Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Tale of the Good First Date

We are sitting comfortably on the couch with our feet up, our shoes neatly laid out on the floor. The hour is late, an ideal time for deep, meaningful conversations. As our talking begins to slow down she finally concludes with, “It was a disaster of a date!” I nod in agreement sympathetically, reviewing each detail that she shared with me in my mind.

Although it has never happened quite like that, this story has happened many times over. Friends will frequently tell me horror first date stories that range from ones that went completely wrong to stories of dates that weren’t terrible, but contain a good story of something awful or awkward that was said or done by their date.

Bad4 has a nice collection of bad dating stories over here and she links to one of the craziest stories I’ve ever seen over here -I think that story is pretty unbelievable.

While I enjoy listening to these stories, I tend to feel left out when these stories are being discussed, since I don’t have any really great bad first date stories. That is not to say that I’ve never been on a bad date, just none that were extremely awful that have any remarkable stories (Bli Ayin Harah!). My bad dates seem to consist of either too many awkward silences or just a general feeling of “Ok clearly we are not meant to be together and this is not going to work” based on our conversation. The only stories I have involve the time I was on a date when it was windy and the guy’s Kippah flew off and he ran and chased after it, and certain times when guys said things that I thought should definitely not be said on a first date, let alone any date, or actually ever.

I do, however, have a number of “good first date” stories. The problem with these stories is that good first date stories are only really good when the end of the story is that you married the person. In that case you can say, “He did such-and-such on our first date, and from that moment on everything went right!” Or something like that anyway. No one wants to hear good first date stories that don’t end with marriage because they are just not as fun as bad date stories. Bad stories with bad endings are more fun than good stories with bad endings, because bad stories you can just say “wow that was awful!” but good stories with bad endings just produce the following reaction: “Oh.”

I have decided to share these stories anyway, because I think it is important to stay positive. Instead of channeling frustration by making a list for guys of “don’t do this on a first date,” it’s good for guys to have a list of things that girls appreciate and like on a first date.

And with that nice introduction, here is my list of “good first date” stories, or things that guys did early on that I thought were really nice. One or two of these stories are from friends, but they are all written in first person to keep things more simple.

1. When we were on the phone discussing locations of where to go on our date, one guy gave me a choice of three options of where we could go. I thought this was better than the general "what do you want to do," since I feel uncomfortable choosing a location when he is the one paying, and it is better than just picking a place without taking my preferences into consideration at all. (Side note: I am pretty flexible and don’t care about location at all- so far no guy has ever suggested something that I wasn’t up for at all, but it is still nice to be asked.)

2. In between my phone call with the guy and our first date was shabbos. On Friday he texted me something to the extent of: “Have a Good Shabbos! Looking forward to meeting you.” I thought that was sweet.

3. After mentioning casually that I was traveling somewhere (not far) after a night-time date, my date expressed concern for my well being, since he was not sure if traveling so late to this place was safe (it was!) and he asked me to text him when I got back OK. Even though I was perfectly safe, I couldn’t help but smile when he said that. When I was almost at my destination, he texted me "Did you get home OK?"

4. This is a good second date story, but I’m including it anyway. For a second date, one guy suggested we go somewhere and the suggestion was based on an unusual activity I had mentioned on our first date that I enjoy. I was very impressed because it showed that he was listening to everything I said.

5. One guy complimented me on something I was wearing. After a moment of being alarmed and thinking, “Wait, why is he noticing what I’m wearing? Since when do guys notice these things? Why is he complimenting me- no guy has ever done that is that normal?” I realized he was just being nice and I should just accept the compliment. I smiled and said, “Thank you.”

6. I once went on a date when I was in a location not near my home that I was unfamiliar with. The guy and I agreed that it made most sense to meet up in the place we were going to go on our date. Having the awful sense of direction that I do, I of course managed to get lost. So there I was in some random place, which I knew wasn’t too far from where I was supposed to be, but I had no clue how to get there. Slightly embarrassed, I explained the situation to the guy, who was super nice about the whole situation, told me to stay put and he walked all the way to where I was to come get me.

After reading these you might be tempted to ask, “Why didn’t it work out with any of these guys? They seem great!” This brings me to a point that I have been longing to make for a while now, especially in the role I mentioned above which I find myself in very often, the role of the listening friend. The point is: Just because a guy is a great guy, does not necessarily mean I want to marry him. Hopefully, most people in the world are good people. In fact as an optimist, I tend assume most people are nice unless they prove me wrong. (Don’t worry pessimists, I unfortunately find myself sometimes slipping towards the deep end.) Sometimes people act as though a person being “good” is enough reason to marry them, and in my humble opinion, that is not the case. They need to be “good for you” as well.

Just because a story doesn’t have a happy ending, doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it, grow from it, or even appreciate the good aspects of what it is. I can’t help but end by saying that one day, all of us singles, will find the story that doesn’t only have a happy beginning, but has a happy ending, too.


  1. My, what lovely guys! Chivalry isn't dead.

    It's happened to me, for instance, where I said a guy was a really nice guy and someone demanded to know why I wasn't married to him. Just because a guy is nice - and as Jews, if not human beings, everyone should be nice - means that he's for me. Talk about faulty logic.

    I enjoy a good date, even if I never see that fellow again. Just meeting someone new who is nice and does the proper thing is a pleasant experience in itself. And I am thankful I don't have too many horror stories to tell - but I prefer that than having to live through the terror.

  2. I agree with everything you said- b"h most of my first dates have been good, with no real horror stories. The most awkward thing that ever happened on a date was that the restaurant wouldn't accept the guy's credit card bc it wasn't American Express.

    In retrospect, it's hard to remember exactly why I didn't want to go out with any of these guys again, b/c there was no "bad stuff" that happened on our dates, or any one thing that made them an obvious "no". But a good date doesn't mean you're compatible... and the shadchanim are not always understanding of that.

  3. Bookworm- I agree, good dates are good just to meet new people.

    NYC Girl- How did he end up paying? Did he have enough cash on him? Each of the guys I chose not to continue dating I had a reason for. There are many, many very nice people who I don't want to spend the rest of my life with and have a family with. In fact, that is true of most of the world, except for one guy who I have yet to meet.

  4. IYH soon enough you'll have the good date story with the good ending without having to experienced the entertaining to tell but not live bad dates.

    It's so nice to see some good date stories, hopefully this will start a new trend. You're absolutely right, people tend not to share good date stories when the ending isn't "happily ever after." It's probably because nobody wants to hear a good date story that doesn't end with "happily ever after." Having had my share of both kinds of dates, I'd way rather share a good story; it keeps me hopeful. Sure the bad ones are funny, but I generally don't feel so good about myself after sharing them...

  5. Coral- It's true- people would rather hear bad dating stories than good ones. Another reason not to tell good dating stories is that the people listening will decide that this is a sign that you are going to marry the person. Just because it wasn't awful, doesn't mean it's perfect.

  6. SternGrad- Someone sitting near us offered to pay the bill, and he took the guys address and phone number. Otherwise it could have been very uncomfortable. As it was I didn't know how to react... should I make a joke out of the situation, or sympathize... and it was my first date ever... I think he was more uncomfortable than I was.

  7. NYC Girl- wow, that is pretty awkward for a first date ever. Poor guy.

  8. I must be dating in the wrong crowd. While I haven't had "bad" dating stories, I haven't had the "good" ones either. Oh well, when the right one comes around, I'll have my good dating stories and that's all that matters.

    And btw, for those people that ask what happened to those good guys, there is another answer that I don't think you mentioned and that is that it takes two to make a couple. Not always do the guys we like and want think that we are a good shidduch.

  9. The Amex thing happened to me to - the waiter simply told me where the ATM down the block was.

  10. Sun inside Rain- you bring up a good point! There are plenty of times that the good guys reject us.

    Anonymous- I'm glad you were able to pay for the date.

  11. Holy cow. Holy Cow!

    For #1, I always offer dates a minimum of three options, and then say that we could always do something else if my date wants to do something else. I thought most guys do this.

    For #2, I naturally feel like doing this but my experience is, it freaks out girls in a stalker-ish type of way because girls think, I don't even know him yet and he's already into me?

    I only call (I am the anti-texter and I think it is rude and lacks decency or refinement) a date to wish a good shabbos if I've dated for a number of dates. But I'm with SternGrad in theory.

    For #3, I always do that. In fact, I was scared SternGrad was referring to me until she mentioned the text! I call because there is more connection through voice. Call me old-fashioned (no pun intended, but it was a good one).

    In fact, for #3, I've gone so far as to go out of my way and drive my date to where she needed to travel instead of dropping her off where she was a guest, and then causing her to make her friend take her to the bus or train and then going on the train or bus, and then needing a ride to get to her residence. And no, I was not very interested in this girl; it was just the right thing to do (especially because she was telling me how she disliked the whole ordeal to get back to her residence).

    For #4, I make it a point to do something like this if the opportunity presents itself. It's such an easy way to make someone happy.

    For #5, my personal philosophy is that it does not cost anything to give someone a compliment. That is why I go out of my way to compliment people.

    However, this is another thing that sometimes freaks out girls, in a stalker-ish, creepy sort of way. Most girls on one hand like compliments, but then they consider that it's coming from a guy they do not know, where no one is around to stop this guy if he is indeed a creep, and it makes girls feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.

    I usually only compliment a girl on the first couple of dates after having a conversation with her on the pros and cons of compliments, because then she can take it in context, know I'm not a creep, and feel comfortable.

    And, I always notice everything a date is wearing. Before you go judging me, one reason is because after each date, I get peppered from my numerous sisters as to what my date wore, so I am well practiced at noticing my date. Don't think the small things go unnoticed.

    Additionally, this is a topic that is dear to my heart because I once dated a girl I really liked but I think I freaked her out when she got into my car and I complimented her on her hair (which was either super moosed (sp?) or drenched from the shower). She froze for a second and then let out a slow thank-you. I have since learned.

    For #6, I've never had to do anything like that but hey, that's what a guy is supposed to do.

    To add one (of many), I will pick up on small things during the phone conversations with dates and then, i.e., purchase them for my date. Like the time I tracked down an out-of-print book she mentioned on the first date that she wanted to read but could never find, or bake her cookies if she mentioned she wanted to make some for herself but didn't have time. After all, it's the small stuff that makes the difference.

    [SternGrad, please don't scare me like that; I thought you were referring to me ;)]

  12. lawschooldrunk- Wow, thanks for commentng. Hopefully these "good date" behaviors are not too uncommon, so it's good to hear that you have done some of them as well! Didn't meant to scare you, though :)

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