My last date before I tried online dating was…hold on i’m thinking. Maybe sometime circa 2007. Now you have to give me a little leeway because of Papua New Guinea but still we are talking a good 4 or 5 years here. I was never really the girl who needed a boyfriend. I’ve had a few past relationships but it was pretty clear in college that for various reasons, these weren’t the right guys for me. I learned from these college relationships that no matter how great the guys is, if our faith and theology aren’t compatible then it isn’t going to work. And well, if all we have in common is our faith and theology that won’t work either. So with that in mind I plunged headfirst into the online dating scene. I figured I would keep an open mind and get a few dates under my belt. Now 8 first dates and a couple second dates later I am a little wiser, have two new friends, am still single and that’s ok. If anything, I have some new stories to tell so here you go.
Date #1: This is the only guy out of these 8 who has given me that lovely butterfly in the stomach, don’t know if you’re going to throw up or pass out feeling. We met on State Street in Santa Barbara, had a burger and then walked down to the beach. It was a beautiful day, not too hot and not too cold, perfect Santa Barbara weather. We pretty much cut through all the chitchat and Date#1 shared his dream of becoming a firefighter and working in LA. He talked about wanting to use his work to share his faith and help people. It was really easy to see his heart for LA and his drive to make this happen. So far so good but it was pretty clear that his focus was US based. As we brushed off the sand and headed back up to our cars, we talked about everything from our families to favorite things. I said goodbye to him and walked away a little lightheaded and woozy from the pheromones.
I talked with a friend later that night about the date and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t really good either. I had yet to make my non-negotiables list so I couldn’t really pinpoint what was bothering me. But I quickly zeroed in on the fact that he wanted nothing more than to be a firefighter and live in the LA area for the rest of his life. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it felt (and still feels) very limiting for me. Maybe if he had been more aware of the world but that wasn’t the case. So I met up with him a couple days later when I was driving through his town on my way back from LA. We talked over icecream and I told him that while my Grandmother would love him (she’s always telling me that we should focus on our own local problems first), that it wouldn’t work for me. But there were still major butterflies and at one point when he touched my hand while illustrating a point, I thought I was going to fall off the bench we were sitting on. However, I kept myself together and our final goodbyes were injury free.
Date #2: He’s French. We have had lunch a couple times up at UCSB. He’s come to church with me and that always causes a bit of commotion among the church ladies. He’s catholic and doesn’t understand why religion has to be anything but private between you and God. We have great conversations but that’s about it. Date #2 and I are still friends and he’s going to teach me some French when I get back to Santa Barbara. It’s kind of fun because every time I see him, I think about the last French guy I met who just happened to be walking through Walagu.
Date #3: On this date I broke many of the online dating first date rules. We went hiking and I got in his car. Now keep in mind that this is small town Santa Barbara, the trails are always super busy on Sunday afternoons and it turns out that one of his company bosses is an elder at my church. But just to make things clear I don’t advocate hiking or getting into someone’s car on a first date where you are just meeting the person. Date #3 and I talked on the phone a couple times before the date. And from the beginning I was hesitant but I was willing to give him a chance. How much can you really know from talking on the phone anyway? He seemed nice enough but somewhat stuck. I have nothing against the fact that he lives on a boat or is in his late 30s but those things didn’t really sweep me off my feet. We talked easily, he talked a lot but not too much. He brought apples and other snacks so at some point we sat down and just enjoyed the day. The hike was obviously beautiful. I mean this was once again an amazing Santa Barbara day and the views from Inspiration point were just as I had remembered. But the date left me uninspired. Once again not particularly good but not bad either.
I got home and the house was full of church people including including Date#3’s boss. So Mr. Boss and I just chatted for a few minutes about the date and his connection at work with the guy. He’s not directly in charge of Date #3’s work so he didn’t know him super well but Mr. Boss listened, shrugged his shoulders and said that sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.
Later that night there was an email waiting for me, asking me out again. I wrote back politely declining while trying to be vague and basically saying I enjoyed the hike but didn’t think it would be a good idea to pursue something further. And he wrote back asking for an explanation since he had a wonderful time. Now for all you guys out there reading this, asking why is not in and of itself a bad thing. However, if you ask why be prepared to hear something you might not like or agree with. I tried not to be harsh but yeah. So he thanked me for my honesty and I thought that was it.
A couple days later I was at Mr. Boss’s house for Bible study and my phone rang. We were all still hanging out and just talking so I didn’t bother answering it but then I saw who it was, Date #3. If I had any doubt that I made the wrong decision not going out with Date #3 again, this message eliminated it. Basically he called to apologize for every little thing he perceived as going wrong on the date. These weren’t even bad things. He was still picking it all apart and it really wasn’t that complicated. The message didn’t make me want to give him a second chance, it just made me feel sorry for him. And it’s things like this that make me feel like the ‘bad guy’ and it was just one date, let it go. Needless to say I didn’t call him back but for his sake I wrote a brief email saying I received the message and there was nothing to apologize for. Thankfully he didn’t respond.
Date #4: This was the most stereotypical first date. We met at a nice restaurant and he had made reservations. It was a fish place and I don’t really like fish but the place has good beer so that made up for it. We sat down, ordered and talked pretty easily for the next couple of hours. It didn’t take me long to figure out that this guy was an adrenaline junkie with no real focus in life. But he was interesting enough and he also thought I was funny which helps. So we were laughing and I noticed a table of guys behind him being a bit stupid and rowdy. I didn’t give them another thought until they paid their bill and walked by our table on the way out, throwing a small paper airplane down by my plate. I picked it up, opened it and read something to the effect of “You’re super hot. What are you doing with this guy? He seems nice and all, but really? If you want a real man give me a call.” This was followed by a phone number. Date #4 of course was curious but I told him it was rude and just continued the conversation. Even if I wasn’t going to marry the guy, he didn’t need to read that. So dinner ended and we both went out separate ways. There were a few polite text messages back and forth, one phone conversation saying that it wasn’t going to go anywhere and that was it.
On a side-note: The after-date text message really makes me laugh. It’s kind of like an excuse not to call later because you’ve ‘talked’ already and feel like you’re in touch but yet they can be so meaningless. My advice to guys: The after-date text message can be reassuring to both you and the girl. However, if you are actually interested, CALL HER. Even if you have to leave a message, plan it, say something nice and ask her out again.
Date #5: Just getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks and chatting can be really comfortable. This guy is a single dad, tall, with a decent job. The best part of the date was seeing pictures of his adorable little girl. He obviously loves her very much. Once again, the after date text message. But this time nothing followed and that’s ok.
Date #6: Once again Starbucks,but this guy was more interested in finding someone to take home. And well that plan backfired for him. I think he was trying to branch out and meet a different type of girl then he normally meets at clubs and bars. Maybe after meeting me, the girls at the club seem more attractive. I guess i’ll never know.
Date #7: All I need to say is Hometown Buffet. This should never, under any circumstances be a place for a first date. Date #7 was from West Africa but I don’t think that is necessarily an excuse. I should have just declined once the words Hometown Buffet were mentioned but by that point I had already put him off once before and couldn’t really do it again. He was very kind and dare I say charming but when I wasn’t completely caught up in memories of my time in Ghana, I was thinking to myself “What am I doing in Hometown Buffet?”. And well, those thoughts can be very distracting. The date ended and I was missing Africa but Date #7 just couldn’t compare to Charles. Charles was a beautiful Christian African man who I dated while I lived in Ghana during my semester abroad. Of course I didn’t tell Date #7 this and it was sort of an unfair comparison because very few men could compare to idealized memories anyway. But we talked and I kept trying to tell Date #7 why it just wouldn’t work for reasons actually on my list of non-negotiables and he kept insisting that we should try. I could give him points for persistence but there is a fine line there. Eventually he got the hint.
Date #8: Beer and pizza. Sounds like a pretty good start. And it was but the best part about this guy is his faith. Our first conversation after ordering consisted of him telling me how he had been praying for God to teach him dependence and how his prayers had been answered in amazing but frustrating ways. I mean you aren’t going to think that lessons in dependence are going to be easy. While we talked about life, language, family, traveling and other topics, it was all interspersed with the Bible and things we had been learning about God and about ourselves. And as we talked, Date #8 was actually interested in Papua New Guinea and not just because it was weird and different. Having traveled a bit himself, he also could relate to some of my stories and had a framework to respond and comment. Nothing like bonding over lack of water or strange foods stories. While the earth didn’t move or anything, we were actually having a really good time. After we finished our pizza, we walked around a bit, got some icecream and the conversation just continued. A few short hours later, I gave him my phone number and we said goodbye.
About 1000 text messages and a short time later he asked me out again. I wasn’t going to say yes but my best friend was excited about him because at the very least he had all the non-negotiables (as far as I could tell from a first date). Similar faith and theology. Check. Bigger worldview/International Outlook. Check. Want to have and provide for a family. Check. And so I said yes.
The second date was just as easygoing as the first. Our initial plans didn’t work out because of the weather but the backup plans were great. I really enjoyed myself. However, it’s not just about a list or about being compatible Christians. Date #8 and I talked and basically both came to the conclusion that for now, for the two of us it isn’t time to start a relationship. Maybe one day circumstances will be different but being just friends is a good place to start.