Have you ever been on a real-life first date and if so, has going on one ever led you to a long-term, lasting relationship?
I kind of always assumed first dates were like Tim Burton movies without Johnny Depp or getting famous through Myspace: they don’t happen anymore. Or like recycling: something people talk about doing and then never actually do. (Just kidding! I recycle more than I’ve ever been happy about a first date!)
I’ve gone on them, sure, but I have never had anything good come of a typical first date scenario. While looking for a topic to write about this morning, fellow TC editor Chelsea Fagan suggested something about “the pros and cons of going on a first date.” The conversation then went like this:
Chelsea: what about the pros and cons of going on a first date?
Gaby: ha. dates. what are those? does not compute.
Gaby: you’re telling me that two people go out and do something together and THEN they hook up? i dont get it.
I’m mostly joking but also…not joking. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a real “date” with someone where it led to a relationship. I’ve been on dates — typical dates to the movies or to dinner or to see a band play — and they’ve ALWAYS ended terribly or I wasn’t into the person or I felt too anxious or we didn’t really get to know each other. To me, meaningful, long-term relationships don’t start with “dates,” at least in any women’s magazine, romantic comedy fashion. Examples:
First serious college relationship: Guy was roommates with a hometown friend of a girl I met during orientation. We hung out in a big group a lot and then he and I started hanging out as friends late at night watching Mr. Show on DVD. One night, we hooked up. Dated for a year.
Next serious college relationship: Worked together on the student newspaper for a year. Went to his dorm to listen to Belle & Sebastian. Hooked up. Dated for two years.
Serious, post-grad relationships: 1. Got wasted, confessed my crush on long-time female friend. Hooked up. Dated on and off for a while.
2. Met doing stand up, brought him home from a show after being friends for a year, hooked up. Dated for a year and a half.
3. Met doing comedy, were friends for two years, went to his apartment to smoke weed one night, hooked up.
Are these dates? Do they count as first dates? With my current boyfriend, I joke that our “first date” was this one time he came to a coffee shop I was doing work at and sat with me while I wrote freelance articles. Was that really our “first date?” Or was it when a group of our friends went to see a movie together before he and I had ever expressed interest in each other? Or was it when he and I met up at a bar at 4 a.m. one time and then didn’t even kiss afterwards? Are those all our “first dates?”
See, the pros of going on an official first date, as far as I can tell, are…you get to feel like you’re doing the right thing?
Like, you get to feel healthy or stable or something? You get to have someone pay for your meal (if you’re a lady or a gay dude or someone who lets others pay for their meals). You get to feel like you’re making good decisions.
Honestly, maybe it is better to go on official first dates. Then everything is clear. You know you are dating. It’s not messy. And maybe it’s sweet. Maybe you get to know someone without the messiness of “hooking up.” Maybe it’s the best way to take things slowly — or at whatever pace you want to take things. Maybe “first dates” are sort of like The Wall in Game of Thrones, right? And they’re there so you can meet someone new, but still be protected by the Night’s Watch of your heart…or something.
And duh, dates can be fun. If, in my opinion, you know the person. After I’m dating someone? I love to go on dates! Bring on the relationship dates! Mini-golf and Italian food? Apple-picking? Laser tag? Whatever! I love it!
But ugh. The cons! Here’s my idea of a “first date:” it’s awkward. No one is really being themselves; they’re being the “first date” version of themselves. You don’t get to know the person. You just get the weirdo small talk, American Psycho facade they want to put forth on a first date. Even if you already know each other, the label of “first date” twists everything. You both perform your genders (again assuming you’re a hetero couple, although I’m sure there’s strange expectations in that regard for homosexuals too). And then, I don’t know — you bone and feel terrible for boning “on a first date” or you don’t bone and you go home and eat mac n’ cheese and watch 30 Rock in bed like you kinda wanted to be doing all night anyway.
I guess my question is: how can you really get to know someone on a typical first date? As that Glenn Frey song says, the heat is on! There’s too much build up for anyone to behave normally so what’s the point?
My meaningful relationships have always stemmed from meeting someone in groups of friends — where I can get to know them in a low-stress, low-pressure environment or meeting someone through a shared interest wherein I can get to know them through our mutual love of [insert something here, most likely “comedy” if you are me]. In both scenarios, everyone’s being themselves and there’s no forcing things.
I could be wrong though. Maybe I’m wrong! Maybe I’m missing out on something glorious and romantic and cool! Am I? Or am I just lucky to be bypassing the absolute worst part of dating?