Yesterday, I had a first date. It has frankly been a quite while since I’ve played this game.
And I was nervous.
Dating is like flying. When I’m traveling often and racking up frequent flyer miles, being on an airplane doesn’t worry me at all. It’s just part of the routine, familiar and automatic. However when I haven’t flown in a while, I always get a bit tense at that first bump of turbulence, the lack of familiarity making it more jarring and nerve-wracking.
I’ve realized that most of my dating in the past year or two has been with men I’ve met organically in the real world, not through any apps. (Which is my dream and how I truly believe I will meet my significant other.) First official dates with someone you have already interacted with aren’t as scary. You already have a feel for them, a general idea of how you interact and how it’ll all go. It’s more like yay vs ahhhh.
Yay is not the case for a blind first meet-up. Only so much can be realistically gleaned from a handful of photos and text conversations. The potential for it to be a total bust seem higher. The pressure seems greater, and there’s always that ole’ fear of the unknown to contend with.
To crank up my nerves to eleven on this one? I would be on this date without the nerve-reducing, confidence-boosting support of alcohol. (More on that in a later post.)
I had set myself up for a sober, blind first date.
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I decided to try Coffee-Meet-Bagel earlier in in the month after hearing good reviews from a friend. It took the game aspect of online dating off the table by only providing you with one match a day. (You will sporadically get some bonus matches, but still no option of swiping for hours with your friends for entertainment.) If you do start chatting, it closes the conversation within two weeks-ish, encouraging people to get past the never-ending texting and into real life dating situations. In general, I dig the approach.
Knowing my propensity for being very picky on swiping right and what I believe is a minimal likelihood of connecting with anyone quickly that would actually manifest a date (online in general), I wasn’t worried about having any dates before my Dry January wrapped.
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I had chatted with “Bagel” for a week and a half, enjoyed our conversation and liked that he took the initiative in a fairly timely manner to take it off-line. So there I was, meeting this guy for the first time, ordering an iced tea, and trying not to be awkward.
And I learned a couple things about myself, dating, and of course, the Bagel in question.
1. IF YOU DON’T MAKE IT A THING…
…then it won’t be a thing. I was nervous that explaining Dry January and being 100% sober on a first date would be super awkward for both myself and my date. But as my dear friend C always says, “Just don’t be weird.” And if you don’t make a big deal out of it (whatever it may be that you are feeling self conscious about), it’s quickly a moot point and a good joke. Bagel teased that he was “drinking for two.”
(Also, if you are on a first date with someone and not having a drink is a deal breaker for them? Bail on that date immediately. Intolerant people aren’t worth your time.)
2. DEPTH IS BETTER THAN BREADTH,
So I don’t know all about Bagel’s family or his job or any of that typical interview date stuff. But I learned a ton about how he thinks and approaches and views life. A conversation about James Bond led to an in-depth contemplation on small relate-able stories with focused character development vs overarching themes with grand world impacts in plots and why we prefer one or the other. And it went on from there. Exploring theoretical concepts with a person I met twenty minutes before is rather neat.
3. BUT SOMETIMES SHALLOW IS DEEP ENOUGH.
Beyond philosophical debates, an extensive conversation about cheese is equally appealing to me. (Mmm… cheese…) And Bagel and I legitimately had a ten minute discussion about our favorite cheeses and why and about that time I went to a cheese factory. Sounds lame while writing this, but it was a fun, legit conversation. Along with all that theoretical deep stuff, it’s important to be able to wax poetic about cheese typologies or similarly everyday things. Real relationships are full of uneventful Tuesday nights and if you can connect with someone on the mundane as well as the profound, that’s pretty darn nice.
4. YOU CAN GET BUZZED ON CONVERSATION ALONE.
Pretty quickly into the date, I felt very comfortable. Surprisingly comfortable. I laughed a ton, felt sharp and engaging and was 100% me. Those nerves evaporated in the presence of an interesting human being and intriguing conversation, connection giving me a solid buzz. To be truthful, it was invigorating and reassuring to know that I didn’t need (or really want) the crutch of alcohol to loosen up and be myself in a preliminary date situation.
5. A LITTLE AWKWARD ISN’T NECESSARILY A BAD THING.
The date was a mixture of really comfortable and slightly awkward. I think that’s actually a good thing. You want there to be a little bit of nervousness, a smidgen of tension, a dash of unsure coupled with a general comfort and interest level to have the potential of romance.
Plus a little awkward makes the best stories. Case in point:
End of the date, walking to cars, both uttering the standard “had a great time, lets do this again” jargon and then a hug. Still pretty close after the hug, he seemed to go in for a quick kiss which I was fine with. Seemed natural and not a big deal. Post-peck, he states “Sorry, I was going for your cheek.” Moment of chagrin/strangeness, another quick lip to lip peck (With me hoping that the second time WAS intentional and that he doesn’t have terrible lip aim and that I don’t come across as a sober hussy stealing a chaste kiss on the first date. ) and goodbyes.
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Was it a magical Disney date? Were there no awkward pauses or moments of confusion or disconnects? Was it the best date in the history of life? Did I come home twitterpaited and twirling, having met my soul mate?
But was it an enjoyable evening of good conversation getting to know an interesting guy? Am I intrigued by him as a person? Would I say yes to a second date? Am I glad I went?
See, flying isn’t so scary.