It took me 18 years and probably just as many rejections to get my first ever date. What a day that was. Never before had a single word, yes, given me such a dizzying combination of anticipation, excitement, and uneasiness.
It was the moment I prepared all my life for. I had seen dates on TV shows and movies, so I knew exactly how they should go. Or so I thought. Here’s what happened during my first ever date, and the lessons I learned from it.
Shoot Your Shot, You Never Know
First off, I felt I was a late bloomer. I remember looking on in envy as I saw seemingly everyone else in high school go out with each other. Their ice cream dates and romantic meals at Wendy’s was something that I yearned to experience myself. I thought things would automatically change the second I stepped foot onto a college campus, but I was wrong.
Going into my freshman year of college, I was still an awkward kid with shaky confidence, a questionable haircut, and even more questionable fashion sense. There were a few girls that I really liked, but they all kept 25 letters of the alphabet to themselves while handing me the L. Things were looking hopeless by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, but I was determined that year to spend it with somebody else for once.
Right at the beginning of February, a new girl transferred in and became my new next door neighbor. We didn’t know each other, but fuck it, I decided to ask her out to Valentine’s dinner. I didn’t expect her to say yes given that we just met, but she did. It was way easier than I thought. I could have psyched myself out with a list of reasons as to why it wouldn’t have worked out, but I decided to just go for it.
Sometimes you really don’t know unless you try.
The Perfect Date?
I had this idea of a “perfect date” in my mind, and it consisted of flowers, a candle lit dinner, a movie, and all the other works. I was a poor college student, but I did my best to make it into a reality.
I went to a nearby florist, and saw that they were charging around $50 for a bouquet. So I did the next best thing and got some roses at Walmart instead.
I looked up the most romantic restaurant in the area, and I made reservations. It was a 30 minute drive away though, and I didn’t have a car. There was no Uber or Lyft in the area at the time, so I had to call up a taxi company. It was very expensive, and I felt pretty dumb while passing by all the other restaurants that were within walking distance.
Dinner actually went pretty well, but the real mess up occurred afterwards. I insisted on seeing a movie because I wanted to do the whole yawning and then putting my arm around her thing. Ya know, just how they do it on TV. The issue was, I didn’t have enough money for both the tickets and another taxi to the theater.
We ended up walking about a mile and a half in the snow. I guess it could have been really romantic if it wasn’t for the lack of sidewalks and all the cars that nearly ran us over. We were beat by the time we got to the theater, and the movie we decided to see didn’t help. The trailer looked a lot more exciting than the movie I’ll tell you that.
We went back to our adjacent dorm rooms afterwards and awkwardly shook hands as we said goodbye. Definitely not the storybook ending I envisioned.
The purpose of a first date is for two people to get to know each other, and to have a good time while doing so. You don’t need something complex or extravagant to achieve that. You’re either going to have good chemistry with someone or you’re not, and things like a far away expensive dinner aren’t necessary to figure that out.
It’s okay to keep things simple and within your means. I didn’t do so, and it left me eating ramen for weeks. Going to a nearby restaurant and opting for a more accessible activity would have worked just as well, if not better. First dates are ultimately about the people, not the activities. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plan nice things, but I am saying that you should get rid of the notion of a “perfect date.” Romance isn’t born from a “to do” list of activities, it’s created by two willing people.
Lastly, it’s okay if a date doesn’t go well. Most of us will go through some poor experiences in our lifetimes. That’s how it is. If you mess something up, or you’re just not compatible with the other person, chalk it up as experience and move on. You’ll be able to laugh about it later, and maybe even write about it in a dating blog or something.