You may remember from Why Guys Send Bad Messages, and a Key to Dating that I was very ("Whoa") impressed with B#9's profile, but was not very impressed with his pre-date communication (after I posted that entry my brother mentioned pre-date communication is a very tough balance and I get that).
To be really honest: I'd had a crazy busy week, was very tired, and had kind of hoped B#9 would bail so I could have a date with my couch.
But I'm really glad he didn't bail on the date, because it was one of the best dates I've ever been on.
He'd suggested a sunset picnic in the park (apparently not because of what I'd written in my profile) and it was definitely a good plan. Guys, sometimes it's the little things that impress girls: he said he'd bring a bottle of wine, and I'm used to bonehead guys who would literally just bring a bottle of wine. So I brought a wine opener, jars to drink out of, and a blanket to sit on. But B#9 is not one of those bonehead guys: he'd also brought a wine opener, cups to drink out of, and a blanket to sit on. Whoa. Planning, thoughtfulness, effort: major points in my book.
We went to the park and had a picnic on the grass as the sun was setting. We started talking, small talk at first and then about the experiment. He'd read a lot of the blog and explained why he hadn't contacted me earlier in the week about our date (he's a planner and wanted to have all the details before he contacted me, which I understand). It's funny, the experiment and blog can be an ice-breaker on dates. Anyone who reads the blog has a window into my brain, my likes and dislikes. It's also really nice to hear when a guy likes the blog, because a) I want everyone to be willing participants in the experiment, b) it shows he took time to find out about me and what I do, and c) like most creative people, I like hearing that someone likes my work (especially if it's a guy I might want to impress!).
He had some concerns about the Bachelors being numbered, and he wasn't sure he wanted to be called Bachelor #9. I explained my logic behind it: the other option for anonymity was making up nicknames and since I write about the guys before I meet them I'd be making up nicknames just based off their profiles. This seemed like it could be even more problematic and reductive: for example, in my brother's week if I'd nicknamed B#9 Whoa, B#10 The Italian, and B#11 Happy All The Time. Isn't naming someone Happy All The Time setting a high expectation (even if it's something he wrote in his profile)? B#10 is Italian, but would he want to be called The Italian? Even Whoa, which I mean as very complimentary, is he a horse? (Whoa, Nellie.) At least with numbers, everyone is on a level playing field. Also, it gives readers some context of order: e.g. Bachelor #2 was before Bachelor #8, regardless of whether they've been reading the whole blog. I offered that he could have a nickname if he preferred, but after discussing it he was alright with being Bachelor #9.
Also interesting: B#9 was a match from my brother Greg's Matchmaker week, which had a romantic/vulnerable profile. But he also saw the profile for the current week (Chelsea's Matchmaker week), which is a more aggressive "prove to me that you're awesome" profile. B#9 said that he wouldn't have sent a message to the more aggressive profile, because that's not the attitude he's looking for in a partner. Definitely interesting data in the Marketing of Dating discussion, and we talked about Chelsea and Greg and their different attitudes toward online dating. It was cool that he enjoyed the intellectual side of the experiment, and talking about the information I'm gathering.
We also talked about his open relationship, which was a surprisingly not weird conversation on a date. He was happy to answer any questions about it, and he told me a bit about their relationship and his relationship history before that. He's also conscious about how he talks about his partner on dates, and wants to be mentally with the person he's on a date with and not make them feel uncomfortable.
Basically, we started talking about everything.
My own first date rules, out the window. And it was awesome. Whoa.
As we took a walk around the lake, I commented to him that it was interesting that I can talk to some people so easily and with other people I can't get a conversation going. He was glad I found it easy to talk to him and felt the same, and wondered out loud:
"What makes this different?"
Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out an answer to that. Why do some people connect and others don't? We're both from Southern California, but he grew up in a conservative religious household and I grew up in a liberal mixed religion/agnostic household. He's 3 years younger than me, and I've never dated a guy that much younger than me (though I have been involved with guys 10 years older than me). But he's very emotionally mature (way more mature than the older guys I've dated). We've both traveled internationally, but not to the same places.
I think one reason we're compatible is that it's important to both of us to be open, communicative and non-judgmental. It's really nice to feel like we can just be ourselves around each other. And we can make each other laugh a lot, which is important!
After our walk around the lake we took the blanket and the rest of the bottle of wine to a bench near the lake, with a nice view of Downtown LA. In case that doesn't sound romantic, it looks like this (photo credit: dyoweeboi via Echo Park Forums - I just took mental photos), aka very picturesque and romantic. And we continued to talk about everything.
And speaking of romantic...this date included the first kiss of the whole experiment! Much of my extended family reads this blog, so all I will say is that I was quite glad that B#9 kissed me. :) At the end of the date that he asked about seeing me again, and we made plans for another date. It is nice when a guy expresses on a date that he would like to see you again, it takes some of the guess work out of it!
Only after the date did I realize that we had spent about 6 hours together. I repeat: it was a 6 hour first date that didn't feel long. For me, a good date is when I don't dislike the guy by the end of the date. A bad date is when I can't stand to hear another word out of his mouth. A great date is when I really look forward to seeing him again. Spending six hours together and feeling like I've known him for years? That's a whole other category. I was very, very happy.
But the next day it felt like I had an emotional hangover. I'd had a really great date, with someone else's boyfriend. Yeah she knew about it and was fine with it, but was I? I'd expected the date to be like most of the others: a fun few hours, meeting someone new, and clearly seeing why we weren't compatible. But this was different. That had seemed like such a good thing during the date, but now it felt awful. Great, I'd met a really cool guy that I'm really compatible with, except what we're looking for. And that's a pretty important thing to be on the same page about.
My usual reaction to this would be to cut and run. I know it isn't going to work in the long-run, so what's the point in seeing him again? I tend to see things in extremes, all or nothing. Luckily this week's Matchmaker, Chelsea, is Polyamorous ("having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved") and has been my Poly Consult when I'm wondering, "How do people do this??" She sees Polyamory as an orientation more than a lifestyle, and I've often admired the time and energy she puts into her relationships. It's been so long since I've been in a committed relationship that just one relationship seems daunting, much less multiple romantic relationships at one time.
After the last blog post, a friend recommended I read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. I happened to be in a bookstore so I picked up a copy and skimmed it. Although I think there's probably a lot of helpful insights in it, I found it problematic to assume that all men act the same way and all women act the same way. Largely because there were many of the Martian (male) ways of acting that I related to, in addition to the Venusian (female) ways of acting. Most notably, the Men Are Like Rubber Bands theory: men have an intimacy cycle that functions like a rubber band, they pull away from their partners to re-establish independence and then spring back. Well, sometimes I feel like a rubber ball: the more I'm pulled toward someone at high velocity, the more I'm also propelled away at high velocity. But it's something I'm working on. There are also articles like Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth that might be more helpful for me right now than gender difference theories.
I know communication is key, and B#9 and I have already talked about most of this. On our second date in fact, because what better way to start a second date than a discussion about boundaries? (At least we had wine with that conversation.) Remember I said he's really emotionally mature? He didn't get weird, we had a good discussion about it and he thanked me for bringing it up. Whoa.
Until last year or so, I avoided any discussion about boundaries, expectations, or "What Does This Mean" like the plague. I'm the Chill Girl, who needs labels? Just the word "relationship" still makes my stomach hurt sometimes. So as much as I may at times freak out about B#9's open relationship, if he was not in an open relationship would I be cool, calm and collected? I think not. There's a mindfulness saying about Life Is A Teacher, and life is giving me a crash course on attachment, relationships, and communication. I'm just trying not to flunk.
So B#9 and I have planned date #3, which will be the first 3rd date of the experiment and the first 3rd date I've been on in over a year. Whoa. Rubber ball of my heart, be still.