I'm sitting cross-legged on my therapist's couch 4 months after my husband's announcement that he wants a divorce when my therapist informs me that he thinks I should start dating again.
I had told myself and others that I was going to take time off to concentrate on myself for once. Between a husband and three boys, I didn't know who I was anymore. I just wanted to hang out with my girlfriends, drink martinis like a fish, and let the hair grow long on my legs if I wanted. I had even gone so far as to announce to my friends that I was going to take a full year off from any kind of relationship.
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It occurred to me the other day that I have passed an important milestone in this dating prescription. I’ve had my date with Man #37. Do you know what that means? It means I’ve had a chance to “look at the first pitch.” Yep, that’s right. According to my game theory calculations, out of dates with 100 different men, if I wanted to increase my chances of success to 50%, I needed to reject the first 37 dates, then accept the next man who comes along who is better than the previous 37.
There’s a problem though. The best man to come along so far was Man #31, a man who said he was separated and then turned out to still be living with his wife. That’s not very separated, and that’s not very good in terms of setting the bar for the next men who come along.
I can do better. I know I can.
And so, it is in this quest for the man who is better than the previous thirty-seven that I agreed to meet Man #38.
It was another coffee date. I swore I was going cut down on coffee dates after my experience with Man #33, Just Because There’s a Hole, but in terms of time and expense, the coffee date remains the best option for dates where I have low expectations. Although, with the price of SBUX coffee, if you can find a bar with a good happy hour, the cheap date argument for coffee dates doesn’t even hold up. Unless you can’t stop at one drink, of course, and then that’s a completely different issue.
At least with meeting for a drink things start to get more relaxed as the date progresses. Unlike coffee dates where everything feels stiff and jacked up on caffeine. Anyway, you know I hate coffee dates, but I go. Just being asked on a coffee date leaves me with a bad impression, and my date with Man #38 reinforced my feelings on this.
You see, one of the things I dislike most about the coffee date is that it ends up feeling like an interview. Stiff and jacked up on caffeine, just like work, and that’s how my date with Man #38 felt. He was The Interrogator. It was clear from the beginning of the date that The Interrogator was not really interested in letting me know anything about him. The interview–let’s call it what it was–was all about him finding out whether or not I would be a suitable candidate for dating him.
I mean, who cares if I even found him attractive. It’s all about him, right? I’m supposed to want the job.
In his initial email to me on OkCupid he had written, “This is Mr. Right. Someone told me you were looking for me.”
I know. That cheese ball line should have been my first red flag. I wrote back, “Do you use the Mr. Right line with every woman? Does it work?”
Apparently it did, because I wrote back and ended up getting my coffee interview with Mr. Right.
As you might imagine, The Interrogator ended up being quite full of himself. His body language said it all. He sat, leaning back in his chair, arms crossed, aloof. He didn’t make conversation but instead, settled into asking me a series of questions, everything from, “what’s the last book you read,” to, “what’s your favorite color and food?” Here is a sampling of some of the other questions:
“Do you have children?”
“Have you been married?”
“What type of movies do you like?”
In isolation, none of these questions were particularly bad. It was the manner in which he asked them, and worse, he didn’t want to respond to my questions. This beyond everything else set me off. It was like he was conducting interviews to find an object to hang on his arm, like he was approaching dating in the same way he might go out kicking tires and test-driving sports cars.
The questions continued…
“What are you proud of in life and do you have a role model?”
“If you were traveling to a deserted tropical island and could just take three things with you, just what would you take? Why?”
I shit you not. He said that.
The final straw came when he said, “Do you own the house you live in?” He was making me increasingly uncomfortable, I decided I didn’t want the job and I said, “If you ask for my social security number, you’re not getting it.”
He looked a little confused. Maybe he was just socially awkward, but according to his profile he proclaimed himself to be a successful businessman. Could he really be that awkward? I suppose business success doesn’t necessarily translate to romance success. In fact, there may actually be an inverse relationship between the two. I didn’t know, but as far as I was concerned the interview was over. I grabbed my $4 coffee and stood up to leave.
“Did I say something?” he asked.
In the nicest way I could, I looked down at him, sighed, and said, “I know you said you’re new to online dating, and I’m not sure what kind of woman you’re looking for, but I’m looking for a relationship that had two sides to it, two equal sides. I don’t like being interrogated. You will probably have more success if you try to have a conversation with your next date. Good luck to you.”
And on that note, I left. If I sound tired and annoyed, it’s because I am. Thirty-eight different men and not a single one worth bringing into my life in any real way. Man #31, the not really separated defense attorney, sent me a series of text messages to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving and that’s the best so far.
I can do better. I know I can.
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