I too often have gone on dates where I am told via text before arriving(because that is what we do to avoid the awkward conversations these days), “I have to leave in an hour, meeting a girlfriend for X Y Z”. Now this could be true or it could be total bullshit. The amusing factor is it is done for the same reason every time: a safety net from a bad date. For a person like me that couldn’t even quite deal with the timer on a Mario game back during my childhood, these trivial times on dates make me not want to leave the house in the first place. I am going on a date to enjoy the time, not plan for it to be a disaster or feel like I will lose an extra life if I go over the designated timelimit.
I have been on my fair share of dates where I realize within a few minutes of meeting that there is literally no connection. It is amazing what being in person with three dimensions, voice, pheromones, and close contact can have versus a two dimensional photo on a dating site and the obligatory resume or the notorious “About Me”.
So what do I do? I can tell you what I used to do; nothing. I would slog out the night filling the empty space with “uh huhs” and “yeahs”. Constantly checking my phone hoping candy crush(disclaimer I never have nor will I ever play that game!) will somehow become the worlds best excuses app, but constantly realizing all I have in the pipe is “My grandmother died”… and then I feel guilty for thinking it. Yeah not a very good one. So now I am not only doing a disservice for myself but to the person across from me. Trying to be boring enough so maybe they will want to end it and take the burden off me. To me that is exactly what the “timer” is, a tedious way to regulate a date before it even begins and if we are having a great time, trust me I don’t want you to leave just to keep the facade alive of your “plans”.
What do I do now? I tell the person the truth. WHAT!? You would be amazed at how much less invasive the truth is. This is NOT a skill I had inherently, this was something I had to teach myself. I had to build up my own belief in the idea that I need to protect myself a little bit as well. Not from danger but from situations that made me uncomfortable. I was asked once, “why did you stay if you were not enjoying your time?” I said, “I didn’t know what to say.” I was answered quickly, “Why not the truth”… I literally laughed out loud, but when I saw they were serious and considered it a way to care about and/or protect yourself a bit, for someone who is used to giving, I saw the figurative lightbulb over my head light up. I needed to figure out a “timer” without hindering the possibilities of a good date. So I decided to go with the truth. Trust me the first few times were a little messy, but even the worst ones(which were not that bad), I got a text later on thanking me for my honesty and it was just not something they were used to. And ya know what? It felt really good to be able to protect that inside of myself that feels trapped when I am with someone I am not interested in. It let me go about my day/night the way I wanted without wasting time and energy on something I knew wasn’t going to work. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you are on a train wreck so horrific you can’t even get yourself to look away, but what I didn’t realize is how much less jaded I got when I was able to go into a new date and know I was in control of my own comfort, if I felt no connection I could now openly explain to the other person, in a kind way, that I would like to end it right then, instead of dragging out something and being totally fake. It has made internet dating so much less nerve wracking. It doesn’t lead anyone on and it gives you actual control over something I always thought was uncontrollable.
So how is this different than the timer? I suppose different strokes for different folks, but imagine this if you may… If everyone approached the first date like this, would you even need to tell someone in what would become a redundant, yet currently obligatory text at the end of the night, “I had a good time”. If you made it through the date, guess what is implied? Yup. One change would make a ripple effect on how dating feels. It could literally make a good date that much better because no one is leaving the date wondering. I often reference European culture in respect to not having to question a date and how it went, and being able to be yourself. Take a gander at this article: http://www.myfrenchlife.org/2014/06/18/french-vs-american-dating/ A kiss in the French culture means exclusive. Hookups are less of a faux pa and “dating” doesn’t exist, they don’t even have a word for date. So there is a much more distinct line between getting to know someone comfortably and openly than just trying to get laid. The difference between a date where you are following strange dating mechanics of “doing” rather than “being”. But one step at a time. What do you think? Will you choose to tell the truth next time? Because it really is just that, a very conscious choice. And even if it feels harder, it ultimately ends up being easier on your soul.