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Love At First Floss

by Kayla Lindley 2 months ago in Dating
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How I Accidentally Fell For My Dentist & The Cringy Lessons Learned Along The Way

Love At First Floss
Photo by Candid on Unsplash

* Please note that due to privacy reasons, this is for educational purposes only. While this may be based off of real circumstances in my life, the person involved is an amazing dentist who deserves to keep their career intact. Due to this I will not be sharing his identifying information, but hopefully you can learn something through my experiences the next time you to sit in the chair.

"Lindley?"

I immediately looked up, and found an older middle aged woman was standing in the door way with some papers in her hand and glasses that lay on the bridge of her nose. The way she said my last name made me immediately cringe and not want to get up from my seat. The smell of the dentist office always gave me anxiety, and my head always immediately went to worst case scenario.

Growing up I was in the foster care system, and was taken advantage of severely by a dentist who was apart of a medicaid fraud scheme. Basically in a nut shell this guy drilled a bunch of holes in my teeth just to get the money from the government. No one questions dentists, and typically it's very easy to get away with this type of thing. Which intern he did a 360, and eventually all those needles and procedures were laid out as not necessary. I was apart of a fraud scheme.

After that incident even in the military I was very skeptical of dentists. I hated them, even to the point where I wigged out on an officer. After that they gave me anxiety meds to just step foot into the office. Trust is something that has to be built in my book. It's not something that's earned over night.

I went into this situation, presently very well having flash backs in my head. The VA isn't the most kind place when it comes to medical, however I am grateful for it, because there are many who do not have medical insurance. Reluctantly I shuffled towards the door and showed her my ID card, sat down and eventually the doc came in.

At this point this was the height of the pandemic in 2020, I remember my VA dentist asking me why it took so long to come in. Honestly it was a combination of things, but ultimately it took me 3 years to finally step foot into an office. Most places were not accepting new patients, I didn't have insurance after I got out of the military. So once I was approved for the VA I decided to finally get checked out, and unfortunately I needed 3 years worth of work done. I had waited too long. Every filling needed to be replaced, my crown, all of it.

I was beyond terrified. That was a lot of needles, and a ton of work needed to be done. So when the words "civilian dentist" came out of his mouth, I about passed out. Granted I knew the VA would only do what was necessary- and now they want to send me to a civilian? Fuck. I wasn't prepared. But I knew it had to be done.

Fast forward about 2 months later I finally pulled up to the office. My ex husband was in town visiting the kids and was trying to make small talk in the car. He knew I was nervous, but nothing could be done to calm my nerves. Finally after what felt like an eternity this lady came out, and brought my new patient forms to fill out. While she was talking I casually glanced over to my left and saw a buff figure walking by.

He was younger. Honestly I remember thinking damn dental techs here are cute. Not actually realizing that "dental tech" was actually my dentist. I had only ever had experiences where dentists were older guys in their late 50's getting ready to retire. Now to my surprise here's this young guy who's extremely attractive, has seen my hot mess of a medical record from the VA and I am supposed to act normal when I am beyond terrified of this guy and his next move. Great.

Next thing I know he's literally right in front of me, and I barely am speaking full sentences. But I could tell he was trying to be nice. The stigma of my mental health alone, made me feel like I was judged. To this day I'll never know, but unfortunately every time some one sees a diagnosis of Bipolar on file or depression etc. You automatically have this stigma that surrounds you. They talk to you like you are a basket case, but he was trying. That's more than what most of these medical professionals ever tried to do.

There's a shuffle in the medical field, or a day to day grind where basically you loose your "why" in patient care. I was a Hospital Corpsman in the Navy for 5 years, so I know when you start getting burnt out you have to tread a fine line where it doesn't bleed into the professional setting. That's why you are seeing a mass exodus of medical providers leaving the field. Eventually if you aren't careful, you loose your bed side manner, just treating people with compassion. And this guy knew how to do it effortlessly.

Literally I felt this immediate connection to him, because he became human and relatable. I come to find out he was prior service, so it sort of put my mind at ease knowing that military people won't fuck you over. Or at least that's the thought process, so there's an automatic level of trust. Regardless of the branch you can shit on each other, but if a civilian butts in- game on. We will defend each other to no end.

I got scheduled, and everything was good to go. He was very understanding about me being a single parent and I pushed to get as much work done in every appointment as possible. I was guarded and jaded, and somehow this damn guy got into my head appointment after appointment. I had never felt this way. It was like the level of kindness I didn't know could actually enter reality. Sharing life stories and moments of being raised by a single parent. Everything was relatable, and you could tell the connection was different from his other patients.

Simply put, for all the work I went through about 7 appointments 3 hours long. You definitely get to know someone, and I found my self reflecting and lingering on those appointments more and more when I wasn't in the office. Mind you we never talked outside of the office, but I definitely found myself longing to see him again. I didn't know how to approach it. I wanted to go out with him, like grab a beer and just chill out. He was so casual and reassuring that the lines between provider and patient became blurred in my mind.It's not his fault though, and honestly looking back on it I didn't realize it at the time.

Eventually I got ballsy, and I went on SnapChat. I was nervous, but in my mind the worst he could say was no. I remember having not been super active on the platform prior to this instance. I would occasionally post things or scroll randomly through story after story. But eventually- I got the notification that he had added me back.

Holy Shit.

There was a sense of panic and excitement at the same time. So to test this out, I remember being in Panera talking about going to the gym and bitching about having ate too much bread. Like honestly something stupid, just to see if he would respond. To my surprise, I found him looking at my stories. At first I tried to be coy, and pretend like I didn't care but it didn't last long.

Eventually I was going into these appointments for work being done, knowing that prior to me going into the office he was checking my story that morning. I would get dolled up before going into the office, I felt like being divorced having some kind of low key attention was addicting. But there was always this silent notion, we were literally keeping tabs on each other outside of the office.

He was watching me raise my kids as a single parent, buying a house, navigating divorce life and starting my fitness journey. Eventually I was messaging him once a week just to try and start a conversation, and while they never lasted long, I found my feelings growing, and honestly this back and forth went on for an entire year. Mind you- the guy never once hit on me. Instead I came on to him, which rarely ever happens. Deep down though, part of me felt like he liked it.

Eventually I asked him to hang out and he turned me down, but there was always an excuse versus it just being him not actually wanting to hang out because it was unprofessional. He was always busy working or always was hanging out with family etc. And then finally he brought up his girlfriend. Finally it made sense to me- he didn't want to hang out because of her. Genuinely I respected it but at the same time, I always felt like there was this tip toe thing happening.

He always made it seem like at some point we would actually hang out. Or that she was the problem, but it was never a flat NO. So I waited, and waited. Weeks eventually turned into months which eventually turned into a whole year. Mind you this entire time he's still watching my social media, and I would call him out on it. "Why be friends with me on here, if you have no intentions of actually spending time with me outside of the office?"

Eventually any time I would message him- it would just be silence. Or he would read my messages and not respond. It began to really bother me, like why was I not good enough? It hurt me a lot, but I kept holding onto that false hope that occurred with him. Because honestly, it was easier to have false hope than to have all the hurt and pain and feel unwanted. This guy was literally bread crumbing me.

Someone who breadcrumbs leads you on by dropping small morsels of interest — an occasional message, phone call, date plan, or social media interaction. These happen sporadically and usually don't have any followthrough.

So as a person I was accepting the bare minimum from someone, and I know deep down that he knew and was aware that he was leading me on. Part of me feels like he was having issues in his own relationships- and then I come along and give him a minor confidence boost when he needed it, for beneficial gain. Then I would go to the office and he would act like nothing was out of the ordinary or wrong.

Finally in January of 2022 I bought my first house EVER. I was so excited, I finally bucked up the courage to really seek him actually hanging out, so I got less self conscious and got to work. I knew he actually didn't live that far from me, and asked him to come hang out and see my new house. Again just casual, it's not like I am expecting to marry this guy at this point. I just finally had a space to entertain, and that to me was beyond exciting.

Again this entire time he's checking my stories on snapchat and in fact he was checking them even more frequently. I remember on my birthday on a cold January day, I went to IKEA and bought a house plant. I posted a stupid story about how I wanted this plant to go home with me- and I noticed on my notifications, he was watching them immediately. Like in real time I would post them and he was the first to view every story.

Eventually in February he sort of got stern with me. He finally said- I still love her I can't do this, and the next thing I knew he ghosted me. All because I had asked him again to come over. I come to find out later that they had broken up, but the details were extremely vague. Was I in the wrong for absolutely asking multiple times to hang out when he said no? Yes. I should've just left it, the way I see it though- he should've been more clear.

In fact- he should've never added me on snapchat to begin with! Like he was equally as guilty in my book for having lead this thing on for so long. I mean he genuinely looked at one of my stories one more time, and then deleted me for good. No explanations, nothing. It was soul crushing. Here I was thinking this guy genuinely liked me, and I saw a potential future with this guy. Everything was beyond relatable, and he opened up a lot. He was very nice and caring, and now within a blip of a second he chose to completely leave my life with no explanation.

It genuinely bothered me a ton. I had felt these immense feelings of guilt. Even worse I began to internalize this being my fault. But I look on it now- and he as the provider should've stepped up if he knew this was inappropriate or he didn't want to deal with the long term affects. The worst part is, I never got closure. I never understood why. I just felt so much sadness. Eventually what would be my last encounter with him was May of this year.

I tried to re add him weeks before this moment, and ask if he wanted me to switch providers, and I never got a response so I just left it. It was very difficult when dealing with the VA to switch referrals on civilian doctors. I did my cleaning, and he came in. I felt this immediately heavy energy, but I sort of felt in my heart of hearts that was going to be the last time I saw him. He looked sad, and had very surface level conversations. Asked me what I was doing later that day, and talked about taking my kids to the aquarium that following weekend. But nothing out of the ordinary. Eventually we were done, and told me to follow up in 6 months. You know- the normal dental stuff.

I haven't seen him since. He still comes up on my mind every now and again, but I also have since decided to no longer reach out. Recently I heard someone once tell me that you don't always get closure to things. Unknowns are just a part of life- you just can't let them consume you. But that's the thing, he did. Being a single mom, there's many days where the only conversation I have often times is with my children who are 5&4 years old. Truthfully, the extent is mostly about needing juice boxes and goldfish.

I don't go out on dates, and this guy was the one person for the first time since my divorce who made me feel human, normal, and validated. My ex husband often did the opposite. So just seeing that it was capable to come from someone of the opposite sex was truly mind blowing. He made it seem like I was normal. Like I wasn't crazy for going through what I was and validated life. But that's just it- I think he was just really damn good at his job.

I did some research this last month after having a conversation with my therapist. Mind you- I think as a disclaimer everyone should go to therapy. It allows you to work through life at its most difficult moments. But I hadn't brought up this situation to anyone. I never told a soul how broken hearted I was for my dentist to do this to me. I didn't want him to like loose his job or his credentials. So as I am sitting there confessing my soul, she just blankly looked at me processing what I had just said.

I had openly admitted that I fell for my dentist. Out loud to another person. After a few moments she said this. "Your feelings are valid, however- may I add something? Have you ever heard of Transference?" The concept is this, she basically was saying that I was at a very vulnerable place in my life. The divorce, childhood trauma issues, the whole nine. All while working through them in therapy. My brain took someone showing compassion and kindness and turned it into something that was completely the opposite situation.

Basically his bed side manner did not equate to him actually wanting to date me. My brain mis interpreted this whole situation. Regardless of anything, I know now that this guy probably thought I was absolutely crazy. Realizing what I knew now, I was in shock. How could I be so stupid to get wrapped up in a fantasy? But that's just it. It's just a memory now. I was just notified last month that he was no longer practicing at the office and had since left "to find better opportunities".

I loved the idea of him. I know now that I am capable of loving someone who is like him. Who is well educated, kind, and compassionate because the reality is its basic human decency. It's what I deserve, so if anything I have him to thank for recognizing my self worth. I just didn't love him as a person. So now that I understand the version of the two, I have since decided to take a step back and take ahold of my medical care. I contacted the VA and got all female providers, because I want to make sure this never happens again to myself.

And if and when you find yourself in the chair- do yourself a favor. Regardless of how cute the dentist may be, don't chance it. Take your free floss and toothpaste and run. Save your thoughts and turn them into a juicy novella. But their kindness 9/10 times is actually them trying to be nice to you because they are doing their job. It doesn't have anything to do with them actually liking you. Kindness and compassion is part of a profession where people relatively have massive high anxiety. Don't twist it.

Dating

About the author

Kayla Lindley

Kayla is a Neurodivergent woman navigating the world as a single parent, to 2 kiddos who are on the autism spectrum. She loves to collect crystals, and listen to true crime podcasts. Currently in school for Health Care Management.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (2)

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  • Bre Andiabout a month ago

    Couldn't stop reading this! Great story telling. Glad you're seeing a therapist, my viewpoint as an outsider is quite different than yours haha One suggestion I'd like to make is for you to be more sparing with the word "literally". 😉

  • It needs a spelling edit. "loose" instead of "lose" is one. "would of" instead of "would have". But the story is very real, very compelling. It's you, your real life. That gives it pull, attraction. I wanted to keep reading, even as I felt your embarrassment and hurt. I've had a similar experience, with a co-worker. I could feel what your described. So, keep at it!

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