So this story comes from a few years ago, with someone I would go on to date for a while. We had known each other for a few months by the time we started dating, and it was one of the few relationships that I have had that didn’t spring from the internet. Ok, well…it mostly didn’t. I met him through a former partner that I met through the internet…so maybe everything does stem from Tinder? Kinda feels like there are about three degrees of separation from Tinder. It has Kevin Bacon beat.
But anyway. I think I bring up the fact that we had known each other for a few months because that should have made dating less awkward, right? But, yeah, no. because dating makes EVERYTHING awkward.
For our first date, we went to a local art gallery. Neither of us had been there before, and our hopes were high. Until we walked in and realized that things were a little too abstract. Like, we thought we found the storage room…and it was an exhibit. Conversation was a little awkward, but overall we were fine. And we had a very sweet kiss at the end of the date as I hopped on my bike in the rain but I pedaled away feeling like it was a sunny warm day.
Second dates are the WORST in my opinion. I think they are waaaay more stressful than the first. The first date is known to be a shit show and so many first dates don’t have a second act. But on the second date, it feels like there is more at stake. This is where you decide about a third. Or a fourth. Or if you are going to get rejected again when you put yourself out there. And a second date tends to be where you are supposed to open up a bit more. And get into the opinions and feelings stuff that makes for a reason to have a third date. While I of course want a partner, it’s scary to open up and to trust someone with your emotions…and to me the second date opens up that door.
This guy seemed to also feel that way. So, to make sure it wasn’t awkward, he did the most awkward thing I could think of: he brought a list of questions to ask someone on a date. Like, had it printed off and not just a ref on his phone or something. And the conversation wasn’t even that awkward when he whipped it out—he whipped it out prematurely. (The list. Not his stuff. Mind out of gutter.)
It was actually one of the most endearing things anyone has ever done.
He barely looked me in the eye, and said that he was nervous and doesn’t date much so didn’t want to mess up. I was torn between hugging him, kissing him, or laughing in absolute relief that finally I wasn’t the one who was the most nervous. I refrained from doing any of these things because I didn’t want to overwhelm him. Instead, I made myself as quiet and relaxed and as safe as possible and asked him to read a question.
He asked something about who my hero in my family is.
At that time, I was in a difficult space with my family for various reasons, and wasn’t doing much in the way of communicating with them. So this was a hard question. I wasn’t ready to divulge any of that muck just yet—it wasn’t even sorted out in my head yet. I pondered the question, and then my answer surprised me. I responded that my dad is. My dad and I traditionally have a strained relationship. But it is because we are SO similar. We are both stubborn, highly intellectually intelligent, traditionally not super emotionally intelligent (though I am really working on this!), and highly competitive. So I talked about that, and how my dad worked his ass off for his family even when we didn’t all get along that great. Even if this wasn’t the space I was currently in, I was actually oddly grateful for him for bringing up this thought process.
Of course, I wasn’t going to say much of this out loud until much later.
So I decided to ask it back to him: who is your family hero?
He responded that he hates his family and hasn’t talked to any of them regularly in years.
Wait…so you asked me and pushed me to do all this digging and processing and threw me into this weird spiral…and you can’t actually answer it?
Well played, my friend. Well played.
Maybe I should have just been honest. For my most recent long-term relationship, she and I dove into our family dynamics on our first date and I found so much I could relate to and feel so not alone about. But I guess you just need to evaluate where you are in life, where you are in your self progression, and how much alcohol is in you.