If only my naiveté ended with my childhood in regards to the opposite sex, but no. I went on several first dates in my 20’s that never went beyond that. Some of the time it just wasn’t a good fit. Other times it could be attributed to missed social cues, anxiety, and obliviousness. I got coffee with a woman I met through Match.com. Apparently the date went well enough, from my unreliable perspective, that we met a second time. This time we got dinner at Applebee’s, because who doesn’t like Applebee’s? Throughout the meal, she took a call and texted on her phone. Most people understand that it is rude to be doing those things while on a date with people they just met. However, the other way to look at it is that she knew very well it was rude and was using it as a way to communicate her lack of interest and her desire for us to go our separate ways. An obvious social cue I missed in the moment. At that time, I was approaching the date formulaically. As we left the restaurant, I thought back to how women I hadn’t kissed by the end of the second date didn’t connect with me again. So, forgetting all that happened earlier, I felt an obligation to kiss her before we parted ways. It’s safe to assume she reciprocated it as a pity kiss, from her perspective. Of course, that was the last time we saw each other. It didn’t dawn on me until later that the date hadn’t gone so well.
A similar thing happened with another woman I met through the same dating website. It was at a coffee shop. I needed to study about proper social protocol before going on the first date because it was clear I had some learning to do. I did some research online to figure out how to begin the date, what kind of topics to talk about, and how to end the date in a way that would produce the best results. I learned before going on the first date that I should wait until she arrives before ordering and pay for her because I’m the one who offered the invitation. I was incredibly nervous the entirety of the date. When I forget something I intended to say, I try to buy some time with, “What was I going to say?” However, because of the fear rattling me at the time, it came out as, “Wuzguhsay?” At the end of the coffee date, I said, “I had a good time.” Some women might say the same in response, for the sake of sparing the other person’s feelings. Other women don’t try as hard and avoid saying something that isn’t true. This was one of those women. She responded with, “Yeah, thanks for the coffee.” That may have been the first time I actually knew a date had gone bad immediately when it ended. At least, I had a very strong suspicion that it had. But, I still needed reassurance, so I called my older brother and explained what happened and asked for his opinion. He confirmed that she was, indeed, brushing me off.
Despite that experience, there was still room for learning. For the next first date, I tried my best to limit the anxiety. For me, it meant an intense workout and breathing exercises beforehand. It helped to a certain extent, but not enough. We met at a bakery to get some desert. I arrived first and waited for her to arrive before ordering, as I had learned previously. She arrived and we went to order. That was all it took to undo me.
You see, I have a great deal of trouble when it comes to making decisions. The more options there are, the more difficult it is. It doesn’t much matter how small the decision. So, being the genius I am, I neglected to use my early arrival as a chance to think about what to order before she arrived and the crucial moment came. When the time came for us to order, she made a decision to go with a fruit cup, wasting little time in the process. I was now at the plate and the pitcher was winding up. What should I pick? I can’t get the same thing as her, because it will seem like I’m taking my lead from her and can’t really think for myself. But, whatever I choose must not be very messy, be somewhat tasty, and be chosen immediately. It took a few seconds as the options raced through my mind. I had to make it clear I knew it was my turn to place an order and was thinking about what to select. So, I let out a soft ‘hmmm.’ But, then she looked over at me and I knew time had run out to avoid making a bad impression. So, simply because I had tasted it before, I settled on a Napoleon pastry.
Then, I remembered something; I did not know how to eat a Napoleon without making a total mess. Pushing the fork through always forced the pastry cream out the sides. The plate it was served on was not much bigger than the pastry itself. Since I didn’t know how to eat it without making a mess, a substantial portion wound up on the table around the plate. In fact, nearly a complete ring of cream ended up on the table. I felt like a toddler still needing to learn how to use silverware appropriately. I caught her glancing down at it a bit. Despite the effort I put into minimizing anxious feelings, my forehead began to glisten with sweat. When we were finished, I didn’t know whether it was my responsibility to clean the mess on the table or if it was the employees’ responsibility. In the end, I left it for them to clean up because of my urge to end the date and go home. This time when we said our goodbyes, my date returned my, “I had a good time tonight,” sentiment and hugged me. In the end it turned out she was the type of woman who favors sparing one’s feelings over the cold truth. She didn’t return my follow-up attempt to call her and thus ended another embarrassing, yet valuable, learning experience.