Growing up my dad was very anti-dating and insisted we travel (and socialize) in packs. So the majority of my teenage years were spent “chaperoning” my sisters on their group dates. When I was finally out of the house and ready to date I really didn’t know how.I was completely at sea until I met my dating expert. My friend Reb had dating down to a science and had developed a very simple philosophy that she passed to me.
Dating is a lot like car shopping.
When you shop for a new (or newish) car there is a process for finding the right car. It involves research, test drives and quite often a third party to set you up with your new car. Dating is not that much different. High school and college are really all about research. As you socialize in large groups and wander from class to class you are able to observe how different personalities interact and react to those around them. You formulate your personal understanding of what your type is – dependable sedan, flashy convertible or sporty Jeep.
From there you move on to the test drive or casual dating phase where you figure out if the person you are interested in is the right fit for you. If the answer is yes, you move on to the relationship. Often the test drive phase is aided by your friends, family or co-workers who set you up on blind dates (hopefully based on your personal likes and dislikes).
When I decided to begin my dating career, Reb set me up on my first blind date. She had met a nice guy who owned his own business and was single and she had given him my number. Sounds great right? Wrong. The Denny’s Guy as I like to call him had been completely misrepresented to me. While a very nice guy, he was short, badly dressed and hadn’t bothered to clean out his truck which was full of old fast food containers. During the course of our date he told me he had thought about bringing me flowers but his friend couldn’t hook him up with free ones. As for the small business owner part of the story, this had happened entirely by accident when he had been fired from Taco Bell for ”allegedly” stealing from the register and taken a job as a window washer. After leaving the matinee showing of Batman, he asked me “if I was drive thru hungry or sit down hungry”. Um…. How does one even answer that question? His version of “sit down hungry” was a corner booth at Denny’s where he ate so often they knew his name and he was able to point out that the prices had recently increased by .06 cents. Sigh.
When I asked Reb what she was thinking, she explained another of her dating theories which I have since dubbed “The Practice Date”. You see, first dates are tricky and nerve wrecking under the best of circumstances but if you are just starting to date or haven’t dated for a while they can be especially stress inducing. So in order to get in the groove, you go on a Practice Date with someone that you really wouldn’t be interested in. Because you really don’t care you are free to practice your witty banter and fine tune your flirting. It’s like learning to drive a station wagon before you test drive a Maserati. Denny’s Guy had been my station wagon, my Practice Date. It was another year and a half of Practice Dating before I was ready to move on to the sporty convertible that was B. And another 9 years after that to find JB. Through it all these dating theories have worked well for me and helped me to retain my sense of humor. Cause if you can’t laugh, then what’s the point.