I recently posted my list of things that, in my experience, are decent signs and practices. Here, without naming names, are less fortunate things that have actually happened to me on first dates or early on in the “getting-to-know-you” phase.
- Don’t date people unless you’d actually like to get to know them. At least twice, I’ve had online dating programs malfunction and ask out someone whose profile I hadn’t even read. And, in an effort not to have to say “I’m sorry, there was a computer error and I didn’t mean to ask you out,” I went. In both cases, the dates were unmitigated disasters. I don’t believe in faking emergencies or crawling out bathroom windows, but in both cases, I seriously considered it. Dating people so as to avoid hurting their feelings? Not a good practice.
- He’s not going to get more thoughtful over time. After a speed-dating event, the guy I matched with showed up to the restaurant he suggested more than 20 minutes late, then suggested that we split an entree he wanted to try (it was P.F. Chang’s— it wasn’t an entirely crazy idea) because they were so expensive, but then had them take out the onions and garlic because he was “allergic.” He left to feed the meter before the entree arrived, and then let me walk alone, downtown, at night, to my car in the rain. I’m not sure if we split the check. This might be a little controversial in this day and age, but my experience is that if a guy cares this little about you (not enough to be on time, not enough to suggest an appropriate place for dinner, not enough to care what you wanted to eat, not enough to make sure you get back to your car okay) on date 1, he’s not going to get more thoughtful over time.
- In my experience, if a guy has more than two drinks on a first date, it’s not a great sign. I drink less than many people, so your mileage may vary, but I can say with certainty that it’s never worked out well when a guy has that much to drink. Maybe it’s my sensitivity to drinking and driving— I even recently read an article said that drinking compatibility is a huge factor in relationship success. Maybe that’s it. But if someone can’t be themselves on a first date without chemical enhancement, it probably won’t work out with someone like me.
- If he can’t keep up his end of a conversation, it’s too much work. I know about socially awkward, I do. Been there. And as I explained in my last post on this subject, I’m all for giving a guy a good solid chance to get past his nerves. But I went on a date or two with a guy who couldn’t return a single conversational volley. For one of them, (one of the aforementioned guys from scenario 1), I did so much work that I was exhausted by the time the entrees arrived. When I excused myself, it was more to plan my escape than to go to the bathroom. Magically, when I got back, he was eight shades of chatty, but I was done, by that point. It led to my rule that I prefer coffee to meals, on first dates. Given that I don’t drink coffee, that should tell you something.
- Respect is non-negotiable. This was technically a second date, and it was awhile ago— like before I had a cell phone awhile ago, but I couldn’t find the restaurant we were supposed to meet at, because he gave me the wrong exit from the highway. By the time I realized it, and that it was 20 minutes from where I was, I would have been 45 minutes late. I didn’t have a way to get in touch with the guy, so I went home, wrote him an email, and took full responsibility for the mistake. He went off about how it was all my fault, I should have done x or looked up y, and how could I have been that stupid?! Don’t date people who talk to you that way. Ever.
- If you’re flirting with someone online, and it’s going great, MEET. Don’t drag it out. Don’t meet someone for the first time when you’re pretty sure you’re in love. You’re not in love until you meet, and probably not for awhile after that. You really have to know someone to love them, and you can’t know someone with whom you’ve spent no time. As much as it feels otherwise, you can only know what they want you to know. Also, it sucks to put that much hope in a first meeting, only to find that you really don’t have chemistry in person.
- I got some very good advice a few years ago— people show you the best things about themselves first, and they wait to show you the scary stuff. If you find out scary stuff right away, you must assume that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. I have this bad tendency to give people credit for honesty and vulnerability, when what I should be doing is heading for the hills.
- Related to this, if someone tells you who he is, BELIEVE HIM. If he says “I’m a bad guy” or “I’m not looking for a relationship” or “I’m a lone wolf”— say thank you and walk away. My experience is that if you stay, a guy will consider that he’s given you fair warning and will use it to justify behavior you shouldn’t have to take. Whether that’s being inconsiderate in little ways or really going for the gold, you don’t need it. He was nice enough to warn you, be smart enough to listen.
What are your rules for dating? Do you think I’ve gotten any of this wrong? I’m open to your thoughts!