“I don’t know anything,” said my separated friend when I mentioned a date I had the previous day. She was not dating yet but looking ahead to that day when her divorce would be final. “Who pays?” she asked. “What about the first kiss? What do you say when you want to end the date?” She sighed, “It all seems so difficult.”
For long-time marrieds going through a divorce or experiencing life after the death of a spouse, dating in 2018 can be a culture shock. Here’s a short guide for dating newbies with answers to the top 10 questions.
Let’s discuss the answers over some of Ellie Krieger’s creamy Parmesan spring vegetable skillet. Have two helpings – this is a long post.
Q: I joined a couple of dating sites and started communicating with a couple of guys. One of them asked me to dinner but I thought a coffee date was what people usually did. What should I do? Also, what about checking out the guy online before I meet him?
A: For your first date, it’s best to plan something that takes no more than an hour.* If you are not enjoying the date, you don’t want to be stuck. My favorite first date is meeting for a happy hour drink, appetizer optional. Wine or a cocktail helps with nerves and a drink is time limited. If you’re having a great time, you can always extend into dinner or a stroll outside. A coffee date can work as well – or even meeting for a walk in a public place.
See my posts on dating security for guidance on checking out an online connection before you meet. Update to previous posts on security: Thanks to the recent Facebook controversies, searching for someone’s phone number in the Facebook search bar is no longer an option.
*I break the no meal rule for men who drive a long distance to meet me. I know I’ll have to stick it out even if there is no attraction. However, I also will leave at any point on a date if the guy is rude, crude, or not a nice dude (apologies for shameless rhyming).
Q: How can I gracefully end a date with a guy I realize I’m not interested in?
A: Think about an ending that works well for your situation. The friend I mentioned earlier has three children at home. She has a built in excuse, “I need to get home to my kids.”
Here are some exit lines I have used:
*I’m dog sitting and need to go walk or feed the dog
*I have people coming for dinner and need to go prep
*Sorry but I need to leave (with no further explanation offered).
You could also arrange for a rescue by a friend or relative. He or she can text you 45 minutes into the date. You can then say, “Something has come up and I’m sorry but I need to leave.” Feel free to embellish on the reason – crisis at home, work, etc. These are what I call harmless white lies.
Q: What about paying? What if I want to leave before the check arrives?
A: When my date asks for the check, I’ll offer to help pay. He may say, “I’ll cover it” or he may take you up on your offer.
Perhaps you want to leave before your date asks for the check. If this is the case, give your reason (see above) and ask, “Can I give you something for the check?”
I have been on dates where I left after one drink but the guy stayed on to have dinner. *If I know in the first 10 seconds that I have no interest in a person, I make sure I don’t order any food and stick to one drink so I can leave after a short time.
Q: What about the first kiss?
A: I’ve covered greetings and endings in this blog. I prefer to hug hello and if I feel inclined will fend off a handshake and turn it into a hug.
There’s a whole spectrum of guy behaviors re: that first kiss. Some kiss you hello, some kiss you at the end of the first date, and some men kiss you in the middle of the first date. If he doesn’t kiss you, he may be shy or unsure of your interest.
On a few occasions I have made the first move to kiss. It’s always nice when the kiss is mutually initiated (the magnet effect)…and well executed. Tip #keep breath mints in your purse and your car.
Q: What if he asks me out on date #2 while we’re still on date #1?
A: I was thrown the first time this happened to me. I wasn’t sure about the guy who asked so I said maybe to his “can we get together again?” Truly a wishy-washy response but sometimes that’s the best you can do. If you want to see Mr. X again, there really isn’t an awkward moment. Just say yes.
Q: How soon after the first date can I expect him to contact me? Should I initiate contact?
A: Timing of communication is another issue with a wide range of behaviors. Sometimes a guy will call or text you within an hour after you leave a date; or you might not hear from Mr. X until the next day. The sooner you hear from him, the more likely he’s into you but a 24 hour delay doesn’t mean he’s not interested. Life is like that.
If you had a good time on the date and liked Mr. X, I think it’s fine to text him a few hours after your encounter or the next morning. I wouldn’t wait too long. All you need to say is “It was great meeting you” OR “I had a good time yesterday. Thanks for the drink.” If it’s your style, include an emoji. I like winks and smiley faces with sunglasses. If you have shared a kiss or three at the end of the date, you could use a smiley face blowing a kiss.
Bonus re: communication:
When you are communicating with a guy, be aware of any change in frequency or tone of communication. A change could be a signal that he is withdrawing. Similarly, if you feel a need to pull back, slow your responses and keep them briefer. Sometimes a slow fade away is preferable to a text, phone call or email to say, “This is over.”
Q: What if the first date went well, but there was no chemistry? Should I go out with him again?
A: Some dating experts say chemistry doesn’t always occur right away but often surfaces after you know someone better. Since I have experienced a delayed chemistry phenomenon, I might go out with a guy a second time for an attraction check. People are often nervous on the first date and they may not be their “best selves.”
Date #2 is often a reality check. I have been attracted to a guy on a first date but when I see him again I wonder “What was I thinking?”
Q: I went out with this guy (insert various number of dates) and it looks like we’re likely to have sex in the near future. I’m nervous about a lot of things – STDs, the way I look without clothes, timing.
A: Here’s the teen-like déjà vu moment when you’ve been in a long marriage or relationship and haven’t thought about STDs in a couple of decades. Be a scout and always be prepared. Buy condoms in case you have a moment and he doesn’t have any (shop on Amazon if you’re wary of running into neighbors at the drug store).
When the topic of sex comes up, have a discussion about using protection and/or getting tested for STDs. Ignore “I got tested two months ago.” Suggest to Mr. X that you both get tested and show each other the results. You need to see that piece of paper!
Ignore: “I give blood so I get tested frequently.” Giving blood does not test for 100% of STDS (chlamydia is not part of the blood donation test, per my gynecologist). Again, you need to see something in writing and the test needs to be done after you have this talk. Use a condom until the results are in or abstain.
I find that women are more concerned about body image than men. Male readers, feel free to disagree about this. Low lighting and candles may ease some self-consciousness and add to the romance.
Oh, and that moment when you’re lighting the candles for your first post separation or post divorce encounter might be the time to say, “It’s been awhile” to your partner. If you’re both newbies, this may be a shared issue. Just stating this fact will make you feel better and explain any nervousness.
Timing of sex: This is another “huge range” issue. A couple might have sex on date #1 or date #15. And, yes, there does seem to be something about expectations and date #3. However, do what feels right for you.
Q: I’m nervous about online dating. Can’t I just meet guys in real life?
A: Yes, of course you can and should try to meet guys in real life. See blog tags meeting men in real life and meeting men in the wild for suggestions on how to meet guys offline. Consider real life tactics and online dating. Neither method is perfect but the more things you do, the greater your chance of success.
Q: Any other general guidance?
A: You’re going to make “mistakes” or what I term “recall cringe moments.” Those are the moments when you think back to what you said or did on an encounter and ask yourself, “How could I have said or done that?” or you think “I was too sarcastic” or — insert any of a number of possibilities.
You’re human and you’re learning to navigate a new world. You will do or say things you’ll regret. That’s okay. Mr. X is making mistakes as well.
The more experiences you have – good or bad – the more you’ll understand what you do and don’t want in a relationship or partner. Along the way, you’ll discover all kinds of things about yourself and claim or reclaim your female power. You go girl.
Send any other questions my way.
Until next week, happy dating or not dating.