What constitutes a perfect first date to you?
From my perspective, I like when I find myself giddy with excitement and a touch of nervousness before the date itself. I take the time to figure out just the right outfit to wear. My heart is open to the possibilities, but I have no expectations of where the date might lead. The location is conducive to romance or shows thoughtful planning without seeming forced.
On the date itself, conversation is easy without any awkward pauses. Both of us present our authentic selves in the best possible light. At the end of the night, there might even be a soft kiss with enough open mouth to desire more, but enough restraint to be respectful. By the time we part, we've discussed when we'll be seeing each other again. That's a great first date, as I see it.
Unfortunatey, my first date with Hampton Man in the middle of February met almost none of the aforementioned criteria.
He was fighting a cold.
I was in the middle of five radiation treatments a week and felt exhausted.
I felt neither excited nor nervous and didn't go home to change after brunch with my girlfriends.
Hampton Man isn’t a planner, and by his own admission, he is very unmotivated when the weather is cold. He deferred to me as to when and where so I squeezed him into my schedule and picked a place (the bar at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe) that was convenient for me.
When he arrived at the bar, we hugged hello and sat down to talk. He hadn’t taken anything for his cold, and it was obvious that he was feeling poorly. Although he was sick, he still was very easy on the eyes.
We started talking about sports and then moved to work. When the topic turned to the night we met, he said:
I really liked your confidence. And your smile. You have amazing lips.
I blushed and thanked him. When the conversation moved to where we socialize, we talked about how surprising it was that we hadn't met sooner. We figured out that he frequents places in the U Street Corridor, whereas I can usually be found in Georgetown or West End. Out of the blue, he asked:
When was your last relationship?
Me: As in someone I loved or someone I dated?
Hampton Man: Both.
Me [with a giggle part out of amusement and part of awkwardness]: Isn’t this an odd topic to broach on a first date? [Pause, as I realize that he really wants to talk about this.] I was very serious with someone in 2009. Last year, my focus was less on relationships, but more on getting through treatment, although I dated a couple of guys.
Hampton Man: What are their names?
Me: Excuse me?
Hampton Man: I want to make sure that I don’t know anyone you went out with.
Me: I doubt that you know them well, if at all.
Hampton Man: So, what are their names?
Me: I don’t know that I feel comfortable sharing that with you an hour after our first drinks date. [I laugh and give a slight eye roll.] Are you going to tell me about your previous relationships?
I had viewed that question as rhetorical, but he answered with a diatribe about his long-term relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Janine. Although I didn’t want to judge a man I barely knew, I sensed a few yellow flags:
1. He really wanted to talk about their relationship, their problems and how she hurt him. That’s usually a sign that the break up is fresh or at least that there are unresolved feelings;
2. He commented that his ex-girlfriend was a “whore.” I appreciate that she hurt him, but I’m not one for misogynistic terms; and
3. He made a point to talk about how she wasn’t as educated or accomplished as we were. I wasn’t sure why that was even relevant, but it was a bit off putting.
I tried to reconcile the fact that Hampton Man was intelligent and handsome with a relatively peaceful energy with what he relayed to me about his last relationship. I hadn’t yet decided whether I wanted our first date to be our last, but the next hour helped clarify that for me:
To be continued…