My first online date was with a hot sauce purveyor who had previously sold me a bottle of liquid habanero at a bazaar that I had gifted my dad for Christmas. (I live in Brooklyn.) I feel like we probably re-met on Tinder, the only app in existence at the time. We went for a drink and then to a dope oyster and burger dinner, but I ended up augmenting my sore throat to bronchitis when he asked me out again. If you're wondering what meeting someone online is like, it's weird, even if they already sold you a spicy condiment in real life.
A year or so later, I saw Hot Sauce's face blown up in Time Out magazine, and I now pass his storefront regularly. It would seem that I missed out on being the empress of a chili pepper fortune, and that's a reality I'll have to face the rest of my life. (#Emotional.) Conversely, my second online date led to almost a year of semi-dating, and a year more of staying in touch via text and the occasional bed, and I'll always be happy that I met and know this person.
Forgive my lazy Forrest Gump reference: Online dating is like a box of those goddamn front-display-at-the-drugstore-in-February chocolates — you never know what you are going to get, but it's probably going to be dry and flavorless. The first online date you ever go on is undoubtedly the most nerve-wracking of all. It could lead to marriage, or it could lead to literal con artistry. (Keep reading.)
After speaking with real live human women via emails and Reddit, I now have the evidence to back up the following thesis: Meeting someone online for the first time is strange, vulnerable, and always makes for a good story.
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This woman lived all of our mansplain-ey nightmares. (Don't @ me.)
Pro tip: Actually recycling is a better look than talking about recycling. Super pro tip: Don't talk about recycling on a first date.
This friend of mine is so evolved that she literally made a new BFF.
Even though I know this story and the guy she met (who is awesome, BTW), I still want to high five my friend after rereading it. That's an adult-ass moment.
This friend may have gone out with Mike Pence's daughter.
Yeah, I'm with not her.
This woman was way ahead of the times.
AOL: the OG dating app. Also, how peeved is AOL that they didn't come up with Tinder?
This woman had a three-way on the first date.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that dates are not the time to try out the buddy system. Woof.
This friend encountered a major deal breaker.
It doesn't give you wings, guys.
This friend met up with a real life con artist.
Dan is still out there. Beware the Bill Murray profile pic.
This woman will give you hope.
This friend didn't find love, but she found something better.
A new favorite bar is somebody to love, too.
This woman's date was sealed with a kiss.
This friend had kind of an epic adventure.
I love Greeks. (Except for the force-kissing part.)
This friend's first date was basically a honeymoon phase.
This last story is my favorite, because it identifies the biggest thing to remember when going on an online date for the first time: It's best not to have extremely good (or bad) expectations. All you know about this person is what they look like, 50 to 300 characters of self-description, their "iMessage voice," and where they want to meet up.
I've been challenging myself to go on more dates with people I normally wouldn't choose to meet up with. The men I've chosen to hang out with up until now haven't been right for me, so I clearly don't know what's good for me. The other night, I went on a date with a goofier guy than I normally would, and by the end of the date I found out that he was buddies with the liberal Kushner and knew people who could finance movies. (I work in film.) Hello, networking!
A date can be a step towards true love forever, or a step to great sex for a bit. A date can be the start of a friendship, or the start of a new job opportunity. A date can be an encounter with a con person that leaves you $150 lighter, or an amazing story that will never get old and will help your friend write articles at her part-time writing job.
I'll end with this: Go on a date! Happy swiping, babes.