Dating Lessons at the Early Stage : Or A Dummy’s Guide to Dating

OK, so I’m new at this. (Again) Like really new. (Again) I am gullible, peppered with a dash of the “you’ve got to be kidding me’s” and liberally doused in the sweet saccharinity of “his intentions must be right”. But I say to you all, give me a break, because I have only really recently even considered truly dating again, so my sea legs are very shaky. Suffice to say, there will be lessons to be learned. These are some of the few I’ve recently been self-educated on.

Sadly, God gave me very little common sense when it comes to men, and it shows strongly enough in this post. Or maybe it’s common sense when it comes to ME and Men, because I’ve always been really good at seeing thru the bullshit with others. Tied to that, remains the fact that a large portion of my friends are in committed relationships or are married and cannot advise on dating any more usefully than a 14 year old. Perhaps you can see where this can leave me. Floundering. Entering the arena after a hiatus of nearly a decade, I am using tools that are dated. I am whipping out my proverbial Myspace, while the rest of the world is Facebook. Hell, I might as well be IQS while the rest of the world is Facebook.

So in reading this, keep all of the above mentioned in mind. Yes, I am that naïve. I’ve learned, or am trying to learn to never tempt fate with the words, “What’s the worst that could happen?”.  Furthermore, If one person can be saved from The Date From Hell by not following these actions, well, then — my work here is done.

Lesson 1: Because you knew him before does not mean you know him now.

So perhaps you knew each other in high school or college or some other function and have reconnected. He was sweet/nice/charming – fill in the blank with positive attributes. The new rules say, Doesn’t Matter.  If more than 5-10 years have gone by, there is change. You’ve changed. He’s changed. If there is one undeniable fact, it’s that people change. It’s the reason why that cute Hello Kitty tattoo you got at 18, is appalling at 40. The good news, is that most people grow and continue to evolve.

That being said, never ever count on that to be a given. Some people get horribly root bound, and instead of evolving, they devolve. Thru their de-evolution they grow quirky ideas, lose values, and in general stagnate like a bad bucket of water. You can simply smell them just sitting there. Since it’s likely you won’t recognize the stench of backwards growth, treat all reconnects like a prospective first time stranger from the shittiest freebie dating site, and re-get to know them. Explore and learn. 

Lesson learned? The Devil hides in the details and it’s those details that can make or break a situation. Especially when you find out that what turns you into the female version of the hulk is something he considers his spiritual guide.

Lesson 2: Always bring your own car.

This really wouldn’t happen without Lesson 1. Unless of course you have a kinky death wish, or get off on the excitement of riding with complete strangers. If that’s the case, I might offer up things like hitchhiking thru the dessert, and riding the Metrolink in the middle of the night thru the sketchier parts of downtown LA. It’s probably more fun, now that I think about it.

There is a part of you that might think, I know him, therefore I trust him, and I don’t need my own car. Or maybe he whipped the plans around so quickly, that you didn’t have time to react and insist on you driving. But now you’re having dinner and suddenly the person you think you knew, and the one you are having dinner with are completely different. One was kind and humorous behind texts. This one could be classified as the world’s largest boor and all you can do is nod while you silently grind your teeth and berate yourself for not having the ability to escape. You are at his whim now.

Lesson learned? Without a doubt ALWAYS drive yourself.

Lesson 3: Never make a first date an Over-Nighter.

Now this is the one most of my friends were agape about, but again, consider this was someone I knew, boundaries had been set, and again, I thought, “What’s the worst that can happen, that the morning hours won’t wash away?”.

Assuming you have ironed out the sexual clause of where you both want to be, and being groped or pawed is — or isn’t, acceptable, there are other things to consider. What if he becomes Jabba the Hut and his snoring is so insane that the walls rattle. Remember, you have no escape plan, because “What’s the worst that can happen” was your Girl Scout motto. You should have been a Boy Scout and been prepared. Instead of packing the mascara, you should have packed the ear plugs.  Instead of the blissful quiet of the late evening hours, you are now stuck with scratchy little pieces of toilet paper jammed so far down your ear canals you feel like you can taste them. Sadly, that isn’t even bringing the sound level down to a jet engine level. Your only other option is to smother him with a pillow, or move like a church mouse into a room where the walls can hopefully muffle the situation to something more a kin to a really bad rock concert.

Lesson learned? Unless you like getting to the torturous breaking point of no sleep, where you would bargain away your puppy for 20 minutes of solid slumber, never make a first date the over-nighter. I won’t even tap into the morning after ….

Lesson 4: Expect the Worst, because You’ve already tempted Murphy with “What’s the Worst that Can Happen?”

Once the words have been entered into the atmosphere, you have awoken the almighty Murphy’s Law. There are no takesie-backsies with Murphy, who loves nothing more than showing you exactly what more can happen. This is his specialty.

First, you can probably expect that some invisible line in the sand will be crossed in conversation. Maybe his beliefs rally against yours so deeply that after 15 minutes of conversation you can only imagine throttling him. (See what you get for not using Lesson 1?). Maybe his car breaks down and you and he are now stuck on the side of the freeway. (See what you get for not using Lesson 2?) And of course we’ve already hit upon some of the worst from Lesson 3. The point is, never assume that it’s so bad, it can’t get any worse. At least not until you are safely ensconced into your own happy home, after the date is over. Even then, only say it with quiet mock shakiness, because Murphy isn’t done with you. In your abject relief of getting home you may have said with gayiety and politeness, “Thanks! Call me if anything goes wrong!”  assuming the safety of home sweet home would keep anything more of this dreadful time to trickle back in. But 30 minutes after he dropped you off he might call, and ask you to pick him up, because his car broke down yet again. Then what you thought was Hell permanently sealed off, has reopened its fiery jaws.

Lesson Learned? Murphy is a force never to be fucked with.

Lesson 5: End things with Kindness:

Regardless of how bad things went, how much fate was tempted, how stupid your choices were, you are dealing with another human being. Handle them with kindness. My motus operandi in the past has been to quietly tip toe out the back door, and pretend events this early in, never really happened. “These are not the Droids you are looking for…” But the fact is, emotions do get involved, even if they aren’t yours.

As easy as it is to get caught up in and feed into the aghast reactions of your friends and their ease into telling you to let it go, you have that slight responsibility. I use the word slight, because unless you’ve been communicating for six months, all that is needed is an explanation and a small apology. Interestingly enough most well-wishers came up with fantastic ideas to use. But for once I decided to go with old faithful – the truth. The fact is, until we spend time with these new people in our lives, we don’t know if that spark, that undeniable chemistry is there. The hard part is when the chemistry is off for one and on for another, and you have to be the one to tell them otherwise. But stand firm, apologize once for things not being what everyone hoped and move on.

Lesson Learned? The truth shall set you free. Usually. And hopefully with the one that is not a stalker, because NOW he knows where you live. And how to get you to summon that God awful Murphy.

There are many other lessons – some of which I am sure I will cross and learn from. But I think if I hold these first top lessons into check, I can say with certainty, “What’s the worst that can happen?” 😉

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