I was recently out for a drink with a guy when we began trading dating horror stories. This is usually my favorite part of a first date because I always manage to be amused while still learning something new every single time. That night was no exception. This particular guy, who was in his mid-forties and never married, gave me his “list” of deal breakers about 10 minutes after meeting, at which point for me the date magically transformed from a date into what I like to call “research.”
First, he said the woman must not wear too much perfume. Okay, I can appreciate that. No one likes to be stifled with perfume to the point where they can’t taste their food. Next, the woman must not go to the bathroom in front of him. Bummer, I was saving that for the second date. Third, the woman must not burp in his face. Who the hell has this guy been seeing? And the list went on from there with no improvement. She must not have bad breath, she must not be cheap, she must earn her own money, and, if applicable, she must not spend too much time calling to check on her kids during a date. Wow. He’s clearly looking for someone really special.
I did not reciprocate by giving him my list which happens to include guys who have lists and guys like him who, self-admittedly, sometimes book three dates back-to-back in the same evening. Instead, I mildly complained about a guy I went out with three times who kept asking me out even though I repeatedly tried to be nice about no longer wanting to see him again.
“Well, what exactly did you say?” my date asked, smugly.
“I kept telling him I was busy,” I said, clearly proud of my capacity for politeness.
My date shook his head with knowing disapproval. He said women do this all the time and then are surprised that the guy keeps coming back with alternatives.
“You need to tell a guy you like him like a brother,” he matter-of-factly advised.
What the…? Then I thought about it. It actually sounded like valuable advice in its apparent stupidity, ahem, I mean simplicity. That statement would be a pretty safe way to put the kibosh on any chance of a guy getting laid after a date. Unless he was, of course, into incest and, based on some of the creepy guys I’ve met online, might still be willing to make an exception.
When the date was finally over and the cosmo I was nursing had successfully taken the edge off my thoughts of “How did this become my life?” he gave me a quick hug goodbye and asked if I would be okay walking alone to my car. Sure, what’s a little black ice on the sidewalk and a dark parking lot?
When the phone rang a day and a half later I was surprised. He wanted to see me again! Apparently, my breath must have been passable and I adequately neglected my three kids at home.
I know my comments may sound snide but I really am a nice person and I don’t like to say no. So I thought, “no,” but ended up saying…”yes” anyway. Damn, I’ve got to stop doing this!
But, the truth is, I know he’s not my guy and I don’t want to lead him to believe that he is. And I don’t want to worry about having to kiss him goodnight, which I already have been for the past three days. Definitely a bad sign.
It has been two years since my separation. I’m different now. I’m very clear about what I want and what I don’t. And I’m happy to say, these days, I’m content waiting for the right person instead of forcing things that shouldn’t be.
So tonight when we speak, I’m going to tell him the truth. I’m going to tell him I like him like a brother.
I only wonder if he will appreciate the irony.