Given that most of us actively seek out dates during our 20s, it's a well-kept secret how few of us actually enjoy the whole rigmarole. Sixty-eight percent of people polled by eHarmony say they always get nervous before first dates, and more OKCupid users say they get nervous about promising first dates than important interviews.
Dating is sort of like traveling: In order to get to the end destination, we first have to make it through a whole lot of planning, tedium, fear that things won't go according to plan, and realization of that very fear. But at least with travel, you can be fairly confident that your plane will arrive at its destination, even if not on time; the chances of a date taking a nose dive are, well, up there. There are so many things that could go wrong: lack of common ground, lack of physical attraction, fundamental disagreements, forgetting your wallet, food poisoning, the date venue setting on fire (hey, you have to consider all the possibilities to be prepared!). And the worst part is, each disastrous first date destines us for even more first dates. Why do we put ourselves through this? Anything for love, I suppose.
When people in long-term relationships reminisce on their single days, they replay dates full of exciting new activities, magical first kisses, and conversations that last into the wee hours of the morning. And that's part of it. But you've got to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince (or princess), which means that by the time we hit 30, most of us have miraculously survived all these painful situations.
1. The Interview
Your date examines your accomplishments with such rigor, you wonder if you should have brought your resume. They're probably just making conversation, but being asked what you do with your free time besides watch Netflix is enough to trigger anyone's sympathetic nervous system.
2. The Therapy Session
Your date clearly has something to get off their chest, and you want to be a good listener... but you just don't feel qualified to handle all these feels. And when the feels happen about an ex, you can't help but wonder what they're doing on this date in the first place.
3. The Lecture
The favorite date activity of narcissists seeking an audience for their monologues. You get in a few smiles and nods at best, yet your lecturer — I mean date — always seems to think the date went perfectly (see #7), probably because they relished the pleasure of hearing their own voice.
4. The Not-So-Friendly Debate
That rule about not discussing politics or religion with strangers goes out the window, and you both exhibit just about all of each other's deal-breakers by the end of the night. You know minutes in that this relationship has no chance, but you just need them to admit that you're right, dammit!
5. The Pop Quiz
You engage in a ferocious back-and-forth game of "have you heard of..." in attempt to find some common ground and leave wondering how two people can live in the same world with no cultural overlap.
6. The Prolonged Awkward Silence
You spend less time conversing than staring into your water glass with the hope that it will spontaneously transform into a crystal ball that shows you something — literally anything — to talk about, but instead you end up blurting out your opinion on the weather or something far more embarrassing to break the silence.
7. The Bad One That Your Date Thinks Went Well
This misunderstanding leads to a painful predicament when they try to kiss you at the end of the night. Do you dodge it? Accept it and explain later? Pull away slightly enough that they say "oh" and then back away like it never happened?
8. The Good One That Your Date Thinks Went Poorly
Sad face. The only thing worse than that unexpected "hey, sorry, I don't think I see this going anywhere" text is the radio silence that you know means the same thing.
9. The Rare One That You Both Think Went Well
This is your reward for getting through the other eight — and you deserve it! Who knows? If your rare good first date spawns a good second, third, and so on, you may even be exempt from first dates permanently! So do your best to enjoy these while they last. At the very least, they'll make good stories.
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