Every time I work out of a coffee shop, I witness an average of three first dates.
Most of them are tentative and shy. A few of them are painfully awkward. Some of them drag on for hours, whereas others are cut short by an obviously faked excuse and an empty promise to text one another soon.
I can’t judge these date-goers too harshly. I’ve had my own fair share of first dates in this coffee shop, with marginally similar results. You just don’t hit it off with every person you meet. You know when your efforts are in vain.
But the more first dates I witness, the more I’ve started to wonder what exactly it is that makes a date successful. It’s not just physical attractiveness: I’ve seen true beauties bomb and mismatched couples hit it off. It isn’t social status: those with high-paying jobs don’t seem to be at an objective advantage over those who are unemployed with confidence. But there seems to be a particular third element that all of us are endlessly searching for: one that keeps us swiping through Tinder, showing up to nightclubs, talking to strangers as we stand in line for coffee and meeting for uncomfortable first dates on Tuesday afternoons.
At the end of the day, I’m inclined to believe that all of us are out there looking for the exact same thing.
Not the person who makes us giggle as we shyly sip our coffee but the one who makes us spit it out in laughter accidentally. We’re looking for the person who doesn’t politely wait for us to finish our thought but who excitedly completes it in unison. The one whose eyes light up and legs shake and whose smile stretches over their face at the exact same moment as ours overtakes our own. We’re looking for someone who comes alive in the same way that we do. Someone who wants to share in that vitality.
We’re looking for the person who gets us. Not the one who nods along to what we are saying in a careful, patient fashion but the one who understands it with a terrifying accuracy. The one who throws their hands up and exclaims that our they’ve been waiting forever to meet someone else who understands the struggles we are perfectly describing. We just want someone who’s been down in the same trenches we’ve been in. Someone who understands the landscape of our pain.
We aren’t searching for someone to save us. We don’t need pep talks or inspirational speeches or harsh kicks in the pants to get us going. We just want someone who inspires us to be better every day. Someone who lives largely and boldly and fearlessly enough to remind us that we are allowed to do so too. That there are people who are still so unafraid to go out on those limbs in life and there is world enough for us to go join them. That there room for us out among the champions.
The truth is, we aren’t looking for that perfectly chiseled jawline or an ideal hip-to-waist ratio. We just want someone who’s body feels right alongside ours – whose arms we fit perfectly into, whose hair we want to aimlessly trace our fingers through, whose laugh makes their lips look so perfectly kissable that we can hardly refrain when we ought to. We don’t need someone to look like a pinup boy or girl. We just want someone whose body feels like home.
The flaws that we secretly relish, the shortcomings that balance our strengths. To find a 10/10 would be boring – no one checks off every box and that’s a large part of what keeps us fascinated. We’re attracted to the humanity in each other. We’re drawn to shared secrets and flaws.
At the end of the day, none of us are looking for the physically flawless human being with all of their ducks in a row. We’re simply looking that for ease. That understanding. That connection. All that stuff that you simply cannot fake, no matter how skilled a player you are at the dating game.
Because the truth is, we all know exactly what kind of a person we are waiting for, through every failed first date and tragic Tinder hookup.
We’re searching for the person who simply feels like home.
And that person is damn well worth waiting for.