I almost died on a first date.
Not quite, but almost.
He was very nice. And from Iowa. I feel like they don’t breed first date murderers in Iowa, but who knows.
In an era of my life that is flush with first dates (and in needing to appear at least moderately interesting prior to said date, and with the prospect of yet another coffee date that resembles a job interview for a job I’d never, ever want) I thought I’d try on being wildly inventive and outdoorsy for a spot of intrigue.
Said suitor happened to like sunrise runs. I could like sunrise runs—or at the very least sunrise walks.
Said suitor also enjoyed engaging in early morning romps in nature. Yeah, sounds great. What single woman doesn’t want to meet a man for the very first time pre-daylight and in the middle of the woods with questionable cell phone signal…?
Um, literally everyone who likes the prospect of tomorrow.
Forty-five minutes after making possible death plans, I came to my senses and we rescheduled for coffee. At 8 a.m.
Potential murder avoidance aside, I started wondering how much should we research, perfectly schedule, and/or online stalk the sh*t out of our first dates?
You probably have a sense of where I stand on this issue, since I was more than willing to hike, sight unseen, in what was basically the middle of the night with a man I didn’t know. But let’s take the “don’t be an idiot” extreme off the table. Barring all the necessary safety measures (don’t have him pick you up at your house even though it’s gallant, meet in a public place, tell your friends where you’re going), what else do we need to consider when going an a first date?
I would argue: absolutely nothing.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has googled or Facebook searched you? They know your latest job. When you were born. That one time in 2015 when you went to Thailand. Yeah, it’s weird.
It’s weird because where are you supposed to go with that?
“Yes. You are right. I am a Pisces. I did go to Thailand. And now I’m officially creeped out because you feel like a stalker.”
Welcome to the greatest c*ck-block of all first date conversations—knowing too much via technological means.
We lose authenticity when we know more about our date (or they about us) than we (or they) have consented. We aren’t actually surprised by the fact that they changed jobs last year because consulting was slowly suffocating them. We aren’t truly delighted by the sheer coincidence that they grew up two towns away from us. (What are the odds?!)
We aren’t completely floored with curiosity to know the when, where, and why of their life. We just want to make sure they’re getting the facts right.
Surprise, delight, and curiosity are not only the hooks of good conversation, they are the factors that shift it away from the basic Q&A of compatibility—which is boring, rarely invites a second date, and almost never ever a third. But those oh-so-human, spontaneous reactions are also the hooks of good connection. They are the igniters of sparks. They are the instigators of “we just met, but I’m feeling all hot and bothered and am not listening to you now anyway because I am fully distracted by all the hot and bothered-ness.”
What we gain in research, we lose in connection.
When we already know the answer to a question, we stop listening. When we’ve already uncovered their story, we don’t see if unfold before us. We don’t hear them. We don’t see them.
I can’t think of a worse way to make someone feel, or to feel myself, on date. Invisibility never ends well.
Love asks that we take a chance. Not on our lives, but on the fact that we might not know everything, and that maybe we shouldn’t know everything, about another person.
We fall in love not because of our predetermined, perfectly aligned search compatibility, but through the slow and awkward and totally gorgeous uncovering of another person.
Google, in all its greatness, hasn’t figured out how to do that for us yet. But I think that’s okay. In fact, I think that’s just right.
Author: Maddie Berky
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Travis May