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How bad can he really be?
I carefully applied my lipstick in the dim lighting of my dorm room, my outfit and hair style pre-approved by roommates and friends to be first date worthy. I stared into my reflection in the mirror and took a deep breath. Maybe this guy will be the one? Hopefully, he’s not a serial killer at the very least…
Everyone who has ever gone on a blind date or met up with a guy from the internet has had this litany of thoughts. As a hopeless romantic and an unfailingly optimistic individual, I had this experience quite a lot. Throughout my bumpy ride on the dating app, I was subjected to surprise dick pics, sleazy messages, and—of course—many, many awkward first dates. Many of these dates ended in a quick and painless ghosting, sometimes on my part and other times on theirs. So sit back, get cozy, and get ready for some real second hand embarrassment.
Every Tinder user has started out with that awkward coffee date at Starbucks, so naturally, my awkward date stories start in the heart of a crowded Boston Starbucks. I was very excited to meet this guy, if I simply told you that this guy was gorgeous, it wouldn’t do him any justice. I won’t lie; I swiped right after just seeing his face, I don’t even remember looking at his bio. My outfit and makeup went through a three part application and approval process to ensure that I looked like the cultured Boston intellectual that would deserve a second date. Of course, this also included some tasteful day time cleavage. My nerves got the best of me and I decided to get to the coffee shop early so that I could purchase my own tea and get seats for us. I hoped to avoid the painful dance of not knowing who would be paying for my drink. Sadly, the only open table was crammed in next to the bathrooms, not really ideal first date seating. Then, I waited. And waited.
Mr. Gorgeous was late. But he did eventually show up! Not that I’d have recognized him if he didn’t come right up to me and introduce himself. If you looked closely and squinted, you could see that he really was gorgeous. It was just obscured by this long patchy beard. Now, I am a fan of facial hair, I love that lumberjack look. This however, was more like that homeless look. Or perhaps he was trying for a wizard beard but he didn’t have the ability to grow it well so it came in really patchy and thin in places. I may have been able to look past the facial hair, but he came in clearly ready to go to the gym with a big duffle bag and his knuckles taped up. He informed me that he would be going right from there to a jujitsu class. This too would have been alright, if he didn’t proceed to spend the next 20 minutes telling me all about jujitsu. It was clear he was obsessed with it. He was going on about how he was actually injured but he had to push through and keep going to class because this was his life. As someone who is not particularly athletic, with no knowledge of the aforementioned fighting style, I contributed very little to the conversation. Suffice it to say, it was a very awkward 20 minutes. It was probably the universe trying to tell me that there is more to a human being than just their looks. We both went our separate ways, and I never heard from him—or tried to reach out to him—again.
Thinking I had learned my lesson, I went on to be a little more careful about my matches. I also leveled up from coffee dates to sushi dates. After chatting with a fairly normal seeming college guy, we decided to meet up at a sushi restaurant near my college then maybe go back to my dorm to watch a movie. There was also the understanding that he would need to leave before midnight to catch the last bus back to his college. I thought this was a good plan and would eliminate some awkwardness because the whole night was planned out down to a set end time. What I didn’t factor in was that we were both introverts and apparently neither of us were good conversationalists.
The date started out well enough, he looked like his pictures and he was really a normal guy. He had looked up the menu beforehand to make sure he would like the place so we ordered our food as soon as we sat down. Then the awkward silence set in. I remembered from his bio that he liked the same TV show as me so we chatted about The Walking Dead until we ran out of stuff to say on that topic. Then more silence as I wracked my brain for what to say next. He seemed to be completely fine with the silence and offered me no help in keeping up a conversation. I finally pulled up a picture of my dog to show him and this seemed to open up some connection as he pulled out his phone and showed me all of his pets, he had several dogs and a couple birds. Thankfully, he was able to talk for a while about his pets who he clearly loved. Then our food came and we ate in silence with some minor comments on the good sushi. I thought I’d be cute and order a green tea ice cream to share. He had some of it but this brought more awkward silence, just with dessert this time. When the bill came, he made sure to tell the waiter that the ice cream should go on my half of the bill and not be split between the checks… I wasn’t too offended by this as he only had a few spoonfuls of it anyway.
I know by now you are thinking, I hope you didn’t actually let him go back with you for a movie. But no, I did. And that is actually all we did. We sat side by side on my bed and watched exactly two movies. Neither was very memorable. During the second movie I laid my head on his shoulder and he put his head on my head. This would maybe have been like cuddling if it didn’t last for just about the entire movie and give me a massive headache, partly from watching the movie sideways and partly from the pressure of his head resting on mine with just his bony shoulder under my head for so long. After those two movies I noted out loud that it was too late to start another movie as there was only like 45 minutes until midnight. I thought maybe he’d leave or try to make a move on me. He did neither. We continued to sit side by side on my bed in silence. I eventually just started asking him questions. I think I knew this kid’s whole life story including that his dad had cancer and he always wears one of those rubber bracelets with his dad’s name on it to commemorate that. After a solid block of this, I finally stated that he should leave if he wanted to make the bus. He agreed and we exchanged an awkward hug as he left. I actually did text him the next day to see if he got back alright. He said he did. That was the last communication we had. I didn’t feel it was a big loss.
Thinking this was yet another lesson from the universe, I decided my next date would be a double date. I happened to match with a guy from my own college and he was friends with a couple that I was close with. I figured it was destiny. We agreed to go on a double date starting with a card game night in the other couple’s room and then me going back to his room after. The card night started really well. We played Cards against Humanity and my date laughed at a lot of my selections. The four of us chatted the whole time, but during this chat I found out some pretty interesting things. I discovered that this guy was super Republican and hated hipsters. My friend of course chimed in that I was such a hipster that I was just discussing buying some fake glasses because I wanted to wear glasses and didn’t have a prescription. I was also fairly liberal, being a Bostonite. These were things I was willing to overlook for one night but things started to go downhill from there. He started checking his phone very frequently and was obviously texting someone during the game. Then I somehow managed to play a card that he took particular offense to. The other couple laughed it off and managed to get us back into the game. After one more round we decided to head out for the night and my date and I walked back to our dorm building across campus. On the way back, he started to drop hints that he wasn’t feeling well. Finally, he was acting like he was super nauseous when we were almost to the dorm. He said that I should probably just go back to my own room as he didn’t want to subject me to whatever food poisoning or bug he seemed to suddenly have. I agreed and waited for his text the next day. It never came.
Distraught, and thinking it was something that I had done to scare him off, I found the couple we had doubled with and asked them for an insight. They quickly assured me that they couldn’t see how it would be my fault. They went to find my date and casually asked him about the night before. He informed them that a girl that he had been crushing on since freshman year was suddenly single and wanted to meet up with him after the card game. He ended up dating her for a few months before she dumped him for being too clingy. I did get a small amount of petty satisfaction out of this.
All in all, Tinder was a crazy experience and one that I am happy that I had. It certainly tested the limits of my emotions and the level of awkwardness that I can handle in one sitting. But I learned a lot about myself and what I was looking for in a relationship. I firmly believe it was all of these failures that made me ready for a long term serious relationship. And if that’s just my inner romantic optimist talking, I suppose it at least trained me how to spot douche bags.