What I like about first dates
I get to dress up. The anxiety revolving around what to wear, what to wear! on these outings is nothing compared to the fun of shopping for said outfit ahead of time. If I have enough advance notice, I like to run out to the mall with sis or best friend and pick up a new top — or two. (Or four, but who’s counting.) I go through the motions of choosing the right color (I favor red or blue), the right cut (flattering but not too low-cut; I’m a classy lady), the right style (modern and hip, but not too young or old. I’m a ripe 24, after all).
I get to talk about myself. Let’s not play games here, friends — I run a blog. On said blog, where you’re currently hanging out (hi! Thanks!), I talk about . . . whatever I want. Books? Sure. Writing? Yep, I love it. Me? Always. write meg! is the public display of my vanity, and that vanity runs deep. Writing post after post about my goals, dreams, projects, love life and aspirations all point to . . . me just liking me. And I totally love me, actually, since we’re on the topic.
Getting to share the hilarity that is Meg with someone new is exciting! Because, I mean, who cares if I tell the same hil-arious stories again? He’s never heard them. I can wow him with the same stuff I’ve been torturing friends and family with for years, like my obsession with England and my recent trip to London. (Did I mention I went to London last year? Um, a few times? . . . OK, sorry about that.)
I get to learn about someone new. Despite that narcissitic preceding paragraph, I do genuinely like people and love hearing about their lives. Maybe that’s the writer in me. (Or just the nosy girl in me.) Generally speaking, if you like to talk and want to share, I’ll listen. I’ll tell you the London story, and you can . . . tell me whatever you want! Let’s talk books. Travel. Romance. Food. Stupid TV shows. You can tell me your life story and I’ll sit with a mug of coffee, giving you my patient listening face.
The promise of possibility is intoxicating. Even though I try to go into first dates with as few expectations as possible, it’s hard not to succumb to the intoxicating aroma that is possibility. I mean, we could have the best date of our lives and fall immediately in love with each other. This could be the story we tell our future (adorable, brilliant) children about when Mommy and Daddy met, a la “How I Met Your Mother”!!!1! Or, you know, the funny anecdote we bust out at cocktail parties about our first meeting. If I spill something on myself, we could laugh as you gently hand me napkins and become enamored with my reddened cheeks and way I manage to, um, maintain my composure. Sort of.
I struggle greatly with this one, I’ll admit, because the moment I start mentally tacking your last name after Megan and wrinkling my nose in thought, I’ve got a problem. But I don’t put too much stock in early dates and generally manage to stay cool, calm and confident. If it works out, awesome! If not, no worries. Um, most of the time.
Attraction. Boys — they’re cute! That’s why I date ’em. I like looking at them, holding their hands, wrapping my arms around them. I like their boy cologne smell. And it feels good to be attracted, and to feel excited, and to be appreciated. Chances are that if I’ve made it to a first date with a guy, even one I met online, I’m going to be attracted to him — at least intellectually. And as a start, that’s enough for me!
What terrifies me about first dates
The awkward lull. Every conversation has its ups and downs, to be sure, but every now and then you spot that most dreaded of visitors: The Awkward Lull. Lord knows I’m a Chatty Cathy, but even I cannot always navigate around the Lull when it settles down at our table, takes off its jacket and grabs a roll from the bread basket. Suddenly, I can’t see anything but that Lull, all sloppy and annoying and silent. I can think of nothing to say. And I guess that’s around the time I usually get up to use the ladies’ room and frantically begin texting everyone I know for help. This hasn’t happened too often (see: “I’m a Chatty Cathy” above) but I live in perpetual fear of the moment that it does.
Who pays? After dating several men who were, um, flat broke, I’m particularly sensitive to this issue. I’m a modern woman and certainly don’t mind paying my own way, but on a first date? If a man doesn’t want to impress me now, it’s all downhill from here. I fully expect my date to pick up the check, but it can be so awkward. Do I reach for my wallet and offer to pay for myself, though I don’t want to? Will he be annoyed if I don’t offer? Will he be annoyed if I do? Gah. It’s almost enough to make me curl up with “Becoming Jane,” a mug of cocoa and my laptop and call it an early night. Almost.
Will we like each other? I know I’m all cocky and silly, talking about how gorgeous and brilliant I am (and I am!), but there’s always that off-chance a man will . . . um, not fully appreciate me. Or understand me. Or think I’m funny. My fear stems mostly from the fact that either I’ll think he’s fantastic and he’ll fail to become enamored with me or, conversely, that he’ll think I’m great and I’ll feel that leaden “meh” feeling in the pit of my stomach. Unrequited affection is just so inconvenient.
Why I want to punch brains after first dates
Communication. So, hey — let’s say we had a great time! We clicked! There was totally a “connection” between us, the sparks were flying, etc., and so on. And now? Now, I get to wait to hear from you.
I’m not exactly a “sit back and chill” sort of girl. I don’t like waiting. If I can jump in there and get something going or done, I probably will. So the idea of being demure, playing “hard to get” or seeming aloof isn’t something with which I’m comfortable. That doesn’t mean I’m going to start texting you nightly at 3 a.m. with my musings and professions of love, but it does mean you’ll probably hear from me. At a reasonable time of day and in reasonable intervals.
But I don’t want to contact you first. How will I know if you like me if I’m the one instigating all of our communication?! Answer: I won’t. Maybe you’re just polite and don’t want to ignore my calls or texts (or emails, or tweets . . . ), so you answer but don’t tell me you’re not interested. So how do I know?
I know if I hear from you, so I just have to wait. Like Drew Barrymore’s character in “He’s Just Not That Into You,” I get to look for you to call, text, Facebook, tweet or Gchat me. And really? You could do any or all of those things at any given time and I would probably instantly know. That’s one of the joys — or traumas — of living in the digital age. So for my iPod touch, cell phone, work phone, work computer, email inboxes and Twitter to all be silent is . . . ick. Unpleasant. Rejection on a multitude of platforms is way suckier than just waiting for your home phone to ring like, you know, in the old days. Say, 1997.
And by all this, I mean . . .
Dating is fun, scary, intimidating, awkward, exciting, frightening, sweat-inducing, nerve-wracking, thrilling, unbelievable, crazy and . . . good. And I know that if I can swallow all my anxiety and make myself go on these dates and be myself, I have a decent shot at finding the right person for silly, dramatic and loveable me.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t freak out if he sees this OCD blog post.