I always write in twos or threes, so here we go. To cough up anything relevant to this site, I will need to go back in time. Twice in the past year or so I have been asked out on dates in person/IRL, and both times have ended in tears. Trauma with a tiny t.
I’m not one for playing it cool, incase you haven’t noticed. But it’s not because I’m a histrionic snowflake who doesn’t understand dating. I’ve come to understand that my little t traumas are in large part due to the fact that I did not grow up dating in the current world.
When I came of age you either hooked up at a party for something casual or you crushed on a guy until he asked you out. When the guy you crushed on asked you out, that was it. It meant you liked each other and you started hanging out together. There was no ghosting (ok there was, but it hardly ever happened except that one time Danny, the guy in the coast guard I was dating, disappeared, and it turned out he had gotten married and didn’t want to tell me because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. But that was an anomaly.)
So I was raised to think that if a guy you knew asked you out there was at least a fifty percent chance (probably 90 percent if I’m being real here) that you’d have a boyfriend momentarily. It wasn’t that we settled. It’s just that we did more work up front, before the date, so that the date was more of a “yeah, we like each other so let’s do this thing” kind of a thing.
Fast forward to the present and I was asked out by two different men that I each found super compelling and wonderful. I was caught off-guard each time. Because we all like details, I will divulge as much as I can remember.
They were both in the middle of getting a divorce. I could end this post right here and now and you could probably fill in the rest but that’s no fun.
So guy number one is someone I’d known casually for a long time. His soon to be ex was a model. I’m not talking a model, I’m talking she was a supermodel. From the 90’s. Her face was everywhere. Literally. He was a famous athlete in a sexy sport that is one I will never attempt. He held world records and sh*t.
So, the first few times I sensed “interest” I blew it off totally, because come ON. “Maybe he is just friendly,” I thought. It wasn’t until he asked, “Can I date you?” that I knew he meant he wanted to DATE me. I said no. Then I said yes. I said no at first because, again, come ON. But he was adamant that that was what he wanted so I swallowed hard and we went on a date.
This guy’s interest in me was a bit of a heady thing, and over dinner I found I liked him more than I had expected to. I was beginning to get a little twinkly and there might have been a kiss and we certainly were going to see each other again according to him and then we chatted in the car a bit and he casually slipped in references to all the other women he was seeing.
Wah, wah, WAH.
I smiled through this deflating denouement but since I was open to open relationships (or so I thought) and since we were both adults and since he was going through a divorce, for goodness sake – I just kind of regrouped internally and salvaged some degree of interest in seeing him again.
He texted the next day. All good. Then he disappeared. Turns out there were reasons and we have talked since and he still dangles the idea that he thinks about me and would like to do something someday if I have a drink and text him but – whatevers. There’s no real spark and that’s he end of that.
I was a little mad at myself for thinking for a minute that something real and old-fashioned was possible. I was a little mad at him for yanking my chain. I don’t think he meant to, but all he wanted to know was that he could get a yes out of me. At the end of the day it was a big fat nothingburger on a sesame seed bun of girl-boy humanity.
Fast forward a bit and it happened again. I was talking to this guy who was going through a divorce and I found him insanely desirable. It was only a fleeting thought because he was the father of a patient, he was in pain, I was at work and, yeah. We spoke again on the phone and I just felt a connection but I wasn’t thinking about anything more. Lie, I was, but only in dreamland. Then I got a text and it seemed like he was asking me out.
He could have just been wanting to have dinner in a friendly way but he began his text with “This may be inappropriate, but…” So he was having impure thoughts. I decided it was probably a date but even when I showed up I wasn’t completely sure of that.
I felt a little swoon over dinner but I was also fairly contained. Part of it was I could still see him with his wife, and I deep down wanted a reconciliation for him and for them. But on his own, this guy was just everything that I like in a man.
Everything except…..well, here is what happened.
Somehow we started talking about relationships and women and podcasts and Russian ladies and within thirty seconds I learned that he had just returned from somewhere exotic to visit a Russian woman that he met in a shared uber ride. I also learned that he was going back to this exotic location for a romantic tryst with her in a matter of days.
I sort of wish that I had just done the smile and wave, shut down and left dinner with my head held high. But that’s not me. What I did next also wasn’t me. I kind of surprised myself.
I excused myself to the bathroom to digest it all (I thought I was on a date) and when I burst out of the bathroom I found the waitress, paid the bill and told this Casanova that I had to get the hell out of that restaurant, and away from him.
Then I started to cry. It was a light cry, but there were tears. I couldn’t help it. What upset me wasn’t that he was seeing other women. I’m a grown up and this is the 21st Century. That he would be dating or not dating in any conceivable format was none of my business on date one, and nothing I cared to think about. What got to me deeply and profoundly was that he treated the date like a date, then talked to me like I wasn’t the delicate bird of a woman that I feel I am inside. And it was strangely reminiscent of my other IRL date. Both times I was given TMI like I had a heart of stone and like I was only a momentary distraction. Both times I was blindsided.
I was NOT reading too much into these mere dates, but at the same time I wasn’t an escort for hire. I seriously ended up feeling like I should have been paid for my service, because there was nothing in it for me.
Either of these men would be great friends to have. I would do stuff with either as a friend and still might, who knows. But as dating experiences, they both sucked balls. Both times I wondered what kind of twilight zone I had just crawled out of. Both times I felt sweet desire and then, splat.
I am writing this as witness to modern dating. Neither of these men meant to jerk me around. Both are great men. I think they are victims of modern dating as much as I am. But enough, already.
Here is the way a man should treat a woman that he respects:
- Be clear and up front. Kindly introduce the topic of other women with care if you feel you need to disclose your other women. Unless you’ve already made it clear that you are just buddies. But don’t just drop it in between kisses.
- Don’t lead with flirtation, draw a person in, then go away. Hold back any interest until you know you are truly interested in getting to know a person. Don’t waste a woman’s time. We don’t need to be told that we are beautiful by a man who is actually bringing nothing to the table. Keep it platonic until you are more certain that there will be a second date.
- Treat every woman like she’s the one. She may not be the one for you, but she deserves to feel like all of her matters.
- Don’t be afraid to not be interested, and don’t jump the gun. Too many guys like the feeling of courting when they really are not in a place to follow through on anything. Just don’t do it. Or start off in the friend zone. I know that doesn’t have the same sparkle or shine but it’s way more real and that way….you will never have to ghost or breadcrumb or step on a woman’s heart needlessly on a silly little first date. Just lunch is really a better way to go
And, since men aren’t the only ones with something to learn, I have my own take away. A date isn’t a date until several months down the line you find that the person is still in your life in some capacity. Otherwise, it’s just dinner. Period.
I’m going to send this to the guys who asked me out because I think we all need to reflect a little more. Surely, they will hate this post. But too bad. They asked for it when they asked me out. I showed up and was for real. They got a yes, and that is a precious thing.