A First Date Pro

by mintango

I started online dating back in 2002 after graduating from college and moving to New York.  Although this is far from true of all online daters, I myself had never been good at meeting people, had somehow never liked the men who liked me, and had never had a real boyfriend, not in high school or college.  I thought that things might be different once I was out of school, but they really were not- and there were also fewer opportunities to find someone simply to admire, so I didn't even have a crush as an all-consuming focus. 

A close friend of mine had met some people online during our senior year of college, at which point I was pretty creeped out by the idea, but after a few solid months of chastity in New York and some enlightenment about the not-so-creepy online dating experiences of this friend of mine, I changed my tune about the whole thing.  (At this point in time online dating still had quite a bit of stigma attached to it.  That reputation was definitely softening amongst my generation, at least in New York, but it was still slightly uncomfortable to talk about with non-online-daters.)  Anyway, I think my then roommate had been lamenting about not meeting anyone and I suggested she try it, at which point I asked myself, why don't I try it? 

So I did.  I joined Nerve and within a seven-month period I dated two people for about two months each and went out once with maybe 2 or 3 other people- relative success for me, but obviously not stupendous- but I enjoyed it.  I found I liked the venue a lot and appreciated the fact that I could present myself through writing and get to see how potential dates chose to present themselves in that form as well.  And it was a nice change of pace to have the option (even if I didn't take advantage of it) to go on lots of dates with lots of different people, as opposed to meeting someone new only once every several months or longer.  

My second round of online dating began in 2007. Before this time, I had been dating a co-worker.  Several months after we broke up, I went online again, this time posting a profile on the entirely free and fun site OKCupid.  I went on a handful of dates, only to start seeing another co-worker for a few months, a very bad decision that ended with a not very civil breakup this time (and incidentally learning in the process that one of many nice things about online dating is that after a breakup, you never have to see that person ever again).  I must say it was partly cynical desperation that made me update my profile and begin again, but I'm glad I did. 

After more ‘first and only’ dates than I care to remember, I felt like I became a kind of first date pro.  I seemed to have developed not a routine but a certain attitude or vibe that got me through any first date with what was for me a startling amount of charisma.  Even when out with someone to whom I had no attraction, I found myself having a fantastic time- with myself.  The guy was almost immaterial!  There would be extra rounds of drinks and plenty of smooth talking and flirtation- all making for an awkward end of the night, when a kiss and an agreement to a second date were understandably expected.  

Perhaps not so surprisingly, when I had my first date with the man who is now my boyfriend, I felt differently.  It was a great, great date- with an entirely different feel.  The empty charisma was replaced with a healthy nervousness, the smooth talking and flirtation nuanced with a bit of shyness on my part and his, making the charmingly awkward kiss on the cheek and agreement to meet again at the end of the night all the more exciting.

It had been interesting returning to online dating after five years.  The general perception of it is very different now.  It seems like everyone knows someone who has had some success with online dating.  And it is clear that people who have an easy time meeting people in life also choose to meet people online.

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