This is my inner monologue when I’m on a first date.
I’m not crazy. I am NOT crazy. See how crazy I’m not being right now? I’m making you laugh, establishing a nice rhythm with this conversation, looking you in the eye. DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO DO ALL OF THIS CORRECTLY? To hit all of my marks, to be present, to be setting up conversation topics in advance so there’s never a lull? It’s difficult. A lot of people don’t know how to do it and that’s why there are so many dating horror stories out there. Because so many humans don’t know how to play along, follow the social cues, stay faithful to the script. We call them “crazy” when, in reality, they’re probably just too lazy to give a shit. They don’t have the energy to be the best version of themselves so they decide to be brave and let it all hang out on the first date.
I, on the other hand, feel obligated to suck it in. Being on a first date is like holding in a giant fart for four hours, the fart being your REA L personality, your REAL desires, your vices, your flaws. The second it’s over, I feel like I can finally breathe again. My metaphorical stomach practically hits the floor in relief.
I know how to give good First Date. I know how to be the person you’d like me to be. I know what you want to hear, what you want to see. You want to be on a date with a well-adjusted person, someone who’s strong but gentle, assholish but sweet, slight but assuming, funny yet a deep intellectual. YOU WANT SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT EXIST IN REAL LIFE. They can only appear on first, second, maybe third dates and then the cracks begin to show, their humanity shines through, and you realize you’re just dating another flawed human being. “Fuuuuuuckkkk. I got a real person again. TAKE IT BACK, TAKE IT BACK! This one has holes in it!”
Dating is hard simply because of all the social norms you’re expected to follow. You can’t ever fully relax, you have to keep dancing the dance even when your feet start to throb. It’s exhausting. Afterwards, I feel like someone should hand me money and say, “Great job being someone who wasn’t really you! Really, you are so kind to give your fellow dater a good time.”
Of course, when you really click with someone, it doesn’t feel so labored. In fact, it’s effortless. You usually know it within the first thirty seconds too. “Okay, this person gets it. Thank you dating gods for giving me someone easy tonight!” But that’s rare. Oftentimes you don’t gel with someone and you know it immediately but there’s no way out of it. You’re stuck sucking it in the next few hours for a person you don’t even like.
The worst part of dating though is realizing that we’re all stupid hypocrites. We talk about how much we despise the game but then when someone doesn’t play along, we get offended. “I hate how much effort it takes to compose the perfect text. Why do people care so much?” *FIVE MINUTES LATER* “OMG, this guy just sent me the most insane text message. I’m never talking to him again. He’s clearly nuts!”
I mean, we are the problem. We feed into it. We are what makes dating so unappealing. We get in our own way without even realizing it. I wish I could tell you how to change this but I’m CLEARLY not evolved enough as a person to solve the dilemma. All I know is that when you date, nine times out of ten you end up screwing yourself rather than someone else.