Tag Archives: first date

A Year of Hope

My last boyfriend and I split up during the holidays of 2010. This past holiday season – and I’m not the only one who felt this – didn’t feel like the holidays at all. I bought 3 gifts for my 3 best girlfriends. No boyfriend, no gifts for family, not even for my dog.

I rode my bicycle after a party in the freezing air on Christmas early morning across the Brooklyn Bridge. There were a handful of pedestrians on the bridge at 3 a.m. and no other bicycles. No tourists! I stopped and took pictures of I-don’t-even-remember, but I do remember feeling happy. I’m single, 40, and happy.

A week later, similar circumstance. New Year’s early morning, just before 3. Several more walkers – or should I say, stumblers – and no other bicycles. One thing was different. I had met someone.

Actually, we met the Friday before Christmas at a party in the home of a warmly hospitable host. Only two degrees of separation. He and I talked about exploring areas of the city, namely Brooklyn, my home. I wasn’t even interested in him during that conversation. But he wanted me to show him Brooklyn, so I decided I would introduce him to my friends’ restaurant. How could I not bring them new business?

I forgot about him by the next day, Christmas Eve.

A few days later, he texted. Darn it, what was his name? Mike? He lol’ed and corrected me in jest. All I could remember was his perfectly formed hair, flawless skin, and clean manicure. Totally not my type. Not for a girl with grease under her fingernails, a six-month old haircut, and unkempt cuticles, not to mention skin blemishes. Still, business for my friends.

When our “date” was about to begin, I hadn’t changed my clothes from work. In fact, I got off my bicycle after a 5-mile commute, and greeted him with a “Hey”. My makeup had not been touched up. My hair was windblown. My clothes were damp with sweat. He looked like he just stepped out of a limo at a Newport, RI mansion. What did he see in me?

First, a drink at a local hangout. Superfine is run by the coolest women who keep the 20th century alive with weekend DJs, bluegrass bands, and occasional burlesque extravaganzas. The food is locally-sourced, except for the California citrus and Hatch, New Mexico green chilies. I ordered a margarita. Better to bear with this man wearing cashmere and an oxford shirt. Certainly is not the guitar slinger nor the geek I usually date.

The drink was followed by dinner at my friends’ place, AlMar, at the bar. Surprisingly, he was okay with sitting at the bar. Personally, it’s a preference when the only seating options are across from each other. Why, when the food is to be savored and enjoyed, should one be distracted by a dining partner’s presence when familiarity and comfort is at a minimum? How self-conscious can a person get with a new date at dinner? No wonder so many people prefer just drinks for a first date. But this wasn’t a date with a prospect in my eyes. Dinner was devoured.

The third place we went to, Jack the Horse Tavern, in my opinion has the best traditionally-mixed cocktails in Brooklyn. By this point, after he disdainfully refused my inquisitive financial contribution, it was with pleasure to bring him here. Not because he was paying, but because showing him great places was the least I could do to as a courtesy.

Fortunately, on this last Thursday of 2011, he surprised me once again.

Granted, by this time we each had had a cocktail and a half bottle of wine. In spite of the reduced judgment ability, his conversation locked my attention to the point where words flowed from my mouth without the need to edit. I can’t remember the last time I sat with someone with this conversation ease. We talked about our post-9-11 experiences, our families’ highlights (or dysfunctions), travel destinations, and things our fanciful drinks reminded us of. The more we talked, the easier it became to see our similarities and reconcile our differences.

He walked me home. I didn’t need to be drunk to kiss him.

The next day he sent a text. “Last night exceeded my expectations.” Expectations? What are those? I tried not to think about a possible future with this atypical date. It’s pretty easy to do that when you can think of all the reasons why it would not work out.

Early New Year’s morning I rode my bike with hope. The memory of this man would not go away. If anything, he gave me a glimpse into a different life. Fifteen hours later, I answered the phone to, “When should I pick you up?”

To Be Continued.

What Not to Do on a First Date

You know from first hand experience a lot of things you should and shouldn’t do the first time you go out with someone. Of course people do things that you have no control over that they probably need to pull the reins on. These include, but are not limited to, blatantly trying to determine if you’re “marriage material”, get close and cuddly too soon, trying to figure out how much money or debt you have, being self-centered, lying, and complaining.

But this isn’t about what others do. It’s about what you do. So, let’s get started.

Don’t over-think.

Here are a two things that can happen as a result of over-thinking that can ruin a perfectly good potential relationship:

  1. Assuming that one thing your date says means what you think it means. You may want to clarify before you jump off the love boat.
  2. Dwelling on a small detail. Get over it. It’s one little thing amidst a complex being. If you keep doing this you may never get a second date.

Don’t be a coward

Here are some examples of things your date might talk about that you really shouldn’t be scared of:

  • A health issue.
    As long as your date doesn’t go into detail about his or her health problem without you asking about it, and he/she’s not near death, there’s really no reason other than lack of interest not to try a second date – unless you’re a spineless loser.
  • What he or she wants out of a relationship.
    So what if your date doesn’t want to waste time. Don’t make a big deal out of someone stating what he or she wants. Of course there is inappropriate behavior such as crying a lot or having a crazy look in the eyes. That, of course, might be reason to run. In either case, don’t freak out. Just gently let your date know that it’s too soon to discuss those kind of details. As long as a person is matter-of-fact about what he or she wants, talking about relationship hopes is not out of line.
  • His or her shrink.
    A lot of people see therapists. Why should it not a deal-breaker? Really good, deep, emotionally-bonded friendships are not easy to come by. Women and men need to be able to talk about their feelings. Generally therapists are simply people who are paid to listen to our emotional vomit. (Boy, does it feel good afterward.)

Everything in moderation, of course. If your date has a difficult time getting off a topic, like a previous relationship or a childhood story, that’s another issue altogether.

Sometimes people are simply too nervous to be themselves. If you never get nervous, you’re not human. Don’t forget that it’s very easy to put your foot in your mouth or do things you wouldn’t normally do especially when you like someone. Have some grace for cryin’ out loud!

What you can do on a first date

If something your date says bugs you, have the person elaborate. Even if the subject has changed, you can say something like, “I’m sorry, but you mentioned…What exactly did you mean by that?…” This is especially important if you tend to jump to conclusions.

And if you really want a companion and not a one-nighter, don’t try to have sex on the first date. Okay? And if things just get too steamy, well, I hope you both will agree with the outcome.

It’s also okay to call after the date and clarify what was said or to let the person know if you’re not interested. Then you politely say Thank you and Goodbye. Then change your number. Just kidding…mostly.

The topic of this post was inspired by Rachel Greenwald’s Have Him At Hello. Not bad, this book.