When I first started online dating, I didn’t fully understand “the game” (used facetiously, it’s not a game, and I hate when people refer to it as such). I didn’t know what I wanted, either. I kept thinking that the only way to sleep with someone was to commit to someone. And, at the time, all I wanted was to explore and learn. There’s an interesting story you’ll read in my book about how I was so embarrassed (I have the hardest time spelling that word) by the amount of sexual partners I’d had compared to my friends. Well…

  • A- I was married and in a long term relationship prior to that. No biggie.
  • B- People aren’t numbers. I didn’t understand that, then. It was a very immature way to think.
  • C- I’d take the best 10% of my partners over the other 90% of them in a heartbeat. Most of them occurred before I started casually dating. There’s something much more enriching, sexy, and beautiful about intimacy you build versus “acquire” for the evening. Again, something I didn’t understand prior to ending my marriage and entering the dating world.

But, at the time, commitment wasn’t what I needed at all. I did, however, act like it, got trapped in tough situations repeatedly, and exited not so graciously. Please, someone remind me to tell you about the time I broke up with a serious girlfriend via email. It was awful. I was awful. I’m probably not much better today.

Sometimes I exited after the sex had taken place, sometimes, not. But, I didn’t stop pretending I wanted a relationship for a long time. Why would I stop? I was lying to myself, as well.

Appetizers over meals, always

One of my first dates was with a beautiful, intelligent career woman closer to my age. We started talking after we swiped on an app and she sent me some cute shots of her legs in heels. I’m a sucker for a beautiful pair of legs and her face was cute, as well. I figured, “If she’s sending me skin after day two, there’s a chance she’s pretty liberal in bed and we’ll have some fun.” I’ll be honest, younger me probably said “There’s a good chance I’m getting laid.” Please reference previous article me being an asshole.

Date one could have gone better. I hadn’t been on many, but I knew this wasn’t how it should go. She seemed really stressed. She had a stressful job. I did, too. But, it was almost like she didn’t want to be there. Everything seemed like it was trouble for her. I was concerned that maybe it was me. We ordered some appetizers and drinks and chatted a while at this restaurant nearby. I’m the king of not ordering an actual meal on dates (or ever) because I want to try seven different things. It’s also a good way to keep the conversation flowing.

By the end of the date, I was fairly convinced that I had little to offer this woman. She seemed stressed out, very busy, and had a lot of pressure on her that I couldn’t break through. The conversation wasn’t exciting. So, despite her incredible legs, I figured walking her to her car would be the last time I saw her.

Well… the walk to the car was awkward. But, the goodnight kiss she planted on me was unexpected. It lasted a few minutes, as we huffed and puffed and opened the door to her SUV. What a makeout session! I was in shock. Did she like me? Did she not? I didn’t fully understand. We decided that a few minutes of middle-school-makeout (although fun) was all we should do that evening (yay for adult decisions). And, as we stopped kissing, I started to breathe in her scent. She didn’t smell bad, at all. And, her taste wasn’t bad either. It was just something I was not used to. It was… bland? Like if you had a favorite dish at a restaurant, this taste and smell combination would be that dish without seasoning. I realized it just wasn’t exciting for me. But, okay… strange, slow date, good makeout session… I gave the evening a B and drove home, assuming she felt the same way and we wouldn’t be seeing each other again.

The next day, she texted me and told me she had a great time. I tried to do the honorable thing and let her know I didn’t really think it was a great date, although I really did find her attractive and enjoyed the makeout session. When she asked that we try again and see if there was a spark for me, I said that we were both pretty busy and wondered if it was a good idea to continue something we didn’t think would be successful. She insisted. So, I told her I really didn’t feel like going out that night (again, just trying to deflect). She said we could order in and see where it went. So, I caved. I figured the last part of the evening was fun, save the less than savory smell and taste. And, maybe we’d kindle something more. Plus, this was minimal effort and I was really bad at saying “no” back then.

That night, I asked her what kind of Chinese food she’d be interested in while she was on her way over. I didn’t want a strange “hey, here’s a cracker” moment while we both waited for our food, starving. I always over-order Chinese food. It tastes way better the next day/week anyways. The food arrived a few minutes after she did and we ate, chatting a little. We weren’t much better at making conversation the second time around. But, the food was good.

I knew what I should have done at that moment: told her I had a lovely night and walked her out after the Chinese food. But, that would have literally been an hour long date and I was new to all of this dating stuff. Was that okay? What if she said it still wasn’t enough and she asked for a third date? I honestly didn’t know how to say “no” yet. It was a hard voice for me to find. And, because of it, I’d probably hurt quite a few people.

So, when she looked at me across the table and asked if I wanted to go to the bedroom, I obviously led her there. New sex is always fun. Especially if you’ve been in a committed relationship. But, there was something about this particular brand of intimacy that just didn’t excite me. And, that smell and taste of blandness continued to linger as we kissed and breathed.

Leftover Chinese Food… the best part of any date night

The night ended and I asked if she wanted to stay over, that evening (it was a weekend, after all and I thought it was the right thing to do, since we’d been intimate). She said she made it a point not to stay over someone’s house until she really knew them. I found this to be an interesting notion since we’d just had sex. We’d risked having a child or spreading an STD, so I thought the act of staying over someone’s home would be much less intimate. I’ve come to learn after years of dating that is very normal. And, I’m the weird one for actually preferring a night of petting and back scratches accompanied by breakfast instead of a 2AM exit.

The next day, we repeated the same pattern. She told me she’d had a great time and asked when we’d do it again. But, I simply couldn’t keep moving in a direction I didn’t feel comfortable in. I didn’t think we had much in common and I also didn’t enjoy the intimacy. There was also something about that damn smell I couldn’t get out of my head. She didn’t smell badly AT ALL. It just smelled bland. That’s when I realized what it was: our chemical makeups just didn’t mesh. Literally, our bodies and minds were incompatible. The smells, the tastes, the complete lack of understanding each other’s body languages, the fact that we weren’t compatible in bed. We were on completely different pages! Now, I’d likely have known that within the first hour of the first date, today. But, this was all new to me. And, it was a learning process, for sure.

“Look, I really just don’t know if we have enough in common,” I said. “I’m sorry.” Of course, I proceeded to inhale a barrage of insults to my manhood, gentleman’s status, etc. She’d said she couldn’t have guessed by the way I had worshipped her in bed, the previous night. And, I honestly had no idea what she was talking about. I’d only known how to make love, one way, and didn’t realize that I should have put in less effort.

“Why didn’t you just tell me you didn’t want me?” she asked. I was going to remind her that I had, in fact, said similar words after our first date. But, I thought it better not to get myself in more hot water. After her insults were over, I hung up the phone (it had moved from text to call when I told her I didn’t care to see her again) and went about my day, a little shaken.

What did I learn from this experience? Sometimes, you literally are not physically, emotionally, or chemically compatible with someone. Someone’s physical attraction is such a small portion of the equation. And, the minute you see a glaring sign, it’s likely a good idea to pull away.

Now, does that mean that you don’t give things time to flourish? No, of course not. If you’re on the fence about something, I suggest communicating that and moving forward. But, that is not what we had in this case. Nowadays, a simple “I don’t think this is going to work” as early as possible saves me a lot of time and headache. Oddly enough, I still get a barrage of insults. Perhaps those are unavoidable. Go figure…