If you’d asked me a month ago, if I’d ever go on a Tinder date, I would have said “no”. But broken hearts will make you take more risks and here I am on a Tinder date, about to meet Jonathon.
As he walks up, I notice right away that he has a shaved head and glasses. I knew he would, from his online photos, but because my last boyfriend (and accompanying broken heart) also had a shaved head, I had originally planned on swearing off the entire species of “head shaved men”, but I guess it’s easy to want to break the rules when in search of love.
We are meeting at a wine and cheese bar in my favorite beach town. We only met on Tinder the week before and have yet to even talk on the phone. Not only did we meet online, but Jonathon is my first ever Tinder date.
Even though we swiped right and exchanged a few messages on Tinder, I originally saw his profile on OkCupid. I thought he sounded nice, but he never wrote to me there. What stood out about his profile was less about his looks (though he’s “alright” looking) and more that he’s into politics, like I am, and likes to work out. Sure, maybe going to the gym isn’t the most two people could have in common but it seemed better than nothing. His profile also said that he tries to see the best in others and since I’d like someone to see the best in me, one date can’t hurt!
Jonathan is dressed in a button-down shirt and jeans. Preppy enough for the venue, but not altogether uncool. If he were on a reality television show, he’d be the character that everyone would trust. As if knowing I’m thinking this about him, he smiles warmly at me and we exchange a polite hug. So far, so good.
I can tell by the look of relief in his eyes that he thinks I’m pretty cute. His eyes are hazel and he wears glasses that give his face a trustworthy ‘professor’ sort of look, although he’s actually a licensed Marriage And Family Therapist (MFT).
I’d always wanted to fall in love with a therapist… would have preferred a massage therapist, as my neck is always hurting, but MFT’s are good at listening and I sure like to talk.
His nose is more brazen than mine and his stubble is gaining a white glow, suburban rugged, even though he’s only five years older than me. I left my own blonde hair flowing free with just enough curl from the warm weather. I’m clad in gray skinny jeans and a black shirt with an acceptable neckline for a first date. As in, it gives a glimpse of cleavage without giving away the whole “show”. I have a gold and silver shawl draped over my shoulders just in case we sit outside.
Before he arrived, I selected a comfortable loveseat at the back of the restaurant. The only drawback to this venue is it can get crowded, loud, and seating can be hard to find as it’s very popular. After Jonathan walked up, the female server smiled and winked at me, as if to say, “he’s not so bad”. She knew I was waiting on my (first ever!) Tinder date.
There one problem already, I realize as he orders wine, politely asking what I want first.
At 10, when my mother married a man with a dwindling supply of hair, I promised myself I’d only marry men with lots of hair. Sure, I fell in love with one bald man, but we didn’t marry, so -to date- I have kept that promise.
As the waitress brings us wine (expensive, $18 a glass for the merlot we chose), I remind myself that surely there is more to love, monogamy, and commitment than hair… at least I hope there is.
Also, my target dating range is 37 to 42, which will naturally include a percentage of men with no hair.
“Better get used to it.” I whisper to my ten-year-old inner child as Jonathan smiles warmly, again. I excuse myself to the lady’s room after we order a fancy cheese plate and almonds. My internal dialogue as I place a seat cover atop the toilet and think about the fact that I’m Actually On A Date is that I promise myself not to get too caught up on minor details, like hair… or no hair!
As I sit back down next to Jonathon with a renewed sense of ease. I feel my inner confidence bubble up. I was always a “good” dater. My dating philosophy is that either you’ll like each other and have chemistry…. or you won’t! Besides, how hard can it be to talk over wine and cheese.
Turns out its pretty easy.
We order a second cabernet and begin talking about our careers, past and present. Jonathon used to work in entertainment and found it sucked the life out of him.
“Working as a therapist is actually my second profession.” he admits and we begin talking about the process of therapy, how we both like and appreciate the medium. I make a joke about how some therapists are so awkward when they try and correspond to a patient’s body language as a therapeutic tool. He laughs and admits he goes to a therapist himself, mostly to get ideas. I tell him I do too and we laugh again at the admittance. I tell him that he’s my first new date in ages and he tells me I am his second.
We start to slowly chip away at the basics of our life stories, the first date versions- simplified but explanatory. He’s a very good listener, though of course he’s paid to be one. As I speak, he watches me with a look of reverence, as if he’s impressed by the personality, attitude, and smarts coming out of my mouth. If this date were a job interview, I think I’d be hired.
The waitress brings our cheese plate, almonds, and a side of fries with garlic. It’s a good thing I don’t kiss on the first date!
Jonathan tells me that all he ate for lunch was strawberries and we are both famished. I skip first date dainty hunger and actually eat the fries and cheese on crackers. Everything looks tasty and I take a picture of our cheese dish, he says he doesn’t blame me as it looks divine.
We are offered another glass of wine by our experienced server and he says yes, but I pass, knowing two is my limit, and I probably won’t even finish the second.
I tell him about having a young baby and that the father isn’t involved, though my older children’s father is. He talks about his own daughter, his ex, and why his marriage ended. Turns out he isn’t quite sure why it ended.
He says he woke up one day and realized that he didn’t want to be married anymore.
I feel a nervous feeling inside the part of me that looks for red flags.
RED FLAG, ALERT!
Shouldn’t he, as a therapist, know exactly why his marriage ended and have been through the in’s and out’s of it in therapy? I might be wrong in this, but I don’t believe people just “fall” out of love. At the point I’m at in my life now, I can guarantee I will never fall out of love with anyone I genuinely give my heart to. Marriage and lifelong love require time, commitment, and work. If you do all three… with all you have, passion and love will not fade (or at least that’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night).
Then, a second thought emerges: What if all of this “red flag” business is an EXCUSE.
What if I’m merely not physically attracted to him?
This lingers in my mind as we talk about other relationships, other things. He confides in me about another woman who did break his heart and borrowed lots of his money, to add insult to injury.
I now feel like the “therapist” as I talk about how the wounds people leave often deal with the trust they took advantage of.
We compare schedules with our kids and they’re conflicting.
“It’s okay. I might be changing it up soon. My ex is really easy going about it and I’ve been thinking about it already.” he compromises, and I think it’s sweet that he’s already so able & willing to amend his schedule to see me.
I offer my credit card as I have to go, but he tells me he will take care of the $120 plus bill. Quality wine adds up fast. I think about how nice it is to be treated to something for a change and not paying for something myself. It feels nice to have someone take me out. I realize how starved I am for someone wanting to be around me and show me small acts of kindness.
We hug goodbye and he holds the hug for a split second longer, showing he’s really interested. He asks if we can go out again sometime and I accept. Though, I always question if it’s wise for guys to ask you out in person, on the first date.
On one hand it’s good manners. It feels nice to be on the receiving end of a second date request, as its confirmation that they honestly like you. BUT, on the flip side of the coin, it’s always kind of awkward for the recipient, in this case me, as what can one really say to their face but YES, without potentially having a socially awkward moment. After the date, he writes that he had a nice time. I say that I did too but tell him I have a busy few weeks coming up and I will be in touch… but then I don’t get in touch. I second guess this several times, but never end up getting in touch. I’m also uncertain how big a red flag someone waking up one day and deciding they “don’t love someone” is.
If my ideal match, heaven forbid, woke up and out of the blue decided they didn’t love me, how would I handle it? I’d expect them to maintain loyalty, regardless… to work on themselves or the relationship until they did again.
However, I guess it’s hard to find (or be) perfect.
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