Some Thoughts on First Dates

Some Thoughts on First Dates

Ah, dating in your twenties. Does anyone really know how to properly do this? In an attempt to entertain myself, I got on Tinder for exactly the third time in my life. The first two times would require their own posts, to be honest. This time, I was simply there to swipe left and reassure myself that I’m single because there are essentially no men to date in a 100-mile radius of where I live. Until, that is, a handsome stranger super liked me. How could I ignore that? He was cute and charming; he messaged me first, seemed intelligent, and asked good questions. He didn’t text me obsessively, didn’t come on too strong, and we seemed to have a lot in common.

Then he asked me out to dinner. Dinner? This is new. No guy has ever taken me out of dinner. I’ve had some school dance dates here and there, but they were less than exceptional. I’ve had guys contact me late at night. I’ve had guys promise me a lot of things that they’ve never followed through on. But dinner? Never.

Cue nervous anxiety breakdowns that I had about 4 times a day. It’s casual.

Dinner with a handsome stranger? That’s a lot of pressure. How can I make a good impression while shoving pizza in my face? What if my brain shuts off? What if I’m not enough? These and more were the many thoughts running through my mind for the five days leading up to this date.

The day came. I bought a new shirt and even put on powder foundation. I arrived five minutes late, but I’m pretty sure he was there 15 minutes early and was already sitting at the table when I got there. He hugged me and smiled. What proceeded was two hours of this handsome stranger basically putting me through the ringer; I was more or less interviewing for the esteemed position of being his girlfriend. I couldn’t keep up. His incessant, prying, and overly-serious questions were draining me. I barely knew the guy. But he was charming, and enthusiastic, smart, well-read, and clearly going places in life. I was hooked. Hello rose colored viewing glasses, nice to make your acquaintance.

Two hours later we got up to leave. I had to take my pizza home in a box. I then proceeded to forget said box of pizza as we left the restaurant. He walked me to my car, which was parked inordinately far away, and I had this sinking feeling things hadn’t gone well or according to his expectations. When we got to my car, I expected a hug, but he kept his distance.

“So we’ll keep in touch and maybe hang out again,” he said coolly.

Ouch. “Yeah definitely,” I echoed. But I knew that wasn’t true.

It stung. It stung all the way home and the next day. But then I got over it. (Side note: I texted him a simple “thank you” text the next morning and he confirmed he was no longer interested.)

As much as it sucks to be rejected, I’ve been on the other side of this. I met up with a guy last spring for ice cream spontaneously. He was nice. We had a good conversation, but I wasn’t into him after it. No particular reason, it just wasn’t there. And that’s okay.

I have to accept that not every guy is going to be enamored with me after meeting me. I also have to appreciate myself for even doing this. I put myself out there, I was vulnerable, I was hopeful, and I learned from the experience. Sure, it didn’t go as one hopes these things will go, but perhaps that is for the best.

Everyone goes on first dates, fewer go on second dates, and that’s just how it goes. My first kiss was nerve wracking, but the second? Easy breezy. That’s how I feel about getting this first date out of the way. I feel freed to approach future first dates more casually. I won’t put so much pressure on myself and put so many expectations on the situation, because that’s not fair to anyone. I’ve also learned that dinner for a first date probably isn’t the best way for me to connect with another person and that maybe I should be more punctual and probably not leave a whole pizza sitting on the table when someone else paid for it.

The biggest lesson though? His disinterest doesn’t make me less of a person, a bad person, an unworthy person, and I cannot sit around and wallow or wonder what I’ve done wrong. All I can do is dust my shoulders off and try again.

And so, I think this is what dating in your twenties is supposed to look like: A lot of no’s, a collection of funny stories, tales of nights gone awry and just maybe a sprinkling of magical fairy tale goodness here and there. So, here goes nothing.


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