First dates. Oh boy. They always teach you something. And even if the wine flows, if you stay sharp, you can pick up on signals… or think you can. And as a learning individual I am getting closer to the present moment of dating, or dating ‘in the moment,’ then ever before. Last night, for example, a Match date finally agreed to meet up after weeks of back and forth emails. And the date was set, and we began some playful banter a few hours before our rendezvous.
“Do you like cigars?” she texted. “You’re date tonight…”
“I guess that’s a no then.”
“Do YOU like cigars?” I asked.
“Very much. A bit of a hobby. Not an addiction.”
And we were off to the races for our first “hello” date later that evening.
When we finally met over a glass or two of red wine I was curious to watch my own reaction and responses to her. I was sort of in observer-mode, but also very much open to whatever the present moment would bring.
I noticed right away that she was charming and beautiful. Her eyes sparkled much more than they could’ve possibly shown in her profile photos. And there was a joy to our conversation, an openness, and freeness to how our different stories and lives spun together over the next few hours together.
I was curious about how I was sizing her up for a relationship. At first I was just fascinated by her wit, intelligence, and routine flip of her long dark hair from one side of her neck to another. I think that was a sign. Maybe it was just a tick. We leapt through conversations about exes and kids, about dating and current status.
“I’m dating this guy right now,” she said, “And I think I need to break it off.”
“He’s super nice, and is really into me, but I’m not sure he’s long-term material for me.”
“Is that what you are looking for?”
“Yes, I’m a long-term girl. But it’s hard. Making someone unhappy.”
“And,” I added, “Maybe it’s hard to be alone.”
“Yes, that’s what I thought when I first got out of my marriage. And I went through a period of not wanting any sort of commitment, and I sort of played the field.”
“Wow, really. What was that like.”
“It was fun at first, but it got kind of old. There were some people I really liked and others who were just available.”
“And were there any that you really liked, who maybe wanted to move on?”
“Yes. That was hard.”
“So maybe you would rather keep this current relationship rather than risk being alone again?”
“Yes, it’s easier to have someone to do stuff with. And boys are a lot more fun to hang out with than girls.”
We smiled at one another and decided to order dinner to go with our second glass of wine.
As the evening progressed we moved through a lot of topics. Her eyes continued to sparkle. Her smiling conversational wit continued to entice me. I wasn’t sure if I was really attracted to her or fascinated by her. I was aware that her perfume was similar to a scent I had used when I was young, something from Aramis. I liked how the smell of her made me lean in a bit. I was clear that I was indulging in my own little fantasy. At the same time I was enjoying our conversation and the topics we covered. She seemed fearless in exposing and expressing herself.
The same phrase kept coming through loud and clear, “while I was dating a couple people…” I’m not sure if I was turned on by that idea, repulsed by it, or intrigued about the opportunities of the evening. Well, except for the fact that she had a kid at home and we both had work in the morning. As we were considering paying and breaking off the conversation we ordered one more glass that we would split. I took this as a good sign. We were both prolonging the “date” a bit longer.
I walked her to the car wondering if she was a kisser or not. We hugged twice and she got in her Fiat 500 convertible and left.
When I got home I texted her a thank you and requested her email address so I could send her a book. It was about 11:15 and no reply came. So this morning I continued my communication and asked if she was interested in getting together again on Saturday night. Her message was clear.
Now, that was pretty clear. No rejoinder. Either she’s being coy and wants me to pursue or she’s not that interested in continuing our conversation. And in my clear way I asked if there were some point in the future when she’d like to get together again. I probably should’ve just kept quiet after that text, but I’m always one to ask for the rest of the information rather than guess.
Oh well, it was a nice conversation, she was a nice woman who liked to date several people at once, perhaps. And we will see if the weeks of waiting for a first date and the several hours of nice courtship has any “next steps.” But at the moment I am feeling fine with the date as it was. A nice woman, a nice Pinot, and eyes that sparkled in the romantic light of the wine bar.
I’m okay with her not being a first date kisser. (I’ve only had one of those.) I’m okay with her not being interested in “what’s next.” I’m even okay with the attraction I felt about her disclosures. It’s all new territory for me and most of us out there dating again after divorce. And I’m okay with that. We’re all just trying to figure it out. It’s a process. Onward we go with good illumination and perhaps a glass of wine.
The Off Parent
back to On Dating Again
- My Casual Sex Experience – First Lesson
- Crossfit Sex
- An Early Frost: Dating Options and Casual Sex
- If Age is Just a Number Why Do I Still Want to Lie About My Age?
- 5 Early Warning Signs When Dating: Looking for Ms. Lovejoy
image: sarah at the hole in the wall, colin and sarah in norway, creative commons usage
The online dating profile, a mystery, a fantasy novel, a pulp fiction romance. Whatever the profile is, it’s not reality. In looking for love online, you’ve got a lot of obstacles. And getting a handle on the bullshit detection is a good start.
- Even the unattractive and obese can score a cute photo every now and then.
- Photos from 15 years ago may not be an accurate representation of the current state of affairs. You would hope that people would clearly label the “when I was younger” photos, but they don’t.
- The one photo profile. Um, why don’t you have some other photos of your gorgeous self?
- The “just checking this out” profile. Usually with only a few sentences about themselves and a couple photos. Variation: a friend put this up for me.
- The scammer account. Too cute. Way too young to be hitting on me. Has an age range that’s a bit odd. (example: female 32, seeks males 45 – 70)
- No profile photo. “Ask her for her photos.” Um, no.
- Sunglasses make for alluring photos, but they’re not very accurate.
As long as you know you are creating the fantasy when you look an online dating profile you’ll be okay. You are filling in the blanks and missing information in your head. And most likely you are filling it in on the positive side. Often that’s not the correct data at all. If a person is 1. ready for a relationship and 2. honest, you won’t have to go fishing for too much information.
Look for how this person articulates their desires. What are they looking for?
- “I love to travel.”
- “Just want to have fun.”
- Every photo has a drink in hand.
- Glamour photos.
- The one photo that sticks out as “WOW-SHE’S-AMAZING.”
- The one photo that sticks out, “What? How is this the same woman?”
- Hyper-athletic. Too many mentions of “working out.”
- “One core relationship.”
- “Low drama.”
- Mentions a healthy relationship with the ex-partner.
The goal in online dating is to minimise the false positives and set dates with the authentic potentials. That’s easier said than done. And culling down from 1,000+ matches can be a bit of a challenge. So you have to start somewhere. Find a couple of things that are really important to you. (My current desire is tennis. If I could find a tennis-playing girlfriend, I think I’d be a long way towards compatibility.)
Then if you find a potential you are interested in, go ahead and say hello. I have found that casual and funny is better than direct. You don’t need to ask for the date right off the bat. Mention a few things that you have in common, flatter them a bit (You’re very cute.) and see what their response is.
- No response is a response.
- A casual and playful response is a good sign.
- A form-letter response is not so good. (Thank you.)
- An engaging response with lots of information can be a good and bad thing. On the good side, they are probably very attracted to your “profile.” On the bad side, they may be trying too hard, because they are not getting enough dates, or their dates are not going well.
If someone is genuinely interested you should both be able to establish some rapport within 4 or 5 messages. And when the idea of meeting for coffee or wine is floated by either party, the other person accepts and you both agree on a time and place. This is great. Now, the temptation is to continue the conversation, learn more, keep being charming. But that’s a mistake.
Here is the goal of online dating: set the date without too much effort or build up.
Once you have the date set to meet face-to-face the rest is distraction. Get this straight: you can tell very little about the physical chemistry from online profiles or even electronic flirting. While it might be fun to rev each other up before you meet, it is really a waste of time. And the real danger is setting up these great expectations and then not feeling the chemistry at all. So then what do you do? You may have had a bit of fun, but you’ve used up a lot of energy, even flirting takes time and energy, and come up empty-handed.
Online dating is not a full-time job. If you are too hungry, too available, and always online the available partners might notice this. If you are too persistent and focused on getting a date, that might be an indication of a problem.
The best approach is simple hello flirting. Gut checking the profile for reality. See if their emails or texts are also witty and fun. And then set the date and move on in your search and in your mind. You’ve got the date. There is really nothing else to do before you meet in person. You can confirm the date the day before. It’s easy to provide a phone number (texting is okay) before the date “In case something comes up.”
And then chill out and see what develops when you meet. Getting to excited or too involved with a virtual date has never worked out for me. Never. But then I haven’t had very many hits with the in-person meetings. And the handful of women who were just my style weren’t quite interested. They may not have said as much, but they didn’t ask for the next date either.
If there’s no chemistry, don’t make a big deal about it. Enjoy the conversation and make your exit. You can send them a note about “Not quite a match for me” but it’s not necessary. We all know the deal. If it was a HIT we are probably both thinking “What’s next.” If you get a “What’s next” before leaving the first date, you’re well on your way to trying a real date. Good luck.
The Off Parent
< back to On Dating Again
- The Honey Trap: How Beauty Can Lead Us Astray
- Little Turnoffs: On a First Date with a Woman
- Top 5 First Date Tips for Women
- Our Sexual Brain and the Lies it Tells Us
- Sex Rules: The Frequency, the Fun, and the Fantasy
- Browsable Women: The Three Hells of Online Dating
image: a montage of online dating, the writer