- Ok, so no one waits for calls on a home phone anymore. But you get the point.
What's worse than a bad first date? A great first date. The anxiety that happens in the week following an amazing romantic encounter is enough to put me off experiencing any type of happiness ever again.
I didn't always feel this way, of course. Back when I was 25, I worked as dresser for Marc Jacobs. My days were spent zipping and unzipping women who were easily a foot taller than me. It was the brink of summer and I was excited because I still believed that summer meant having lots of adventures and random hook ups on rooftops that would lead to taking a seasonal lover. One of my favorite models was the shockingly adult age of 30, and while sewing her into her dress I babbled on and on about how great summer was going to be for our dating lives. She turned to me with cheek bones so high you could cut cheese on them and said, “I hate dating because I hate text messages and I hate strangers.” I could not believe my ears—those were two of my favorite things! Four years later however, and I couldn't agree more. Texting especially has become the bane of my existence.
The endless misunderstandings in the first few weeks of dating someone have worn me out. It's that mistaken feeling that I know a guy, only to find out he's not the special fantasy version I made up in my head—it all just makes me want to go to bed with a dude and wake up in the middle of the relationship. Fuck the honeymoon period, bring on the part where we pee with the door open.
I used to live for beginnings. They were my drug, all the more thrilling and emotionally dangerous because I would invest everything in them. But then the come down from those magical beginnings would be all the more devastating. As an actor in this city for the last five years I can say with some degree of authority that there is nothing all that different between a great first date and a great first audition. In both situations you spend the next few days losing your hair in anticipation of getting a call back.
Thus, for us all (including me) to move on and live happier and healthier lives, I think we should acknowledge this period of anxiety and accept it. In order to do this, I've created a list of the 5 phases of the great first date panic.
After a great first date, or even just an incredible hook up, I walk around in a euphoric, doped up haze, most likely with cum in my hair. I start out confident that everything went really well, and having a high degree of certainty that if I'm feeling so good about everything, then he must be feeling the same way. Otherwise why would he have made that joke about hoping I didn't have a boyfriend, and why would he have bothered with telling me that even though he's got a 100 hour work week ahead of him he still wants to make time to have dinner this week? Plus, he paid for my cab ride home. That definitely means he must really like me, right?
But then the clock keeps ticking and I still haven't heard anything. The first thing I do, of course, is call my best friends. I tell them everything in an ecstatic voice, giving only the best, affirmative details. We laugh, and they listen patiently, even though they don't really care because its's hard to get too involved in other people's sex lives. Then I go back to the couch, or bed, or my desk and with my moony face I day dream the rest of the day away reliving the whole of previous night, still confident that he'll call or text eventually.
Only he doesn't. That's right. I still haven't heard anything. So, naturally, I start to second guess everything. Maybe I was totally imagining it all. Maybe I was the only one who had a good time. Again, I make the mistake of calling everyone I know and going over all the details. This time I include that he sleeps like a vampire and didn't want to have morning sex. What does it mean?! No one involved in my three-way Skype session knows anything about what my date may have been feeling, they don't know him and they weren't there. At least I was on the date, but at this point I feel about as reliable a narrator of my own life as Humbert Humbert.
This is where I start to believe I can fix whatever it is that's gone wrong, without even knowing if something has
gone wrong. There's a panic that starts building because I don't know if I should wait before sending him a text message and just read his silence as an answer in and of itself, or take control over my own destiny and send him a direct and open message about how I'm feeling. This is the perfect example of how texting has become the latest form of gas-lighting for women. We are bombarded with all this false advice about how getting what we want requires not going after what you want, and how that's all shrunk down to that tiny message you send to someone. Everything from the now ubiquitous saying “He's just not that into you,” to my best friend Sophie telling me that what I thought was an obvious rejection text “Isn't so bad,” is enough for me to seriously start doubting my memory, perception and sanity.
So what do I do? I have never been able to lay low and be patient. I am in awe of those people who plant a seed in someone's brain and then watch their desire bloom over the next few weeks. As a pro-active control freak, it's just not in my nature. In these situations where I'm panicking and feeling terrible, I listen to my dating committee of single ladies, gay dudes, and one straight male friend (bless him) and then I pick the answer I want to be most true. Which means I get the green light from someone to send a hilarious, provocative and most likely aggressive text. I have actually sent this gem before : My left breast is pregnant, and I think you gave me ring worm. Thanks for nothing. That was fun let's do it again. My house 8pm.
Rejection and Acceptance
As you can probably imagine, I've gotten varying responses to those types of texts. Men's reactions have ranged from total silence (eek!) to "I've been busy with school but my dick hurts from all the dry humping we did." At this point, I tend to make the impulsive decision to erase not only all our prior correspondence, but also his number from my phone. This way there is no possibility of me getting a little tipsy and starting the vicious cycle all over again. When I know there is no way for me to contact this guy anymore, an almost unsettling calm comes over me. I have just relinquished any active participation in this crazy dating ritual, and for the first time since my initial encounter with whatever guy it is whose number I just erased, I feel normal again. I start to sleep well and the jumpy feeling in my stomach disappears. I promise myself over and over that it will be different next time. But, let's get real, as an emotional adrenaline junkie with an addiction to trouble, I will just wind up doing the whole thing again in a heart beat.
Follow Lacy Warner on twitter @laceoface