Friday, February 22, 2013

First dates are like interviews...but with alcohol

After I had tired of just messaging people (or not) for a while, I finally took the next step and started going out on dates. When I first joined OkCupid, Obi wan Cupid told me that first dates are just like interviews, except you take a shot before one and not the other. Although some of what she said did seem to ring true at the time, I didn't really get the full grasp of their similarities until I actually experienced it.

So far I have only gone on four dates, each of them very different experiences. What I realize might be a direct result from this generation's "hookup culture," is that first dates usually mean going out for a drink. This is the first date of choice because it is convenient enough that it provides room for someone to ditch on the date if things aren't going very well without sitting throughout an entire meal, show or what-have-you. It also serves as an atmosphere where you both can actually talk and get to know each other, as opposed to watching a movie. Furthermore, it is much more economical to buy a drink or two with a person that you may or may not end up liking, instead of splurging on a romantic dinner for two.

I distinctly remember Obi wan Cupid, for example, consecutively ditch three dates (over a period of a few weeks) mid-meal after saying that she had to "go to the bathroom." Similarly, my neighbor who did online dating said he ditched a girl one time because she looked nothing like her profile picture.  "I think she put pictures of her sister up," he said. A part of me feels pity for the girl that got stood up, but another part of me understands why he flew the coop. You should never lie in your profile– even if it is a small detail about your height, or something big like your age or job, because that other person is coming into the date thinking you are someone you are not. And they ARE going to find out. Besides, wouldn't you want someone to know who you actually are and message you because they actually find your accurate profile interesting? Or wouldn't you feel just as deceived or disgusted if someone lied online to you?

After hearing these stories, I promised to myself that I would never lie on my profile and wouldn't ditch someone on the first date. To make this easier for me, I decided to just go out for drinks as opposed to a more elongated engagement.

One of my friends say that they always take a Patron shot before photoshoots so that she's more relaxed and comfortable. I decided to apply that same level of thinking to first dates. During my very first first date, we spent the entire time playing "fuck, marry, kill," and it was going splendidly...until he out of the blue said that he had an urge to kiss me...30 minutes into the date. Nixed.

The second date was even worse, where I immediately knew that I wasn't attracted to him either physically or emotionally about 10 minutes in. I held out for one beer, however, until I said that I was getting sick and probably should get home soon and rest (this was partially true, actually).

It's not just the usual interview questions ("tell me about yourself," "what do you like to do in your free time?," "what do you do now?") that pop up during dates, but other small details as well. I found myself having to fill in the conversations with small talk and icebreakers during lulls or awkward pauses, just like I would BS an interview question that caught me off guard, or that I didn't prepare for. Surprisingly, this is about the moment that I realize the date/interview isn't going very well.

Even the callback from interviews and first dates are comparable. In interviews, you wait for the call, email or voicemail saying that you've gotten the job, or most of the time, you don't hear back at all and you know that you didn't get it. After (good) first dates you similarly await the text/call back signaling that they want a second date too, or you just don't hear a bleep from them at all.

It wasn't until my third date that I actually experienced a good GREAT online date. Sure, it still felt like an interview at first because I am always nervous, and it's hard to avoid doing your standard spiel about what the heck is it that you do for a living, or where you are from, yaddah yaddah yah. But unlike (most) employers, my date did the most to make me feel comfortable. Yes, it was probably because he could more accurately read me and who I am as a person without the nerves, but it was nice all the same. For example, instead of giving the other person the standard, one-arm hug when they first meet, he pulled me into a huge bear hug and lifted me off my feet (literally). He introduced me to his favorite bars, was honest and upfront about his personality and even invited me to meet his friend later on in the night. It wasn't like an interview anymore, but more like meeting another Couchsurfer and host. Consequently, I was at ease and enjoyed myself throughout the entire night. It was just like I was on my road trip across country again.

So now hopefully I'll raise my next shot glass not to another interview, but a second date. Cheers.

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