Last night I had a pretty great first date. Or at least that’s what I thought. We sat on the patio, enjoying one of the last warm summer evenings, nibbling on burgers and sipping beer. He made me laugh more genuinely than most guys I go out with and, jeez, was he cute. We had a confined time frame as he was teaching a class at 7:30 but we chatted right up until it was looking like he’d be late. We split the bill 50/50 and he walked me to the train. As we walked we chatted and agreed that we would talk soon. I shot him a text once I was home thanking him for a wonderful evening and mentioning that it would be great to get together again if he was up for it. I knew he was teaching a class so I had no expectations of an immediate response but thanks to the magic of the iPhone Read Receipt, when I checked back a few hours later, I knew he had seen it, read it, and hadn’t responded. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that if our date had given him the warm fuzzies, I would have a response by now. A text takes .005 nanoseconds to put together when you’re excited to talk to the person.
At first I was puzzled. On the surface it seemed like we had a pretty great time. Conversation flowed well, we both laughed, the standard signs of a good time. But then I paused for a moment of reflection and thought back to all the times I’ve smiled and laughed my way through a dreadfully dull evening based on the principle that it’s better to be pleasant than to be awkward. Now, I’m not admitting to being dreadfully dull (I’m perfectly charming, I swear) but when you’ve been on a certain number of first dates, especially with strangers from the internet, you quickly learn the P’s and Q’s of first dates and you’ve got a few coping techniques in your pocket to ensure even a date that you’re not feeling still goes smoothly. Breaking a general “cardinal rule” of dating, my dinner partner had mentioned more than a small handful of ex girlfriends and thus, it dawned on me that our exchange was the co-mingling of two serial daters. I don’t know if you would call that an alignment of the stars or a joke played by the devil but it was certainly something else.
On a first date I’m always curious to know a little bit of my partner’s online dating background. In the last year and a half (or so) it’s become quite apparent to me that how often you date generally translates to how comfortable you are with dating and makes a noticeable difference in how the evening plays out. I’ve been the popper of many First Stranger Date Cherries, with mixed results. I’ve had a handful of gents ready to jump in with both feet before the date is even halfway over and I’ve had awkward puppies who are just doing their best to muddle through the evening. I’m always instantly wary when I find out I’m my partner’s first date from a dating platform and likewise, I take comfort in learning that my co-dater has a little bit of date experience under his belt. Dating is awkward and takes a while to get used to, you know? Especially with the strangely still existing stigma of online dating.
For me, it’s a tricky balance, at best, trying to find the perfect mixture of charmingly appropriate and genuinely engaged while also trying to feel out the chemistry, or lack there of, during a first encounter. That’s often why I say first dates don’t count, everyone is just doing their best to have some semblance of a good time and to decide if they ever want to see the person again. Guess this guy probably doesn’t want to see me again, and that’s alright. He played his part as a pleasant date but decided it probably wasn’t right for him. Or something.
Oh well, can’t put all your eggs in the first date basket, right? Two more dates coming up this week! Ever hopeful, ever optimistic, onward and upward we go.