I was new to Orange County.
After having been single for seven years (by choice), I decided I was going to try online dating and finally find the Mr. Big to my Carrie Bradshaw.
I joined OkCupid, and little did I know I was about to kiss a lot of frogs.
There were frugal frogs, stage-five clinger frogs, flakey frogs, cheater frogs with girlfriends and the nice-but-no-chemistry frogs.
I was on and off the site for two years.
During my residency at OkCupid, I was averaging two to three dates per week.
Now I know how this looks, but trust me when I say they were mostly first — or at most, second — dates.
I only had a handful of OkCupid relationships that lasted more than a week, and they all ended in disaster.
I started out my dating game obviously looking for the typical tall, dark and handsome, but I was most concerned with finding a spontaneous, hopeless romantic who could make me laugh.
I ended my quest by looking for the opposite of what I had wanted when I first joined the site.
In the end, I just wanted a nice guy.
I got messages from many men and went on many dates. There were doctors, lawyers, marketing associates and more doctors and lawyers.
Then, I found my nice guy. He was a CPA, wearing a forest green Express polo shirt in his photo.
His first message to me was, “I have a serious question for you. Can I squeeze your dog’s face?”
After so many disingenuous messages saying, “Hey beautiful, how are you single?” I decided he was more than worthy of a message back.
The rest is history.
Here are the things I learned during my two years as a serial dater:
The Preparation Before The Date
1. Get a quick first date makeup idea in your head, and repeat this makeup look every time. This will eliminate some of the thinking in the getting ready process.
I don’t like to wear too much makeup on the first date because you want them to like you for you, not for your “Ruby Woo” MAC lipstick.
You also do not want to come off as high maintenance, unless you really are. In that case, you do you, girl.
2. Wear something you feel comfortable in. Be careful wearing heels because if your date is shorter than you, this may make things awkward.
This happened to me once, but the guy also told me he only ate kosher food. So, we ended up just going for a coffee.
I love bacon. Things did not work out.
3. Clear your mind of the previous date. Maybe things did not go so well. Maybe things went great, but you have not heard from him.
Do not take this negative energy into your first date. It’s unfair to your date, and most importantly, it’s unfair to you.
4. Don’t go with the mindset you are meeting your future husband. Set your expectations low, and it can only go up from there.
Tell yourself if nothing else, this will make a fantastic story at brunch with the girls.
The Actual Date
1. Ladies, I cannot say this enough times.
Every time I go to a restaurant and see a couple on what I assume is a first date, I see the woman yapping continuously while the poor guy is bored, nodding and chugging his beer.
Don’t do this. Try to keep the conversation 50-50 or at least 60-40.
2. Don’t order spicy food. On my first date with Mr. Big, we went to a Thai restaurant, and I decided to try a higher spice level than usual.
I was dripping snot into my napkin, and my eyes were watering. I still have no idea how he asked me out on a second date after that hot mess incident.
3. Ask, “What are you looking for?” but do not ask, “What are you looking for with me?”
He just met you, and you don’t want to come off as a stage-five clinger.
4. Throughout the date, remember your worth, but also keep a level head and be down-to-earth. Unless you are Blake Lively, you are not God’s gift to men.
After The Date (If You Liked Him)
1. Text him that evening only to thank him for the date and to tell him you had a good time.
Almost every dating expert will say to not do this, but I would do this every time I liked a guy.
My boyfriend told me later on in our relationship that he liked it because he knew where he stood with me from the get-go.
2. Don’t wait six hours to text him back because you want to seem busy. Text him back when you see his texts.
We live in an age where people have their phones permanently attached to the palms of their hands. You don’t look mysterious; you look like you’re playing games.
3. Let him set the second date, and keep communication casual.
If he asks you the day of to hang out, please do not go. Rather, tell him that although you would love to see him, you have plans and tend to make plans in advance.
He should respect your time and understand how valuable it is, even if it is spent watching "Sex and the City" reruns.
4. Pray he is not a f*ckboy.
After The Date (If You Did Not Like Him)
1. Text him that evening to thank him for the date, but tell him that although he seems like a great guy (unless he was an assh*le), you did not feel chemistry.
There’s plenty of fish in the sea. Don’t string him along.
Let him move on to someone who may be a better fit for him.
Dating is hard, but try to have fun with it.
I learned so much about myself through the dating process.
I hate to say it, but if Mr. Big was my first online date, I may have skipped over him because I was not looking for the nice, stable guy.
But after two years of dating shenanigans, I knew he was the right person, and I was not going to pass up on him.
He did not surprise me with flowers like the others.
Instead, he surprised me by never flaking on our dates, by arriving on time and by opening the door.
He didn’t flatter me with superficial compliments.
Instead, he flattered me by recognizing my intelligence as we discussed worldly issues and politics.
He didn’t tell me we should split the bill because he believed in feminism. (Yes, this happened.)
Instead, he paid for every single dinner we had together.
He did not read me poetry or tell me he was going to marry me someday while on a Ferris wheel during our second date. (Yes, this also happened.)
Instead, he spent time getting to know me and didn’t rush into a relationship right away.
Yes, these are small things, but they became the big things after going on so many dates.
The same way you can't appreciate a really good cabernet if you have not had Oak Leaf cabernet, you can’t appreciate a genuinely good guy if you haven't dated the bad boys first.
You really do have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.
I encourage you to go on many dates because through that process, you will figure out what you really want in a partner.
And it may be totally different from what you thought you wanted in the first place.
My advice to you is if you’re looking for your Mr. Big, date and keep dating.
When you think you can’t go on one more first date, go.
I was in that position once, and I almost cancelled my first date with my Mr. Big. You wont find your Mr. Right unless you’ve wasted time with lots of Mr. Right Nows.