The bad date which does not kill us makes us stronger
In every single girl’s life, a bad date will eventually fall. It’s an inevitability – sort of like the dryer eating your socks or hitting all the green lights in town when you’re trying to put on your makeup on the way to work. After doing all the prep work for a first date…the grooming and plucking and highlighting and polishing…it’s nothing short of a major letdown when your new dashing prince transforms into a warty frog right in front of your very eyes. The good news is this – there are red flags that will start waving pretty early on in a bad date that can signal a disaster waiting to happen. If you get out while the getting’s good, you might just be home in bed, happily watching the latest Matthew McConaughey flick with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s before Bruce Banner ever morphs into the Incredible Hulk.
First things first. Let’s identify a few examples of classic frogs in Prince Charming’s clothing:
Mr. Too Much, Too Soon: You know who I’m talking about. We’ve all encountered him. You’re sitting at dinner, gazing at your dreamboat, feeling the first date butterflies, ready to get down to the preliminary “getting to know each other” talk when he grabs your hand and tells you he’s never felt this way before. Since the waitress hasn’t even brought out the menu yet, you’re thinking surely he must mean he’s never felt such affection for a restaurant. By the time the salads have arrived, he’s told you he thinks he’s falling in love. As the waitress slides your steaks in front of you, he’s calling his parents to invite them to them to dinner so they can meet his “soulmate.” As you nervously start to nibble your dessert, if he starts to fumble in his coat pocket and sink to one knee in front of you, it’s time to scream “Check, please!” and run…not walk…to the nearest exit. Because here’s the cold, hard truth: If he’s stalking you before the bill even arrives, there is a restraining order in your very near future.
Mr. Cheap: He’s told you about what a great job he has, how he was promoted to Senior Vice President of the company in a week and a half…even how much is in his 401k. Though you’re not the type to be seduced by money, you can’t help but be impressed by how successful he is at such a young age. So imagine your surprise when he takes you to Mr. Cluck’s Chicken and uses his Smart Card to get two entrees for the price of one. Your surprise quickly turns to horror when the check arrives and he whips out his calculator to determine what your half of the $6.47 bill is. This is your signal to cash in your chips and walk, because, hey – you really do gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run. Here’s the cold, hard truth: This is the south, where men should be gentlemen enough to at least pick up the tab for the first date. Forget about women’s liberation and all that jazz – if you’re not worth the cost of a thigh and a wing to him, he’s not worth another second of your Friday night.
Mr. Mirage: Pay close attention to this slippery little fella, ladies, because this master of disguise can almost fool you into believing that he’s Mr. Right instead of Mr. Oh-So-Wrong. Mr. Mirage is quite the paradox – from far away he’s as pretty as a picture, but just like that shimmery water on the highway that vanishes as soon as you get too close, so does Mr. Mirage. He’s all about appearances. All image and no substance. All flash and no content. He looks like he just stepped out of the pages of the latest Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue, but the only thing darker than Mr. Tall, Dark & Handsome’s beautiful, curly locks is his heart. This is the guy that on night one is the man of your dreams – considerate, charming, easy to talk to, respectful. You seem to really connect. He seems to really get it. You go home in a cloud of rainbows and buttercups, convinced you’ve finally experienced the elusive “love at first sight.” By night two, Dr. Jekyll has become Mr. Hyde. He’s rude, abrasive, shifty and obnoxious. When he asks you where he can score an eight-ball and you have a feeling he’s talking about shooting something other than a ball into the corner pocket, it’s time hang up your cue stick and call it a night. Here’s the cold, hard truth: Mr. Mirage is a player, and you’re his latest game – and the only way to go home a winner is to call forfeit and walk away. Quickly.
Mr. Bad Kisser: You had a really great date. The conversation was good. There was no awkwardness or dead space or moments of silence that dragged on longer than Mariah Carey’s high note in the National Anthem. You’re thinking maybe this guy might even be a keeper…or at least worth trying a second date on for size. As you’re standing at your door, nervously saying good night and figuring out the appropriate farewell ritual (Shake hands? Hug? Kiss on the cheek?), you’re suddenly bombarded by two giant lips coming toward you, with no way to escape. It’s like trying to avoid the meteor in the movie Armageddon…it just ain’t happening. You weren’t even sure that you wanted to kiss on the first date and now all of a sudden you’re the recipient of more saliva than a newborn baby’s pacifier. And the worst part is, he’s an equal opportunity kisser – meaning he didn’t just stop at your lips, but is spreading the love to your cheeks, eyes, nose, chin – there’s virtually no area of your face that’s safe from this good night kiss from hell. Here’s the cold, hard truth: the date might have been great, but a nightly tongue bath is going to get really old, really fast. Somewhere along the way, someone gave Mr. Bad Kisser the idea that his kissing was actually GOOD, and there’s no amount of aversion therapy that is going to convince him otherwise. And unless you’re ready to be in a relationship with a Saint Bernard, it’s clear this coupling is going to the dogs.
Mr. Social Networking Stalker (or Mr. SNS): Sometimes red flags present themselves before you even go on a first date. In Mr. Social Networking Stalker’s case, the red flag might have even been flying at half-mast for awhile, but since you never really considered him as anything other than a friend, it probably didn’t matter too much. Mr. SNS might have been a friend, a co-worker or an acquaintance at one time. Somewhere along the way, you lost touch, stopped working together or moved out of the neighborhood, and that’s when Mr. SNS began his quest to stalk you through the Land of Social Networking, monitoring your every move. He’s followed you for the past seven years, from Myspace to Twitter to Facebook, always creeping you out a little with his persistence and constant invitations to take you out to dinner, even when you told him you just got out of a painful year and a half long relationship and were swearing off men for awhile or simply and politely made it clear that you just weren’t that into him. Just when you think Mr. SNS has finally taken the hint (because you don’t want to go out with him but you also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings), he makes what is commonly
called “the Grand Gesture” – or some entirely creepy inappropriate comment or message that belongs in a movie on Cinemax at 3 a.m. and NOT in your Inbox or on your wall. Here’s the cold, hard truth: Men who hide behind the safety and anonymity of their computer screen are often harmless – but are sometimes not. Why take the chance? The only option in this situation is to hit delete, mark your page private and have no further contact with him. Social networking is a great way to reconnect with old friends, network with new friends and let your personality shine. Just make sure it’s shining to people who respect you and your boundaries and are not carrying their admiration of you over into obsession with your online persona. It’s always, always better to be safe than sorry.
After all that, if you’re tempted to lose heart – don’t. There are some really great guys out there (despite what your experience or statistics might tell you) and sometimes you have to weed through a few thorns to get to the roses. And until you find the one for you, how about planting your own garden and decorating your own soul, rather than waiting for someone to bring you flowers?