Yes, but… why BAD dates? or: Isn’t this a little mean?

So, I’ve heard a bit back about this project from various people. The biggest question I’ve received was why I’m doing this. “Why are terrible dates going to help you?” Or, “Aren’t you sabotaging yourself with this attitude?” Or, “Isn’t this really unfair to the guys, who think they’re going on a date, not participating in some weird social experiment?”

So, here’s the thing… dating is always a weird social experiment. No matter how you play it. You take two different chemical mixes, shake them up, and see what happens. Most people judge success by the times they get the bright sparks and the pretty smells and the heady feeling. I’m judging success differently. I’m looking for the thing where they spray vile-smelling sludge all over the room, or — more often — just sit there and turn murky.

Why am I doing this? I talked a bit about my motivations in my first post — it lowers the stakes, it makes it easier to try things I otherwise wouldn’t. But there are other reasons, too, reasons that are hard to articulate but which I keep brushing up against. I find myself leaning in to my conceit for comfort: “Because this is six months of bad dates, it’s okay if I…”

There was an article I read in the Onion a month or so back, called Date’s Flaws Coming At Woman Faster Than She Can Rationalize Them. I laughed at the article, but it was one of those uncomfortable laughs, the kind where you’re thinking, “This is so my life, and it is funny only because if it’s not funny, it’s too sad for me to deal with.” It talks about a woman who is coming up with rationalizations to balance out her date’s negatives. And I have been there.

I don’t want to do this again. Part of the advantage of my system is that I’m looking for the signs that it’s not going to work, instead of trying to rationalize them away. I am seeing people a lot more clearly, I think.

Here’s what this doesn’t mean: I’m not cheating. I’m not deliberately seeking out people I know I’ll be incompatible with. I’m not suggesting first dates that I know will make me miserable. I’m trying to make them work, and I’m going into each date with the attitude that it will be fun. I genuinely want to like the guys I’m meeting.

Another motivation, which is even quieter in my mind, but which I’ve run up against just this last weekend — I met a guy. I’m not going to talk about him here, because per my own rules for me, I’m not going to discuss any work in progress until the end. But I like this guy. We’ve already had a second date, and it’s going to be a while before our third, but we’ve decided we want to have that third.

Without this experiment, I’d just be sitting around thinking about him. Mooniness is not a good look on me. I don’t want to send him fifty text messages, or internet-stalk him, or anything else. So what do I do?

Well, we’re not exclusive. And I’m still trying to get bad dates. So I’m still talking with people on OKCupid. I’m still planning on a speed-dating event. I’m still scoping out the local meetup groups for events I can get to. I’m still looking for the next bad date. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get another good one. Maybe I’ll find someone perfect.

Or maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll have the stories and I’ll have the experience. And that is the real answer to “why.”

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2 thoughts on “Yes, but… why BAD dates? or: Isn’t this a little mean?

  1. Yup… Dating is always a social experiment (really, so is any type of relationship). You are trying to stumble over the social niceties and awkward moments of getting to know someone new all while trying to mix two people’s preferences, values, passions, lifestyles, etc. together. I think some people give me the side eye when I say that dating and dating sites especially, are social experiments, but the truth is that they are. And even more so when dealing with dating sites where ‘no one knows your name’ so people seem to feel free to express everything about themselves (the good, the bad, and the ugly). It’s like putting every random type of person out there into a giant blender. It’s bound to get awkward because not all types of people mesh.

    In any case, I’m glad that you met someone you like, and I hope that it works out for you.

    Like

  2. I love your bravery and the example you are setting for your daughter about how to approach men, and dating, and her heart. I love that you are taking this as a learning experience instead of hiding inside yourself because of divorce. This is how dating should be (in my humble opinion). I wish you luck and I hope you find several someones that you’d like to take on a 2nd or 3rd date.

    Like

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