What You Learn About First Dates

Me, I tend to come away from first dates either skipping on air or wondering what all the fuss about other human beings is. It’s kind of like a choose-your-own adventure book, especially when you find yourself going on first dates with the same types of people – compatible, basically, but no big sparks. On the one hand, it means your dating radar is eliciting the right kind of traffic (which was not the case when I first moved to New York…I went out with one mild-mannered clueless guy in about 5 different incarnations) but on the other, it means maybe you’re not putting your very best foot forward.

Step 1: eBanter. I’ve noticed a general trend in OKC messages – guys tend to lead off with a teasingly deprecating jab, with an offer to let me “defend [my] insistence on going to Venue X!” Women thus far are more likely to be friendly and complementary. At this point anyone who’s responding to me has passed the feminism litmus test (round 1: Not being afraid of feminism)

Step 2: Picking a place to meet. I have a couple of Go To Staples for first dates. If I were still drinking, it’d be a place where I knew the bartender. Since I’m not, it’s a place where they don’t make fun of me for ordering the same steamed dumplings twice a week. So I need a couple of places. Cupcake Cafe on 18th stret is a big one, Risotteria is a new one, but I might be just as happy at Chipotle…this is why I like to let the other person pick when possible.

Step 3: Being Overbooked. I’m guilty of this, most of the women I’ve dated lately are too..if you’re not really feeling it, not really sure where your feelings are re: someone else, you’re more likely to push off setting a time and place to meet, or to bail at the last minute. But eventually, two people get in the same place (I’ve got a date next Saturday with a girl I have scheduled 3 cancelled dates with so far. I’m not Extremely Excited about meeting her so I’m laid back enough to be flexible and patient. It’s a nice change from when I was 20 and panicked if I didn’t get an email or text back within an HOUR for a date within TWO DAYS)

Step 4: Manage Expectations and Give Everyone Two Chances: I had a date last night with a girl who posted a missed connection about me that my former store manager (Hi Kristen aka Yenta!) found and sent my way. Yeah, there was potential for her to be a total creepster so I didn’t let my crazybrain shoot off into Fantasy Eternal Love land (remember Voyeur Guy?) but I remembered meeting her however briefly at Ye Olde House of Ceramic Whimsy so I agreed to meet. She’s a little young for me, at 22. I’d never consider dating a 22-year-old guy. I barely wanted to date them when I was 22. But MissedConnectionGirl and I have a lot in common – world travels, feminism, dogs, tattoos, nerditude – so we scheduled a second date. And that’s because we had a decent first meeting. Even if I come away from the first meeting going “WTF was that?” unless I feel unsafe I will probably schedule a second one if the other person asks because First Date Nerves cannot be discounted.

I don’t know if these are dating tips or just a pep talk for my psyche – I’m awfully tired of starting over time and time again, but the only way to stop dating is to find the person who makes you stop wanting to date anyone else. The solution therefore is not to say “bugger off” to eligible girls who are smart, cute and like you..but to keep dating and see if it sticks.

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