Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Like at First Sight

Recently I went on a date with chemistry bachelor #4. We'd been e-mailing each other and talking on the phone for a while, so we finally set up a time to meet in person.

We had the usual first date conversation, where we asked each other questions about our work and what we did for fun. There were a few instances where I thought, Wait, did I tell him this story already the last time we talked on the phone? Or did I tell this story to one of my other first dates?

Then I started thinking that a) I've been on so many first dates that they've started to blur together; b) I should really come up with something else to talk about on first dates; maybe I should come up with a list of topics to talk about beforehand, except then I might forget what was on the list and I don't want to have to check it during the date. Then he'll think I'm so neurotic/nervous that I had to come up with a crib sheet before the date and he'll pretend that he has just come down with a life-threatening illness, right before he runs in the opposite direction; c) why is it I can always remember the time I started shrieking and jumping up and down like a monkey at the sight of a spider crawling on a student's shoulder when I was teaching a class, but I can't remember whether I told a guy the same story more than once?

It kind of seemed from his body language like he wasn't that interested in me. It seemed like he was ready to leave before the date was over. Also, he didn't look me in the eye a lot, similar to how chemistry bachelor #3 kept looking around the room when we went out. I don't expect a guy to look me in the eye the whole time. If he did, then I'd feel uncomfortable, like maybe he was trying to hypnotize me into giving him the phone number of one of my female friends or at least into paying for the drinks. But on the other hand, it's kind of hard to have a conversation with a guy when I find myself talking to his ear or his chin half the time.

With this guy, it wasn't "like at first sight," but it wasn't "dislike at first sight" either. It's one of those situations where I'm not sure what I feel about him just yet; I'd probably have to go out with him at least one or two more times before I figure it out.

But I'm not sure if I'll hear from him again, let alone go out with him again. Would I say yes if he asked me for a second date? Sure. He's a nice guy; he's attractive, smart, and we have a lot in common. But it's often hard to tell if you're really into someone on the first date, although I have been out with other guys where I knew right away that it was NEVER going to happen. That was usually because they a) didn't look like the pictures in their profiles, usually because the pictures were taken ten or fifteen years ago; b) said something insulting or offensive; c) touched my arm or my back so many times that I wished that I had worn body armor.

I'm going out of town soon, and he told me to call him when I come back. But he didn't say anything about calling me. Based on my past experience, if a guy wants to see me again, he will be the one to contact me first, and he doesn't wait very long before he does it. I'm not one of those people who thinks that the girl should never make the first move, but I'm not sure if I should with this guy. If I like a guy, I usually contact him within the first couple days after the date. But with this guy, I'm not sure if I should wait until I am back in town (which isn't going to be for several more days), or if I should call/text him sooner, or if I should just wait for him to call me.

As I came home from the date, I felt a little sad because this is the sixth guy I've gone out with in the past year; I went out with four guys from chemistry.com, and I went out with two guys I met on eharmony last summer. (But on the other hand, I suppose it's better than joining two online dating sites in one year and ending up with no dates at all.) It makes me wonder how many dates I'm going to have to keep going on before I make a real connection with someone. How many more times am I going to have to make small talk with someone before we can have a real conversation? How many more dates am I going to come home from feeling sad before I finally go on a date that makes me feel happy?

How many more times am I going to have to block e-mails from guys who a) are apparently allergic to dictionaries, or at least the spell check on their computers; (I don't expect their writing to be perfect, but if it's difficult to read it because there are errors in every sentence or even every word, then that's kind of a turn-off.) b) post fake pictures of famous actors or musicians in their profiles (I mean, seriously?); c) list all the reasons that they broke up with their ex-girlfriends in their profiles? (You know how they say you shouldn't talk about an ex on the first date? Don't talk about the ex in your online dating profile, either.)

I suppose going on dates with six guys in one year isn't a lot compared to the number of dates that other people go on, but I've been out with several more than six guys since I first started dating. I kind of wish that guys came with labels that are invisible to them but are visible to me. The labels would say stuff like, "He will NEVER call you again", or "He cheated on all of his ex-wives", or "His personality would scare Donald Trump", or "He is a great guy who you will be happy with". If guys came with labels, it would make being single so much easier. (Side note: If girls came with labels, that would make it easier on guys too. My label would hopefully read "likable neurotic" or "If you criticize her work habits, your dinner will end up on your shirt.")

Even though I'm a workaholic, I always thought that dating would be the one thing that didn't feel like work. I don't expect it to be like it is in the movies or even like in one of those online dating commercials. I  just thought that dating would give me the chance to feel something real for someone special and to just have fun with that person. But it's been a while since it has felt like anything but work for me.

Some people might tell me just to relax and not take it so seriously. But telling a neurotic workaholic to relax is like telling a fish to stop swimming. On the other hand, the reason that dating has felt like work lately is because it is a lot of work to read through a bunch of profiles, send and receive e-mails, and to go on dates and be interesting without being fake or saying the wrong thing. And frankly, at this point, I'm ready for a vacation.


  1. Isn't like they say, when you're not looking for love, that's the moment you find it? Maybe if you do take a vacation from it for even just a few weeks you'll get the mojo you are looking for. The first three dates with my husband were ok, but not stellar. We didn't start dating-dating until 6 months later. Good luck out there-it's a scary world, but I have confidence you'll find someone soon.

    And don't feel guilty about not liking it when people have excessive spelling mistakes in their email. IMHO it's a sign that something more insidious is going on.

  2. I can never tell after one date. I usually give guys three dates. That's around the time that I feel like we're comfortable enough where I can tell whether or not there's any real possibility. Obviously I jump ship earlier, if they do something wrong before then, but 3 dates is when I might possibly begin to actually like someone, rarely sooner. Thus I think you should try to meet up with this guy again. Do something different than you did last time, try him in a new setting, tell him about your day, ask about his day, tell the spider story again and say "Stop me if you've heard this." Et cetera. You're not going to know after one date, I think, and if there's any chance, give it a chance!

  3. Hi Anna,
    Thanks for the advice! I think maybe I have temporarily lost my mojo (teehee, I just thought of what happened when Austin Powers lost his). My chemistry membership is expiring soon, so I suppose I might as well take a break for a few weeks.

    Hi mmarinaa,
    Thanks for the advice! I think I will text him to say hi pretty soon, because I don't want to wait until I get back; there's always the chance he could meet Heidi Klum's lookalike before I come back. I'm honestly not sure if he's interested in seeing me again, but I suppose I'll find out soon enough.

  4. Haha! I wish guys came w/ warning labels too--like "I'm married and only want to fool around with you" or "I'm a bad speller" lol. That would certainly save us some heartache and whatnot!

  5. Hi Catherine,
    I wish I was psychic or something, and then I could "read" guys; that way it'd be easier to figure out who was worth dating and who wasn't. But I don't know if I really believe in psychics, especially because I've never met one (at least I don't think I have). But it'd be cool if that was possible, though.

  6. #4 doesn't sound that bad! It seems like a wait 'n see. Sometimes the like can turn into that other L word! Or, maybe #5 will be it for you!

    I really chuckled about that part w/ guys using a dictionary. Of course any writer will feel that way.

  7. Hi notesfromnadir,
    I think it will be a wait'n see with this guy. I texted him today, but he hasn't responded yet; I'm not sure if he will (but it would be nice if he did).
    I think as writers it's part of our job to pay close attention to grammar; think of how it would look if we turned in manuscripts to agents or editors that were full of grammatical errors. I know it's a different situation with online dating. And I make grammatical errors every now and then, including on this blog. But I still think proofreading is important.

  8. As soon as I got to that point where it felt like work, I realized it was time for me to take a break. And consequently have been on said break since December! Quite honestly, I haven't been bored and have surprised myself with how different it feels this time around. When I was reading profiles and emails and counting the mistakes and ridiculing the entire thing constantly, I realized that I wasn't doing anyone (me or the guy) any bit of good. Take a break, friend!

  9. Hi Melanie,
    I think I will take a break for a little while. Summer is a good time for dating, so I may try again in June. Hopefully I'll have more luck the next time around.

  10. Oh, wouldn't it be cool if they did come with labels? It would certainly make life a lot easier. I've rarely been on a first date where I've known quite how to feel. And the one time I did, the guy turned out to be a total arse. So much for intuition!

  11. Hi Talli,
    Like you said, first dates can be confusing because we're not always sure about how we feel about the people we go on dates with; likewise, they're probably figuring out their feelings too. It's a lot of pressure because first impressions can be lasting, which is why I always worry when I do something embarrassing. :)

  12. It does sound like a lot of work. I know what you mean about not knowing if you've told that story before. It's a crutch we all use for first time conversations - not just dating.

    The thrill of figuring out if someone feels like you do (or wondering if they don't) is also frustrating.

  13. Hi Theresa,
    The uncertainty of first dates is definitely frustrating; there are all these questions, like will we like each other? Will there be a second date? Does the fact that he just checked his watch mean that he's bored, or is he really just checking the time? Stuff like that.