There are good dates, ambivalent dates, bad dates, and sometimes dates that are none of the above, just clearly not encounters with someone who is in any way a match. They can be painful when you, for manners sake, must stay longer than you would prefer.
A while ago, after a few email and phone conversations with a man who made me laugh, I accepted his lunch invitation, even though I generally start with only coffee. I rued not sticking with this rule!
When we met he at the bookstore in an urban downtown, a broad smile crossed his face, which generally means a man likes my looks. He asked where I wanted to go, then overruled my suggestion for a nearby restaurant and choose a Chinese one he wanted to try instead. Since he said he was treating, I thought I shouldn’t quibble.
He ordered soup and we agreed to split the entrée. Then he launched into not only his life story, but his father’s story as well, then picked up his own at his birth! Since he was talking non-stop, he barely touched his soup. When the entrée arrived, I dug in. I’d finished my meal and he was still working on his soup — and we were only up to age 11 — and he is now 61!
Since I was then ready to go and he hadn’t begun his entrée, I saw I was going to have to listen to a recounting of 50 years while sitting idly. I knew by now I had no interest in this man, not only because he was prattling on in minute detail about his life, but he made nearly no eye contact during his monologue. So it didn’t matter that over his shoulder I was watching the street scene out the window to entertain myself, as he never saw my gaze. Since he had to turn his head to look at me, I made sure I was looking at him on the few occasions he made eye contact.
Finally I said something about his meal being cold and I think it clicked that he had been doing 100% of the talking for the last hour. So he said, “Well, that’s my life story. What has brought you to where you are today?” A pretty lame question. I answered it as best I could, and within 3 minutes he’d changed the subject.
Since the server had long ago brought the check, I thought the best way to signal I was done was to say, “I’m going to visit the ladies room, then when you’re done we can depart.” When I returned, he’d paid the check and yet he lingered longer at the table. When it looked like he’d stopped eating, I gathered my things, then after a few more minutes stood up. We walked toward the parking lot, passing some businesses on the way. I had told him I had an errand to run at one of these shops, so he accompanied me. I was surprised he elongated the date, as I had no indication he had the slightest interest in me. I searched for my item and he ambled about the shop.
After paying, we walked toward the parking lot together. His car was parked closer than mine, so he peeled off toward his, with nary a word. So when I saw he had no intention of walking me to mine, I said, “Thank you for lunch. It was good to meet you.” He said, “Yes it was good to meet you, too.” By neither of us saying anything about seeing each other again, it was understood that neither of us was interested.
Could/should I have extricated myself when I was done with my meal and knew I had no interest in him? Some would say yes, justifying this rudeness by saying straightforward directness is best. Besides, I was never going to see him again, so what did it matter? It would save wasting an hour with someone who was clueless.
But I believe in dating karma. If I want someone to treat me kindly, even if he has no interest in me, then I must do the same. Leaving while someone is still dining is rude — really rude.
Now perhaps he thought I was a dud and was trying to entertain me with his long-winded story. We’ll never know.
So what would/have you done when finding yourself in a situation where you really can’t leave but you know you have no interest in your date?