A Break.

I think I need to take a break from dating.

A friend suggested this yesterday, and at first I bristled at the suggestion. I am not getting any younger, and it’s been ages since I’ve been in a relationship (okay it’s been like 9 months but still) and if I stop trying then it feels like I’m giving up hope.

And yet, when she suggested that, there was something in me that relaxed.

I’ve been on three dates in the last few weeks. They were all fine. They were all with men who are smart and doing interesting things. But even as I write these sentences, I am sagging inwardly.

The first guy I went on a date with is doing his PhD at York, and we had a decent hour-long chat about movies and politics and Toronto and New York.

The second guy – well, I still don’t know what he does, tbh. That was a weird experience, because he started off doing that thing guys do when you are a lady and doing your PhD, which is to try to prove to you how smart they are. I managed to subvert his attempt at doing this by actually telling a couple of stories of dates where this has happened, and remarking on how exhausting it is. He responded well to this, and seemed to relax a bit. But, then he started trying to explain his theories of the universe to me, and showing me diagrams and dialogues he’s written to explain them, and I wasn’t sure how to respond to these. It eventually came out that he’s got a mental illness (which is cool, so do I) which explained some of the kinds of things he was saying, and he relaxed even more when I revealed that I have an anxiety disorder. Eventually I managed to direct the conversation away from the initial awkwardness, and more towards movies and politics and books and stuff like that, and we had a decent conversation for about an hour after that. By the end of that date, I had developed a genuine affection for this man, and I wish him well. I hope he falls in love. With someone who isn’t me.

The third man was also fine. He works at a music library in Toronto and it sounds like his job is actually pretty cool. He seemed kind and thoughtful and tuned in. And he was attractive, but in a way that I am still unsure about. My attraction to people is something I have spent the last twenty years figuring out, and I have a much better handle on it than I used to, but even so I still have some anxiety and confusion about it. I know, for example, that I have a pretty obvious ‘type’, although I also know that now and then I’m super attracted to people outside of that type. I know that my attraction to someone’s personality is something that can come entirely apart from my attraction to their body. (This has led to many unfortunate dating decisions.) I also know that when I am attracted to someone’s personality AND their body, the two end up blending together in a way that is very intense and powerful. (This is what happened with the crush, and doesn’t happen super often.)

I also know that my attraction to people can grow over time if I don’t experience it initially, but often it doesn’t. Often I know immediately if it’s a yes or a no. And I know this in my body, not my mind. So I can see that someone, for example, is very typically attractive, but not actually be attracted TO them. I’ve learned, over the years, that most of the time my initial physical impression of someone is right. I’ve learned that my body knows things, and that I should trust it to know those things.

And so as I was talking to this man, this kind and intelligent man, I was imagining kissing him and something inside me recoiled at that thought. I also found myself wondering who, amongst my friends, I could set him up with. Neither of these things feels like evidence that I should go on a second date.

And I find this so exhausting and disheartening. Like, is it that these guys are just not a match for me? Or is it that I’m actually not in a place right now where *anyone* is going to feel like a good match? Does dating just suck until it doesn’t? Or should I just take a fucking break?

I don’t know for sure the answers to these questions, but I do know that although I feel some weird obligation to keep dating, that the idea of taking a break from it feels really fucking great. The idea of spending my evenings with Tom Hiddleston movies and watching the last season of Sherlock that I never got around to watching and hanging out with my friends who I know are definitely interesting people – all of that sounds fucking amazing. So I think I’m going to trust my body on that one right now, and step back for a bit. I’ll still be posting here, though, in the meantime. I’ve only scratched the surface of all the dating stories I still have.

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The Drunk Date

A friend of mine just started online dating, and his dates keep cancelling on him. I remember going through a spate of that in Toronto, and it was really frustrating. I make plans, and when those plans get subverted I find it really annoying. I also no longer have the energy to go on dates with people I find boring or annoying, and I also find it exhausting to figure out how to end things early on gracefully. It’s just such a minefield and I just can’t right now.

Which put me in mind of yet another bad date from my past: the drunk date.

I think this date happened back in 2010. It was summer, and we were set to meet at a bar. I can’t even remember his name but let’s call him Drunk Guy. He is so-called because he showed up half cut to our date, which he proceeded to loudly announce. In those days, I had more emotional resources, and was just sort of interested to see where things went and how dates played out and so I went with it. We had a half-decent conversation at the bar over a drink, and then he suggested getting ice cream down the road.

There was a huge line up, it was a popular place, and the staff were a bit run off their feet. I ordered mine, and then he ordered his, but when it came time to pay, he seemed annoyed and inquired into the charge. It turns out he hadn’t realized that you had to pay more for a sugar cone (or something, I don’t even know) and was trying to talk the barista into giving it to him at the base rate. This was … embarrassing. As someone who’s worked in the service industry, this does not impress me. It shows a total lack of respect for the people serving you, when you try to pressure them into giving you stuff for free because…. you deserve it? Because… you’re special. Ugh. As a woman I also find that repulsive because it denotes an entitlement that is gross, and also that the person pressuring you is counting exactly on social norms and people’s inability to deal with uncomfortable situations in order to get what they want.

Barf.

Anyway then we wandered over to his house (I know. I KNOW. WHAT WAS I THINKING. I was so young, and so naive. I would never do this now) to hang out in his yard. It was a decent place to hang out actually, but when we got there, I realized that it was sort of weird and unwise that I’d even agreed to go back to his place with him alone, not knowing him well, not feeling like this guy understands and respects boundaries. (This date was before I became an angry feminist. I will eventually write about the date that literally turned me into an angry feminist. But another time.)

I used his washroom (possibly this was part of the motivation to head to his place?) and then we hung out on a bench in the yard, where he put his arm around me in this gross way in which he didn’t even ask if that was okay and was really not paying attention to me or my body language.

The most hilarious part of this entire evening, however, was when his phone rang. And he took it. He took a phone call from his MOTHER in the middle of our date.

It was not an emergency. He was not expecting her call. She just calls him, apparently. To check in. To say hi.

HE TALKED TO HER FOR TEN GODDAMN MINUTES.

He proceeded to justify this in a very blasé way, telling me about his relationship with his mother (too soon, dude).

Then, to top it all off, he went on to tell me about the ‘affair’ we were going to have that summer. Which… what is that impulse even about. It’s also not the only time a man has done that, by the way. That is a thing I’ve experienced between 5 and 10 times during the years I’ve dated. I’m not sure if they think they can impose their desire? Or maybe it gives them a sense of control? Or they’ve seen too many rom coms? Or they are idealizing how dating works? I don’t even know. I’m not sure there IS an explanation, or a narrative that would make sense of this.

What I do know is that it erases my agency, my say in how this will play out. It doesn’t even acknowledge that I need to agree to it. Where does my interest, my agency, my desire fit into a narrative in which he explains to me how our relationship will play out? Ugh. No thanks.

At this point some voice in my head started saying ‘ok look this date is going to make a good story someday, but maybe it’s time to hightail it?’

Because I mean, dude. That’s not how this works. That’s not how desire works. That’s not how dating works. That’s not how relationships (or ‘affairs’) work. That’s not how consent works. You don’t TELL me how it’s going to be. Things figure themselves out.

The Accidental Date

It was back in February of 2014. I had just started dating The Ex and I was also still dating another man we’ll call Poly Guy. Poly Guy (PG) and I had been dating for about a year and a half, and our relationship was kind of falling apart a bit when I met The Ex. Shortly after this PG and I would break up and I’d be monogamous with The Ex for almost two years. But this is a story for another post. This post is not about that.

This post is about an accidental date I once ended up on in the midst of this.

I have heard friends of mine claim, mostly when we were younger, that they accidentally ended up on a date. I never quite understood how this was possible until it happened to me.

I had just found out that I had won a Teaching Fellowship at the university I was (and still am) attending. I wanted to celebrate, but none of my friends were around, PG lived in a small town 2 hours away at the time, and The Ex already had plans.

So, I went down to a monthly poly cocktails event that happens in Toronto, on my own. And this is not a thing I normally would do, but I was feeling like celebrating and like I didn’t expect anything to come out of this night. And it was great and I ended up talking to a slew of people and meeting some folks and having some lovely conversations and it was great. And I think I was just so full of excited, confident energy that night that I think I just sort of ended up accidentally flirting with people, or sending out some sort of energy because a few people expressed interest but at the time I was dating two people and that was maxing out all my time so I was pretty clear about that, but this guy (let’s call him A) was like ‘hey we should just like hang out and chat more and get coffee’ and silly me I thought I’d been clear I wasn’t interested in dating anyone else at the time (like when I had explicitly said that, oh, three or four times) so I was all naively like ‘sure why not’, and so I gave him my email address (because fuck phone numbers I do NOT give out my phone number to just anyone). And a few days later or something he emailed me and we decided to hang out for coffee.

I showed up at the cafe to hang out with this guy, and I don’t even know how to explain it other than to say that he had his DATE FACE on. Like, he had (was trying to have?) swagger and just I don’t even know how to explain it exactly but he was being datey. I might do a post at some point about the ways in which my ability to read body language, while I was always pretty good at it, have been fine tuned and honed by years of SO MANY DATES but yeah. This was a date.

Ugh.

So anyway then I had to sit there awkwardly for almost two hours (why? WHY? I WOULDN’T DO THIS ANYMORE but this was still back when I felt like I should ‘be nice’ idk) making polite conversation with this man who was a) trying too hard to impress me and b) spent a large portion of our conversation complaining about his wife? Like, it was unpleasant. And when I mentioned that I write theatre reviews sometimes he basically invited himself to them, saying how much fun we’d have seeing theatre and talking about it, and this is yet another phenomenon I’ve notice in dating, when men tell you how things between you will play out between you in a way that I just don’t really get what that is about or where that comes from. Because… that’s not how this works. That’s not how desire works. That’s not how friendship works. That’s not how dating works. That isn’t how any of this works, guys. Usually this happens with men (I mean, maybe women are like this too but I don’t often date women so I don’t really know) who have been married for a long time? Like, it’s as though they are just so used to having a fully formed relationship, that they don’t really know what a burgeoning relationship looks like, or something. That it’s a back and forth, it’s a process of gauging desire and interest and the other person’s judgement and figuring out reciprocity and the nature and level of that reciprocity. It’s sometimes a long process, and it takes patience, and good judgement, and being attuned to the other person, and these guys just want to bulldoze over all of that and just get to the later stages. And it’s in some ways understandable, I guess, if you’re just used to that, but it’s unsettling, to say the least, to be on the receiving end of that, and to be asking like, ‘hello? do I get a say here in how this is going to go?’ because the answer seems to be: no, not really, not without all the work that it takes to push back against that.

And this is unsurprising, from this guy, to be honest, because there I was, after saying that I did not want to go on a date with anyone I wasn’t currently dating, ON A BLOODY DATE. And so yeah this is not someone who was winning me over in any capacity, because he has already shown me that he is manipulative, that he doesn’t listen to what I say I want or need, and that his desire matters more than mine. Like, NOPE to that. All of the nope to that.

Anyway at some point I managed to make my excuses and head out and the next time he emailed me I told him I’d be busy for the next while but that I would email him.

I never did.

 

Speed Dating: Part 2

So I don’t think I’m going to go out of my way to do speed dating anymore.

This isn’t to say speed dating is terrible. I think it works for some people. Recently, I went with a friend who’s in town until the fall, and feeling frustrated dating-wise, and it worked out well for her, and so in that sense it was worth it for me to organize this for both of us.

We went to one organized uptown, and because my friend is a year older than me, it means that we ended up doing an event aimed at a slightly older demographic than I’m used to. By which I mean the ladies had to be 35-45, and the men 37-47.

In part, I was interested to see what that would feel like for me, since in the past five years I’ve dated younger (both relationships the other person was four years younger). For lots of reasons I’m now prioritizing maturity, but that doesn’t always track with age, but I was just curious to see if this would feel good or weird or interesting or just different.

And it was… just different, basically. It was slightly better organized than the TPL one, though also slightly less interesting. I’m not able to make genuine comparisons about more than just my two individual experiences, but the older crowd seemed to have their shit together a bit better. They also dressed a bit better. Most of the men I talked to were in insurance, or were headhunters. This is not a super important fact except that it always seems to throw people when I say I’m a grad student? Like, whenever I say this around people who are older, I kind of feel like I’m 20 again or something? I mean, I’m not the oldest grad student ever, by far, but somehow still ‘being in school’ makes me feel like I’m not old enough to be there. Not to mention the fact that I look young, which I’m happy about but at the same time, I think the combination of how I look and the grad student box means that I kind of seem too young for this crowd. At one point, the very handsome gentleman I was talking to leaned forward and said: “So, (my name), how … old … are you?” I think he was maybe just checking that I wasn’t in the wrong place (there was a parallel speed dating event happening next door for a younger crowd) or something but to be honest it felt kind of condescending.

There was a guy I heard about from some of the other ladies who was kind of aggressive and ‘touchy’ and kept offering to bring everyone to an oyster bar/his wine villa (or something), but I am still not sure who that guy was because apparently when I get nervous I just talk about myself a lot to avoid having boring conversations with strangers? I dunno. I’m not sure if that means more work for me, or if it’s a brilliant tactic, but it is what it is.

There was one guy who was pretty verbally aggressive, shouting about how dating is like looking for a job, and you have to know what you want, did I know what I wanted? Was I serious? Did I want marriage? Children? It was pretty near the bell-ring, so I thought I would just fuck with this dude, so I was like, “Lol, yeah I know what I want, I want a feminist.”

He sat way back in his chair and was like, “WELL WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? THAT I THINK WOMEN AND MEN ARE EQUAL? OF COURSE I THINK THAT. I THINK WOMEN ARE EQUAL.”

Mmmmmhmmmm. Sure you do, dude.

Anyway the main reason that I won’t do speed dating again is that I don’t trust my judgement. You see, if I’m presented with a string of people like that, I’ll choose the best ones out of THAT GROUP. (And by ‘best’ here, I just mean, closest to being a match for me/someone I’d maybe be interested in going on a date with.) And so I checked off two lovely gentlemen: a Scotsman living in Toronto and a doctor who talked about how he might be a novelist if he couldn’t be a doctor. Both handsome and interesting, at least from what I could tell from a 4 minute conversation.

And yet. And yet? And yet when the Scotsman contacted me I realized I wasn’t actually interested in going on a date. But I didn’t realize that until days later, when the reality of going out with one of these men sunk in. I mean, he’s not horrible, he’s perfectly lovely, but I just wasn’t interested. It’s like the context of the speed dating event tricks me into thinking I’d go on dates with people that I later realize I don’t, and then I need to say no when I’ve checked them off as a ‘yes’ which feels kind of mean, like I’ve developed buyer’s remorse or something and it’s just too damn stressful.

Dating and Rejection, Part Two

About a month ago, I went on a date with a guy from Tinder. I increasingly appreciate OKcupid for helping out my intuition about who is and is not going to be a good date. I just don’t have enough info on Tinder and more and more I’m wary of it as a dating medium. For me at least.

Anyway we met up, and it was okay. He’s an attractive guy, but a bit awkward. I mean, I try to be generous about people’s awkwardness since it’s something that makes a lot of people nervous. I realize that’s just going to influence people’s behaviours, so I try not to let it guide my sense of someone too much. But between the fact that I wasn’t getting a spark/vibe/whatever about him, and the anxiety attack that I spent half our date trying to breathe and smile through, after about an hour and a half I was ready to get out of there.

Amongst other characteristics, this man wasn’t the best at picking up on my signals, and after I got back from the washroom he had his camera out, as though we were going to go on a fun photography excursion? Or maybe just to show off his camera? I mentioned that I needed to get home to do work (which was sort of true) and he said ‘awww I was hoping we could enjoy some of this weather’. (Uh a first date does not usually involve that much of a burden on someone’s time, dude.) I was a bit nervous as we were leaving, but his awkwardness also translated into being kind of slow to speak so when we got outside I turned and said, ‘okay well it was good to meet you! Have a good day!’ and turned on my heel and walked away. I was super relieved that I got out of there so easily, though felt a bit bad that I’d made it pretty clear I wasn’t interested in a second date.

Or, so I’d thought.

A few days later I got a text, saying: “So, how’s your week been going? … I am curious to hear how you felt about our meeting. I thought it ended a bit abruptly, but I was grateful for the outing. And you?”

I wrote back: “Heya. My week has been good! I don’t think it’s going to a second meeting for me. Good luck with all your projects, they sound really interesting!”

But, that wasn’t the end of it. Next I get:

“What put you off?”

Which like, omg. So, on the one hand, ON THE ONE HAND I do get this question. When dating doesn’t go well it’s frustrating, and he’s looking for feedback.

HOWEVER.

There is just absolutely no good way to answer this question. There just isn’t. And here’s why: there is never (or like, at least, only very rarely) an objective answer to this. Any answer I give will be personal to me, because I’m not looking for ‘the best one’ or whatever, I’m looking for a match. A match for ME.

I replied saying just that: “that’s a hard question to answer, to be honest. In cases like this there isn’t usually something that ‘happened’. Dating is about figuring out who feels like a match and who doesn’t. this just wasn’t a match for me.”

To which I got: “I get that a lot, and it’s really depressing. There’s nothing I can do with it to better myself. I feel completely disempowered by this sort of response. Do you expect to be swept off your feet?”

So, I was feeling compassion for this guy, sort of, up until the last line.

I mean, yeah. Dating feels personal, rejection feels personal. And, in some sense it is – this person isn’t into YOU.

Like I’ve said before, dating isn’t about being objectively ‘good’. It’s not a competition. It’s about finding a match. So with that in mind, what does it mean to ‘better oneself’? It might mean figuring out if you’re doing something wrong consistently, which might be the case for some people. But it’s not as though he was doing something I could point to, like talking over me all the time. (This happened once, and when the guy noticed that I was visibly frustrated, he asked what was wrong and I told him.) That would be a concrete thing that is fixable.

But what worries me is the bit about being swept off my feet. Like, what does that even mean? Like the guy is supposed to swoop in and be impressive and then I, the lady, am impressed and amazed and entranced into a second date? And somehow he’s annoyed because a) I think this and b) that he failed to do it, and please can I just tell him how to do it better?

I just worry that is the wrong way to think about bettering yourself, as a means to an end, to ‘get’ a lady, whose affection will deem you worthy of value?

I am seriously reminded here of Fred from Middlemarch by George Eliot. Fred is from a ‘good’ family, but is kind of self-absorbed and lazy. He is also head over heels in love with Mary, who is deeply unimpressed by his inability to get his shit together. When Fred sends his friend to vouch for his potential (yet again) she gets visibly frustrated:

‘I think Fred ought not to need telling again what I have already said to him,’ Mary answered, with a slight resentment in her manner. ‘I mean that he ought not to put such questions until he has done something worthy, instead of saying that he could do it.’

This is like, one of my favourite lines from literature, ever.

What I love is how Mary is calling bullshit on Fred’s inability to take responsibility for himself. That somehow Fred can think himself worthy of improvement if Mary is his prize for that, and I love how right here she totally eschews the responsibility for that, and throws it back to him.

Like, if you think you need to improve things, IMPROVE THEM. If not, that is also fine. But women are not prizes. I find that attitude somewhere between manipulative and lacking self-possession. Don’t expect a woman to give you a ‘reason’ to improve yourself. Just take some responsibility for yourself and do it.

If, on the other hand, there’s nothing you feel like you should improve, and you are just feeling compelled to because you aren’t finding a match, then it seems like the opposite of what you should be doing? Like, changing yourself to fit what others might want or expect from you is the fastest way to find someone who will like you for who you are not. And that just seems like a bad route to go.

But yeah. I feel sort of bad, like I’m being too hard on this guy? Because I get frustrated and annoyed too, sometimes. And it’s really easy to let that resentment bubble over at people, but it’s also really important to resist. Because no one owes you anything, and people are not prizes for getting your shit together.

And the thing is, dating is frustrating and invalidating a lot of the time. And as I get older I try to combat this the best I can by taking care of myself, and not overdoing the dating thing, and focusing on myself and my projects and self-care, not as a means to an end but because that stuff is just really important for its own sake.

Opting Out

I have an upcoming post about how I decide who to go out with or not and how that decision is sometimes arbitrary and sometimes very much not. This post is related to that idea, though it is about the kinds of red flags that go up between saying ‘yes’ to a date, and going on the actual date, and how if you decide to cancel, for whatever reason, that is very very okay.

I had decided to go on a date a few weeks ago with a woman who messaged me on a dating site. My reasons were vague and varied – I haven’t dated that many women and I would like to just do that more, and she messaged me, she took the initiative, she seems like she has an interesting job (arts programming) that she is passionate about, and she asked me on a date. So, I said yes. (In retrospect, I don’t think we’d have been much of a match – she was a bit liberal with her use of exclamation points, and she didn’t seem to have much to say in her messages apart from just being ‘very excited’ about her job when I asked for details. Then again, sometimes certain people read much better in ‘real life’ than they do online. I am sometimes one of these people. So I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and err on the side of generous interpretations. Sometimes this means I go on dates with inappropriate people. This is a balance I am still trying to get right.)

Then we started organizing. She suggested the following Saturday. I said okay, and asked for more details (where she’s coming from in the city etc). She never got back to me. I messaged her on the Friday and said that we’d have to postpone, because leaving it so last minute wasn’t working for me. She replied and apologized, said she’s not on the site often, and could we do it the following Saturday. I said sure.

That happened two or three times. Finally, after I returned from a holiday, it seemed like we were nailing something down. We were going to go out the following Wednesday. She suggested walking around a park, which I was less than enthused about (I often prefer the social lubrication of alcohol on first dates. I also prefer facing the person to get a better sense of how I feel about them.) But I said sure (trying to not be too difficult at this point). I asked more details, including her name, which I never actually got from her despite having asked her (the fact that she wasn’t reading my messages for detail was also another bad sign). She got back to me fairly quickly (okay, better) but then sent two or three messages in a row suggesting that we go to an art show instead, where you make your own digital art.

I sagged inwardly. Digital art is not something I know much about. If a friend had asked me then maybe it would be the sort of thing I’d go for, but not a first date. First dates, for me, are about actually chatting with the person you’re on a date with. I said that I would prefer just that, talking, and maybe we could grab a coffee and walk around Trinity Bellwoods since I also have a party to attend later that evening (giving myself a serious exit strategy at this point).

She wrote back, saying that was totally cool, maybe we could meet at Queen and Bathurst? Then she wrote another message saying how great this art show is, and how a cool artist would be there, and wouldn’t that be fun though?

At this point I realized this was no longer worth my time. I cancelled our date, and she immediately started backpedalling, but it was too late.

Because she’d not only wasted my time for three weeks by bailing constantly at the last minute, but she was now not respecting my boundaries, nor actually treating her proposal as a proposal but as a directive. I may not have known enough to judge at first, but now I did.

The process of dating is, as I’ve said in previous posts, partly an exercise in exhibiting good judgement. And this is a precarious thing, especially at first, because the other person does not have a large sample size of your behaviour which means that an error in judgement can sometimes be given too much weight. I try to take that into account and interpret generously, but I have limits.

I felt really bad about cancelling at first, but since I did, I’ve felt so, so much better. And the thing is, anyone can decide to opt out of dating someone else at any point, for any reason, and that is really really okay. That’s part of what dating IS. And I think it’s especially hard as a woman to not feel guilty, or like you should give someone another chance, or that you are somehow being a ‘jerk’ by doing this, but it isn’t. Sometimes it’s an excellent act of self-care.

Sorry, what was that?

When I first started online dating, I was interested in how my intuition about the person from their profile would match up with what they were like in real life.

One unexpectedly hot Sunday in November, I found myself nervously walking towards the Cake Shop on the Lower East Side. I was overdressed, since I had expected it to be cooler, and dehydrated, and hungover. I was heading to meet Matt, a nice but slightly boring-seeming guy I’d been chatting with online. Our online chat hadn’t been scintillating, but he asked me out and back then I had just moved to NYC and I had a lot of time on my hands, so I figured why not.

I got there, and ordered the only thing I could consider imbibing, which was a ginger tea. Matt arrived, and we sat down at a table.

Me: So, Matt, what is it that you do?

Matt: *mumbles incoherently*

Me: Sorry?

Matt: (almost inaudible) I work as a paralegal at a law firm on Wall Street.

Me: Ah.

I felt like I was on an episode of Seinfeld with Matt, The Low Talker. He didn’t speak much, and when he did, I could barely hear him. My heart sunk into my stomach, and I just thought, how the hell am I going to get through this?

So I did what only seemed sensible: I performed a one hour long, improvised, one-woman show for this man. Anything he said that reminded me of ANYTHING I’d use that as a jumping off point and I told stories, made jokes, gave him my take on being in graduate school and living in NYC and online dating, and really just ANYTHING ELSE THAT CAME TO MIND.

At the end of what seemed like hours (it was only one) I said: okay well, I have some errands to run now, so I should head out! He replied that he’d had a really great time, and could we do it again? (Uh, of course YOU had a good time, dude.) I said I’d be in touch, and got out of there as fast as I could.

I was drained and angry and frustrated, but I also took something significant away from that experience. I had, I realized, essentially just gone on a date with myself. I had just gone on a date with someone who gave me next to nothing to work with, and I made it work. I could do almost anything. I could go on a date with anyone. No more need to be nervous about dates, I thought. I got this.