The Dating Shame

Dating, or for those pretentious enough, “courting”, is a time honoured tradition spanning the entire existence of the human species. Obviously it has evolved in some significant ways. We’re not, for instance, beating our mates over the heads and dragging them back to our caves anymore. The purpose of dating is to find someone you love spending time with and are attracted to on a physical, emotional and intellectual level. The end result being a successful and fulfilling relationship. However, for every end there must also be a beginning.

Imagine, if you will, friends of yours who you routinely play the third wheel to have told you that there’s this girl they know and she’d be perfect for you. These situations are awkward because your friends’ reason for getting the two of you together is usually rather selfish. They simply want another couple to go out with on double dates, quite possibly because their usual dates are getting a little dull and they’re no longer amused by sitting at home in awkward silence and watching the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother. This effectively leaves you meeting someone who could quite possibly be the most stale human being you’ve ever encountered simply just because “that couple” wanted some company on their boring dates.

 

The initial rendezvous doesn’t get any easier when you’re meeting through a dating site. If anything, it’s even more difficult as you have a much smaller array of photos from which to browse and attempt to make facial recognition with. I’ve been on a few Internet dates and, after successfully making contact in person, I found it much easier to slip into a dialogue simply because the entire premise of online dating is derived from the act of getting to know a person via extensive email communication before the actual first date. This provides a solid foundation for your questions and queries when attempting to find out what it is about them that scares off everyone else. Regardless of how the date comes to pass, you’re entering into what I believe to be the most awkward dating scenario you could find yourself in, the blind date.

 

The blind date is aptly enough named in that you’ve never met each other face to face. If you’re lucky, maybe your mutual friend will have exchanged numbers for you both and you’ll have the benefit of a brief chat to determine time and place. Even so, at best you’ll have seen Facebook or phone pictures of your date, which means that you could very well have some trouble identifying her and thereby getting off to a stellar beginning by asking, “Do I know you?”, when she approaches you smiling politely. If you take it a step further and attempt to order a drink from her… well, it’s a good thing your mom hasn’t found and eradicated your legendary tower of porn yet.

So now you find yourself walking out your front door and on your way to meet a person that could very well be a significant part of your future. Great! Sounds promising so far, right? Well get the roulette wheel spinning because you’re going to throw down a ball and hope it lands on your number.

The first date is very much akin to the job interview process in that you find yourself face to face with someone you’re unfamiliar with. This leads you to present yourself as a best case scenario. No one lies, per se, but the half-truths, white lies and well-meaning fibs will undoubtedly come back to bite you in the ass. Can’t perform your job as well as you claim? Not quite as adept with the written and/or spoken word as your English major friend made you out to be on your resume? You’d better find those skills right quick before you find yourself booted out the front door with a small box of your personal effects. When it comes to dating, the same scenario is often played out with the exception being that your small box of office supplies is now replaced by your lucky underwear and condoms that were sadly never used.

Let me get something out of the way before I continue. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is, on some level, a shallow human being. This human trait is even more pronounced when on a blind date, though most do their best to hide it. I, admittedly, am a shallow person and so are you. Whether you would openly admit to this or not is your own business, so leave me out of it.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s continue. Go back two paragraphs if you can’t remember what the hell I was talking about (I know I can’t). Now, you’re sitting at a bar, coffee shop, restaurant, wherever, waiting for what could be the next person you take home… to your parents. You’re looking forward to the kind of scintillating conversation you two have been exchanging over email for the past couple of weeks. It’s nice, isn’t it? That pseudo-queasy feeling in your stomach and the pounding of your heart. It lets you know you’re alive and you haven’t, despite many previous accusations, had your heart replaced by a steel coffee tin. You sit and wait and suddenly, a beam of light breaks through the clouds and shines down on your prospective future husband/wife as they walk, seemingly in slow motion to the beat of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing'”, only to reveal an overbearingly antisemitic statement branded across their forearm as they reach out to shake your hand… Okay, that’s a little extreme and isn’t likely to happen, but humans are fickle creatures and more often than not it doesn’t take much to turn a person off. Personally, I turn tail and run if they’ve got a tattoo of some famous quote or song lyric that they’ve marred with poor spelling and worse grammar.

Turn offs can be as minor as a chin dimple or as significant as a completely absent lower jaw. However, there may very well be something about their physical appearance that drives you the other way. Many will claim that true love is inspired by the heart and the physical appearance of a person should have no dominion over this most fabled of emotions. To this, I call bullshit. Physical attraction is a much a part of choosing a mate as an emotional connection or an intellectual nexus. Sure, you’ve found someone you can talk to about anything and everything for hours on end, but you’ll still be staring at their chin-ass the entire time wondering what the hell you’re still doing there. Unless, of course, you’re on a date with Bruce Campbell.

Fast forward an hour because she was late and there’s nothing interesting to say about a dude sitting at a bar drinking by himself. Your date has arrived and doesn’t have any glaring abnormalities. In fact, you find yourself quite attracted to her. It’s a good start. Unfortunately, this is right about the time shit hits the fan… But you may not know that for a couple months yet.

 

Hours pass and the conversation is riveting. Sure, you’ve made the impression that you just love long walks through the park and watching romantic comedies. Of course you find the relationship between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail to be the most inspiring love story of its time! Why not? It’ll probably never come up again. This, my friends, is “the highlight reel”. It seems an innocent enough notion. You genuinely like another person so much that you would say these things to gain their affections. What most people don’t consider is that eventually you’ll find yourself stuck in one of two situations. You’ll either wind up disappointing your partner by continually refusing her requests that you attend the opera with them or you’ll be so annoyed by constantly doing things you hate that you won’t be able to help but look at your mate in a negative light. If you still can’t quite grasp the concept of the highlight reel, I suggest you take a look at Seamus’ The Big Reveal and familiarize yourself with the process before you find yourself fawning over kittens with your new lady love. It’s going to come out sooner or later that you’re deathly allergic to cats… and that’s just an awkward situation.

So it comes to pass, your relationship is laid to rest, to be lamented as you sit on your couch watching MASH reruns by yourself. If you’d been forthright in the first place, perhaps they wouldn’t have asked you to do all those things that you take great displeasure from and the two of you would have found something mutually interesting instead. Or, perhaps, had they expressed their distaste for those dick and fart jokes you find so hilarious, you might’ve spared her the uncomfortable task of having to leave you because you would have had the common sense and good grace to save them for your friends that appreciate that sort of… eloquence.

 

That said, it’s not all about finding “the one”, so have fun, get laid… And when all that’s over, go find yourself that special someone and a shot of penicillin… Preferably not in that order.

 

 

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About the author: Incapable of keeping his thoughts about how the rest of society should be behaving in any circumstance to himself, Alex constantly finds himself on the wrong side of opinionated. In order to stave off physical violence, he’s decided to find a new outlet for his cynical views of life, love and sunshine.

You can read Alex’s other posts on PP [here]

  • http://www.provocativepenguin.com pengoo

    I’ve had a “dating shame” before. Although, it isn’t described here.
    Can you write something about how to determine the sex of the penguin across from you before it gets “too awkward”?

    • http://provocativepenguin.com Alex Somerville

      Seamus is the expert on penguin gender and sexuality. I’d hoped he would add in his own section in order to really flesh out this piece. As you can see, he did not. I unfortunately, am a self-proclaimed expert only when it concerns awkward situations between consenting human adults.

  • http://provocativepenguin.com Seamus Gearin

    I’m working on an investigative journalism piece, but the Penguin costume I have doesn’t seem to be convincing enough. I’ll have to get a new one.

    On the positive side, I’ve made some great pidgeon friends.

  • Adam J. Duncan

    Your first sentence makes me laugh so much, I don’t know why, it’s just really funny.