It Was the First of Times, It Was the Worst of Times
This post originally appeared on Girl's Gotta Eat, Lauren's chronicle of her dating adventures.
I recently had the worst first date of my entire life. SETTLE IN, MA BABIES.
We met for dinner at a favorite spot of mine, Bernie’s Lunch and Supper Club (highly recommended in regards to food, design, and service). I got there early, and bonded with the waitress who was totally onto my strategy:
“Ohhhhhh, you arrived early to have a pre-date drink!”. Immediate kinship.
The specimen arrived, looking pretty handsome. Quickly, he mentioned that he’d had a long day at work.
“What exactly do you do?” I innocently inquired.
Within the next 30 seconds, it was determined that we both work in the environmental industry (I manage an environmentally-focused coworking space).
“Oh…I am so glad you told me this early on” he said, with an incredibly serious tone. “I can’t seriously date someone in the same field as me”.
“I totally understand dating boundaries”, I calmly empathized. “I’m also an actor and I have a very strict no-actors dating policy”.
“Well…this is awkward”, he muttered.
(Only because you’re making it awkward, I thought.)
“Shall we just call it, then?” I suggested, giving us both a quick and easy escape.
“No, there’s no reason we can’t still enjoy each other and have dinner!”, he proclaimed. Alright.
And then the man proceeded to talk my ear off for an ENTIRE. HOUR. STRAIGHT. I swear to you - I didn’t utter a SINGLE. WORD. Those of you who know me understand how deeply rare this really is.
Did he ask one thing about me? No. Did he ask what I’d like to order? No (that’s right – he ORDERED FOR ME. I was so disinterested by that point, I didn’t even have the energy to argue). Did he immediately order a third drink after they’d cleared our dinner plates? Yes. Instantaneously, I motioned “CHECK!” to our waitress, who could CLEARLY see the tragedy that was goin’ down.
Once the bill arrived, this guy really nailed it home.
“Please, let me treat,” (wasn’t going to argue you on that one, buddy), “I’m sorry that we can’t date, but it’s just my policy. Would you like to come back to my place though?”
There’s only so much a girl can take. Luckily, I’d already ordered my Uber under the table the second the check had been set down.
“I’m not interested in that, and my Uber’s actually already here. Thank you so much for dinner,” I said as I got up from the table.
“Oh…I was planning on finishing my drink and watching the rest of the game.” (The Cubs game, which he’d spent at least 60% of the time watching, not making eye contact, while telling me his entire life story).
“Enjoy!” I sashayed out of the restaurant and into my Uber.
And then I got a little bit angry.
Wasting my time is at the TOP of my triggers list.
I deeply understand not wanting to date someone in the same industry as you. But I made it pretty clear to him that the focus of my management position is administrative/marketing in nature. Nevertheless, it still seemed to bother him, and I get that. We all have limits.
What I do struggle with, however, is someone who doesn’t understand how to have a 2-sided conversation. And what I don’t get is how someone would assume that their date - who hasn’t uttered an entire sentence in an hour - might like to go home with them. THE AUDACITY. Sounds like somebody just wanted to get laid with no strings attached.
What do we do when a first date goes south?
A lot of people might suggest you get up and leave. Say ‘thank you so much’, recognize that your time is precious, and walk out.
I respect that choice…but to me, it just doesn’t read as kind. Can you imagine how you’d feel if your date did that to you? The ultimate rejection! ‘I can’t fathom spending one more minute in your presence, and I must go’. That feels pretty extreme, and something I’d reserve for an offensive or inexcusable situation. However, to each their own.
In this situation, I attempted to remain respectful (in my silence), and sped up the dining process as much as possible. I also didn’t wait for any sort of finality before ordering my Uber once the bill came.
To be quite honest, though…I somehow found my anger turning into self-doubt, post-date. You know the feelings: Was he just not feeling it? Was he not attracted to me?
Was it me?
I recognize that this goes against everything I preach here, that ‘it’s not you’.
Real talk: sometimes, dating feels pretty bleak. I’ve been on a string of super underwhelming dates for the past few weeks. I’m a very resilient person - I let things slide off my back pretty easily. When a date goes south, I generally walk out and forget about it. But at a certain point, ya have to wonder…is it you?
I had to give myself a big serving of my own medicine: there’s plenty “wrong” with me, but that’s not the point – I just haven’t met the right guy! There was nothing about this dude that I felt drawn to, so why would I care if he wasn’t into me? As my friend Margaux told me post-date: “Take this as an opportunity to realize how normal you are.”
I don’t say this to bash him. I say it because we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. If I’d been feeling down on myself during the date, maybe I would have gone home with him when he asked - seeking that validation. I’m so glad I didn’t, because I would have felt 100x worse the next day.
So, when a first date goes south…ya get through it as quickly and painlessly as you can. And then you forget about it (besides when you want to hilariously recount it to friends). I always tell you to ‘feel your feelings’, but there is a huge difference between doing that and wallowing. When we get hit with a lousy first date, we laugh, and we move on to the next. There’s bigger and better things ahead – this I promise you.