There was a time, when a truly awful date for me was a delightful blog post. Lately, though, I’ve noticed a shift in my thinking. I suppose it started with Engineer 114, around the New Year. After he bailed on me for no reason, after weeks of texting while he was out of the country, I was both furious and completely done with him. So, I got back on PoF and, by chance, reconnected with Politician, who I happened to have just begun messaging before I got involved with 114.
Politician and I met after a few weeks of messaging He was 35, had never been married, worked at the state capitol, was protestant and didn’t appear to take issue with my Catholicism. But… he was 35 and unmarried and he hadn’t been engaged, or in extensive schooling, or serving his country. When he talked about settling down, it was in a vague sense, like a man 10 years younger. “One day”, he might like to get married and have children. I’m sorry dude, but if you’re from a small town in the South and you’re saying “one day” at 35, it’s just not something you want. That’s cool and all, but don’t date the gal who’s aiming for that. Perhaps he realized this mistake, though, because I never heard from him after our date. We didn’t have a bad time. We talked. It was nice. I left on the thought that I’d be willing to go on another date, if he asked, but knew I wouldn’t be disappointed if he didn’t. I was right. I wasn’t.
After Politician came Oil. Oil and I had chatted on Tinder last fall. We’d been texting and I dropped off the face of the earth, because seriously, dude, it’s Tinder. I recently found him on Match, and although he looked familiar, I couldn’t recall where I’d seen him and sent a message. When Oil explained that we’d talked before, we quickly set a date to meet. This time, I thought things went really well. We met for coffee at the Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble and walked around talking and looking at books. He’d gained some weight since his pictures were taken, but he wore it well. We laughed and seemed to get along. I left with a good feeling about the whole thing. Then, he began the Fade Away. For realz, yo, if you don’t intend to see someone after a first meeting, just shut the hell up. Don’t string them along. It’s worse than just never talking to them again. I quickly realized what he was doing and responded just enough that he could build on it and sent no more when he didn’t. If a man’s not interested in me, I’m sure as hell not chasing after him. I was disappointed, though. I mean, he’d gained at least 20 pounds, so any issues with my appearance would’ve been downright hypocritical. The conversation flowed. Why was that not at least worth a second meeting?
…. aaaaaand there it is. I’ve officially reached the point I’ve been trying to force myself to reach for the last year. I am finally to a place where I’m willing to go on a second date with anyone who wasn’t a mountain troll or a complete ass. Therefore, when someone else isn’t, that’s a bad date, because what could he possibly be seeking, beyond laughter and surprisingly few awkward pauses? Did we just not have that “spark”? Because that’s bullshit. The “spark” is another word for Love at First Sight or Soulmates. It’s pretend. It was crafted to sell YA novels about teenagers dying of cancer. The only real connection one can hope to have with a stranger is conversational. If that exists and you aren’t willing to pursue it, then have fun dying alone… which is exactly the sentiment that lead me to the other extreme in my absolutely disastrous dates with Dell.
Dell was 33 years old and not very attractive in his photos. He was successful and had a lot of nerdy hobbies mixed with a lot of country hobbies. He was sociable and seemed to be putting in a real effort. I told myself that appearance was secondary to these characteristics and I still feel that that was correct. The man wasn’t hideous in his photos. He was shorter than I’d prefer, but taller than I am, at 5’7″. He was stocky and appeared to be a little heavy, but mentioned a lot of active hobbies. Almost every photo had his niece in it, so he was clearly close to his family and liked kids. I had high hopes that personality would ultimately take over and then I would find him attractive.
Dell and I first met for dinner at the same restaurant where I met Politician. I got out of the car, headed for the door, and my first thought was that it couldn’t be him.
Y’all, there have not been a lot of dates where I’ve considered just turning around and leaving. This was probably only the second… because this man was not “a little heavy.” He was easily 40 pounds heavier than his least flattering photo… at 5’7″. I’m 5’6″, so 40 pounds on him is the equivalent to 40 pounds on me, and it was all in his belly. I wasn’t going to be shallow, though. It wasn’t even Gaily’s voice this time that asked me if I was really going to write this guy off over something trivial. I mean, clearly, I was just focused on appearance because it was our first meeting. If I wasn’t going to give him a chance, then I needed to leave right then and not let him buy me dinner.
As we took our seats and I fervently told myself that I was being too critical, Dell struggled to slide into the booth and, I am ashamed to admit, the first thing that popped into my mind was…
I wonder if his erect penis even clears his belly.
I felt horrible for even thinking that, but my ex-husband was morbidly obese and it’s a thing, folks. I spent four years with someone who had to ask to be seated at a table every time we went out and that’s all I could think about for the first 10 minutes of our conversation as I distractedly answered so many questions it felt like I was being quizzed. Finally, I realized that Dell wouldn’t be playing Quizmaster if I’d join the fucking conversation and I pulled my irreparably damaged by divorce head out of my ass. From that point on, I was a delight. I asked questions about his life and his former career as a policeman. I told him about my career and was pleased that he was respectful and interested. The conversation felt a little forced, but I blamed my lack of physical attraction. We talked about our hobbies and ironically, staying in shape came up.
Dell: “I’ve actually gained 20 pounds in the last few months.”
Um… yeah. I noticed. Apparently, so did he. It, however, was still not only 20 pounds since his photos. I would not be surprised to discover that the man was just barely into the morbidly obese category. Now, I’ve been morbidly obese, y’all. A few years ago, I lost over 90 pounds. It’s not that I hate fat people. I’ve been fat people. I’m still not skinny people at a size 8/10. I have also never lied about it. He clearly knew that his photos were not an accurate representation of him. After all was said and done, I even showed Gail.
Gail: “Well, yeah. You can kind of tell he’s heavy in this one. He looks pretty big there.”
Me: “No, no, no. I saw that one. I was prepared for that one. It was that plus 40 pounds.”
Gail: “Oh. Wow.”
At this point, I was legitimately frustrated with him. I was in a really awkward place, because he wasn’t honest. I didn’t want to blow off what was otherwise a very nice guy just because of his size, though, so I agreed to a second date the following week.
Over the next week, I ended up convincing myself that I’d exaggerated the entire thing. It wouldn’t be the first time. I mean, the guy was nice and chivalrous and successful. Surely, I was just being a bitch and I’d realize the error of my ways when we met again. Spoiler alert: no.
We met last Friday at a local sushi restaurant and I was actually looking forward to realizing how wrong I was. Dell was going to walk up and I was going to see that, although he was slightly heavier than his photos depicted, it was nothing so drastic. Then, I saw him walking to the door and thought that his size just couldn’t be healthy. He looked physically uncomfortable and was visibly sweating. At 33 years old, I was already looking at this guy and worried about his physical well-being. It’s not just appearance. I want to be able to chase my children around the backyard. I want to be able to go to Disney World and not stop every 30 minutes for a rest, because the cardio of leisurely walking is just overwhelming. I know what that’s like, because I’ve fucking done it. I’m not going to lie, either. It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to explain to someone that your reasonably young husband is breathing so hard because of walking. It’s upsetting to never be able to go on a roller coaster because the belt won’t fit across his lap. It’s embarrassing to watch your date’s booth slide across the floor from the table as he sits, because the seat isn’t bolted down and he doesn’t fit.
This time, the conversation did not flow, at all. It was much more obvious that we were forcing it along. I wished I hadn’t come. I felt just as lied to as I did on the first date and I felt like a horrible person for the fact that this was such a deal breaker for me. I’m not delusional. I know that pretty much everyone looks better with clothes on. I even prefer a slightly overweight man to a slender one. I just wasn’t attracted to Dell at all and felt genuine resentment at his blatant dishonesty. Again, I was sociable and fun and polite. I tried. I really did try, but when Dell asked if I needed to get back to my niece (where I’d been before the date) or if I still wanted to go do something together, I bailed. I couldn’t let the man spend another dime on me, when I knew I was done. I told him I’d promised Catherine I’d meet her at the bar for her birthday. He walked me to my car and we talked about going minigolfing this week, as a third date. We made tentative plans. He leaned in for a hug….
… went to kiss me…
… I turned away…
… and it was the most uncomfortable thing that has ever happened in time.
I went to the bar that night, where Catherine and our friend Laura both asked how the date went.
Me: “Um. It was fine.”
Me: “He was really nice. There just isn’t really anything there. He wasn’t very honest in his photos and there’s really no physical attraction. I don’t know how important that is.”
Laura: “It’s important. It may not be the most important thing, but it is important.”
Dell didn’t message me after that.
Me: “He went in for a kiss and I… um… may have turned it into an awkward hug.”
Gail: “Yeah. THAT’S why he hasn’t messaged you.”
I told Gail about the guilt I felt over not continuing to see him.
Gail: “It’s not as if you were married to this man and then ditched him when he gained weight. You’re just not willing to date a man who lives an unhealthy lifestyle. You’re not willing to start a relationship with all of the problems that come with that and that’s okay. You don’t owe him anything after two dates.”
So, obviously he picked up on my lack of interest, which is most definitely for the best. I hope he realizes why, even subconsciously. I hope he gets the spontaneous urge to upload some honest and recent photos, so that the next date he goes on goes better. So many stereotypes about online dating focus on women lying about their weight, but never (straight) men. It is equally and quite fairly frustrating to a member of either gender, though, to be shown a picture of someone to whom they think they can develop an attraction and be faced with a completely different person. I stand by both the man and the woman who feels angry or misled, because it really is an awkward place to be. We insist that appearance doesn’t matter at all and while I do believe we over emphasize it, if you can’t imagine wanting to see someone naked at 33, it’s unlikely to be any better at 43. I don’t regret that second date, because I’m left with no doubts that there wasn’t anything there; but also because I realize that while it’s great to put aside aside the trivial and meet the guy who’s 5’7″ or losing his hair or doesn’t have model good looks, ultimately attraction cannot be forced. I maintain my policy of going on a second date unless absolutely certain it’s not happening. I just may need to be a little more accepting of the latter. There were certainly less substantial reasons not to consider him.
Me: “I know it’s stupid and I would never blow someone off for just this, but… he said he loves Christmas Vacation. You know how much I hate Christmas Vacation.”
If I’m gonna sit through that terrible fucking movie, he’d better be even the slightest bit attractive to me.