Second Dates are the New First Dates

Sunday, May 30, 2010
People are always stressing out about first dates, wanting to make a great first impression and feel those new crush butterflies. Until recently I have been one of those people, but my focus was all wrong. It’s not the first date you should be worrying about; especially if you don’t spend weeks building someone up with emails or phone calls (don’t do that, either). You’ve got nothing to lose on a first date. No, no, if you’re going to get nervous it’s the second date you should focus on.

Assuming you liked someone enough to go past the first date only means there’s more pressure on that next date. You could get lucky on a first date and have a great time with someone but your luck won’t hold out for two dates in a row. No, on the second date you have to see whether you still like them, whether that first date was a fluke or not. And if you had a great first date, you’re in even more trouble. You have to at least match the success of Date #1 otherwise you’ll be left deciding whether one great and one not-great date equal moving on to the all important Date #3.

The physical interaction stakes rise on the second date as well. If your first date had a physical aspect, then, again, you at least want to match that. If it didn’t, then you probably should be prepared to at least kiss. If you haven’t had any physical interaction throughout two dates maybe there isn’t any chemistry between you. This can get tricky the other way as well. Let’s say you definitely had chemistry on the first date, but don’t want to go too far on the second date. Where do you draw the line?

I’m not advocating panicking about your dates, mind you. In an ideal world you wouldn’t get nervous at all, you’d just “be yourself”. I write about real life, though, and I’ve been realizing that as I make it past the first date, which has been a primary focus of my dating, that there’s a lot more to worry about around the bend.

The Bowler and I are going to the movies on Friday for Date #2. Fingers crossed!

Mark It.

Thursday, May 27, 2010
And then it clicks. You meet someone who you’re instantly attracted to. You act like yourself around them, right from the beginning. You can tick off a whole list of reasons why you like them – some of them make sense and some of them have nothing to do with anything.

He calls. You talk for over an hour (and agree that’s waaay too long). About personal things, about random things. He doesn’t have the sense of humor you normally go for but he seems genuine. A guy that is close with friends and family. A guy with interests and a life of his own. A grown up.

He suggests you meet in person. You go out. He’s not as cute as his online profile, but you withhold judgment for the time being. You are able to chat through lunch, with no weird pauses. And then he kisses you in front of your building, during the day, after your first date.

You find the move bold, but impressive, despite the unwritten no-kissing-anywhere-near-the-workplace-when-coworkers-could-be-around rule. You decide you will definitely go out with him again.

I’m talking, dear readers, about The Bowler. Not some Lebowski quoting fan, no, this guy’s a card carrying, tournament playing, little kid coaching, glove wearing bowler. He hasn’t even seen the flick. But knowing how much I like themes, perhaps the Universe is sending me a little sign of approval?

The "I Like You" Filter

Sunday, May 23, 2010
When you like someone, it’s like the whole relationship is seen through rose colored glasses.

Case in point: Let’s say you go out on a dinner date and each of you brings home leftovers. The next day you get an email from the guy saying that he’s enjoying his leftovers, but not as much as if he was eating them with you. If you like this guy, you probably just smiled. If you don’t like him, you just threw up a little bit.

On this blog I spend a lot of time railing on guys for their bad dating form, and in most cases their form would be unacceptable no matter how much I liked them. But mostly I think all those qualifications and behaviors I have outlined for my new boyfriend are just my mind’s way of letting me know I don’t like someone.

Take two guys I recently chatted with on OK Cupid.
  • Guy #1 was an attorney who had just relocated from New York. I responded to his IM without reading through his profile (don’t do that, by the way), just saw his teeny photo and age. Early in the chat he told me his divorce was going to be finalized the next week (as to why he relocated) and I told him that probably meant we weren't going to be a great match. I didn’t even want to learn about him – if he was still technically married I presumed he hadn’t distanced himself enough for a new relationship.
  • Guy #2 was a guy who had shown up in my Quiver Matches and whose profile I found really amusing. I also thought he was cute in his pics. I basically already liked him, and when in our IM chat he told me he was unemployed it didn’t even phase me. Nor did the fact that he practically lived on the opposite corner of the city (outside of realistic taxi fare range).
They’re not the same situations, but the point still stands. I appreciated the honesty of both guys, but Guy #2 got past all initial, surface verifications even though he didn’t meet a number of my usual standards. If I had liked the profile of Guy #1 I probably would have given him something of a chance.

Should you throw out your wish list of qualifications? Of course not. Just treat it for what it is. A wish list.

The Stand-In

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Every so often you meet someone who you don’t actually date, but you end up chatting with over an extended period of time. The Gentlemen turned out to be that kind of dude. Even though we never met up after our first date I sporadically received late night calls and text messages from him. The other day he popped up over IM and we ended up having quite the conversation. It started out pretty standard.

The Gentleman: What’s up?
Me: Hey stranger. How are you?
The Gentleman: I'm good and you? You're too busy for me these days?
Me: I'm good, thanks. Not too busy, but have been taking a little dating break. I appreciate your random late night texts, though.
The Gentleman: What's the reason behind the break? Found Mr. wonderful...
Me: Hardly. Just found myself not feeling as resilient and open as one needs to be.
The Gentleman: Okay... Well if you are ever in the mood for a casual hang out buddy, with no strings attached, and no pressures, let me know.

We chat a bit more about the ins and outs of dating. And then it gets interesting.

The Gentleman: So what happens when you have needs? You'll start dating again, or is there a stand in guy already as to why you don't answer your phone late night? :-)
Me: Too funny. I actually do have a stand in guy (technically) but I'm not really that into him.
Me: I don't answer my phone late at night because I'm sleeping, usually. You and I have very different schedules it seems.
Me: Are you offering to be my stand in guy?
The Gentleman: I'm definitely interested in being your stand in guy, I think... what’s wrong with the one you have now?
Me: You think? Would it change if I threw in that key chain I actually did pick you up when I was on vacation?
Me: The other guy is someone I'm not into physically - or personally, really. We almost went out on a date a very long while back, but he was really emotionally needy and so that didn't happen.

And then we very candidly discuss the details of our stand-ins. How we schedule, what the roles are, etc. His arrangement is substantially more structured than mine and seems more like a training program for the bedroom than regular access to a casual hook up. It’s an enlightening view into at least this male’s psyche.

Ultimately he offers to bump his scheduled appointment later that night with his stand-in if I’m interested. I consider it, but I decline.

It’s funny. I would definitely have been into him as a stand-in, but knowing how many he has, and how specific he is about the activities makes the situation substantially less desirable. Too much information about his personal life. Too much pressure to perform, I think.

I'm not deleting his number just yet, though. It can't hurt to have a stand-in while I'm looking for my stand-up guy.

Back in the Saddle?

Sunday, May 16, 2010
I don’t know if I would go that far, but I’m at least circling the horse. I turned my OK Cupid profile back on even though I still feel pretty anti-dating. A bit contradictory, but I’m not planning on reaching out to any men, mind you, I’m just browsing. Occasionally. If, and only if, someone interesting comes my way will I have to decide what, exactly, I’m doing.

I don’t know what I’m doing, you see. I’ve spent all this time over the past year making an effort to date, putting myself out there (online and in the real world), going out of my comfort zone, having drink after drink while getting to know all these men and really, what do I have to show for it?

Not a boyfriend, which was the primary goal. Not even a string of fun, exciting dates with engaging and handsome men, which would have been a nice consolation prize. And although I’ve been disappointed and frustrated, I actually don’t think those are the overriding feelings I’m left with.

No, I think what I have is doubt. Doubt that deliberately seeking a relationship is the best way to find one. Doubt that analyzing dating leads to improved dating. I even have some doubt as to whether I genuinely want to be in a relationship, whether I wouldn’t push it away even if it was presented to me on a silver platter.

I don’t see myself as a failure though; I’m simply following a normal evolution of thought. Doubt is part of the process. The cloudy, unsure, obnoxious part.

I will get back on the horse soon. Oh yes, as soon as I find myself a glorious stallion, I will hop into the saddle with no hesitation. And then I will take him for the ride of his life.

Postscript to The Big Ledateski

Thursday, May 13, 2010
This blog is not always written in real-time and due in no small part to the disaster that the Hobbes situation ended up being I have been trying to shift away from real-time posting altogether. The Big Ledateski is one such series that was posted after it had played out. And after finishing THAT tale I needed a little break.

I did have a discussion with my friend (the law school buddy of the co-worker of the friend of Duder) and she was wondering what had happened that caused him to suddenly retreat. I told her I didn’t even care to speculate. And I don’t, because it doesn’t matter.

I can’t say that I have a good read on Duder, but I can tell you emails that I received from him while posting The Big Ledateski led me to believe we were on entirely different pages. Nothing was taken as it was intended, it seemed. I hate that... I always want people to see my perspective and understand my position, whether they agree with it or not. I didn’t think I could get there with Duder, so I just stopped trying.

And truthfully, I think he’s kind of an asshole. Not on purpose, and not the mean kind, but there’s an attitude to the way that he presents himself in writing that is really off putting. At least to me.

It’s ironic, actually. Things ended with Duder almost immediately after I watched The Big Lebowski, so I never got to share my enjoyment of the film with him even as it became the backdrop for my blogging. I did enjoy sharing it with you, though.


Q: Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn't that what makes a man? A: Hmmm... Sure, that and a pair of testicles.

Monday, May 3, 2010
The conclusion to this tale is somewhat anticlimactic. After giving Duder more leeway than I’ve given anyone I’ve dated in at least the past year it turns out that he is not interested in dating me.

When I put our last date-planning disaster on hold I had every intention of planning another date. I had even followed up with a phone call the next afternoon and the previously suggested text regarding meeting up for basketball watching that Saturday. He returned with a voicemail over the weekend which had not yet been returned by me when I got his “I don’t want to date you” email.

Immediately I breathed a big sigh of relief. As all of our interactions have made clear, I’m not interested in dating him. Not at all. Then I actually read the email.

He wants to know if we can be friends. No, no I don’t think we can be. Not after you’ve wasted my time and all my good will.

He thinks we have a ton in common. I can only assume he means we both like NCAA basketball.

He gives me carte blanche to blog about our date, adding that he doesn’t think I owe him an explanation for what I end up writing. I certainly hope not, because I’m going to tear him a new one.

I almost do in my response, because as I re-read the email I get pretty ticked that he’s the one who got to pull the plug. Let me explain something to you. If I didn’t think the Universe had something up his sleeve I would have never have given Duder a second glance. I made a sincere effort to see if we had a connection, overlooking really immature dating behavior on his part, because I knew (and he knew) that I was really negative about dating.

Instead I simply thank Duder for his honesty and the courtesy in regards to the blog. Besides, I was obviously planning to include everything I hadn’t told him directly in the blog version. He reads it, so he should have been expecting that. And frankly, he should have known better than to get involved with someone writing a blog about dating.
Nobody fucks with the Jesus.