By Laura Heller
I haven’t been much of a dater, the way a fish doesn’t naturally hang out in a hamster cage.
It’s more by default than by choice.
I’m one of those girls who was terrified of boys for the majority of my adolescence (making myself unintentionally unapproachable) and was too busy for serious dating in college (continuing my theme of accidental inapproachability). This continued until one day I realized that every boy within 1,000 miles was either married or 15 years younger than me. I’m just lucky like that.
And of course, it doesn’t help that my default instinct in social settings with the opposite sex is awkwardness.
So, what’s a girl to do? I’ve tried my hand at dating whenever the offer comes. Online, blind, speed, double, triple. I’ve tried it all. Through it all, I’ve learned a thing or two …
This year, a friend begged me to try online dating, so I gave it a go and found it to be unnatural and awkward. But I tried it, and I’m willing to try it again under the right circumstances because I’m crazy enough to. And over the past few years, whenever a friend has suggested that she knew a guy who she thought I might get along with, I’ve made it my goal to say yes to the wildly masochistic invitation of blind dating. I’ve gone on a notable number of blind dates and have an equal number of stories that illustrate my lack of success. I’m just unlucky.
We’ve all heard that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. But, oh the things we do for love.
The blind dates always start out approximately the same way. This guy and I plan to meet in some public location, usually involving beverages. Typically I’ve already psychoanalyzed his choice of location, wondering why he chose what he did. Then, I try my best to be casually late and enter the date location with the guy’s description etched in my brain, praying he will be obvious and even hotter than expected (Ninety-nine percent of my dates describe themselves in advance as “a guy with brown hair, brown eyes, jeans and a shirt.” Thank you for that.) And then, the second we meet, it begins. I judge him as “worthy or not.” He does the same with me. And then we set out to prove ourselves. As we go through the first date motions, I start to wonder, Is he going to pay? Should I expect him to? Is this shirt too low-cut? Am I talking too much? Should I look at his eyes with more frequency? What did my friend tell him about me? Why did he wear those shoes?
On one such blind date, the dude was so infuriating that by the end of the date, I shouted “you’re a jerk!” while tears streamed down my face. The worst part was that he thought I was joking and laughed at me. I kid not.
Another time, I was just bored to tears. I have never found eating pasta to be so dull.
Other dates really weren’t so bad, they just didn’t win me over.
But, for the sake of self-preservation, I should say that I’m pretty sure that I’m not a bad date. I’m pleasant and easy to talk to and dress appropriately for the occasion. I offer witty comebacks and smile on cue. I say please and thank you and let the guy open doors for me. I’m really nice. And, it could just be that I’m picky and unfair. I am willing to admit that it could be entirely my fault.
As much as I tend to cringe at the memories of my past blind dates, I genuinely endorse the idea of trying it out. After all, my parents met on a blind date and they’ve made it 44 years, so it can’t be all bad.
So, when the opportunity comes, I take the challenge, I meet for that coffee, predetermine whether or not I’m going to like him, cut the date short if necessary, drawl it out if I’m into him. And then, I either hope he’ll call again or pray he doesn’t. But I have to admit that I actually, really like the experience. I enjoy the process, the challenge, the thrill, the risk, the disappointment and the reminder that I’m human and a woman. It’s just so much fun, even if I’m consistently unlucky.
Challenging myself (and challenging others to challenge themselves) is something I have intentionally set out to do. That’s why I determined to give online dating a try; that’s why I say yes to blind dates; that’s why I do a lot of the crazy things I do. It’s highly possible that my reputation precedes me as a girl who is horrible at dating, or just horrible at interacting with men. But, I have determined that when I have the chance, I will try the insanity of dating and continue to try it in whatever form it comes at me.
And chances are, one or two of you are where I am, finding this dating game terrifying, dull or both. A few of you are probably like me: you have yet to find that one guy (for the sake of argument, we’ll just pretend it’s entirely the guy’s fault) who laughs at the appropriate times and knows all the right things to say. Chances are, the fear of rejection has won you over a time or two. Chances are, you’ve been a bit unlucky too. But take the risk. Try your hand at something you’ve hesitated to do.
For me, the truth is that even if it’s been mostly bad, it’s made for some entertaining stories. I am living on the assumption that with enough bad date stories under my belt, I may actually get lucky one of these days and find that guy who made all this craziness not seem so insane. And if I don’t? I’ve still got some really great stories.
Tales of My Blind Dates