First dates suck.
Well, first dates suck after you’ve been in love. But should they? Do they have to be like that one first date with “him” was? Are the love-at-first-sight fireworks the only way to know if you might be dating the right person, or if there might be a good thing in store with the person across the table?
I had my first date with Bama, as I’ll call him, last weekend, and it didn’t go as expected, although if I’m being honest and wise, I shouldn’t have gone into it with any expectations. We’d been texting and/or talking everyday for about a month, and had come to like each other quite a bit. That alone is bound to put some pressure on the first in-person date, hoping the person you’ve worked up an excitement for isn’t a dud in real life. And thankfully, he wasn’t, and of course I hope I wasn’t. We had a great time, laughing and telling stories, with no awkward lulls in conversation or uncomfortable revelations. But there were also little to no flirtation vibes from him. The I-hate-myself side labeled this “disappointment”, and the Believe-in-yourself side called it “politeness”. A fun dinner turned into another round of drinks and couple more hours of conversation, but still no inviting body language. He walked me to my car, gave me a warm but simple hug, and we went our separate ways. (And yes, it did make me miss Cowboy on the drive home, because I’m still broken). Herein lies the bizarreness of dating Christian men – are they being respectful and restrained, or are these all signs of serious lack of interest, like they would be in the more sexually assertive dating pools? Hell, I dunno. Our texting continues, lightly, but still gives me nothing conclusive, and his being away on business justifies a downtick in communication and no concrete plans.
What I do know is that I don’t like the way I treated myself after our date. I immediately turned on myself, listing reason after reason for why he obviously, and correctly, had no business being attracted to me, and how I was a fool for thinking that someone so accomplished and attractive and charming would have ever liked me anyway. Where does this mentality come from? Partly from a long decade as an ugly duckling, partly from a lifetime of the friend-zone, and partly from the broken heart of a girl who got shockingly dumped by the boy she fell in love with.
But is there more?
I hate to sound like the vapid character of Carrie Bradshaw, but to steal her famous phrase, “I couldn’t help but wonder” if all this He’s Just Not That Into You culture has actually made women devalue themselves and/or ignore the humanity of good men. I know that probably wasn’t the purpose behind the author’s outlook, but the book says, “We’re taught that in life, we should try to look on the bright side. Not in this case. In this case, assume rejection first. Assume you’re the rule, not the exception. It’s liberating. But we also know it’s not an easy concept. He’s just not into you.”
We’re instructed to instantly trash a connection with any man who isn’t falling all over himself to call you the second he gets home and ask if the next date can start immediately. Where is the reality in that? Do good men, men who might really value you or even fall for you slowly and steadily, never doubt themselves, or us? Getting to that first date, especially for people who’ve met online specifically in the context of looking for a relationship, actually isn’t all that intimidating. That’s what we were there for after all, and there’s no getting around that first date step for strangers. But the second date, that’s tougher. That shows your hand a little. So maybe he’s a little more hesitant to take step two than he was to take step one. Why am I listening to a culture that tells me, Nope, I just wasn’t valuable enough to him. See, even when they come at it from the “You’re great and if he doesn’t notice, well, his loss” angle, trying to make him out to be some fool who can’t appreciate you, not only might you dismiss a good man, but also plant a dangerous seed of self-rejection. If you spend the time after a first date putting a rejection-notch in your belt, with so much emphasis on how guy after guy “just wasn’t that into you”, how can you avoid a toxic self-image? You simply cannot say that to yourself every time without subconsciously devouring your own self-worth, even if culture is telling you it’s really about how dumb the guy was.
So, on second thought, DON’T. (Me, listen up. I’m talking to you). Don’t fall in the trap. Don’t be the hair-flipping, drinks-with-the-girls, screw-men kind of woman your pop culture wants you to be, no matter how many books it sells. Trust that God has a detailed, specific, and glorious plan for you that, truthfully, may or may not include a relationship. But that’s no reason to write all men off as unappreciative fools OR to see yourself as unworthy of affection or attraction. (Seriously, are you paying attention? I’m talking to YOU, me). If you can’t come up with a reason other than those two options for why your date might not have been the answer to all your life’s problems, MAYBE YOU NEED START ASKING DIFFERENT QUESTIONS. Forget about the date. Don’t spit venom at his lack of interest or beat yourself up. Think about the mountains and how to preserve them. Think about kids who need mentors and find some time for them. Think about a friend who needs some support and take them to dinner. The minutes of your life are slipping by one day at a time – do more with them than analyzing your date to death.