Another unicorn, and another act of bravery

Yes, you are still reading the right blog. Despite our frequent digressions these days into whimsical subjects such as mermaids, unicorns, and valiance, this has yet to become a website focused on writing GoT -themed fan fiction. Though if it does take that direction, I know K would be very proud of us.

So, during my faintly disguised brags about my Balkan trip in last week’s post, I neglected to mention one detail about the trip that would be slightly relevant to this dating blog: I went on the best first date of my life the night before I left for that vacation.

Now, I know I’ve claimed some good dates before. The truth is, most dates are either so mediocre or, so bad, that if I am on a date and we have a great conversation and physical chemistry, I am usually ready to call Columbia Pictures and suggest they make the modern day  romantic equivalent of “From Here to Eternity,” about what just transpired between me and a relative stranger.

here to eternity

http://77days.net/forum/index.php?topic=294.0

But this date truly blew the others out of the water. Really. If I could find a GIF where Deborah Kerr and Montgomery Clift were blown out of the water, I would have used it.

I did have high hopes for this date, because this guy was another unicorn. Not to be confused with S’s Good Message Unicorn, this guy was Good Profile Unicorn (GPU). I actually read his profile and thought, did someone make a fake profile filled with all the things I like? A few excerpts so like-minded ladies can drool…

GPU profile 1

Politics. Seinfeld. Random movie trivia. Sigh. And there is more…

GPU profile 2

 I love Bob Dylan. So much that I even made the ill-advised decision (like many college students do) to hang this over my bed freshman year.

bob dylan poster

Nothing like waking up for 8 am class and looking straight into the eyes of a stoned Bob Dylan blowing smoke into your face.

Anyway, this guy further certified his legitimate fandom by citing his favorite Dylan album, which is actually my second favorite album (Blonde on Blonde is the best. No contest). Plus, in addition to having some good, yet not pretentious, music taste (we’re ignoring the Ryan Adams thing, ok?) he also shared my serious devotion to “Almost Famous” which S and I quote to each other in a completely serious, un-ironic way on a weekly basis. Most recently, this:

Usually walking into a date with high expectations is a bad thing. And people don’t usually live up to their profiles.  But, GPU was BETTER THAN HIS PROFILE. In every single way. I mean, a half hour into the date, he revealed a strong affection for no other than the high priestess of this blog, Veronica Mars.

veronica blush gif

http://giphy.com/search/logan-echolls

He had seen the entire tv series, and could debate with me episode by episode, the characters’ strengths and weaknesses. He knocked my tried and true, Top Three Presidents question out of the park, by naming some of my favorites but offering creative rationales filled with facts I didn’t know. I could go on and on about GPU’s strengths all day, but I won’t, because there is, of course, a more complex story to be told here, and second it is legitimately making me sad.

Anyway, after the date he asked if he could walk me home and I said yes, and he took my hand and even though I abhor PDA, I could not have cared less. And then, a few blocks from my house, he turned and kissed me and my whole body felt like one big firework.

sister act joy

If you have read any of my previous entries on this blog, you know that I am not a romantic person. Nicholas Sparks novels make me gag and I abhor all pastel colors and prom songs. But I am telling you, when he kissed me, I felt like Sister Mary Clarence had just come to the convent and revived our choir. (I mean not because I am a nun. Because that rendition of “Hail Holy Queen” in Sister Act I is the most joyful thing I can recall). Anyway, we went back to my house, where we made out, but did nothing else (please refer to YOLO lesson learned #3 from last week’s post).

Before he left, he waxed poetic about how amazing I was and how “he couldn’t WAIT TO SEE ME after I returned in three weeks” and “ugh, it was such a long time”. But we’ve heard that before. Multiple. Times. So, I shut the fireworky romantic part of my brain up back in the deep dark place it lives, and let my cynical, practical thought process take over. Three weeks were going to pass and he was an attractive, smart, interesting guy who was online dating. It was unlikely I would hear from him again, despite his insistence we see each other ASAP after I got back.

But, when I got back, I gave him a call and we set up a date for a few days later. And that date was similarly excellent, though it did not top the first date. Because I’m pretty convinced nothing could. And he asked me what I was doing the upcoming weekend, and we made plans to see each other. And when he left, he kissed me goodbye and said, “See you this weekend, right?”

Now, as soon as my apartment door closed behind him, I got this weird feeling. And I still don’t know if i should call it general cynicism and fear or if I should call it instinct. But I felt like, wow, things are just going so 100% well. This cannot be real, right? Of course readers, I’d love to tell you my anxiety was misguided, and that all is well.

But instead, I heard nothing from GPU the rest of the week. When the weekend came, I texted him to see what was up:

tom 1

Now, those of you familiar with the world of online dating know that this is probably a lie. I mean,how bad can this cold be? Bad enough to render both your fingers and vocal chords useless so you couldn’t proactively reach out to me to reschedule? Still, I tried to remain optimistic, and I responded with an obligatory sympathy text and some times and dates to reschedule. And then…

crickets

whysoserious.blogspot.com

That’s right. Not a peep from GPU. The same guy, who had declared in my apartment, a few nights earlier, that he “could not wait to see me again.” And for the first time in a long time, I felt RUHL disappointed. First of all, I was dissapointed, because yet again, some guy had told me a bunch of things he didn’t mean. I felt stupid for getting excited about someone, despite my prior knowledge of my own experiences and the experiences of many single women I know, which prove that you really know nothing about a person after two dates (or even 15 dates), and so it’s silly to imagine anything else with him besides the present. And yet, we all do. Because getting excited about the possibility of someone SHOULD be part of the fun of dating, and, not to sound more and more like my sworn enemy Nicholas Sparks, but also the fun part of falling for someone. I was mad at myself for letting my guard down, yet simultaneously pissed that we live in a world so shitty, we need to all walk around with our guard up. Second of all (Oh my god, there’s more?), I genuinely liked this guy and wanted to get to know him better, and I was bummed I wouldn’t get the chance to do that.

After a weekend full of tears comingled with more pleasant summer distractions, I told myself to make peace with the whole thing and just let it go. 

But, then I remembered all the bold proclamations I made on this blog to YOLO. And to call people out when I felt like they were treating me unfairly.

I mean, regardless of what was going on with GPU, I felt like after the dates we had, and the fact that he asked me out again, MULTIPLE TIMES, that he owed me some sort of explanation if he was going to disappear. Veronica would never let someone get away with this.

veronica mars

 

http://sellthekidsforveganfood.tumblr.com/page/2

So, with the courage provided by some booze on a pretty bad date (more on that soon, don’t worry), I reached out to him a couple days later:

tom 2

I mean, believe it or not, the first link is very legit, because we had a very spirited debate about Larry and Piper and OINTB on our last date. (Again. Swoon.) But I didn’t want to send him that text and pretend that nothing weird was going on, so I just put it out there.

Here was his response:

tom 3

Before we give GPU credit for sending a mature, kind message, a few critiques:

  1. Again with the cold. This is 2014, and colds are common as they come, treatable with a variety of drugstore remedies, and do not prevent you from answering a text message.
  2. Don’t act like your moral compass led you “to be honest with me.” I literally demanded you tell me what happened, and then, and only then, did you respond.
  3. This could all be a lie. Like your cold.

Now, let’s put the criticisms aside. And cry, because this is a very decent thing to say to an almost stranger, and he identified such nice, genuine things about me, and, if he’s telling the truth, the timing really does suck. Because, even after a week of thinking about this, I still can’t get GPU out of my head. Look, despite all the complaining I do on this blog, I know I have a pretty good life, relative to most of the world. But at the same time, as I watch my Facebook feed fill with wedding photos of former classmates, and collect baby shower invites on my fridge, I wonder, will I catch a break? Is relationship happiness just a thing other people have, while I’m left to watch my own engagement unravel, and then online date unsuccessfully for over a year?

I realize this post just took a very dark turn, which means it’s definitely time to stop writing, since I intended to pat myself on the back for YOLO-ing, drop the mic, and go watch back episodes of Top Chef on Hulu. 

I mean, the fact remains that I am proud of the way I conducted myself during this brief affair. I was honest about my feelings, and I asked for what I needed. Did I get what I wanted? No. We all know that’s not how life works. (God I hate being an adult.) But there is nothing I wouldn’t have done differently. Except perhaps picked a hipper term for our summer than YOLO (which, according to my hip young colleagues, NO ONE USES anymore unless it’s on ironic bachlorette party tank tops). 

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Ask LSD: How do you follow up after a date?

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about our bad dates. Why?

1) They are usually more hilarious.

2) It serves as therapy.

3) We want to make sure we are providing the ladies of the internet with some cautionary tales and advice. We can’t get those several hours of our life we spent hearing about movie theater etiquette back (and, btw, what do you think my A would have done if he encountered S’s D in the movie theater? National Guard? Court Marshall), but we can prevent sistas everywhere from falling for the same tricks.

That said, we’ve been fortunate to have some very good dates as well. And, in a way, the good dates are a lot more nerve-wracking than the bad ones. When you meet a guy you never want to see again, you walk away and it’s like, who cares? In fact, you’re often delighted because 1) The hellish experience is over 2) you’ve got a good story to tell your friends, or, our lucky case, our wonderful readers.

barney gif

But, when you meet a guy who you think, “Wow, I could actually like him,” that’s when the anxiety really kicks in. What to do next? Well, first, you call your friends on the walk home, and the conversation goes something like this:

S: How was your date?

L: It was actually prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttttttyyyyyyyyy good. He was really nice, and he made some good jokes. And he laughed at my jokes. And he was a generous tipper.

S: Oh! Sounds fun! Get it girl!

L: I mean, he also had a small bald spot and he mispronounced Oregon, like, 3 times.

S: Hmm…

L: I mean, whatever, I’ll probably never hear from him again and that’s fine. I don’t care. Hey yo I’m still not a player but you still a hater.

S: What’s happening right now? Are you quoting Big Pun?

L: Yes. I’m drunk.

Second, after you appropriately debrief not only your friends, but your coworkers, your neighbors, your barista, and your hairdresser, you start to hear the inevitable question. “So, are you gonna go out again?” Or, “Did you say anything to him after the date?”

Good news, friends! We’re here to offer our (as always, unsolicited) thoughts on follow up after a great first date.

L: When I first started dating, I would spend the first couple days after the date hoping that the guy would follow up with me and trying to send him legit telegraphic messages to do so. Most of the time, they would, and that was great, but sometimes they wouldn’t, and I would use the absence of contact to reinforce my negative sense of self and just general feeling of hopelessness:

dying alone

Now, I’ve been dating for a full 6 months. And I’d like to think of myself as a bit wiser and thicker skinned (largely thanks to the wise counsel of my co-bloggers and our readers). I’ve realized a few things:

1) Contrary to my previous belief, even though I hold the longstanding title as “most insecure” among my friends, there are people out there who are just as insecure as me and just as afraid of rejection. Some of them are men. So, if I had a good time on the date, I provide a little positive reinforcement (i.e., “thanks for taking me out. I had a great time.”) I figure, at the very least, a thank you is in order. And maybe it’ll give them the nudge they need to ask me out.

2) “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – My dad

Oh what? Michael Jordan said it first? Well, I’ve been listening to my father tell me that for 20 years. And I finally realize that he’s right. What’s the point of going out in pursuit of fun, dateable guys you want to see again if you don’t even try to see them again?

3) I can survive rejection. UGHHHHH. I know I just spewed all that sports-loving, all star style feel good bullshit about baskets and free throws, but I take it back for a minute. Losing sucks. Rejection sucks. But the weird thing about rejection is, the more it happens, the easier it gets. So seriously, every time I text a guy and say “thanks for taking me out,” and I never hear from him again, I actually care less and less. (How’s that for a growth mindset y’all?)

So, my new post-date strategy is to say thank you. Add an inside joke if necessary. I feel like if I do that, I’m giving the guy the window he needs to ask me out again. And if he doesn’t, I figure, he’s either just not that into me, or he has too much going on in his life, or he’s an even bigger wimp than I am. And I move on. And by move on, I mean, seek solace in a Netflix binge that involves a whole lotta Office reruns and the occasional smattering of a Law and Order SVU. Stabler +Jim Halpert= a cure all for emotional wounds.

S: Those were wise words, indeed, L. Especially from your dad (Hi, Mr. L!) who I’m pretty sure was quoting that advice to us back when we were ten and picking out our dream outfits in the JC Penney catalog (dead serious. L and I did that every time we hung out for a solid year. Obviously our cool factor was established early on).

But I digress. I will tell you something that has totally surprised me about online dating. When I started this whole thing, I kind of assumed that most of the time, I’d at least sort of know where I stood at the end a first date. I figured if a guy really liked me, I’d be able to tell. If we both had a great time, it would be as abundantly clear as a match.com commercial. If neither of us were into it, it might make for an awkward date, but we’d probably both get the picture.

Ahhh to be young and naive. What I discovered through a painful, confusing and at times, straight up humiliating process, is that at least half the time you can’t tell what the hell is going to happen next! Real talk, half. Or worse, you’re sure you know what’s going to go down, but NOPE, you were dead wrong. Here are a few of the most common examples from my personal dating history:

  • I think a date was awful and it turns out the guy had a great time. Case in point: N the Brit. Had an excruciatingly awkward date with him with zero chemistry. He was literally silent for most of it while I over-compensated by babbling like a lunatic. Assumed it had been just as lame/awful for him since he barely spoke or cracked a smile, and that was that, UNTIL he texted me that he’d had a lovely time and asked me out again. WTF? This has happened a few times (ahem), and every time I literally say to myself, ‘Were we on the same date?’
  • I think we both had a great time and it turns out it was just me. Multiple examples of great dates with flirting, good conversation, laughter, all around fun. This was in no way one sided… the guys all acted like they were having a blast, no one hurried to get the check (one guy kept begging ‘one more drink’ to the point where I was sloshed). And yet: never heard from any of them again.
  • Guy tells me he had a great time and asks me out again. Turns out it was still. just. me. Again, multiple examples of guys who asked me out again, point blank. And then still disappeared.

So given these mishaps, it’s not surprising that those few days after a good first date have become the most anxiety inducing part of this process for me. Much more stressful than the first date itself. Especially when I inevitably (will I never learn?) blab to friends, family and PPA workers I pass along the street that I had a pretty good time. All of a sudden, the pressure is on. Everyone wants to know what’s going to happen next. And the answer, as I’ve clearly learned the hard way, is:

I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA.

So anyway, in the beginning I had all these rules (you know I love a good rule) about expecting the guy to reach out to me. And don’t get me wrong, I still have rules, but I’ve definitely relaxed them. Like L, the more dates I go on, the ballsier I get. In the very beginning, if I had a good first date but the guy never called or texted, that was it. I assumed he was dead, bitched to my friends about not hearing from him, watched Bridget Jones’s Diary and prayed to the romcom Gods that there was a real life Mark Darcy out there about to come into my life:

mark darcy

and moved on. Part of that I think was because I did fear rejection. These days, after being rejected PLENTY of times, I’m definitely more proactive. If I had a great time, and a few days go by and I don’t hear from the guy, now I say f*ck it and reach out to him. There are two exceptions to this:

1. If I messaged him first, and I asked him out first. You may all remember M, who I had a great first date with and who after exclaiming that he’d LOVE to go out with me again (and sending me texts referencing the next time we were allegedly going to hang out) pulled a full on fade away. I caught some flack for not just reaching out to him, but allow me to defend myself:

I saw M’s profile and was into him, so I sent him a message. Then, not wanting to waste time, after a few messages back and forth I asked him out for a drink. You see, men of the world who insist that women never ask dudes out? They do! But I’m sorry, at some point the other person needs to meet you halfway. I don’t think it’s ridiculous in a scenario where I’ve been the proactive one up to this point to expect him to take the lead for a bit. Also, to be perfectly honest and to touch on another point made by my brilliant co-blogger, mama’s ego can only take so much. I can’t be the one continuously putting myself out there and wondering if a dude even likes me or if he just has nothing better to do. I may be an independent woman:

but don’t tell me Beyonce was calling up Jay-Z to hang out every week with no reciprocity. You know it didn’t go down like that.

2. If he asked me out again at the end of our date and explicitly told me he’d be in touch. This is a biggie for me. If you say you want to see me again, and I say I’d like that, and you tell me you’re going to be in touch about setting it up, then call me crazy but I’m going to expect that that’s what you actually plan to do. And to address L’s point that men are also shy and afraid of rejection, I totally agree, but I don’t buy that men who pull this move are. Asking someone out again at the end of a date, in person, is actually a really ballsy move, because the other person is right there front of you, and as I unfortunately know from first hand experience, rejection in person is infinitely worse than rejection over text/phone. I have yet to be asked out for a second time in person by someone that I don’t want to see again, but I dread the day it may actually happen. #awkward

The other thing is, if they asked me out again in person, they also received an answer in person. My response to M was happy, enthusiastic, and totally unambiguous: I think I smiled and said, “I’d love to.” Sooooo….. at that point the second date was pretty much a lock. Or so I thought.

In summary, if I have a good time on a first date, I’ll make sure the guy knows it, and thank him (enthusiastically) for taking me out. If he doesn’t take the lead on plan making after that, I’ll send a follow up text. If he’s still silent, I assume death by SEPTA bus, throw myself a small pity party, call L and D to scream about how I’m destined to be a third wheel for the rest of my life, slap myself/imagine Cher slapping me:

moonstruck-snap-out-of-it-o

watch some BRAVO, and eventually get back in the okc saddle.

But barring the above two exceptions, one thing I won’t do anymore if I had a good time is let it ride. If a year plus of online dating has taught me anything, it’s that meeting someone on the internet who you actually like in person is about as rare as:

NPH unicorn

And if you’re lucky enough to find it, you shouldn’t let it go so easily.

D: Well, as the most delinquent co-blogger, I was the last one of us to open up this post to add my two cents. And, as usual, L and S said pretty much everything I would have said if I was first, and they said it better. Generally speaking, at the end of every date I always thank the guy. And if I enjoyed the date, I thank him and add something along the lines of “I had a really great time!” and flash that smile my parents paid an orthodontist to perfect, only to have my wisdom teeth fuck up when they grew in. Add on a comment about something we did that night, or maybe even an “inside joke” as L does, and you’ve got yourself a patented D’s interested response. I try to also follow up with a text the next day. Leave little doubt about whether or not I’m interested. If I hear from him, great! If not, there’s some combination of movie watching and baking, depending on how into the guy I was. If it’s just sort of a “bummer, he was cute and fun, it would have been nice to hear from him again,” I pop in a Die Hard or a Fast and Furious number, sometimes Princess Bride, and slap 80% of some store-bought cookie dough on a sheet (and the other 20% directly into my tummy). Franchise action sequences are very soothing for me. And Bruce Willis doing an action sequence? instant-calm. If I really liked the guy and was really hoping for another date, then it’s Bruce Willis, and Bruce Willis only, typically in a marathon setting, with some sort of treat baked from scratch. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, fudge when I need to break out the big guns. Then, it’s back to the drawing board.

If I didn’t enjoy myself, I simply say thank you and goodnight (teaser: this has in the past given the impression that I was interested, and led to an extremely awkward attempted kiss – that story coming soon (I swear!)). I don’t initiate any contact after the date. If I don’t hear from him, we clearly both had the same thoughts and have both moved on. If I do hear from him, typically in a text, I simply respond that it was nice to meet him, but I’m not interested.

So there you have it! Zero words of wisdom from D, and a whole host of insightful wisdom from L and S. Standard…