So much of my life revolves around dating. Reading about it, writing about it, pouring glasses of rosé while grumbling about how I'm so freaking over it. And yet, I am terrible at dating — at packaging my personality up into neatly wrapped boxes like "charming" and "normal." You know, the kinds of qualities that say, "I am a low-maintenance but fun-loving individual, and therefore an ideal mate." I'm so terrible at this, in fact, that last week, I threw in the towel on social niceties, and I told my date my worst qualities within hours of meeting him, all in the name of unabashed honesty, journalistic experimentation, and — admittedly — a little self-sabotage.
Now, before we dive into how this all went down, let me clarify that I didn't share all of my least appealing qualities. I didn't mention, for instance, that after watching sappy movies, I'll spontaneously burst into tears for, like, the next two weeks. (I'll just share that one with my therapist and you, sweet readers!) But I did weave in most of the traits and habits that would make me a less alluring love interest in a rom-com.
Liiiike, I snore. I am so insanely clumsy that people often think it's an act. (I seriously wish it were.) I curse like a sailor, straighten my hair compulsively, and once bit a kid on the school bus so hard, he had to get a tetanus shot. I slip into accents, steal menus, and become aggressively complimentary when I'm drunk.
Oh, and I may or may not write a story about you.
Laying out all of my worst qualities was sure to turn off and winnow out a ton of people. But anyone who stuck around would not only know exactly what they were getting into, they were also more likely to appreciate me for me, snores and all. Or so I thought.
Honestly, I'm not really sure what kind of outcome I expected. Half of me hoped this would bring my date and me closer together: That my date — the English James van der Beek doppelgänger that he was — would find my candidness so refreshing, he'd immediately offer me an engagement ring and dual citizenship at the bar. The less delusional half of me imagined he would be weirded out, ask for the bill, and flee. The reality fell somewhere in the middle, as it often does.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's rewind to the moment my date showed up at the bar, and the Dawson's Creek theme song immediately started playing in my head. (The resemblance was uncanny, y'all.)
You see, my initial plan had been to confess my vices right off the bat, just to see how he reacted. But his dimples and English accent made that much more challenging than I'd anticipated, so I decided to take a less aggressive approach. Instead of blurting out a laundry list of my flaws, I played it cool for the first 30 minutes or so of our date; we chatted about travel and work and the best cocktail spots in London. Then, I accidentally knocked over a glass of water, muttered about five different cuss words under my breath, and decided this was as good a time as any to dive into my extensive list of other imperfections.
From that point on, I snuck all of the aforementioned faults into the conversation. Casually, but purposefully. And English van der Beek seemed completely unfazed — though, upon reflection, I think he might have been doing this internally?
In the moment, it seemed like he was playing along. When I mentioned the snoring (so sexy!), he admitted he talks in his sleep. When I shared that ever-so-charming tetanus shot anecdote, he laughed and told me the story of the only fight he ever got into in high school. Oh, and four drinks into our date, when I started speaking in a Southern accent and tucked the bar menu into my bag (I will never understand why I do this), he explained that his drunken habits include picking fights with strangers. Yikes.
But we were bonding! Embracing our flaws! Defying expectations and abandoning first-date protocol like the rebels we are!
What a time to be alive, right?
I left our date that night (OK, fine, the next morning) feeling pretty damn good about this social experiment. We'd had a great time, I'd laid
all most of my cards out on the table, and he'd seemed pretty into the whole thing. And by "whole thing," I mean me.
That afternoon, I was confident he'd reach out; maybe even plan a second date. He did neither.
And now that several days have passed and I've heard nothing from our English van der Beek, I'm going to go ahead and say that I may have misread those signs a little. Womp, womp.
But here's the thing: Even though this crazy first date experiment didn't end in fireworks or an unbreakable, romantic bond, I'm still glad I did it. Sure, I might snag a few more second, third, and fourth dates if I masked the, er, less charming aspects of my personality. But clichéd as it may sound, I don't really want to date a guy who doesn't love me for exactly who I am.
I'm basically the conductor of the Hot Mess Express, I know. But I'm also kind and ambitious and silly and spontaneous. A great gift-giver. Equally down for spontaneous adventures or a cozy night in with takeout on any given night of the week. And, as several inspirational Pinterest quotes have reminded me, anyone who doesn't love me at my worst doesn't deserve me at my best.
So, if you can't handle my aggressively honest, klutzy, and borderline kleptomaniac behavior? Well, it's really your loss.