I had 4 dates lined up last weekend. Exhausted and emotionally confused, I cancelled. 3 of them still want to see me! I have no idea why. But it has got me thinking…. And I think that it is a case of great expectations. Mine tend to be low before a date. Sure, he sounds great in email, he looks nice in his photos, and he may well be good enough. But is he really what he seems to be? I need to meet people to truly sound them out, get a feel for them and ‘read’ them. One guy I dated on and off couldn’t comprehend this and laughed when I explained it to him. Narrow-minded fool. And given that I’ve been doing this for a while, not to mention fallen in love and had my heart broken in a whirlwind 6-week relationship with a friend, I think my cynicism is understandable. And hey, it’s not like the guys know how cynical I really am about it all. At least, not until we get to date 3…..
My experience thus far is that guys put me on a pedestal. They find out I like rugby, Russian beer, am independent and drive fast listening to loud rock. Telling them I don’t really like romcoms and would love to spend a week in a desolate log cabin in the north of Sweden seems to really anchor it. Thus, they think the sun shines out of my halo. I freely admit that I love my heels and dressing classily, but somehow, they seem to think I am exactly what they are looking for. I, on the other hand, am less optimistic. I’m convinced there will be no chemistry, that he will be a Neanderthal with no appreciation of women’s rights, and that he will not look like his photo. So I am dubious at best. Perhaps not the greatest attitude to go in with, but I don’t show them it. I give them a chance, with a (reasonably) open mind, and see how it goes. When I end up having a great time, my surprise and defensive pessimism give way to sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and cupcakes. Not immediately – it usually takes date 2 to really make me consider it going any further. But I have realised just how good I am at making people feel at ease. They open up, have a laugh, relax and we chat. Most of the time we click, sometimes we don’t. I’ve realised that the longer a date lasts, the more I like someone. When I leave after 90 minutes (40 of which have been spent waiting for food to arrive) I know I don’t want to see him again. When I spend 14 hours straight with him, I know that there is a spark there and that I want to see him again.
However, I have realised that the longer the first date, the quicker it will burn out. Great first dates are almost a curse, because they set (my) expectations too high and lead to disappointment. After an incredible first date with McHometown, then an even better second date, I didn’t hear from him again. Except for when he replied to a drunken email I sent whilst out on an abysmal date. Which I didn’t realise I had sent….. Oops. There was the great first date with McNeanderthal, which lasted 8 hours, and the spontaneous second date with him, which ended with me storming out of the pub after a massive shouting match about women’s rights. It scares me that some police officers can be so callous and misogynistic – a fact that I am still fuming about weeks later.
Having 4 dates in a row, ie tea and cake then rugby then dinner then drinks may sound great in theory, but in practise it prevents the opportunity to think about them dispassionately, to see whether it is a case of relief that he’s not as bad as you had envisaged, or genuine mutual attraction based on something more than physicality. It’s helpful to see what kind of communication is maintained once you have met, and to keep your options open. By contrast, the odd bad date here and there is actually refreshing, as it helps to see that not only is it not all vanilla, but it emphasises the good ones. And it certainly aids the elimination process.
I can’t control their expectations. I can only be myself, good and bad, and be real. I will continue to be as I am, and I will not get my hopes up before, but I will give it time and the opportunity to flourish – if I am feeling it. Great expectations can be good, and can be a drawback, but they are what they are. Until you get to the point when you can openly and honestly discuss what you want, what you are looking for, your expectations are unlikely to be level.