Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Girl's Thoughts On A First Date

Bored Jewish Guy started a challenge about thoughts on a first date, so I figured I'd give my version of it (mostly because I'd love some feedback for the few questions I ask). Enjoy!

The Preparation:

Usually I start to get ready about an hour before pick-up time. I've probably planned out in my head what I want to wear much earlier in the day, so I take it out of my closet and lay it on my bed. I look at it, consider it, try a few different variations which turn into totally new outfits, and, after much playing around with options, end up putting on the outfit I originally thought of. Then I try to do something with my hair - usually putting it in a half pony or pulling some of it to the side in a clip, and also usually ending up unhappy with my hair in general. I put on a little bit of make up, but not too much because I'm not super comfortable in make up and I don't think it's very pretty when girls look like they're wearing too much of it.


The Wait For Pick-Up:

I'm usually ready a while before I'm supposed to leave (except for one time when the guy came 15 minutes early). Then I just wait around, usually hang out online nervously doing nothing. This is when I start to wish I wasn't going out because I get kind of anxious and would much rather curl up and watch a movie or something instead.

I often do not know what we are doing on the date. This is somewhat of an inconvenience because I don't know A. whether I should stay dairy and B. if I should eat dinner at all. I usually eat a snack in case we are not going out to eat, because I've ended up pretty hungry on dates sometimes.


The Meet:

Except for once, I've never been picked up at home. The guy usually calls either on the dot or about a minute after the allotted time and I go down from my dorm/apartment. If the guy is noticeably late - I don't mind, but I start to worry that maybe he forgot. Most girls probably wouldn't worry - but I tend to worry about these things. :) Especially if we have not spoken in a week.

The one time a guy came to my house, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Do I invite him in? Do I just leave with him? Do I ask him if he's hungry, or is that weird because he's not coming to hang out? I ended up asking if he wants a drink, he declined because he said we're going out to eat, and we left. (I'm so glad I don't usually go on first dates out of my house.)

One thing I never know how to navigate is the "Are you hungry?" question. If he wasn't planning on going out to eat, and/or if he's not hungry, then he'd have to change his plans on the spot (and become hungry) if I said yes. If I say no and he was planning on going out to eat, he'd have to change plans the other way (and be hungry the whole date. I might also be hungry the whole date, which is just silly). I usually answer something noncommittal, but once I said yes. We ended up going to a bagel store where the guy told me he wasn't hungry but I could get something if I wanted. That was just AWKWARD.

I think date activities really ought to be discussed before actually going on them so you can both be prepared for whatever it is you are doing.

The Departure:

Car: I follow the guy to his car and stand there awkwardly as he opens the door for me. It's not that I'm this super feminist who gets offended if a guy feels he needs to do things for me. It's just that people don't usually open car doors for me, and I feel a little silly when a guy who, in all honesty, is a complete stranger does so for me.

Subway: Walking to the subway is actually not as awkward as getting into a car. For one thing, the guy can't open the subway door for me. It's also a good little walk to start the date on. We can start talking to each other without him also having to deal with driving anywhere. The wait for the subway can sometimes get a little awkward because you're just standing there. When the subway finally comes, you have to decide what you're going to do - stand? Sit next to the guy? Would he feel weird about that? If he offers you the only seat, do you take it? Or do you offer it to him back? Do you just stand with him and neither of you take the seat? What if you don't like sitting in between two strangers on the subway but he offers you the seat?

The Journey:

By car: The problem with me and cars is that I tend to stare out the window and lapse into silence during car rides (ask anyone who's been on a car ride with me). I have to tear myself out of that element on a date and make sure I talk. I don't really mind the car ride, though, as long as the guy's not a crazy driver. I've been in car rides where I was silently praying we would make it to the date and back in one piece. Those kinds of car rides are NOT pleasant.

By subway: I feel very conscious of the fact that there are a lot of people around us. There is usually not too much conversation on the subway, but if too much time goes by without conversation, that can get awkward. Usually we talk a little bit on the subway. If there are other Jews on the subway, I'm also very conscious of how much we look like we're on a first date. I especially hope not to see anyone I know.

The Entrance:

The entrance in this case most often refers to entering Starbucks. That is where I have been on probably 75% of my dates. (Bo-ring. But understandable from the guy's perspective.) The guy often asks me where I'd like to sit, or if a particular spot is okay with me. I prefer sitting somewhere away from any window where we won't be super obvious to passer-by. I like to sit somewhere a bit apart from other people, since I find first dates awkward enough without other people being able to see and hear us being awkward.

The Date:

I find first dates difficult - and this part is the most difficult. In my dating experience, I've never been hooked in a conversation by this point. Usually, I'm floundering around in my head trying to come up with interesting things to talk about, while simultaneously not being super interested in what the guy is saying. I try very hard to be interested, but I often find myself becoming bored, and, unfortunately, my mind starts to wander. I'm not always aware of my mind wandering until I snap back into the conversation and can't remember what the guy was just saying. This is bad. Every time I go out, I work on not doing this. Sometimes I feel like this is why first dates at Starbucks are a bad idea. When I become friends with someone, it's usually because I first met that person while doing something fun and we both had a good time together. I know people who feel differently, but in my opinion, first dates should probably be more activity oriented instead of putting yourselves in a position where all there is to do is talk. If you both have fun doing whatever activity, then you'll be more interested in finding out more about the person. Or I will, anyway. Of course, there should be some talking on a first date. But there should also be something fun to do. Some experience to share. Something that engages both parties in the date itself so that there isn't such heavy focus (and pressure) on pure conversation. An activity also gives daters something shared to talk about. Then they are not two random, separate people trying to be interested in each other but they are two people participating in the same activity and sharing an experience. Shared experience is usually what brings people together more than forced conversation. And it leads to more natural conversation.

I'm usually ready to go home waaaaay too early. That makes this part of the date even harder. I tend to become a bit more withdrawn and reserved when I've really had enough, hoping that will kill the conversation sooner. I also have no desire to share more of anything personal (or as personal as you get on a first date) with the guy if I'm really finished dating him. I do make an effort to keep the conversation going if I feel a pathetic amount of time has passed, though. I definitely try to give us a chance to interest each other in conversation in various ways, but at a certain point, I just feel bored-out. Once a nice amount of time has passed, I kind of try to steer the date toward its end without being too obvious about it. I always let the guy decide when he wants to end the date.

The end of the date is slightly awkward because eventually, when conversation really sort of dies, the guy says, "So...should we go?" I have to make sure not to sound too eager when I say, "Sure."

The Drop Off:

In my experience, I've never really felt like I wanted to go out again with the guys I've dated. Still, even though I have to make new forced conversation on the way back, I'm happy and usually much less tense because we're going back. I find awkward date conversations tiring though, and I don't usually want to talk anymore, but I do anyway. The one time I really felt annoyed at a guy at this part of the date was when he made me come meet him near his work, and then just dropped me off at the subway instead of taking me back. As much as I wanted the date to be over, I thought that was very rude of him.

I never know what to say once we get to the front of my building. I always thank the guy and say I had a nice time. The guy also usually doesn't really know what to say here and we both fumble around for some acceptable way to leave each other that isn't too awkward or abrupt or dragged out. Only once did a guy tell me right there that he wanted to go out again. I felt very put on the spot because I was pretty sure I did not want to go out again, but I didn't feel ready to say so just yet. I said, as noncommittally as possible, "We'll talk." But I really did not know how to respond. I needed time to decompress from the date before really deciding.


The Decision:

I usually agonize over my decision to go out again or not. I never feel like I had a good time on a first date (seeing as I don't find sitting in Starbucks having forced conversation particularly fun) so I'm not too keen on repeating it (hence the suggestion of actually doing something on a first date, so that even if you're not crazy about the guy or don't feel like it will really go anywhere, you still feel like you did something fun with him and are more willing to repeat that fun experience and give him (and yourself) another chance). Unless I feel very strongly like the guy I went out with is weird or a creep or completely not for me (has happened a few times), my policy is usually - I'll go out again if he wants to, and if he doesn't, that's fine, too. Usually we mutually do not want to go out again and that's that.

Other thing I recommend: don't stalk the girl to set you up with her friends after you both decide not to go out again. It'll probably ruin any chances of her doing so.

Additional Thoughts:

This is shallow (and everyone is more shallow than they admit to being. I don't believe you if you say otherwise), but if I found the guy really attractive, I'll probably actually want to go out again, even if our conversation was forced that first date. Unfortunately, this has not yet happened. :-/ If I find the guy extremely unattractive, it'll actually feel a little icky to sense him looking at me in certain ways. This has happened. :-/

I always have this desire to say to a guy, "I hate how awkward shidduch dating gets. Let's pretend we're not on a shidduch date and just do something fun." I never have the nerve, though.

I think guys should refrain from talking about wanting to find a girl to fall in love with until a bit later in the dating experience (as in, not on the first date).

Guys on a first date should also refrain from talking about times they got drunk and ended up in the hospital.

Guys should also not completely abandon a girl after a first date.

Don't express wonder at people actually stopping at Stop Signs.

I wonder where all the really quality guys are and why I never go out with them. :-/

11 comments:

Bored Jewish Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AStudent said...

YUP!! I'd love to hear that on a first date...

Jughead's Hat said...

When it comes to discussing where the date will be, I usually ask the girl on the phone if she has anything that she specifically wants to do. Usually, she doesn't have any ideas and is appreciative that it is the burden of the guy to come up with things to do. I will however let the girl know what I will be wearing. Girls seem to be appreciative of this.

RaggedyMom said...

Unfortunately, this really speaks to the whole stilted awkwardness of the shidduch dating process altogether, at least for a significant number of people. Maybe I'm biased because RD and I met on our own. I really do think that if you're in a circle where you're comfortable with that (like we are), it's so preferable.

Also, the part where you mentioned that once you realize that you want the date to end and aren't interested in the guy, do you feel concerned that the sort of 'shutting down' conversation-wise and emotionally can be a problem vis a vis one's reputation for future dating? Or are we talking about situations that are that unbearable that it can't be helped if you come across as having 'checked out'?

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

"I try very hard to be interested, but I often find myself becoming bored, and, unfortunately, my mind starts to wander. I'm not always aware of my mind wandering until I snap back into the conversation and can't remember what the guy was just saying."
"I'm usually ready to go home waaaaay too early"
"the guy says, "So...should we go?" I have to make sure not to sound too eager when I say, "Sure.""
"I've never really felt like I wanted to go out again with the guys I've dated"
"If I find the guy extremely unattractive, it'll actually feel a little icky to sense him looking at me in certain ways. This has happened"
"Guys on a first date should..."

MAN, sounds like you went on some pretty sucky dates! ....though it might be that you just get bored very easily. Which would explain your activity-date theory. It's not just about dating, it's about interpersonal interactions in general; modern Man has forgot the art of conversation, I think. They're tirelessly compulsive. If they don't like something there's an immediate "can we go home now?". In past people had conversations for hours. For days. About earth-shattering topics. Now peoples eyes start wandering after three seconds. It's all the TV's fault!

Hm. Maybe I should write one of these...

Anonymous said...

I'm a guy, I haven't been dating forever, but I definitely enjoyed and appreciated this post. Some comments-

As a guy I hate having to decide what to do and where to go on dates. When I ask if you are hungry, I have a place in mind (and, um, not a bagel place lol) and would love a yes or no answer. Being noncommittal only makes it harder! I wouldn't ask you a yes or no question unless I had options suiting your respective answer. I hate hearing "um,,, like,,, whatever you want giggle giggle, its all good!" (although I totally get it, I would be the same way if I were a shy girl who didn't want to say the wrong thing, but now that you are consciously aware of what the guy wants, remember: YES or NO!)

You're points about a fun activity on a first date are well taken. To me this is subjective, some people can enjoy a casual conversation and don't need the activity. You may not be one of those people (or just haven't found a solid guy) so for you an acitivity is a good idea - why not suggest it when you talk on the phone about your first date? And BTW All these first dating posts are missing that first phone call!

I'm surprised by how many people take a girl on a subway on a first date? It's so not appropriate that's like wearing a t-shirt to a wedding I don't get it.

Erachet said...

BJG and AStudent - Awesome! I'll definitely try it sometime (when I finally go out with a guy I'm actually interested in :P)

Jughead's Hat - Even if all aspects of the date aren't planned out, I would appreciate knowing if I should eat dinner or not, or if I should be sure to stay dairy.

RaggedyMom - I really do think that if you're in a circle where you're comfortable with that (like we are), it's so preferable.
AGREED. I would MUCH prefer to meet someone on my own. I want to be asked out!!! :(

As for my reputation: Hmmm... I don't know. A bunch of guys I've dated haven't even existed in a world where their opinion of me would effect anything. Other than that...I'm not sure. Good point, though.

Shlomo -
MAN, sounds like you went on some pretty sucky dates!
You could say that.

The guys I've dated have contributed to the way I behave on dates. I don't usually get bored when other people talk. I actually enjoy listening to other people, and if there's a whole group of people (like at a Shabbos table), I'm perfectly content to just listen and not say anything at all for extended periods of time. But I'm not bored or spacing out.

When I date guys who tell me about getting drunk or ask my why people actually stop at stop signs, I know I don't want to be with those people anymore, and I start to think about people I'd rather be with, and that's when my mind wanders...

Anonymous - Point taken about yes or no questions. And nice representation of giggly girls. :)

I actually do enjoy casual conversation without any activity if I'm with relatively nice, normal people who are interested in having a nice, normal back and forth with me. Unfortunately, my dates have been extremely weird (both the people and my experience with those people) and, as a result, I got turned off from having conversation with those people. But I feel like a lot of the awkwardness in general would dissipate if, for a first date, there was an activity so that there isn't this enormous pressure to make conversation (to the point where sometimes things are contrived). If you're with someone you can talk to, it'll just happen naturally. If not, or if you need more time, at least there's some other venue for enjoying yourself with the person. And maybe on the second or third date you can get to the point where you can just go wherever and talk for hours. That's how I feel, anyway.

It's funny because outside the dating world, I don't need activities to enjoy myself, I don't get bored around people... I don't know. My dating experience has just really not been a positive one so far.

Bored Jewish Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ezzie said...

when I finally go out with a guy I'm actually interested in :P

Try it at the start, you may discover that the guy becomes interesting.

A bunch of guys I've dated haven't even existed in a world where their opinion of me would effect anything.

Still always good to continue to be polite and interested. I have a friend (or ten) who tell me that it's always annoying if I space out or seem to be ignoring them - put in the extra effort to be polite and with it, it's good practice at worst.

The guys I've dated have contributed to the way I behave on dates. I don't usually get bored when other people talk. I actually enjoy listening to other people, and if there's a whole group of people (like at a Shabbos table), I'm perfectly content to just listen and not say anything at all for extended periods of time. But I'm not bored or spacing out.

MEH. Try more active involvement - if the guy is boring you, switch topics to something more interesting. It's not just up to him to decide the tone and interest level of what's going on - there are two people on every date.

And definitely be decisive like Anon said.

Erachet said...

Try it at the start, you may discover that the guy becomes interesting.

I do try it at the start. I end up finding it difficult to stay interested in a guy who tells me unpleasant stories about himself or who acts incredibly rude, though (to me and to others around us).

Still always good to continue to be polite and interested.

I'm always polite. And if you're a nice person and not too weird, you've got my attention. It's when you're a jerk or really weird that I get turned off.

I have a friend (or ten) who tell me that it's always annoying if I space out or seem to be ignoring them

NO COMMENT.

It's not just up to him to decide the tone and interest level of what's going on - there are two people on every date.

Of course. I definitely talk on dates, and even *gasp* initiate conversation topics. I wish I spent time with more guys I enjoyed talking with though, even if they weren't for me. Most of the guys I've dated - they haven't just been not for me. They've been...well, no need to reiterate what I keep saying. And I have dated one or two guys who have been fine. It's just the overwhelming majority who have been...not.

Heshy Fried said...

Don't you find it weird that in the shidduch world it's considered shallow to go out again if you liked the way the guy looked?

It never sat right with me that attraction was looked at as shallow.