The First Date – Part 1 (Meet Me or Delete Me)

My first real date was with a guy named Steve. He was a senior in high school and I was a freshman. We passed each other every day right after lunch in the cross walk between the buildings. He was quite tall. I remember he would pass by, look down at me and smile. I felt pretty special being asked out by a senior! We went to Pizza Hut for dinner. Then he took me bowling. I’m not sure, but it may have been my first time. I was terrible!! After bowling we sat in his car in the IGA (grocery store) parking lot and talked. He gave me a cherry lifesaver and then he kissed me. I went home thinking that was the best first date in the history of first dates. (Considering some I’ve had, it still scores as pretty great.)

Things have changed a lot since then. Online dating has added several wrinkles to what used to be a smooth operation. Boy meets girl. Boy asks girl out. Boy picks up girl and off they go. You met through friends or church or work or maybe in the neighborhood. You actually knew someone, just a little, before agreeing to give out your address and spend three hours with them. Had an idea of their personality and charm, or lack thereof. Knew somewhat of their ability to carry on a decent conversation. And of course, you knew what they look liked. Even though those things did not mean they were trustworthy or even a good match, you went in ahead of the curve.

Dating profiles are a bit like a blind date. With a blind date you rely on information from a third party that this person will be a good match for you. You have very little going in except how much you trust this third party. When talking with someone online, THEY are that third party. Their own personal PR firm. They will use clever words, funny phrases and even pictures to sell their most valued commodity; themselves! But creativity runs rampant in those profiles. Reading between the lines is definitely required.

I know my strategies are flawed and not scientifically proven. Understand also, my experiences are obviously from the perspective of the female. I am sure there are plenty of red flags to go around. But before agreeing to the stress of meeting someone, here are some things I have learned in what is called ‘the hard way’.

The most obvious and easiest to avoid is a profile with no picture. And/or he mentions wanting an ‘understanding’ woman. Do not fall victim to this because by nature most of us are understanding. He is married. He wants you to be understanding of the fact that he is not available when you text, call or want to see him and your name will appear in his contact list as Bobby from work.

When he asks for athletic and sporty, he does not want someone to look good in a ponytail and no makeup. It means he will not date a chubby girl. (Don’t get mad at me. I’m just the messenger.) The same thing goes if he says “I like what I like”. What he ‘likes’ is usually a level of beauty that even Photoshop cannot provide.

Almost 100% of them will mention something about ‘no drama’ or being stress free. I still haven’t quite figured that one out. Is there anyone out there that does want drama? It probably means different things to different guys. My guess is that it has a lot to do with nagging, or what they perceive as that. Men do not want a girl who is never satisfied or who is looking to change them. They want to be left in peace. Then stay off of the internet. It is certainly not a peaceful place out there.  

If he says he likes walks on the beach at sunset, just run away. Trust me on that one.

I feel like I should now try and redeem myself a little. First of all, I am not bashing men. As I have stated before, I’m actually quite a fan. I believe that most people do try to put their best foot forward. I am also convinced that the truth is usually right there in front of us. We just don’t want to accept it. We have selective ‘reading’ in addition to hearing. We convince ourselves the red flags are not there.

Do you want an example from my past? Of course you do!

Several years ago I received an email from this guy whose profile headline stated he was soon moving to the area. He had a great profile. He was good looking, well versed. He lived in Missouri with this teenage daughter. His wife had died a couple of years back. He was moving within the next four weeks to start a management job at a local manufacturing firm. We began to communicate and eventually it was daily. He was good. He knew the area. He named streets and restaurants. He even sent me the Google map shot of the house he was going to rent! We talked about the move, his daughter’s transition, finally being able to meet each other. We emailed right up to the day he said the moving trucks were picking up their stuff. His last email to me was the night at the hotel before the final drive into town. I made arrangements to meet him at the house! Guess what? I know, you already figured it out. He never showed up.

It took me a couple of days but I did finally succeed in reaching him and believe it or not he gave me an explanation. It was a despicable one, but probably the most truth he ever told in one sentence. He didn’t live in Missouri, had no kids and was obviously not moving. He was just a lonely guy in Arizona who would pick a town, research it thoroughly, and post a profile stating he was moving there. He would send out emails until some unsuspecting patsy (aka me) would fall for his story. In my defense, it was a good story. BUT there was one red flag that I chose to ignore. We never talked on the phone. He never asked for my number and by the time I got around to asking his, the excuse was sketchy, but I was already in the web so I didn’t resist.

No harm, no foul right? Well I guess. But that experience did give me pause for a long time. Plus I re-evaluated tremendously whom I decided to communicate with. I also made a personal decision to always talk on the phone with anyone I thought I might meet. You can learn a lot about someone in just a short fifteen minute conversation. Inflections, tone, intellect, mindset, certain biases - all work their way through the line. Some of those conversations alone are actually worthy of a separate post!

I didn’t tell that story to scare anyone. It was just an example of how we choose to believe what works best for us in the moment. And while I am currently on a hiatus from online dating, I know some of you are still in the game. I applaud and cheer you on! I do always want you to be cautious and smart. Please do not turn a blind eye to obvious holes in the tapestry. But I also know there are good people out there. I was! You are! And if the goal is to ‘meet’ someone, then by golly, you have to actually get around to meeting them. If not, what is the point of all the time and energy spent?

So this was Part 1. Where you lay the ground work, use your best judgment and say YES to that first date. So now what??? Well in Part 2 we are going to delve into what it takes to pull off a successful one.

(Because, you know, I have such a great track record.)

Trust me, I have a story to tell. 

Hope Out