Tuesday, July 6, 2010

20 Years of 20 Questions: Single In The City. Wondering What Went Wrong On Your Date

Twenty years ago, one of my roommates set me up with her fiancees friend from Boston for a formal evening. The Virginia Council of Colleges Black Tie dance at The Roosevelt Hotel in the heart of old New York City. I was excited for us all to go out on this quadruple date together. Group dating is usually low pressure as there are always other people talking and lots of action.
The only Black Tie dress I owned was, of course, my Adolfo black velvet short dress with the tulle skirt, since I worked for the designer. I wore that dress for 20 years over and over again. It was my bellwether dress. If it go too tight, I quit eating. I could not afford to buy a new formal dress. This beautiful dress, I knew, was always right.
My date was very good looking and had on a handsome tuxedo. He seemed so nice and smiled, but with his lips closed. He did not have anything to say so, I opened a conversation telling him I had never been to Boston but was reading a book about the history of the oldest and most famous family in Boston, the Cabot family. The book was specific to the rules of etiquette the Cabot family set for Boston society 100 years ago that still apply today. Alright, it was one sentence too much, but usually people love talking about their cities and famous families. No response. Nada. Nothing.
The little voices in my head told me my date did not want to be with me. It was as if he thought he had something else better to do or had another date later on in the evening. My date was not anxious at all, just not "present."
All night long, I gently tried to be very polite to my date. Maybe he was shy like I was as a child. Not talking much more, I introduced him to other friends with thoughtful detail. Politely asking him where he wanted to sit, if he wanted me to bring him a plate from the buffet, if he wanted to dance. Again, nothing. Nada.
Finally, I just sat with him in silence with a pleasant attitude and smile on my face. We silently watched everyone else having a grand time. One half an hour later, at 10:30 p.m., my date asked to take me home. What a bummer. By the time I went home and came back, the dance would be over. I knew so many people here and had paid for my ticket. I wanted to stay, but did not want to be rude. So, my date took me home at 10:30pm.
He kissed me at the door, then said: "Oh, if only I had known you were so interested." Known? Interested? Where had this date's head been all evening? I would have heard from my friends if he had a death in the family, or another trauma in his life. I had been calmly trying all night to be polite and attentive to this out of town date with no response, no reaction at all one way or the other.
So, my wise advice to those out there who go on date after date that sometimes may confound them:

  • Sometimes, you are not the problem. The problem is the other person.

  • If you do not want to go on a date, DON'T.

  • If you do commit to a date (especially a Black Tie event) commit to it and at the very least be pleasant and present.

  • If you absolutely cannot stand or tolerate your date, send yourself home. Be gracious. Say you have a headache and pay for the tickets and/or meal. Make sure your date can get themselves home, then politely excuse yourself.

  • Remember the #1 rule: Always make the other person feel special.

Dating is difficult. Constantly putting yourself out there. Continuously answering those 20 questions over and over again. Starting friendships. Wondering about any potential for romance. Listening to other people's tales of woe. Telling your tales of woe when asked. Trusting other people. Most of all, protecting your own heart and listening to the little voices of reason in your own head.

Keep the faith, be true to yourself, and keep on getting out there!

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