I think that we can all agree that dating can be a bit nerve wracking, right? Worrying that they won’t like you or you won’t like them or that you’ll have absolutely nothing to talk about. I think everyone walks into a first date reminding themselves that it’s only for a few hours and praying that those hours don’t feel like years. I have had a few of those dates; the ones that seem like they go on forever and you’re just not sure if you’re going to make it out with your sanity intact (or at least with as much sanity as you started the night off with). I have sat thru what has felt like an eternity of trying to make small talk with someone that I have nothing in common with. I’ve hung in there knowing that we both can’t wait to head out the door and never lay eyes on each other again. Or worse – I have suffered through the evening, hardly able to wait for it to end but have known that the other person thinks things are going really well between us and I’m going to have to explain that I don’t think we should have a second meeting. The beauty of online dating, especially when it comes to bad first dates, is that you never have to see the person again if you don’t want to. It definitely takes a lot of the edge off knowing that you’re not out anything but a few hours of your time if you don’t enjoy yourself or your company for the night.
That’s the kind of dating I was used to – dating in a vacuum. They always say ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’ and while that is true in this regard as well, I was enjoying the comfort of the line of thinking of ‘you’re not any worse off than where you started’. I liked knowing that there was no major repercussion for not wanting to go on a second date, if I wasn’t into it then that was that: one bad night with hopefully some good writing material. It made it easier to psych myself up for the dates that I just had a feeling weren’t going to be great, you know, the ones where there is absolutely no reason not to go but you just aren’t excited about it. I’ve always found that if you’ve invested time in getting to know someone via email, text, phone, etc that you should go out with them because you never know what you’re in store for until you meet them. I have gone out with guys where I thought I was just doing it because it was the right thing to do after chatting with them for so long and a few times I have been very pleasantly surprised that I really liked them. I’ve also had times where I expected to absolutely hit it off with someone and just didn’t really connect in person. I talked on the phone for hours a night with a guy once and thought that we had a ton in common (we even went to the same small Catholic school growing up but were a few years apart so didn’t know each other) but just didn’t have any chemistry when I finally met him.
One morning a few months ago, I was checking my online dating accounts before I left for work and clicked on a new message that I had received. It was from a guy who said that he had worked as an RN at a small doctor’s office in the town I lived in and that it hadn’t been a good fit for him so he only stayed for a short period of time. He wrote that he might be mistaken but he thinks we worked together. I hadn’t really been paying much attention when I had opened his message but I realized he was right, we had worked together for a few months about a year or so before then. His message went on to say that he worked on a surgical trauma floor at a Boston hospital and it was a much better fit for him and that leaving my office had been the first of many big life changes for him because he had also gotten divorced since then and wanted to know if I would like to go out sometime.
The message from the RN intrigued me, but it was in with the intrigue and out with the safety of the ‘nothing to lose’ mentality. Being asked out by him felt completely different than any of the other times I was asked out — I knew him, he knew me, not well but still this wasn’t anonymous. My brain went into overthinking mode (yes, I know that over thinking is two words but you know what I’m talking about ladies: overthinking mode is totally a thing; it’s a female brain function). I mean I knew he had been married while we worked together but had he been attracted to me then? Was I attracted to him? I hadn’t ever even thought about him that way, he had just been a coworker.
From the way I was acting, you would’ve thought that it was a marriage proposal not a dinner invite. I started weighing the pros and cons and worrying about the ‘what ifs’. I even told a large portion of my coworkers because if we ended up dating I didn’t want them to think that anything had been going on between us while he worked there and was married (yes, I put THAT much thought into it). I collected the opinion of almost anyone I encountered. It was like I was so far past overthinking mode that I couldn’t come back from it. With all the thinking I was doing, you know what the one thing I wasn’t doing? Giving the RN an answer, he even asked me if I was ducking him. One of my coworkers pointed out that while I was concerned about the lack of anonymity, I wasn’t considering the plus side of it: I knew he was who he said he was, he wasn’t a mass murderer, and I knew that he was a good guy. So I said yes. He wanted to go out that weekend, which was only a day or two away but my M.O. (and don’t ask me why, I know it’s silly yet I do it every time) is to say no to the first night a guy wants to go out. Instead, I suggested that we go out a week later than that. The RN told me he didn’t want to wait that long to get together and wanted to go out during the week for dinner; I admit I found it a bit exciting that he didn’t want to wait to see me but due to our work schedules, we were going to have to wait until the next weekend.
I had another date scheduled for that Friday and agreed to go out to dinner with him on Saturday. I’ve always felt a bit weird about the idea of a dating double header but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I went out on Friday and may have ended up spending the night with Date # 1. The next morning, I just didn’t know what to do about the RN. When I got home, I looked at my phone and found a text message from him confirming plans for the night. I didn’t know if I should go out with him after having sex with someone else the night before (er, and maybe that morning too). Now while I don’t think you should sleep with every man you see, I also don’t think you should beat yourself up for having sex too soon or too often, etc but morning sex with Date # 1 and dinner a few hours later with Date # 2 just felt a little too close for comfort for me. My friends reminded me that I was single and could date and sleep with whomever I wanted and didn’t owe it to anyone to have been celibate for any period of time prior to going out with them so I decided not to cancel. One of my good friends was in town and I met up with her that afternoon for some shopping and girl talk and just as I was heading home to get ready, I got a text from the RN. He said that he completely forgot that he had made plans with a friend of his and was double booked for the night. He asked if it would be okay with me if his friend came out with us and said that the friend was a lot of fun and he was sure that he would leave early so that we could hang out one on one. As much as I was dying to go on a first date with a guy and his bro, I decided that this was a perfect opportunity for me to back out of the evening since I had my misgivings already. I told him to go out with his friend and we would reschedule.
After that, we talked here and there but neither one of us mentioned picking a new night to go out. Eventually we stopped chatting and a few weeks later I realized that he had de-activated his dating profile. Every once in a while my friends and I will talk about him and why he was going to bring a third wheel out to dinner or what we think he’s up to and why he took his profile down. We take guesses about whether or not he was too nervous to start dating again or if he met someone else or if he and his ex-wife decided to work things out or if he and his friend had a really great night the time we were supposed to go out and he just isn’t looking to meet a girl anymore (the last option’s probably a bit off base but . . . ). Mostly I think about how ridiculous I was. I think about how neurotic I became about a date that would’ve been no different than any other that I’ve been on. I worried about a scenario that ended up being just that: a scenario. I spent countless hours overanalyzing the outcome of a date that never came. Lesson learned (I think).