Unfortunately, my first “actual date” in the immediate post-breakup era was with a really nice guy. I mean really nice. As I’m sure you can guess, I found a highly effective way to scare him off.
He was a doctor who works in a lab on Long Island and, aside from being on the wrong side of the Sound; he seemed eerily perfect.
I found him very attractive; he was tall, bearded and very earthy, like a hippie-lumberjack with a PhD. He had kind eyes and features that remind me of my fourth grade science teacher, which immediately made me feel like I could trust him. Of course, now that I think of it, I shouldn’t go around automatically trusting men just because they look like my fourth grade science teacher.
We shared a lot of common interests and were both struggling to adjust to the fast-paced culture of the Northeast. It was a match made in heaven–well, online. Whatever.
I was so excited when The Doctor finally made arrangements to see me. I had been waiting for nearly a month, which, as you know feels like a really long time in the single’s dimension.
I decided this was not the date for me to screw up. This guy could be it. He could be my soul mate, my destiny, the one who would sweep me off my feet, the one who would erase the scars of my past heartbreaks. He could be the one
No pressure, though, I just felt that things needed to be absolutely perfect. Naturally, I turned to the experts; a gaggle of my single girlfriends and a stack of self-help dating books.
My first mistake was reading a book called The Rules. It’s all about getting Mr. Right to find you, fall for you, and marry you. I was skeptical. I usually only read self-help books out of morbid curiosity; I wonder, who reads these books and why? I never take them seriously.
Going from the bench to the field in the dating game though, I wanted to be a force to be reckoned with. I didn’t want to just play the field; I wanted to own the field. I wanted to be the dating MVP. I wanted romance and grandeur at my fingertips. I envisioned myself an amorous rock star of sorts.
Truly, I was terrified.
I didn’t think of everything I had done to charm men in the past. I wasn’t thinking “be yourself – people like you.” I couldn’t see past the recent fog of rejection.
I decided to play it safe. I would blindly follow The Rules.
Essentially, The Rules told me I had to be “hard to get” if I wanted to catch a man. Unfortunately, by strictly following them, I made myself utterly unattainable.
First, I didn’t compromise on location. I made him fight shoreline summer traffic from Port Jefferson to Branford. When he arrived in Branford, he called. I was running late (as usual). He kindly said he would wait for me and we could find a place to eat together.
My second mistake was in not releasing him from his manly duty of picking the restaurant. As counter-intuitive as it was to force him to find a suitable restaurant in a town he had never once visited, The Rules said he had to make the decision. I knew he was stressed, and still, I told him to find a place and I would meet him there in 15 minutes.
We met at . I gave him a quick hug and apologized for running late, but acted like my stunning appearance would excuse my tardiness. Really, I must have just come off as high-maintenance and inconsiderate. Third mistake.
When the bill came, I let him pay but I offered to treat to . Although my offer to spring for ice cream was against The Rules, it was really the only good thing I did all night.
We ordered ice cream and walked around the green until he suggested we sit down on a bandstand.
I felt like I was in high school again! Was I really talking to a cute boy on a bandstand? Suddenly, this was the best date of my life. I was giddy. Scratch that, I was thrilled! In my mind, I was naming our future children – all six of them. Oblivious to how much I was spoiling a good thing.
We talked until after midnight. Both of us had work in the morning and he had a three-hour drive ahead of him, so we decided to call it a night.
He walked with me over to the car and gave me a hug. I thanked him for the lovely time.
I turned to leave and he stopped me. He asked a question about something we had talked about previously. I looked at him like he was the proverbial village idiot. Little did I know; he was employing a classic male stalling tactic, buying him just enough time to lean in for a goodbye kiss.
I didn’t see it coming. I panicked. I gave him a peck on the side of the cheek, jumped into my Jeep and drove away so fast that my tires squealed when I turned on Main Street, the final mistake of the evening.
I came to my senses the next morning and was thoroughly embarrassed. I reached out a few times, but unsurprisingly, I never heard from The Doctor again.
My girlfriends commiserated and helped point out my mistakes. Why didn’t you just kiss backechoed through our analysis. As if that would have atoned for all of the other transgressions.
Even the girl who recommended The Rules in the first place admitted to breaking every single one of them when she started dating her own Mr. (maybe) Right.
I’ve since kicked The Rules to the curb and gone back to that whole “be yourself” adage. Stay tuned to hear how that’s working out for me. I’m not perfect, but I’d rather play the dating game by my own rules; they make more sense to me.