Recently, I "met" a woman online and asked her out. At her suggestion, our first date was a day at an amusement park. (I was a little wary of spending a whole day with a stranger, but thought, "Why not?") We had a great time and seemed to connect well. The next evening, she invited me to her father's birthday. I felt uneasy about meeting the family so soon, but the party turned out to be fun. The next day, she was cold and distant. When I asked why, she explained that she has a tendency to get involved too quickly, and said she thought we needed to slow down. I really like her, but I don't want to push her away by being either too persistent or too indifferent. How can I strike a balance?--Rollercoasting
At this rate, you'll be going through an acrimonious divorce on the fourth date: "I gave you some of the best minutes of my life!"
Now, here's a discerning woman. All she has to know about a guy before she spends the day hurtling upside down a hundred feet in the air with him is that he has access to a telephone and the Internet. Sure, this describes you -- and any number of guys doing time for a smorgasbord of violent felonies. Who'd she bring to daddy's last birthday, a guy she picked up at a bar on the way over? Him: "It's good to meet new people. Don't see many of the old gang anymore." (Yeah, and maybe that's because those who haven't moved and unlisted their numbers are encased in cement under his porch.)
Odds are you're a serial monogamist, not a serial killer. But, safety issues aside, a blind date with the wrong person can make 20 minutes fly by like eternal damnation. (Is there anybody over 14 who isn't hip to this?) Clearly, this woman had a more pressing concern; say, desperately seeking a quick hit of romance under the guise of looking for a relationship -- while conveniently eliminating the possibility of getting into one. Well, that's one thought that might cross your mind when a woman seems like she'd have no problem dialing random phone numbers and asking, "Hey, if you aren't doing anything this afternoon, will you marry me?"
Big surprise: She admits to a "tendency" to get involved too quickly. Hilariously, she suggests "we" slow down, as if "we" had anything to do with the likes of meeting Daddy on the second date. Consider yourself lucky that she didn't demand you spend your first date moving in together -- especially in light of your apparent tendency to say yes to any activity short of being boiled in used french fry oil in a cauldron built for two. Just wondering, but at what point does the thought, "Psycho! Flee!" meander into your head? (Um ... now would be a good time.)
Maybe you're desperate for love, but if you act like it, it's never going to end well. When a woman sets an agenda that sounds more like an Olympic endurance event than a get-to-know-you session, don't just bob your head; insist on dialing it back to drinks. In food terms, a first date should be an hors d'oeuvre: some tiny bacon-wrapped morsel that leaves you wanting more -- as opposed to a drowning in a vat of all-you-can-eat chili. While savoring the moment, your ultimate goal should be discovering those details about your companion that might have a bearing on your future with her; for example, the likelihood that her longest relationship lasted five days -- if you include time spent stuck in traffic.
Starsky & Hunch
Last month, I met this guy who's just out of a four-year relationship. He told me all about his ex, how he was over her, but still sad. We spent the day with another couple, and he was a real gentleman: opening doors, paying, putting his arm on the back of my chair. Then again, I also saw uncertainty in his face and felt him shutting me out periodically. Could he be interested in me and not just rebounding?--Time Doubt
Ooh, he opened the car door for you! Guys who aren't interested in you do what -- squeal past in the Starsky & Hutch-mobile so you can hurl yourself through the window, stunt-girl style? Now, it's possible that he's interested and on the rebound, but what seems clear is that his ex is still clouding his vision. Date other men. If and when he calls, take things slowly. There's no telling whether either of you can accurately predict his relationship readiness -- despite whatever messages his car door angles might be sending. Like tea-leaf reading, car-part fortunetelling is an inexact art, and gentlemanly behavior is sometimes simply a sign that a guy is a gentleman.