the wild world of dating

i just settled into a table here at disco starbucks, and the folks next to me are clearly on a first date.  “so why did you decide to move to atlanta from tampa?  is your family still there?” he asks, feigning interest, or perhaps it is genuine?  let’s hope it’s genuine.  “what about your folks?” she returns after giving her answer.  their exchanges seem to be fluid, effortless, enjoyable.  i think it’s clear she ordered her drink first, because she has a venti shaken tea-something, and it looks like he has the exact same thing but a different flavor.  ah, he’s being kind and making her comfortable.  he’s laid back in his chair, exuding relaxation.  she’s leaned over the table, displaying her interest through her physical motions.  they say a large percentage of communication between individuals is non-verbal.  and you know, i’ve been around long enough to believe it.

how did they meet?  is it a date?  were they set up by mutual friends?  did they find each other at a bar this past weekend?  i suppose i’ll never know.  maybe i should lean over and politely ask?  ah, never!  that’s even too imposing for me, and i know i’m a nosy person.

they both are asking good questions that are smoothly leading into conversation.  it sounds like they both have lovely families, yet they are the only ones here in atlanta.  he chuckles at a story she tells, and she smiles with flattery.  will they go on a dinner date later this week?  will they meet up to watch football on saturday?  i only wish we could know how the story ends!  i suppose i’ll just leave them to be enraptured with one another.

listening to this pair next to me gets me thinking:  why are we singles so afraid to date?  this encounter they are having seems to be painless and enjoyable, at least from three feet away it looks that way.  i know many people who loathe the idea of meeting someone new and having to go on a date.  dang, sounds like we’re a little spoiled, or maybe jaded? or maybe both?  i don’t know what the right adjective to use is, but i furrow my brow when people tell me they feel this same way.  is getting to know someone new that awful, that unpleasant, that we pass up the opportunity to get to know a possibly magnetic and compatible match?  what do we have to lose?  a couple hours over dinner one night?  an afternoon coffee?  of all the hours in our lives that we waste on other menial and trivial things, why do we push away the chance for a good night out?  and, if nothing else, a good story?

i love going on first dates.  i love going on dates.  perhaps they don’t occur as frequently as i would like, but i’m not going to force anything.  going on a date with someone new is like going on an adventure.  you never know what you might get out of it, but you’re telling the other person, “yes, i would like to spend time with you.”  and you know what?  you never know how that one date, those few hours together, might change someone.  sure, most first dates don’t turn into second dates.  i’m not here saying that they have to, but every time we say no to someone because we’re unsure, we’re shutting down the opportunity for something, anything, to come of it all.

with all of this being said, let me take a moment to say this as well:  being asked on a date is extremely flattering, no matter who you are!  someone saw you, spoke with you, was caught by your eye, and they had the gumption to come over and ask to spend more time with you.  it doesn’t mean you’re getting married.  it doesn’t mean you have to sleep together.  it means that someone simply wants to get to know you more.  and hey, did the thought ever cross your mind that after the first date, they might find that nothing more is there?  oooh, let’s soak that one in for a minute.

when you’re a mature, single adult in the dating world, you find that it becomes easier to let things not work out the way you want.  so he doesn’t want a second date?  okay.  i’ll have my “it’s his loss” moment and then know that there are other men out there who now have the chance to sweep me off my feet.  dating is not a matter of life or death.  it’s actually a great opportunity to find out what you do and do not want out of a relationship, however casual or serious it may be.  i’ve found out more about myself through the dating i’ve done than i ever would have had i spent those nights cooped up in my condo.

i want to leave you with this message, dedicated reader and passer-by:  allow yourself the underrated luxury of meeting someone new.  it’s something that terrifies many of us but will make us a bolder and more assured person in the end, so that when mr. right or mrs. right does come along, we know where we are and where we want to go.

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