The Unbearable Anxiety Of Dates

At first, I couldn’t find the entrance to the dumb West Village restaurant I was going to for the dumb first date I didn’t want to go on, with the dumb guy whose face had long receded into the the drunken murkiness of the night I met him. I tried calling him, to no avail. Annoyed, I stomped around the corner to try and find cigarettes, only to find the garden entrance, which is apparently the only entrance to the restaurant.

Entering, I see no single man waiting for a date, so I’m only irritated further. Chris, an old coworker from another restaurant, is thankfully one of the owners and sits with me as I down a beer, becoming less and less open to the idea of this date. I voice my thoughts to Chris, one of which being, “would I be a total cunt if I left right now?” Yes, yes, I would be.

So I stay. God, I don’t want to stay.

Right before he shows up, I devise a plan with Chris to get me out of a potential disaster and I take it upon myself to send out seven texts, you know, just in case. Just as I’m thinking, maybe I should be less cynical, he shows up and the opening conversation–if you can call it that–is underwhelming. I deflate, I want to escape, I hate first dates, how many assonances can I make?

As we begin dinner, I’m thinking about work and exes and any number of fluttering thoughts, when The Idea strikes my whimsical little head: …I’m kind of nervous. Holy shit! I. Am. Nervous.

I’ve never liked first dates. They almost inevitably necessitate a series of walled, forced questions, in order to place this brand spanking new person into some sort of understandable context, be it social, political, artistic, what have you. Breaking down the walls of each other and yourself can become tiresome, gruesome and simply not worth the effort, so often, I give up. Usually, around the same time, the symbolic He does too. It’s not enjoyable, but silence is sometimes preferable.

Well, dear readers (golly, y’all must be on the edge of your seats [haters, that was sarcasm])  he didn’t give up. Nor would he let me.

By the end, we were standing outside of the IFC, underneath the glaring fluorescent lights exchanging movies to see and jokes about my generally rather bitchy exterior, pushing off goodbyes, even though I did totally want to go home and pass out. His charm was a wayward one, delayed, but not erased, by its clumsiness.

On the train, I realized I had been pleasantly surprised and confused by this new stranger whose last name I don’t yet remember. There was mystery to him, the omnipresence of a life before he ever met me, a concept that is quite common to most but, after years of dating in my social circle, completely foreign to me. There’s beauty because I won’t know what the next words out of his mouth will be, I don’t yet know when he’s going to try and hold my hand, and failure and success are both equal options. And fuck, that’s unnerving. So unnerving that I go home immediately to eat cold pizza and cupcakes to sort through the unsettled contents of my gut (and the delicious duck dinner in my belly), biting my nails repeatedly as I watch Grey Gardens on HBO at 2 AM.

But for a woman who often shrinks from the pressure of new company, this was a massive step within myself, one that triggered butterflies in my mind, allowing uncertainty to dominate control. All things said, this was most definitely a big deal in a small way.

Anyways, the story goes, I let him kiss me beneath the yellow lights, next to the neon sex shops of Sixth Avenue and the stumbling gays and I totally didn’t mind this date…Still hate dates though. Way too much anxiety. TC mark

image – Guian B.


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    As someone who has been on my fair share of first dates (from disasters to freaks to semi normal) I can definitely relate! I am always filled with a tons of anxiety about the impending evening. However, in the back of my mind I know that this too shall pass and when I retire home to blog about the hilarity of it all (, I know it was all worth it. 

    • Jordan

      I see what you did there

  • Briana

    “jokes about my generally rather bitchy exterior”

  • Briana

    “jokes about my generally rather bitchy exterior”

  • Ray Straight

    ” All things said, this was most definitely a big deal in a small way.”

  • Tau Zaman

    It’s hard to tell, but were you just really early or was he just really late? Because if he was that late with not attempt to let you know he was running late, then THAT’S a deal-breaker, ladies.

    • Anna B

      Maybe he had a hard time fixing his hair xD

      “OH NOOOES, too much gel and wax in my haands. Cannot.. text.. must tame hair..” :D

  • Joy

    I’m sorry, but this article is comparable to a poorly-written diary entry.

  • Joy

    I’m sorry, but this article is comparable to a poorly-written diary entry.

  • a.

    What girl refers to herself as a cunt? Seriously?

  • Patient763k19

    That was really enjoyable to read. Thanks!

  • Stefan

    “They almost inevitably necessitate…” is poor phrasing and ruined the whole thing for me. I mean, I think the piece has a solid premise and some bright moments, but it reads more “rough first draft” than “publishable article.”

    (and! you’re not the only or first person to get mediocre articles published here. I think overall there’s a lack of attention paid to the construction of the article, linguistically speaking.)

    • Guesttt

      fuck, sorry ’bout it.

  • Joe Ott

    You should call this “THe Unbearable Lightness of Dating No One” because its more intriguing.

  • Fernanda Cortes

    I really hate first dates, specially when I haven’t been dating in a while. This fact makes me more nervous and aware about what can I say. Hate them! 

  • Evan Hatch

    Can we all agree to stop using “The Unbearable ___ of___” as a template for titles. In terms of triteness is almost up there with “What We Talk About When We Talk About __”

  • McLicious

    thank you for reading my mind (and many of the conversations i’ve had with people lately about the weirdness that is first dates) and writing this. i don’t understand what’s natural about “i just thought you were pretty so i asked you out, because asking you where you grew up and what you majored in makes it socially acceptable for us to sleep together,” but evidently it’s a part of adulthood and i’m going to have to learn it.

  • Elegant Barry

    Look, this is a pretty good article and you have a nice way with words, so please consider this a criticism of the site rather than your work, but… am I the only one who’s getting sick of reading articles about things we all already know? I mean, occasionally Thought Catalog produces something really great, and there’s some  real talents on this site, but most of the time it’s just “Why I like to eat toast”, “Why I like to eat jam”, “Why I like to eat jam on toast” followed by fifty articles about how some girl is angry with some guy because she’s no longer nestling in his armpit.

    The first thing TC says about itself is that its “illuminating and informative.” These articles ceased living up to this claim a long time ago.

    Maybe it’s just me who feels like this, and if so I’ll shut up. What do you guys think?

    • Jordan

      I agree!  There are a handful of writers who still write intruiging or at least well-written things (Coffeen comes to mind obviously), but for the most part it’s just one diary entry or ridiculously repetitive article after another.  And of course we keep coming back because there are gems to be found, and Missing the Boy/Girl article are always relatable on some level, but it’s just really gotten bad.  Relationships aren’t even a bad topic, but it seems as though the bottom of the barrel is being scraped to keep up TC’s frantic pace.

      We’re on YOUR SIDE, TC, but what’s the idea?  I know it would help me just to know what the goal is these days:  I keep thinking one thing is going to pop up on the site, and then its usually something else.  Is there a concerted effort to reach a different demographic than earlier times?  Seems like the goal is a younger, more female audience.  Is it just a circle of people who are carrying the load (and thus we keep seeing the same articles in the same voice)?  Anything?  Nothing?

      Unfortunately this comment and many others of mine just come across as bitching, but really it’s disappointment in something I truly LIKE changing so much for the worse…

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