First Dates, Decoded

First dates are not complicated.  For the clinically depressed or painfully shy, I could see them being difficult, but hardly complicated.  When I tell someone that I have a first date coming up, a popular reaction is, “oh, are you nervous?”  Why the hell would I be nervous?  Contrary to popular belief, first dates are not (and never should be) about impressing someone.  They are about sharing some basic and interesting things about yourself, and determining if a mutual perception of compatibility exists.  There are no diamonds, altars, priests or doves involved, so shut down the Pinterest boards, Ladies.  While I don’t believe first dates are overly intricate things, that’s not to say that I enjoy them.  As a horrible analogy, I often feel as though I’m hunting quail in the woods, waiting for the one quail smart enough to fly away from the flock before I can shoot it.  Then I can take the smart quail home, and…I don’t know, keep it as a pet or something.  Like I said, really awful example, I know (perhaps this is why I’m still single).    Anyway, here are a few tips about first-dating from a seasoned veteran.

(Side Note: These are not specifically directed at men.  I’m sure there are plenty of women this ridiculous as well.)

1) Don’t go on a date, if you’re not ready to date.  Just break up with someone yesterday?  Last week?  Last month?  Hell, even last year?  Did your fish die recently?  Did the Doctor just ditch you on Earth?  It doesn’t matter–if you’re not ready, then don’t go.  I can’t tell you what a frustrating waste of time it is to spend precious weekends with someone who is just lonely and broken, and hasn’t bothered to consciously go through the process of healing after a breakup.  I have been lied to and rebounded on, and have consoled crying men who suddenly burst into tears on the 3rd date (true story).  Be respectful of the other person, and don’t throw your woes and fragile emotional state onto them.  It is not your date’s job to heal you, or sympathize with you, or keep you company.  Fix your shit first.  Seriously.

2) You’re not allowed to say, “I’m not very interesting.”  I could give you some stupid anecdote about a snowflake or something, but  honestly, if you’re reading this blog you’re smart enough to know that you’re an individual unlike any other.  Even if it seems boring to you, someone else may find it fascinating.  All of your skills, quirks, opinions, tastes and experiences combine to make an enthralling story, but only if the story-teller believes it.  Random fact about me: I hate velour fabric.  It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me; I can’t touch it without reacting as though I was attacked by a tarantula.  This is a remarkably stupid piece of information, but people find it funny, and weird and interesting.  My point is that whether you think you’re interesting or not, you are.  That person is there to get to know  you more, whether you talk about your favorite TV shows or that time you stayed in an underwater hotel.  Give them the courtesy of conversation instead of a cop out.

3) Remember that you have the right and ability to freaking leave, at any point in time.  Guy won’t stop talking about his ex?  Peace out–he’s probably not abiding by Tip #1.  Girl won’t stop complaining about her hair/makeup/body/outfit?  Peace out–negativity is not worth anyone’s time.  Guy is an ignorant political activist who doesn’t actually understand what he’s so angry and passionate about?  Peace out–then laugh in the car.  Girl is a leg-bouncer?  A hair-twirler?  One of those people that raises the pitch of her voice at the end of every sentence like she’s constantly confused?  Peace out–you get to choose which habits you will and won’t tolerate.  I can vividly recall 4 first dates in which I have decisively walked out, without a goodbye or reason due to inappropriate behavior.  I can recall a truckload more first dates in which I have utilized a myriad of excuses, not excluding these gems:

-“I have to be up really early.”

-“I have to bathe my cat…because he, uh…has a dermatological issue, and has to be bathed every 4 hours.”

-“I seem to have double-booked myself.”

-“I have a headache.”

-“OMG, I forgot my, uh…you see there’s a…thing that I really really really need to attend to.  Right now.  That I can’t tell you about.”

-“I forgot my wallet.”

Or, you can always just be honest, and tell him that he’s a lovely human being, but you’re just not interested.  This works surprisingly well, as long as the person isn’t Political Activist Man.  You get to choose who you like and who you don’t, and you always have the option to leave if you’re really not having a good time.  Keep in mind, however, that this is a RECIPROCAL concept.  The other person is allowed to not like you.  You need to be at peace with this.  If someone is honest and says they’re not interested, that does not make him an immature prick, or her a saucy bitch.  Everybody gets to choose, even Political Activist Man.

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