When people hear I’ve written a book about midlife dating (now in my literary agent’s hands to sell), many immediately say, “I should write a book about all the bad dates I’ve had.” Generally, I don’t think people want to hear about bad dates, unless they are out of the dating scene. Then the stories can be funny, but are usually sad.
I think most of us want to hear about the good dates, which gives us hope that there are great singles out there, not mashers, players and cads. However, the reality is, there are some not-so-great people in the singles scene.
My friend Ken theorizes that part of the reason we come across some of these folks is because it’s so much easier for someone to enter the dating scene via online dating. You don’t even have to pay to post a profile on most sites. So people who would not date in the “real” world — meeting people in classes, at work, at shared hobbies, at friends’ houses, at bars — are in the dating pool because it’s easy. So the pool has gotten a tad polluted, and we encounter folks we might not have before.
In fact, I read that a third of those listed on online dating sites haven’t met anyone in person as a result of their online activities. So would those third be considered “dating” if they weren’t listed online? I don’t think so. Nearly half have met 1 to 5 others. What the report didn’t say was in what time period — a month, 6 months, year, more than a year?
Out of the 72 men I’ve gone out with I can think of only a few “bad” first dates. Compared to other stories I’ve heard about bad first dates, these are pretty tame, I know. So you know that most “bad” dates just aren’t a good fit, here are the recaps of the eight, and even some of them weren’t really “bad,” just not a fit:
- Too-Much-Too-Fast Guy — We’d talked for a week on the phone and email. We decided to meet for a drink at a nearby karaoke bar. When I arrived at the darkened bar, he looked little like his picture, but he recognized me. As I slid into the booth, he leaned over and kissed me on the lips. A tad forward, but I let it slide. We talked. He reached over and took my hand. More talking. He asked if I wanted to dance. I did. He held me close. When we came back to the booth, he slid closer to me. He pulled me toward him for another kiss. Then another. Soon he was French kissing me. I said it was too much for a public place. He said, “You said you liked public displays of affection!” “Yes, but this is too soon.” I slid away from him and said I needed to be going.
- The Masher. We’d flirted with daily emails for nearly a month since I was out of the country and we couldn’t meet before then. When we did meet in a pub, his greeting was a French kiss! I said that was a bit too much too soon, and he shrugged it off. We went to a nearby table where he sat next to me. He continued to kiss me while we sipped wine. Finally, I said I was hungry so we went next door to have dinner. As soon as we sat down, he said, “I live nearby. Let’s go to my house.” No, that won’t be happening.
- 10-Minute Guy — We’d met mid-afternoon at a shopping mall. The plan was do a little shopping, then have dinner, then either a movie or dancing. Within 10 minutes he said, “I’m going to go.” I asked if he was feeling okay. He said, “Yes. I’m just not attracted.” My jaw dropped as he turned and left.
- The Vexing Vietnam Vet — He had been a tad demanding on the phone, but I thought I’d give him a chance, so accepted a drink invitation. In an empty tavern we had soft drinks and an appetizer while he told me grisly story after story of his days in Vietnam. When I tried to change the subject, he came back with other stories of his heroism, always heavily laced with expletives. He reached across the table and took my hand. When he asked if we should do this again, I was taken aback, so stammered, “That would be interesting.” No, we won’t be doing it again.
- The Obnoxious Ophthalmologist — Ironically, he’s the only man who I didn’t recognize from his photos, yet he complained about women posting 10-year old or 80-pounds ago pics. He said we’d meet at the restaurant, which I thought meant at the reception area. He was in the bar and I waited 10 minutes before checking to see if he might be there. He was barely cordial from the moment I sat down, and made no effort to get the waiter to take my drink order. His demeanor shouted that he was not at all interested in me and could we make this as short as possible. To add insult to injury, he sent a snotty email afterwards. Obviously this doctor had no bedside manner.
- Mr. Aggressive — He was cuter than his picture. We chatted at the coffee shop, then he asked if I wanted to have dinner. I did. When we walked to find a restaurant, he turned and kissed me. A bit soon, but I was flattered at the same time taken aback. After dinner, I mentioned I liked CSI and it was on that night. He said, “I own a home nearby that is being renovated. Let’s go watch it there.” When I declined, he was insistent, not relenting in his nearly demanding we go there. No, I wouldn’t be going to this guy’s house on the first — nor any — date.
- The Uneducated College Grad — I wrote about him in “Date turns out to be losing bet.” I should have known from his calls and emails that he wasn’t for me. But I let my self-interest overcome my instinct. His emails and conversation were laced with bad grammar, poor spelling, incorrect word usage, poor pronunciation. When he told me his alma mater, I thought, “If I were the Admissions Office, I’d ban him from telling anyone he’d graduated here.” I understood why he still lived with his mother at age 42.
- The Overly “Cool” Dude — He was sweet, smart and complimentary on the daily calls and in flirty emails. He said he was very interested in me and hoped it worked out for us, as he could see a future together. When we met, he spent 80% of the time talking about himself, and when I tried to interject, he said, “I’m going to cut you off” and continued to talk about himself. At the white-tablecloth restaurant, he brought his own cheap wine so he wouldn’t have to pay $20 for the $5 bottle. He ate his lamb chops with his hands. Every fifth word was “cool.” He French kissed me within moments of our meeting. No, we will not be having a future together.
Can you avoid bad first dates? I think you can reduce the possibility considerably by having some email and phone conversations for a few days to a week. If the conversation turns to sex before you’ve even met, then don’t meet him. If he shows he has opposite values than you, don’t bother. There are a number of men I’ve had phone or email conversations with that I then didn’t meet. Not enough interest to invest the hour for coffee, plus time to get ready and drive to and from the coffee shop.
So don’t be afraid of bad first dates. They happen. My experience is about 10% of the dates fall into this category. Not bad, really. So expect there will be some misses, but don’t linger on them. And don’t share them with your next date, as he’ll wonder what kind of story you’ll tell about him afterwards!
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