How do you spell awkward? First Date. What could be more awkward than meeting someone you only saw online, or someone you met only once after a few cocktails? You aren’t quite sure if they will look like their picture, or if you remember what they look like at all. You have a little knowledge about them from their profile, but you don’t know what it is real and what is not. Now you are going to meet for a drink, for coffee, for a bite to eat and you have to figure out in that time if this is someone you are interested in seeing again. And so do they! Oh yes, there is a little excitement to it, could this be someone I could build something with, or someone I can be friends with and have a companion for movies, dinners, a wedding date, etc. You get excited about what you might wear, even if it is just coffee. Am I dressed up too much? Not enough? Does this flatter me? Do I look like I tried too hard? This is a first impression so that stays top of mind, what first impression do I want to make?
So you put on a nice pair of jeans, a sweater and boots. You may add a scarf, and you make sure your hair looks good. Spritz a little perfume on and you are on your way. When he shows up, you know if he thought about the first impression at all. I can tell you, many men don’t. One first date, we were both coming from work. He in wrinkled khaki pants and a wrinkled shirt, me in a dress with tights and boots. Yep, one of thought about the first impression. Or the person who showed up from his part time job in a sweatshirt, jeans and workbooks. The sweatshirt was the clincher, really a hoodie? Even if you are coming from a part time job, have another shirt in the car and change really quick. Make a little effort, please.
In this day and age of online dating, you are going by pictures and profiles. You have some conversation beforehand and then off to the first date. When the picture online doesn’t match what you see, the date is already becoming a bit doomed. I do need a little attraction. One guy I saw absolutely used a picture many years old on the dating site, or he aged in a matter of weeks!
I think I need to do a better job of the screening process after the initial emails. You know, get to understanding a bit more about a person before meeting them. So I asked one person to tell me what attracted him to my profile. I have put a lot of thought and effort to be me and real in my profile. All he could talk about were physical attributes. That didn’t inspire me, nor did I continue to talk to him. It’s fine to state something physical, it’s important to all of us, however there should be more to it for me. I know, I’m not easy on these, I don’t like online dating at all and am always the skeptic. I am an HR professional so I basically interview people without them even knowing that is what I am doing. I can ask questions in a way that sounds more conversational and I am trying to figure you out, which I’m good at. I had one guy think we had the best conversation when all I did was interview him. I knew fairly quickly that we wouldn’t see each other again, he was positive we had the best date ever.
Through the questions either online or in person I am psycho- analyzing the man, figuring out what is truly important to him, will he intellectually stimulate me ( I have found that to be really important to me as I have gotten older), will he challenge me to be better and how judgmental is he? I know, I sound judgey as I am writing this, I don’t mean it to be. I am less judgmental than that, I am trying to figure out if you are worth my time, I don’t need someone in my life to complete it, I actually want someone in my life. I want my person, someone to hang out with, go on road trips with, be there when needed (both ways) and care for and be cared for back. Do we have enough in common from a values and interests standpoint and enough different to be inspiring and exciting? I haven’t found either in my search online so far.
In fact, what I have found is there are a lot of people out there who don’t stimulate me intellectually. My dad said to me, “you are going to have trouble finding someone as bright as you.” I don’t agree but I did say to him, “I’m looking for someone who can at least put a conversation together dad, these guys can only talk about themselves and don’t have enough to keep me interested. Have opinions, know some current events, something. ” I was on one first date, with the wrinkled clothes guy, where I interviewed the heck out of him. He lost me when he said, “I have no friends. I was part of a couple.” I thought about that and realized that the couple-dom is what defined him, his only friend would be who ever he is in a couple with. Been there, done that. My ex-husband had no friends. I became everything which is way too much pressure for anyone. It also told me that he didn’t know how to make a relationship last, how to forgive in a relationship, how to communicate how you feel in a relationship. And again, I don’t need this to complete my life, I want it to enhance my life. Therefore you need to have your own interests, so I can explore mine. I want girlfriend time, they are too important to me.
Then there are the things people disclose that make me scratch my head. Who would call their child, “the child from hell,” to someone they just met? Yep, heard that one recently as I learned all about their troubles as they try to sell their home with their 35 year old trying to sabotage the sale. Yes, this was all told to me on a first date. Wow, that should really get me to want to meet your family! Airing your dirty laundry on a first date is an interesting tactic. I guess some could see it as being open. It left me wondering why she is the child from hell, what have you done to help her, etc. And when not one question is asked of me, I realize that you don’t have natural curiosity, and you don’t really care what I am like. The only tidbits you learned about me were the ones I chose to share as part of a conversation. If that is you on the first date, I am assuming it will only get worse as time goes on. You don’t care to know me, understand me, figure me out. So there is no depth there. That leaves me fairly hollow, and wondering what it will be like down the road.
I have one girlfriend who always says to me, “well you can at least get a friend out of it.” True, but so far I haven’t met anyone on a first date that I want as a friend. Again, nothing to inspire me or bring out a better version of me. I want that from all of my relationships and realize that that comes in different sizes. There are the friends who really push me out of my comfort zone and have inspiring and deep conversations and there are those who stay a bit more shallow, but all meaningful. Some of these first dates are so shallow, I’m in ankle deep water, I want to at least be in shoulder depth!
So, first dates are awkward and many times don’t lead to a second. They can make for some funny stories and at least get you out there meeting people. For me, they continue to teach me things about me. What is truly important to me, how open am I to receive and how good am I at the screening process? I would say I am not very good at the screening process right now, but at least I am out there working it, in my own awkward way.