Dear Captain Awkward,
I have become convinced that I am turning into a cold, emotionless robot a la Britta-Bot if you’re into Community (<3)
Anyways. I ended my last serious relationship about a year ago, and since then I’ve been on a few first dates with some pretty cool people (or so i thought?). These dates have all gone down the same way: we get dinner/see a movie/get coffee and I get the feeling like we’re hitting it off really well and I can really see myself seeing the person again; they awkwardly invite themselves back my place for a drink, and eventually they make a move or start trying to bring sex into the conversation. At this point, I go on red alert and a voice in my head goes “ABORT ABORT ABORT” and I basically shove them out the door.
I did sleep with one woman, but neither of us really wanted to go on a second date. I still talk to a couple of the people who I kicked out of my apartment, and even after very frank conversations with them about how I want to be just friends, they would come over and start hitting on me again! One “friend” kept trying to touch my butt, and another kept “jokingly” offering up graphic sex acts in return for simple favors like sharing my onion rings. I started ignoring their texts/phone calls/emails/facebook invites. I’d rather spend all my time alone than spend an evening trying to awkwardly fend off uncomfortable advances. I’m just really bummed because it seems like these are the only people who are interested in me at all, but I feel more emotions listening to 80’s music than I felt on any of these dates. Is my friend-dar broken?
I never feel like I have time to go out to meet new people so a lot of these dates are products of online dating or being setup by friends. I work full time, I’m in college, there’s been a shitstorm of family deaths/illnesses in the past couple years so I can’t imagine I even have time for a serious, time consuming relationship with someone. My friends think I’m being too hard on these dates and that I should relax and look on the bright side (they’re just glad I’m not alone on the couch eating mac n cheese and watching Doctor Who reruns on Netflix). If I’m going to spend my precious free time with someone else, shouldn’t said someone else make me feel warm and fuzzy and not like a goon? Or are my standards too ridiculous? How do I balance my selfish craving for love and attention with my equally selfish interest in focusing on my own wants/needs/desires/responsibilities?
Bad Date Robot
Dear Bad Date Robot:
I have to come clean. I know I should watch Community and that I will probably love it, but I just haven’t gotten into it yet and the whole pillow-war episode that I tried to watch was not a good place to start and felt like one endless boring in-joke that I turned off (that whole thing where the network says that it’s not interesting to the casual viewer…might be…kind of true, not that it SHOULD try to be more mainstream? But they probably aren’t making any new Community fans at this point.). Anyway, I will go back to the beginning and give it an honest try…someday…and perhaps I will get your references then.
As for your question, casually messing around with people you don’t see long-term potential with or have feelings for can be fun and life-affirming in the right circumstances, but that doesn’t mean you should submit yourself to joyless perfunctory encounters with people you don’t like just to say you did. In fact, mac & cheese and Doctor Who reruns (now that *is* a show I watch) after a busy work and school day sounds great. Maybe this isn’t the time for you to put effort into dating. Maybe this is the time for you to reconnect with being happy in your own company, decompress from your busy life, and not working too hard at this whole “dating” thing.
I think your standards are just fine. I think you shouldn’t spend your precious free time on anyone who is not awesome and who doesn’t make you feel great. I think you shouldn’t try to talk yourself into liking people, especially people who grope you and treat your “no” like a moving target of “maybe?”
I think that periodically you might want to poke your head out and try the dating thing again, and just know that there will be some bad or mediocre first dates where you don’t connect with the other person and that’s totally normal. There’s nothing wrong with you or your emotions. That voice inside your head that says “Nope” is a good voice that is protecting you from crappy encounters that you don’t really want.
Now, if you told me that Hotness Itself rode into your living room, looked you in the eye, and said “I’d really like to kiss you now, would that be ok?” and you still felt yourself shutting down I’d say that nothing good happens without some risk and vulnerability, and could you maybe do some thinking and writing about past sexual/romantic experiences and get to the bottom of what you’re afraid of. But your version of Hotness Itself isn’t going to to be pushy and set off your alarm bells by pressuring you in an awkwardly-joking-but-not-really way.
tl;dr You are just fine, your standards are just fine. Cut the gropey people who won’t take no for an answer out of your life. Definitely don’t reward that shit with touching.”Meh” first dates are normal. You’ll know Awesome when you see it.