I was 13 and in seventh grade. I had convinced my mom to drop me off a block away from the movie theater where she thought I was just meeting friends for a Sunday matinee, but really, I had been asked out. You know, my first real date. I was meeting a boy.
Truth was, I was so nervous and uncertain about it that I convinced my friend Anna to come along with me (but didn’t tell my date). We arrived before my date (let’s call him Timmy). When Timmy arrived (his dad dropped him off on his motorcycle) he looked at me and smiled. Then he turned to Anna and his eyebrows furrowed. I started to sweat and squeaked,“Err, Anna wanted to see The Sixth Sense, too.” Timmy let out a big sigh.
I bought my ticket with my allowance money. We walked into the movie theater, Anna on my right, Timmy on my left. He bought me buttery popcorn. He asked to hold my hand halfway through the movie. I said, “I guess.” My palms felt clammy.
There was no second date.
Five years later, I’m in college. Newly single and surrounded by thousands of immature 18-year old boys. Seriously, dating is like being in a jungle and you need to be prepared with the right equipment and support team.
I was sitting in my Modern American Social History class. Front row. I was chewing on my pen and I felt someone staring at me. You know how you can just feel it? I slowly turned and a larger-looking guy with puppy eyes, I hadn’t even noticed before was staring at me, smiling. Naturally, I smiled back. I smile all the time, it wasn’t a big deal. Then I turned away.
Repeat this scenario, for the next five classes. Smiling college boy finally talked to me as I walked out of the class. He asked if I wanted to have dinner sometime.
[Now let me interject. I have this rule. If someone is assertive and asks me out, I will say yes. When single and asked out, I haven’t turned anyone down yet. Simply because, you never know. If anything, maybe it’s a crazy you can retell a story later or you meet a new friend, or a good meal, or a boyfriend. My point is, I’m open.]
I say yes. He picks me up, I live in a suite with three other girlfriends. I’m a sophomore in college. He proceeds to tell me he hasn’t made reservations anywhere and asks where I would like to go.
Uh, great. It’s Friday night, we drive to one restaurant and it’s packed, one hour wait.
We drive to another spot that’s new, I don’t even know what it is. We roll up and get out of his car. It’s a fast food, chain Mexican restaurant (think Chipotle). I’m not picky, I really am not (plus, I love Mexican food) but first impressions mean a lot. He didn’t plan anything either. I’m a good sport and always down, so I got a plastic tray, got into line and ordered my burrito.
He tells me my smile makes his day because no one ever smiles back at him. We talk about life, but I already know it won’t go anywhere beyond a friendship. He drives me home and invites himself upstairs. He then invites himself to the party I’m going to with my girlfriends. Clingy, yes. Sweet, he was. Not for me, most definitely.
That was our only date. I took honesty as the best policy and learned a lesson in why I am upfront.
Too Much, Too Soon
A friend set us up. He had just come back from duty in Iraq. Not an easy scenario, completely understood. I was gentle and kind.
He brought me a dozen roses. Sort of aggressive move for a first date, but sure, thank you, they were beautiful. He knows I’m Italian, he brings me to a delicious Italian place. Thoughtful. Our conversation consisted of questions like, “When you’re driving, do you like to leave the windows up or down?” No joke. I answer, “Um, it depends on the weather? Or my mood…” Crickets.
After dinner, he asks if I want to stop by his house. I didn’t want to and said I was getting tired. He persisted and finally I said, “Okay, sure.” Little do I know, this is his house that he grew up in. His family is waiting to meet me. Yes, this is a first date. He brought me to meet his family. They had presents for me and knew all about me.
I scurried out of that situation right away.
The Lifeline Continues
We all have this dating lifeline. The stories that shape us and the experiences that make us laugh or cry. I think it gives you a backbone. It can be frustrating but the thing is that dating when you’re 13 or 23 is relatively the same. It is still awkward, it doesn’t always work out, we can fall in love, we can break hearts and have our heart broken…and my palms still get clammy.
Yet, I keep dating, I keep talking to people, I’m open and I remember a date that simply seemed friendly and thought wouldn’t be anything more turned into a wonderful long-lasting relationship (oh, um we’re no longer together, but still). For me, it’s quality over quantity and the more you know yourself, the better off you are.
Good luck in the dating jungle. I’m right there with you. When you think you’re the only one who has bad dates or he brings you to meet his entire family, think again. It’s part of the process.
What’s your dating lifeline or story? Commiserate and share.