and not committed and he can take out whomever he wants. My issue was what he was saying to me and her. Was I wrong?" —Y.G.
It's frustrating to emotionally invest in someone, buy into his or her words and then discover that what you thought was the situation actually wasn't. He's culpable for selling you a dream, even if doing so is a widely practiced and culturally accepted method of dating. This notion dictates that a man can say or do whatever works to win a woman's affection — emotional and physical — and that it's up to the woman to decipher a man's true intentions.
His calling you "the One" and asking to "court" you in 2012 reads like something from and old-school playbook entitled How to Be a Player. For intentionally misleading you to believe that he was more serious than he was, he was wrong. For dating someone else? Not so much.
He's single, and he can do as he pleases with whomever he pleases. So can you. Unless there's a commitment or a conversation specifically about not dating anyone else — implying it doesn't count — you should assume that the person you're interested in is seeing, and likely having sex with, at least one other person. It doesn't mean he's not interested in you — just that he has multiple interests. That's pretty much what dating is these days.
The drama in this situation isn't all on him, though. You weren't wrong, per se, but you were extraordinarily naive. That you fell for his lines, no matter how far-fetched, alerts me that you don't have much experience dating — or maybe you do, but perhaps you were lonely and wanted a man in your life by any means necessary. As Drake popularly put it in "Take Care": "You bought the dream when [he] sold you one."
Come on, hon. He knew you were "the One" at first sight? Really? The idea of spotting you across the room and knowing immediately that you are his destiny is the stuff of fairy tales and old-school R&B lyrics — not reality. And while every woman should be confident enough to think she's worthy of inspiring such feelings, she should also be realistic enough to accept that it happens not off of an initial glance but over time. That should have been your first sign that not everything was what it seemed.
The second sign was when he started calling himself your man. There's an element of dysfunctional romance to it — the type oft found in romance novels (full disclosure: I was a romance-novel editor for five years) and romantic-comedy films — but in the real world, that's just odd.
Declaring himself your man implies that you're in a relationship, and that's just not how commitments are established. At the very least, there is — or there should be — a discussion about what's going on between the two of you and what to expect from a relationship. He was spitting game, and his self-proclaimed moniker meant nothing.
It pains me to write my next sentence, because it's so pessimistic, but it's also real: You cannot trust that every man who says he's all about you actually is. Men should not mislead women about their intentions (and for clarity, women should not mislead men). But until people en masse stop doing it, the onus will always be on you — man or woman — to decipher the games, the lines and the lies.
If you're seeking a healthy relationship and want to tip the odds in your favor, take months slowly getting to know someone — i.e., dating. There's a reason it's called building a relationship. What a potential partner says and does should be in accord consistently over time. Once you've found that, then it's time to discuss a commitment and exclusivity.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.