After almost a month on PoF, I’ve had quite a few close encounters of the stranger-than-fiction kind.
After reading through the Pulitzer-Prize-winning profile I posted, it’s pretty clear that my screening process for actually being willing to meet people in person is rather elaborate.
In order for me to consent to meet, a person must:
-Convince me that he is a male.
-Convince me that he is not someone who might end up stuffing me in the trunk of his car. (These first two are more or less intangibles, judged through nuance and intuition. It would be a serious red flag if someone actually said, “Guess what? I’m REALLY a guy! AND I’m not super creepy!” or something like that.)
-Have no shirtless pictures on their profile.
-Share at least a few interests that would make reasonable conversation points.
-Respect grammar by using capital letters, demonstrating an understanding of the difference between your/you’re and to/too/two, and attempting punctuation with moderate accuracy.
-Come across in a way that suggests a pleasant (or at least fascinating) personality.
-Be at least tolerable to look at. I try not to put too much emphasis on looks, but I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t consider them at all.
That’s it, though. Basically, present yourself as a non-scary male human with enough personality to be able to sustain at least an hour’s worth of (intelligent) conversation.
Once these prerequisites have been met (and it’s rather disheartening how few users actually meet them), I’m all for meeting up with people as soon as they are willing, because, let’s face it, a written persona is merely that–a persona. (Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who claims that her occupation is a hunter of baby seals. I think the only time I’ve ever seen a seal in real life has been at a zoo–and I don’t think any of them were young enough to qualify as babies. [needless to say, it’s not a very lucrative career when one lives in the middle of Minnesota]).
So I’ve had five dates so far.
And they have done nothing if not reinforce the concept that people might look great on paper, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it carries over into face-to-face interaction
Most (though not all) of these dates have been mild disasters in some form or another. In no particular order (lest any of them happen to be reading this), here’s a rundown of my Plenty of Fish dates thus far:
*All About Himself Man:
This charming fellow spent an hour and a half talking about his favorite subject ever–himself. He had never met a more fascinating person. Granted, he had some incredibly interesting things to tell me about and really does have a unique life story; but the only time he ever asked me a question about myself was in relation to a story he was telling. (“So this one time, I was here–have you ever been there?–and I was doing this awesome things, and then this other awesome thing happened.”) It went like that. All date long. After a while, I just made a game of seeing how long it would take him to realize he didn’t know a thing about me other than that I was a fantastic listener. He never did.
I am all about philosophical conversation. But I have two rules: It must make sense in a general sort of way, and it must be applicable. If you spend half an hour talking in circles with contradictory remarks that one can’t actually make any sort of life choices in relation to, I will probably not want to pursue another such conversation.
Ok, I know my profile says for a first date we could do dinner, coffee, a walk, or something like that. It’s sweet that you read my profile. But just because my profile mentions those things doesn’t mean we have to DO those things. Going for a walk at 7:30, in the dark, with temperatures below 30? I know the sidewalks were lit and all, but really? Our teeth were chattering too hard for decent conversation.
*Creepy Vibes Guy:
Any conversation that ends with me wondering if I should watch for you lurking outside my bushes in the future is not heading in a direction conducive to a second date. [Please, guys, even if it’s true, do NOT feel the need to bring up on a first date the five-month torch you once carried for a cashier whose line you went through once while buying groceries. Sure, the media presents love at first sight to be romantic and all; but really, there’s a fine line between romantic and stalkerish, and I don’t want to have to wonder how many times you’ve crossed it.]
*Dutch Dating Dude(s):
This is among my more controversial pet peeves. During a first meet-n-greet, I will always offer to pay for my half of whatever it is we are eating or drinking. If you take me up on my offer, I’m going to assume you are not anticipating a follow-up date. Not everyone thinks this way, and I’m not saying it’s wrong for a girl to pay. But guys, if you want to date me, you have to abide by my quirks; and my quirks include the expectation that you are willing to invest in our first meeting. If you don’t want to pay for something, invite me on a walk.
Our meet-n-greet seemed to be going well enough. I knew right away that we would never go anywhere. We had too many fundamental differences of ideologies. But still, one can have a good time, right? And we WERE having a good time. Or at least, the conversation involved a great deal of laughter. But even so, a good portion of the conversation centered on his expectations and standards. (Which was ironic, because he just didn’t understand why so many girls he went out with didn’t feel comfortable being themselves but felt they had to be what he wanted them to be. Oh, goodness.) Though he was much better at actual dialog than All About Himself Man, his tone was one of superiority–not a Johnny Bravo type of arrogance (He wasn’t stupidly arrogant) but more of an attitude of “I’m smart and ambitious and know exactly what I want, and so I’m thinning the pathetically small herd looking for someone worthy of my attention.” Regardless, I can’t deny that he was entertaining. And I thought that even though we didn’t share enough of the same philosophies to pursue anything, we were still having a mutually enjoyable evening. Until the check for dinner came. “Let’s get out of here,” He suggested. I complied. It seemed as though he wanted to continue conversing elsewhere, and I was all for that. But then, once we got outside, he walked me to my car, stood there awkwardly for a moment, and then patted me on the head. [??????? what am I, a dog?] I’m wondering if perhaps he saw the car seat (which I keep in my car for when I’m carpooling with my sister and her brood) and assumed it belonged to my own (nonexistent) offspring. He didn’t ask, though, and after the head pat, I gave up. I am not, nor do I wish to be treated like a cocker spaniel. Patting a girl on the head? Maybe after you’re in a relationship and you’re flirting, but this was clearly not a flirtatious gesture. It was just plain awkward. It was the kind of ending that landed me home by 9 PM on a Saturday night watching Gilmore Girl re-runs instead of having a social life. [This, friends, is the reason women become cat ladies.]
*Mr. Reticent and Reserved:
This date was really nice. He was kind. He was respectful. He was… well… nice. He was so much nicer than three of my other dates; but of all my dates, he was the hardest to talk to because he is even more of an introvert than I am. (I know many of you won’t believe this, but I am an introvert. I have some extrovert tendencies, but it takes actual effort to socialize—and goodness, put me in a large group, and I clam up for the most part.) I don’t know what to do with people who are more reserved than I am. All of my other dates have been with people who are more or less extroverts–People who are comfortable with effortlessly drawing people out to meet them; or, failing that, people who enjoy talking about themselves enough that all I have to do is ask questions which they are happy to elaborate on. With another introvert, even answers to open ended questions were short. And conversation was choppy. And it was the first date I was downright relieved to end.
So there you have it, a brief rundown of some of the not-so-epic encounters I’ve had. I have not discussed all of them, and some dates fit into more than one category. It’s enough to make a girl seriously consider adopting a herd of cats.
But don’t despair. I won’t resort to that quite yet. There is, in fact, one gentleman I’ve seen whom I will be meeting with again. More on that later.
In the meantime, don’t miss a single hilarious story—subscribe on the right with your email address, and have new posts email directly to your inbox! And stay tuned for posts addressing Profile Pictures (The good, the bad, and the downright ludicrous!), Fantastic First Dates, and even a few features of well-crafted first messages.