Trying to write a column about love is like trying to come up with an original metaphor about love.
So I will do neither, even though I just did both.
For the readers out there who did not spend Valentine’s Day lasciviously looking over a prix fixe menu with a long-term lover, what follows is a partial list of ways to tell that your future first dates are going nowhere.
I was on a date over the summer at a restaurant in Boston, and after talking about our jobs and her lizard tattoo, there was a massive silence as we waited for the bill. She says, “Nice weather. Not too hot, but you can still be outside without a jacket.” I was thinking the exact same thing and was about to say it. The weather is a Hail Mary pass that tries to keep the conversation going. It’s what I would talk about on conference calls at work while waiting for someone else to get on the line. The fact that we both arrived at dinner to scope out a potential partner, and the best that either of us could offer the conversation was “75 and partly cloudy,” doesn’t bode well.
If a blizzard or downpour is the first topic of conversation, then roll with it. But benign weather is nothing out of the ordinary, and you want your dinner or date to be extraordinary. If you’re saving silence with the weather, chances are it’s not.
I have this friend … whose name is Ben, who went on a date with a girl he met at a party who was really funny and had blue highlights in her hair. I couldn’t get enough of the blue highlights. We went to a Red Sox game and the allure of the highlights couldn’t compensate for a lack of chemistry. Similar to how RHP Eric Gagne’s 2003 Cy Young award couldn’t make up for his 9.00 ERA during his pathetic 2007 season with Boston.
Plenty of things can spark an initial attraction, but you need more than blue highlights to light a fire in your loins. She was equally uninterested in me. This girl did know how to pound back a sausage though. I’m being serious. Grow up.
If the NSA Calls
It’s a common tactic to have an out before the date starts.
I like to schedule a date that I’m uncertain about sometime during the day, so that if it’s terrible you’ll have to go to class or a meeting, and if it’s great and gets cut short you’ll both be excited about making plans to meet up later. My friend Jeff was scouring Jdate.com over the summer, and conveniently he was also going through security clearance for the NSA. At the start of every date he would say, “Listen, I’m really sorry but I’m going through this security clearance process right now, and if I get a call I really have to take it. I’m really sorry.” If National Security interrupts your coffee, maybe it’s time to make some other plans.
Tastes Great, Less Filling
Perpetual non-starters in conversation are a beautiful sign that neither of you are interesting or exciting enough for the other. When I was working at Banana Republic, the stockroom girl and I really hit it off talking about chinos in the backroom. She creased pants like a falcon in heat. When we got to the bar, the romance and intrigue that percolated between the polos was gone, similar to military inspired cardigans (so last year). We couldn’t even keep a conversation going about our boss, who was universally despised.
If you’re interested in getting to know each other and there’s a lot of silence — and you’re not making out — then you’d probably have a better night somewhere else.
My friend Julia was telling me about one first date that will not see a sequel.
Date: “Man I LOVE techno music, I flew out to Vegas to see Tiesto 3 months ago.”
Julia: “Oh, cool, yeah Techno isn’t really my thing. Do you know Fonseca, the Colombian artist?”
Date: “No, I don’t think so. He’s not the one that sings that “Camisa Negra” song?”
Julia: “Oh, no, that’s Juanes, but I don’t really like him.”
Rinse and repeat. If the aforementioned scenario becomes a continuing cycle of non-starters, then it’s likely that the trend will continue. A little tension and disagreement can be a source of great contrast and fun in a relationship, but you need to have a couple of things you both can connect on. If it’s not a mutual interest or the same sense of humor, then your time may be better spent updating your online dating profile. Pour yourself a glass of wine, kiddo.
“I’m really busy”
No one is too busy to pursue something that really interests them. It’s like when a homeless person asks you for money on the street and you say, “I don’t have any cash on me, sorry.” All parties involved know that you have cash in your wallet, and it’s no secret that you’re just not going to give it to the homeless guy. Treat your date with a little more respect than you would grant the homeless. Well-intentioned sincerity rarely offends.
If Your Column Makes You Sound Like an Asshole
No further explanation needed.
The real issue is that people see a date that doesn’t result in any future prospects as a failure, as if there were something wrong with you or them that made things go south. A mediocre first date or a breakup of a troubled relationship are not failures. They are signs that there is something better out there for you.
Party on Wayne.
Ben Koffel is a first-year grad student in the College of Architecture, Art & Planning. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Come Again? appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.
Original Author: Ben K.