Great (Dating) Expectations

13 08 2011

It’s pretty funny really. I start a blog about dating. Go on a few dates, and suddenly I find myself in all sorts of conversations as if I’m an expert on the subject. Last night was no different.

After being dressed up in business casual and heels all week I had changed into my sweats and t-shirt almost as soon as I came through the door last night.  I was going to stay home for the second night in a row, when suddenly I had a text message from a friend.  She said her kids were gone, and she wanted to go have a beer.  Would I join her?

Well, heck yeah.  I quickly threw on jeans and a t-shirt and grabbed some earrings. It doesn’t usually take me very long to get ready to go out. Dare I say, I might even be getting it down to a science.

We went to Frank’s Oyster House in the Ravenna/Bryant neighborhood.  It’s a nice “grown-up” bar, not typically frequented by the college students in the neighborhood.

For about a week, this friend of mine has been anxiously anticipating a first date with a firefighter.  First of all, how is it that I haven’t met a firefighter yet? How is that fair?  This will be her first date in over twenty years, and she meets a FIREFIGHTER? How does that happen? 

I want a firefighter.

But I digress. This is supposed to be about her, not me.

So anyway, she met a firefighter. She’s been freaking out a little, and I totally get it.  I don’t know if anyone remembers my first date in this little dating prescription of mine, but I was worried about all sorts of things leading up to my date with The Blues Man.  I stressed out about everything from sucking my fat in to whether or not getting a kiss at the end of the night was a good thing or a bad thing.  She’s basically going through the same thing.

It probably doesn’t help that she’s a devout Christian, and she’s asking her more socially and spiritually liberal friends, yes, like me, for advise.  If she wants a comfortable, conservative answer, one not filled with sarcasm or outrageous commentary meant to make her blush, she probably should not be asking me for advice.  If she wants my honest opinion, however, after I finish with the snarky remarks, I’m happy to provide any and all wisdom gleaned from my experiences.

One of her other friends advised her to make sure she has shaved her legs and waxed her pubes. Another had said she should be prepared in the event that this man wants to kiss her.  This is all making her very nervous.  I told her I agreed with the aforementioned comments.

“Yeah, you should shave your legs, wax, and make sure you have a condom in your purse just in case.”

“NOOOO, I’m not going to do that!” she shrieked.

“Well, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.”

“But I’m not like that!”

“So, there’s no chance, at all, that you’ll want to just get your pipes cleaned?”

“Oh, my God! NO!”

“Ok, just so you’re sure.”

See what I mean?  No mercy.

We did talk seriously about the fact that she should be prepared for a kiss.  Yes, it’s going to be different and weird after being with the same person for so many years.  In fact, there is a very great possibility that in that moment her ex’s image will pop into her mind.  It’s not a pleasant way for things to go down, but sometimes it happens.  On the other hand, the kiss could be really good. You never know. 

“Don’t let this stress you out too much though,” I said, “you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, and you don’t have to get serious with anyone right away.  That’s not even healthy.”

“I know. I’m just nervous,” she said.

“It’s like my 100 dates.  I think that’s why my therapist told me to date 100 people without getting serious.  It takes the pressure off.”

“Do you think guys go through this,” she asked, “or do you think they just get right back out there?”

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly, “I think there are some angry men who get out there and think they need to fuck everything that moves as a form of revenge, but I also think a lot of men end up just as traumatized and scared as you and  I have been.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m sure they’re nervous about other things, but since I started my blog, I’ve dated a lot of guys who I think wanted to go out with me just because they knew it was going to be just one date.  ‘Misfit daters’ is what I had called them at one point, men who had been recently separated or divorced and not sure about getting back out there.”

“Right, I remember.”

“Try not to get too stressed out about it.  Don’t put too many expectations on it, and just enjoy the date,  if you can.”

I decided this would be a great question to put to my readers.  Do you think it’s any easier for men to get back in the dating pool?  What makes men nervous when faced with a first date after the end of a marriage?  Any horror stories?

I’m really NOT the expert on this stuff.  I’m just the messenger.

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13 responses

13 08 2011
Struggling Dad

You want an opinion of a guy recently shifted from married to single…actually I assume you want lots of opinions, not just one.

For me, I’m going to watch this thread carefully. I’m not really ‘out there’ in the dating world yet, so there might be some useful tips for me.

Based on your text, I can add some qualifications…

I’m not traumatized or scared of dating again, but am definitely mystified by some things I read on these blogs we share, and wonder what my own future holds. Maybe I can avoid doing some of the dumb things guys do. Maybe it just means I’ll make completely original blunders.

My mystification is broad. For example, I don’t know why a guy would go on a date knowing it’s going to be the only one; I’d rather have lunch with a friend if there was definitely no future with my date. I don’t know why anyone would want to kiss or hug on a first date; I don’t hug all of my good female friends, so why would I hug a semi-stranger?

I’m not out to screw anything that moves for revenge or other motives; it’s just not me. I also don’t know exactly how some guys have that as a personal choice: Are they just that good-looking? Don’t women see they’re only after one thing? Perhaps women do see through them, but that’s what some women are looking for sometimes — sex without complications. Nope, still not me.

Is it any easier to get back in the dating pool? No and yes. No, because I’m older and more of my life’s story has already been written and some paths are closed off now. Yes, because I know that long-term love is possible for me and I couldn’t know that about me when I was young.

For me personally, I think nervousness is going to exist at many levels. Will I make some error I wouldn’t normally make and shut down an opportunity because of inexperience? Will I misunderstand or simply miss the signs and signals and read the comfort with my date incorrectly? Will I choose poorly and try to date someone too good or too wrong for me? But, honestly, are these concerns really any different from the ones I first had to deal with so many years ago…

15 08 2011
mydatingprescription

Thanks for your insight, Struggling Dad.

I can honestly say I felt a little traumatized after my husband left, maybe not even a little, but a lot traumatized. If I would have gone into dating thinking that I was going to have more than one date, or that the expectation was that I was going to try to have a long-term relationship with the person, I would have been too overwhelmed by the idea to even get out there. In fact, I might choose to be single the rest of my life. I’m getting fairly comfortable with first dates, in fact, I’ve had a few second dates with a handful of the guys I’ve written about here, but I know I’m still not ready to start spending too many nights a week with the same person.

Like you, I do not understand the kiss on the first date thing. Especially since it seems to happen the most with the guys who are the worst dates. I think they’re just possibly that clueless regarding the comfort level of their date.

As far as meeting men just to get my pipes cleaned, although I joke about it, this isn’t me either. There are too many risks involved, and quite frankly, there are more dependable, safer tools out there that can get the job done more efficiently. Besides, I want to have some connection with someone when I finally decide to go to bed with them.

I think getting back out in the dating pool has been harder for me because I’m uber cautious. I’m really afraid of ending up in another emotionally abusive relationship. I know that someday I would like to have someone special to share my life with again, but whether that means marriage again or not, I don’t know. Like I’ve said before though, I know I can be a good, loving partner. Just need to find the right guy.

16 08 2011
ElderBaud

Relationships are dangerous. To achieve deep, honest intimacy requires choosing vulnerability, and vulnerability is dangerous and scary. But it’s like investing: safe choices yield small returns, while riskier choices can yield big gains or big losses. Again, like investing, research carefully before committing to the investment. And don’t let anyone talk you into investing before you’re ready.

16 08 2011
mydatingprescription

ElderBaud, it’s funny that you should mention investing. Man #10 told me that I seemed like a blue chip investor when it came to relationships. When I asked him what he meant by that, he said I seem like a person who invests for the long haul and puts everything into it. At this stage, I know this about myself and I’m cautious, because although I tend to invest for the long haul, instead of finding stable, value, blue chip guys, I’ve had a tendency to invest in junk bonds! 🙂

17 08 2011
Struggling Dad

Hi MDP,

I’ve read some of the early posts now and I may have been under a misapprehension about your 100 dates. I originally got the impression that you intended to only have a single date with 100 different men (to which I have to say: OMG!!! Where do you find the time?!!). Now I see that the Blues guy was worth a few dates until he read your blog and…oops.

So if the situation is that you’re going into each date expecting it to be just a single one, but you’re open to a second date with someone it works out with, that seems pretty reasonable.

In my own mind, I have wondered if something along those lines might be a good approach to take. It might be the best balance between Speed Dating and Dinner Dating. In the former, I’m not convinced that there is enough time to see the ‘real’ chemistry with someone. Sure, you can rule out some people as No Way On Earth and no doubt there are some Ohh Yeah Baby meets that way, but what about normal people you might grow to adore over time?? For what I just called “Dinner Dating” I’m fairly sure that if you meet someone you *don’t* get along with, being stuck with them for a long dinner is a Bad Idea and there aren’t many easy ways out (everyone’s on to the my-friend-called-and-she-is-in-labor/danger/love fast exit tactic by now).

For me, I can’t say I’m cautious since I married quite young and was married for a long time. I’m open to opening up to anyone and I will do what I always did when I was younger: Treat a woman as a friend first and see what happens. For the relationships that didn’t work out over time, most of them are still friends of mine because we were friends before (and went back to being friends after the ‘awkward period’). If nothing else, I’ll make some new friends that way!!

14 08 2011
micah

I’m a single guy in his late twenties who’s never been married but has dated a lot. I used to wonder / worry a lot about how confident and all my dates would be and that I would/am not as confident as they are. Here is what I found after much experience….

Everyone is nervous.

I tend to project onto people that they are confident, know what they are doing, and are a natural at life especially dating when I have no information about them whatsoever. I’ve begun to catch this lie and remind myself that its not true.

Hopefully, you *will* meet someone who is more gifted at life/dating than u are. Learn from them. I will say though that I think anyone who seems more gifted or confident at dating and does not extend that comfortablness to you by trying to make you feel comfortable is lying. Guys loose out when the woman isnt comfortable. If he’s so comfortable with himself, he should notice you are nervous and try to help you out. If he doesnt, then I could seem him being a fake (he’s just as nervous as you are), he’s looking for something else (like sex maybe), or he’s not a nice guy or just not interested.

Even on dates where Im not crazy about the girl from the first interaction and all the pressure is off from my end, i still try to make them feel comfortable and show them a good time. I’m already there, why not make the best of it.

15 08 2011
mydatingprescription

Micah, your comment about confidence and being comfortable reminded of all the dates I’ve had where the man just talked and talked and talked. In most cases, I think the men were just nervous and trying to make up for a lack of confidence. In others, I think, you’re right, that they had other motives. Whether it’s a man or a woman, I think if you sense that your date is nervous, you should try to help them out somehow.

14 08 2011
dkl

As a ‘never been married’ 40 something, I guess I’m completely unqualified to answer. I do remember reading somewhere that men bounce back from divorce with less success than women, and that was definitely true of my parents. Dad never married again, and only dated 2 or 3 times that I can recall. Mom remarried. Twice.

I think men can have just as much trouble getting back out there.

15 08 2011
mydatingprescription

Your comment reminded me of a statistic I had heard that said approximately 80% of divorces are filed by women, and most of the time, the husband did not see it coming. After I read your comment about your dad, I decided to google “who files divorce statistics” and see what came up. Sure enough, around 72% of the filings are by women and amongst college-educated couples women file 90% of the time.

This was not the case for me, which I think is the reason the divorce seemed more traumatic.

15 08 2011
Surrey gal

I think guys get equally nervous. They are perhaps less self conscious (they don’t think about their cellulite and fat knees all the time) but there is a lot of pressure on them.
And when it comes to having sex, they can’t even really fake it and we can 😛

15 08 2011
mydatingprescription

So true.

16 08 2011
I_jarr

Your “cleaning the pipes” line was hilarious:) it’s somewhere on the line with the adivices I give to my girlfriends that haven’t been ” on the market” for a while and think they will find “true love” at the first date, so they act all precautios 🙂 . Funny thing, the best relations I had started without any expectations from my side ( I was in the cleaning the pipes moment) but somehow grew overtime on both sides. I guess not having expectations helps releasing the tension for the other too…

16 08 2011
mydatingprescription

You can’t go into a first date thinking that the person is going to be your “true love.” There are just too many variables. I think this is where a lot of women get in trouble and become too “glommy” too early in the relationship. They start planning the wedding before they’ve even had a chance to get to know the man. I prefer a relationship that develops slowly over time, “When Harry Met Sally” style. (Whether I decide to get my pipes cleaned or not.)

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