My prevailing feeling after my date this week is that DATING. IS. SO. AWKWARD. Moreover, I. AM. SO. AWKWARD. Seriously—while I am generally confident in my intelligence (at least when it comes to literature and every single episode of Dawson’s Creek; my father once had to send me talking points about current events when I had a date with a Politics major), meager humor, and ability to carry on a conversation, I am not so sure that I would want to date me.
To be fair to all parties involved, I would not say that the date was a failure. He scored a point by bravely asking me out in a public place where a lot of other people could hear my potential acceptance/rejection. I scored a point by getting back on the horse, so to speak, and putting myself back out in the scary, weird, and often creepy world of dating. We both scored points by coming up with enough stuff to say to each other for an hour and a half.
My problem on dates—and let’s face it, in life in general—is not being able to get out of my own head long enough to just experience my feelings. Instead, I feel compelled to analyze my emotions and level of attraction throughout the entire thing, such that I spend the whole time engaged in an inner monologue that goes something like this:
Me: Hmm, do I think the face he makes when he laughs is cute?
Me: Yeah, I guess it’s kind of nice.
Me: Wait, nevermind, not that nice. Yep, I’m definitely not attracted to him at all.
Me: Well, that’s kind of an exaggeration. I guess he is sort of good looking…
Me: But would I want to take off his clothes?
Me: Sure. Maybe not. I DON’T KNOW.
You get the picture. It is nearly impossible for me to stay in the moment of the actual date rather than planning out what I’m going to report to my friends after the fact. As a result, I feel kind of stiff when I’m talking to someone, and I think it makes me come off as stressed out, which is no fun for a) me or b) my date. This time, for example, I was so wrapped up in coming up with interesting questions to ask this guy to keep our chat rolling along smoothly—and he seemed to be doing the same—that it became more of a mutual job interview than a date. Eeep.
The only good news is that my mental babble often provides a good shorthand for how much I like someone. Usually, if I don’t find myself questioning how I feel—or if the answers to my mental checklist of Do I find him attractive? Am I going to say yes if he asks me out again? etc. are all an unequivocal “YES”—then I know that this person is someone I dig.
Unfortunately, it’s a fallible method. I’ve had awful first dates followed by amazing second dates and amazing first dates followed by awful second dates. It’s always great when the chemistry is just there, but I’m a firm believer that it can also take some time to grow in. The question is, how much time? How long do you wait for the dates to stop feeling awkward and start being awesome?
Comment with answers, if you’ve got ’em!