Saturday, April 11, 2015

(ME:) SHAKEN. (HIM:) NOT STIRRED.

They can't all be good ones. I of all people should know that. But some bad dates weigh heavier than others. Sometimes the event even makes you question yourself. That old teen angst question – "What's wrong with me?"– resurfaces.

Bad date. Bad, bad date.

If he had been rude or obnoxious, I could've handled it. I could've dismissed him. A jerk. Who wants him? But it seems that indifference is more crushing.

It started with hello. Slight nod, a formal handshake. He ordered his coffee and paid for it. I ordered mine, paid for it. (So what that it took me forty minutes in the snails’ queue over the Lions Gate Bridge to get to his area.) Not a big deal but still awkward when the barista thought he was paying for both of us.

As I waited for my coffee, he stood ten feet away, scanning messages on his iPhone. The disinterest was instantaneous. Really?! I thought. This is ridiculous.

Something pretty to look at after all.   
Unfortunately, we had arranged to grab a coffee and go for a hike. And so we went forward, out of a sense of obligation rather than any hope of a connection. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's an introvert. Maybe he just takes time to warm up. Maybe he's nervous.

But all that would just be flattering myself. No, he had no desire to be invested in the date. I did my best to create a flow to the conversation, asking him question after question. I continued to smile, nod and respond to his polite remarks. None of the questions were lobbed back my way. Not a single “What about you?” Why attempt any fa├žade of wanting a two-way conversation?

This despite the fact that we had a number of things in common on a superficial level. We are both in the teaching profession. Both of us lived in Texas for extended periods of time. Both of us have our families still living there. We both lived in Southern California. The time frames match. We both played in the gay volleyball league in Vancouver. We know many of the same people. The conversation should have been breezy, even if neither of us felt an attraction.

Clearly, it pained him to be with me. And he was the one who initially messaged me online. Apparently seeing me in person came as an extreme disappointment. It is hard to conclude otherwise. If only I had thicker skin. After all this time and all my stand-alone first dates, I certainly should.

As we walked across a suspension bridge, he took a selfie. I offered to take his picture and he passed over his phone. Again, he did not offer the same to me. I got the sense that his selfie moment was wishful thinking.

I don't have a problem with guys not being into me. Frankly, it happens all the time. But it's jarring when somebody does not want to even carry on a cordial conversation. Nobody wants to get the sense that they are a pariah. But it's hard to shake the disdainful aloofness. By the time we made the return drive to my car, I let the time pass in silence. Why not? He’d be done with the date in five seconds. I was done after eighty minutes. I'm a slow learner.

Two blocks from my car, we were idled at a stoplight. I reached for the door handle, more than happy to escape a little early. He insisted on turning onto the side street where I was parked. A dutiful hug goodbye. And then we were both free again. Indeed, free at last.

An awkward date. An awful date. I tell myself I should shake it off. It should be easy. I had not been attracted to him when I first walked into the coffee shop, but I flashed a bright smile. Give him a chance, I thought. I did everything I could to be amiable. (I even made him laugh—presumably involuntarily—a few times.) Not every relationship arises from an instant spark. And a friendship is always possible. Or, at the very least, a pleasant exchange with someone I may never see again. Any of those options would have been fine. Sure beats being repeatedly snubbed.

I should be telling myself that he has the social problem. Still, there's that pit in my stomach, that feeling that maybe I should do the right thing and pull myself off the market. Maybe I could learn to like cats. Maybe I could master the art of knitting tea cosies.

Ack!

I need to stay positive. But this is my first date since being back in Vancouver. It feels anything but good. I should let it go. And I will. Tomorrow. But it doesn't make for a great Saturday.

8 comments:

Rick Modien said...

RG, this being Sunday, I hope you've gotten over this less than stellar date.

You're too sweet to do this, but, honestly, if the signals, early on in the coffee shop, weren't good, I think it would have been perfectly acceptable to say, "I'm not feeling this, and I don't think you are either. Why don't we call it a day, and save ourselves the time?" Then it could go in one of two ways. By putting him on notice, either he'll say, "Great idea. Thanks for being realistic and considerate," or he'd say, "I'm sorry about not being engaged from the start. Maybe you could give me another chance."

I'm sure you've heard of five-minute dates. No one gets hurt; people are just being realistic. So why not do the same thing outside of that specific environment?

Look at it this way. At least you got a hike in.

And, no, there is no option to give up. Don't take it personally. You were not a match. Move on.

Hope this helps (a little).

Rural Gay said...

As I drove to the ferry terminal on my way to work Monday morning, I reflected on my weekend and could not recall what had happened to Saturday. What the heck had I done? Oh, yeah, that.

It made me laugh. In the moment, it was unnerving, having someone seem to overtly shun me for more than an hour. I wouldn't wish something like that on anyone. Still, it's nice to know I have some sort of coping mechanism that helps me block the incident!

And so I trudge on...

Thomas Prentice said...

I suggest learning to say "no" within the first ten minutes. Or so. Not to him. To yourself. Listen to your unease. Give no benefits of doubts. Except to yourself. You are worth it.

Thomas Prentice said...

Then I suggest suggest saying, "thanks, I just don't feel the connection, all good wishes to you."

Rural Gay said...

I've gone on so many coffee dates where the was a mutual lack of attraction, but the occasions are typically polite occasions. No need to make a quick exit. This is one of those rare instances where the disinterest felt unpleasant. It shook me because I wasn't used to it. I'm harmless, even likable. I guess I kept thinking he'd realize that, find some mild moments of amusement and enjoy a short, scenic hike.

It's more practical to end it early and get on with the day. That can be just as unnerving but, yes, it's not so prolonged. Maybe I can bring myself to do this in the future. I seriously doubt it, but hopefully I can at least recognize that kind of unpleasant meeting from the outset and get myself thinking about getting out of it.

Thanks, Rick and Thomas for your thoughts.

Rick Modien said...

RG, I seldom write a second comment on a single post, but I have to here.

I wasn't in your situation. None of us, your readers, were. So we can't understand exactly what it was like. Although, to be sure, I think we've all had similar experiences.

At some point, I think you have to respect yourself and your time enough to admit what's going on isn't working, and to get out of it.

Did you owe this dude anything? Not really. I think you owed him nothing more than the courtesy of showing up, because you'd made that arrangement, and seeing what happened. Beyond that, your responsibility was to yourself.

It's a big city. You'll never see this guy again. Does that mean you should be nasty when you tell him you're not feeling it? Of course not. And I know you. You'd never do that.

But bowing out gracefully? RG, that's perfectly within your rights. And you owe it to yourself, particularly, if, as you write, you felt his disinterest was unpleasant. If that's not a sign, I don't know what is.

What is the point of allowing a situation like this to go on? Did you gain anything by sticking it out?

Something to think about.

(By the way, I hope you don't see this as being hard on you. That's not what I'm trying to do at all. But, as far as I'm concerned, bowing out of situations like these is simply being kind to yourself. Does that make sense?)

Rural Gay said...

The awkward part of this date was that we were in his car, driving to the park within five minutes of meeting. I had suggested we sit in the coffee shop for a bit. As the start felt off, I wanted to provide another option, something easier to end at any point.

When he said he was up for the hike, I thought that maybe I'd misjudged that initial cool reception. Maybe he just needed to warm up. Alas, when it became clear that there would be no thaw, we were in the urban wilderness and my escape vehicle was somewhere farther away than I needed it to be.

I tried my best to keep a conversation going. Every so often, someone on the blog suggests that I'm too picky or that there is something wrong with me. I feel good knowing that I persevered in attempting to be my pleasant, charming self in a challenging situation. And, again, I'm glad I got to see Lynn Canyon once again. It would have been nicer on my own, but I'm not sure I would have ever gone back there but for this bad date.

So I found my lemonade. Only a tiny shot glass, but lemonade all the same.

Rick Modien said...

RG, thanks for providing the extra detail. That makes all the difference in our understanding of what happened.

Under the circumstances, you did an amazing job of keeping this situation together and making the most of it. But how uncomfortable it must have been.

You know what scares me as I think about it. When I was dating, I got into the cars of perfect strangers too. I can't believe I did that.

Thanks again, RG.