At 34, I have been on more first dates than I care to count. Sure some of them were fantastic, like the one with Mr. Big X. We went out on his friend’s sailboat for the whole day. The weather was gorgeous, there was plenty of chemistry, loads of flirting, and a kiss at the end of the date that still makes my knees buckle when I think about it. Or the first date with Hairy McBacksweat. There was plenty of beer, tons of good food, and more than enough bad judgementjudgment to last me a lifetime. NevermindNever mind that I was still dating Mr. Big X at the time, or that I had consumed my weight in beer that day-which led up to 6 months of poor choices on my part. But the beer was free and I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Even if that gift horse carries the gift of “the relationship that you’ll regret.”
Then we have the bad ones. The ones that still give me terrible nightmares-the kind where I wake up sweating and thinking to myself, “thank God it was just a bad, bad dream.” Then I’m too scared to go back to sleep for fear that I’ll end up back in the dream with some random jerk rubbing my thigh. One of those that still haunts me is the tragic date with Lazy Eye. I had been using a dating service and they were convinced that we were a “perfect match.” If only I had known that their idea of a “perfect match” actually translated into, “you have absolutely nothing in common and we’re just setting the 2 of you up together so we can laugh at you behind your desperate single backs.”
Lazy Eye suffered from a lack of listening skills, and had less personality than a dead dog rotting in the sunshine. I spent the night answering questions that he had just asked me 5 minutes prior, and then correcting him when he made up his own answers. He would ask me questions over and over again, and then pull things out of his ass. An example:
- Lazy Eye: So, what do your mom and dad do?
- Me: My mother is a doctor, and my dad is a naval officer in Hawaii. What about yours?
- Lazy Eye: Wow! That’s really interesting. My dad is dead and I haven’t spoken to my mother in about 15 years.
- Me: Oh.
- Lazy Eye: How does your mom like working in Washington DC?
- Me: Pardon?
- Lazy Eye: You said she worked for the Mexican Embassy, right?
- Me: Um…no. She’s a doctor. She’s Mexican, but she doesn’t work for the embassy.
- Lazy Eye: Oh, sorry. How long has your dad been a photographer?
Umm, what? Where on god’s green earth did he get that from?? The date pretty much continued straight down the road to nowhere. But I tried. I kept on answering his questions, and trying to help him be less nervous. I smiled. I cracked jokes.
When someone ends up on a bad date, they immediately blame the other person. In my case, I know it’s absolutleyabsolutely their fault-never mine. I do all the right things on the first date. No, seriously, I mean it, stop laughing. In my book, here’s why my date would not like me: because we have zero chemistry, because I’m more rubenesque (or robust, chunky, fleshy, curvy…take your pick) than he would like, because I respectfully disagree with his opinion that his paying the bill will lead to a tawdry romp in the backseat of his car, or because we have nothing in common. I will never be the person on a date that doesn’t hold up her end of the conversation, that doesn’t make the false move to pay the bill. That’s just not my style. I believe that what I put into the date, is what I’ll get out of it. How can I expect someone to have a good conversation with me if I only supply one word responses and never ask questions in return?
So think about this the next time you find yourself on a first date: what makes you a good dater? If you have trouble answering that question, here are a few tips for you:
- Have a series of open ended questions that you can ask to get your date talking.
- What do you like to do for fun?
- What travel plans do you have for the winter/summer?
- What sports do you enjoy?
- Would you rather be thrown down the stairs into a giant vat of rotting jellyfish or listen to the latest Rascal Flatts album? Why?
- Answer questions with more than just one word. If you’re asked, “Do you like to fish?” and the answer is yes, tell them what you like about it. If the answer is no, ask them what they like about it and what their other hobbies are.
- For the love of God, smile!! No one wants to be out with someone that’s dead inside. Even if you’re not having a great time, smile, and start thinking about what you can do to change the way things are going.
- This one might get me in trouble, but I don’t really care. Men, be prepared to pick up the bill. Ladies, be prepared to offer to pay for your share. Men, you should reject this faux offer from the ladies. Ladies, you should insist on leaving the tip, or buying a round of drinks. Men, it’s up to you what you do with that offer.
- Keep things light hearted. There’s no need to tell your date all about your upbringing as a latchkey kid and how you feel your mother didn’t hold you enough when you were an infant.
- Dress like a slob or a hooker. Gentlemen, that means no t-shirts or sneakers for you. Ladies, that means that you should not be showing off your tramp stamp or your nipple rings. Think about the first impression you want to make. If that’s that you’re a guy who still lets mom do his laundry and can’t be bothered to learn how to match his socks to his pants, or that you’re the type of girl that gives it away in exchange for a drink and a few nice words, by all means….
- Fire up the grill and start quizzing your date on how many sexual partners they’ve had, how their last relationship ended, why they’re not married, or why the marriage ended. If they want to share that, they’ll tell you.
- Tell him that your clock is ticking and you plan on having a baby immediately if not sooner. This will cause him to break out into a sweat and run to the bathroom, never to return.
- Mention that you have some bold ideas for a wedding, and that you think her first name sounds so melodic with your last name. Again, this will cause your date to sweat, and maybe even weep a little bit.
What are some things you do to make sure that you’re a good dater?