The other day I was sitting in a coffee house, doing some work. As I sat down, I saw a man and woman one table over. As I was not far from them I overheard bits of their conversation. Soon I came to the conclusion that they were on a date and from the sounds of it, most likely a first date. I was trying to explain to my roommate how I knew it was a date. Basically, it was the tone of voice plus the content. The tone of voice was more formal with a hint of anxiety. There wasn’t that familiarity that comes when two people truly know each other. Her responses were brief, seeming to feign interest in what he was saying. The other hint was the content of their conversation. He was explaining to her the latest Superman film. Now, I talk to my friends about films all the time, but this felt more detached. At one point, he was trying to remember all of the actors in the film and I was briefly tempted to interject with “Amy Adams”. That most definitely would have been awkward, so I restrained myself. Soon after they left and I continued working, while chuckling a bit to myself. Then, I was treated to another first date about 5 minutes later. Jackpot Kean coffee! This couple was much younger and had never met. They did the awkward, “are you so and so?” complete with formal handshake. I didn’t hear much beyond that, but I delighted in the moment.
I suppose these observations may lead you to wonder why am I fascinated by this. Or maybe you relate. Basically, dating is weird. There, I said it. Especially first dates. Even more so blind dates. See pie chart for reference. And there is something so enjoyable about witnessing weirdness. I have mixed feelings as I witness dates. One part of me empathizes. I have been there before, engulfed in awkwardness and anxiety, and I want to pat the person on the shoulder and encourage them. The other part is relieved that it is not me. Internally I’m thinking, “Ha, ha sucker!” Some people have fond memories of dating, but I am not one of them. Maybe this is because my expertise is the first and second dates, the weirdest ones to have (see chart above). I am sorely inexperienced when it comes to long term relationships. And that is the stage that seems so fun! When you stop trying to impress the person and can just sit at home watching Netflix. You still go out, but you also don’t have the compulsion to do so all the time. Basically, you’ve relaxed, stopped trying to suck in your stomach and can just be you. A part of me would love to be able to start a relationship there. To skip all the strangeness and questioning of first dates. But alas, that is not how it works when getting to know someone.
I realize that my vision for dating is not realistic. I know I want to skip the uncomfortability of first dates. I accept that this is not possible. Or rather, it is not possible if I actually want to be in a relationship with someone. So, here’s to continuing to open to the weirdness that is first dates.
In the meantime, I’m entertaining myself by continuing to keep my eyes peeled for daters.