Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dating Drama

Not mine, of course. My friend Sam hasn't dated much at all since we finished college, so I was delighted and a little apprehensive when I heard that he had a second date with a girl. Apprehensive because I was kind of afraid for him, and I hate seeing him disappointed, which he has been after all of his dating experiences. It's hard to know what to say because I really want to help, and my experience is so different than his. Sam is the kind of person who feels emotionally invested in a girl after one date. After two dates in November, he's wondering what he can buy the girl for Christmas. Or after three dates, he's giving her tickets to a play that is two months away. It's classic over-eagerness (although I've never minded over-eagerness when I really liked the guy...).

Hearing his account of their first date was fun. He said several times that she wasn't "open" enough (on their blind date). I found this amusing because I was recently told on a second date that I seemed really guarded. As some of you may know, I'm incredibly open, so I don't think the guy meant it in that context. The best I could figure out, he meant insofar as emotionally investing or planning for future events with him. For example, on our first (and blind) date he mentioned several friends and said things like "You've got to meet him" or "I look forward to getting your impression of her" and things like that. When we had a long phone conversation between date #1 and date #2 he asked me about going to one of his family's vacation homes. None of this came off as desperate or over-eager at the time (perhaps it helped that he is attractive and has a good personality and some part of me was flattered), but it still raised a red flag. I guess because he had only known me for 120 minutes when some of these comments were made. I know I'm really compelling and all but still:) I'm always wary of guys who like me a lot and don't know me. It makes me feel like they are liking me for the wrong reasons.

Anyway, this time, from Sam's account, the girl was eager too. Well maybe not the same level of eagerness I've seen him display, but she's called him and she kissed him first. It usually takes "dating dating" for me to call a guy out of turn, and I doubt that I've ever initiated a first kiss (at least while sober). So perhaps I'm not the best barometer, but regardless calling a guy is an expression of interest. And last week she was sick but still wanted him to come over for soup and a movie. So all of this has made him (and me) hopeful. Oh, and she kissed him (again) before he left last week.

She now seems to be giving him the brush-off, and he's SO disappointed. So, of course, I'm listening a lot. And he's wondering and obsessing over what happened and how great things seemed. I've been impressed this go round with how he's "played the game," meaning that he's not given her one concert ticket for a show in January or called her every day or done other things that might scare someone away (note: I'm not a huge advocate of game playing, but for some super over eager people especially those who rarely date, I vote for a little restraint). But after fifteen minutes of listening, I'm having to fight my lack of sympathy and biting my tongue to keep from saying "But you only went on four dates" or "how can you care so much about someone you didn't really know?" I tend to think that his pain results from getting too far ahead of himself (he was already planning to invite her on a trip for late January), and I speak from experience in that regard. Upon reflection, I probably also lack perspective because I rarely go on four dates with someone, and when I have, I've always ended up dating the guy for at least 6 months or more. And, of course, everything is so much more everything (dramatic, sad, exciting) when you're the one living it. Sometimes I really stink at understanding Sam's perspective, but at least I can listen. And maybe I'm too guarded and should invest more like Sam does, but I guess I don't see any advantage to being that emotionally entangled so early on. Any thoughts on advice for Sam, or should I just keep listening without offering any?


Anonymous said...

"I'm always wary of guys who like me a lot and don't know me. It makes me feel like they are liking me for the wrong reasons." That's a very wise statement. From that you can tell that you have an impressive amount of self confidence and self respect. Bravo.

As for Sam, console now, coach later. If he gets into a relationship again I'd prep him as things start up. But for now I think you are doing the right thing by just listening.

Anonymous said...

If he's "local" give him my number. I'll take him out for a beer or three and we can complain about it like men do. :)

Jessica_baby said...

Dating could be fun at times but oftentimes, we just end up being hurt from the entire process.

cdp said...

I'm also wary of guys who seem to like me too much before they know me. Makes me feel like they'd be acting as interested/into whoever was sitting there, regardless of who it was.

It sounds like Sam is suffering from classic hurt feelings and maybe a little wounded pride. Especially if he tried this time to "play the game" well and is still winding up feeling dejected. It always stings a little more when you try not do to those things you always tell yourself you're not going to do and you end up hurting anyway.

I don't know about advice - think I may just echo what's already been said here - be the good friend now when he's hurting, because that's what we all need then. But be the gentle reminder next time. I always appreciate friends who help me learn from my experiences and mistakes. That's the best way to "get better" at the whole dating thing.

Flat Coke and Flies said...

I agree with everyone else, be a good friend, a good listener. I am not one to appreciate advice not asked for.

It's not a good thing he is so eager. How will he ever know the "real" thing when it hits him? He works himself up over and over then he is always let down. Eventually some sucker of a girl is gonna take him up on his eagerness, I just hope it's the right girl.

Anonymous said...

Lacking any originality in my advice, I agree with what everybody has said above. Listen now, and the guide him in the right direction if it happens again.

Sounds to me he's in love with the idea of being in love. Maybe it's because he hasn't had much experience. I hope these experiences won't make him bitter, but it seems as if he has an unrealistic expectation of the women he dates.

icadle said...

Maybe his nonverbal cues to her signal his over-eagerness. Its hard to hide who you really are. If she figured this out, maybe he's too available for her - ie, this trophy is already on the wall, I'm going to find someone else who will not be so "into me". Her agressiveness, which coming from sam sounds like she was into him, was possibly just testing him to see if she was really into him.

As for your role in all this, good friends know when to give advice and when that advice will be received. If you beleive what you have to say will fall on deaf ears, you have the good sense to keep your mouth shut or tailor your comment so that it will have some impact.

just my 2 cents!

Keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

Like you, I don't like overly eager men when I barely know them.. it definitely raises at least a yellow flag. When they actually start talking about moving in together and/or marriage after only a few weeks, the yellow flag comes down and the red one goes up in it's place. Danger Will Robinson. I'm just not in to that. It's like the girl from Oregon on "the bachelor".. she's way too eager to get married and stick to a timeline she created when she was 4. The Bachelor (about time) picked up on it the last episode and his red flag came up. It's just not attractive (to me) to be so eater. The chase IS fun.. the thrill of the hunt... (as long as THAT doesn't go on forever either). It's about timing. Timing = right.
Unfortunately maybe if he acted non-chalant and standoffish, the girl might actually be interested. Why are we MORE interested in those that don't show as much interest. We are a weird bunch. (people)

Anonymous said...

I will offer the dissenting opinion here (lawyer talk! Did I do it right?)

Tell him now that he is being a weeny...he has to know. Sounds harsh, I know, but hopefully it will get him to stop the self-pity and accurately assess the situation. Chances are part of the reason she is blowing him off is because she is totally weirded out by his relationship speed. You will be doing him a service by telling him that girls are not comfortable moving that fast

That really makes me sound like a bitch, doesn't it? Lol...Tough love!!!

spam_price said...

Yikes…looks like a lot dating a cynicism here. Sam needs to be himself or at least the “himself” that he is comfortable with. All relationships begin with masks and it takes time to peel the layers to find out who someone really is. For all the talk about how he is driving most women away, he doesn’t need to be with most women – just one. And the one that is for him will respond to him without being driven away. So I would just encourage your friend to have confidence in himself and be a gentleman. All the women that make the snap judgments about his eagerness are only saving him the time from becoming more emotionally invested. If you play “the game” then you are only creating that many more layers for someone to get through before they get to know the real you.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Ally said...

I love all of this feedback! Thanks.

Greenlineboy: Thanks. I think you're right about the timing of any suggestions. Plus it's not like you can unring a bell.

Aaron: Sam would appreciate the invite, but he's not a local.

Jessica: I can handle casual dating, but relationships are what hurt me.

Cindy: Yes--your first sentence is definitely part of how I feel. And that's how I feel about Sam somtimes--that he'd be happy with any girl so long as she'd keep saying yes to dates. I have another friend like that who seemed to think every guy could be the one. That lack of discretion scares me! And yes, Sam said last night that he always picks the girls who just drop off the face of the earth after a date or two):

Ella: Sometimes I think he wants a gf and hates dating so much that he's willing to just take whatever comes his way. I want better than that for him--but more importantly I want him to think he deserves more than that.

Ivy: I'm calling him tonight for a pep talk and to talk about a trip he's planning--that will make him feel better.

Jordan: You just added a new phrase to my vocabulary: "yellow flag." I need an intermediate flag instead of just always saying red flag. So thank you. And I'm in agreement--we are SO weird.

AM: Nice work with the dissent. I'm trying to resist saying "Quit being such a baby--it was only 4 dates!!!" I just don't think that's the loving thing to do right now. It might be different if he dated much and had more self-confidence, but right now that would be kind of like kicking a dog when it's down.

Jeff a.k.a. happily married man:) The peeling layers is a great analogy to the getting to know someone process. I agree that he only has to mesh with one woman, but I don't think it should just be the first girl who likes him back (meaning he would have settled and gone overboard for any of them). I just think that when a guy is like that with every girl he goes on even two dates with, it makes it less special since he is so eager to date anyone/everyone.

I do agree with the women saving him emotional investment--the sooner someone expresses disinterest, the better--even if it does sting. Of course, I know that notion isn't comforting to him right now, but that is one upside to this situation.

spam_price said...

Happily married and proud of it :-)

One of the unfortunate repercussions of living in such a pluralistic society with so many opportunities and so many choices is that we automatically extend that ideology into all facets of life. Falling in love with someone no matter how quickly or slowly is not necessarily settling for that person. Granted discretion and reservation should be employed especially when something doesn’t seem right, but we can just as easily have false alarms as we can false hope.

My main point is that dating and finding the right person is tough enough without adding the extra burden of having to taste all 31 flavors before you make a decision about which one you want. Society compels us, wrongly I might add, to think we are settling and there is always a better deal, a hotter girl, a more financially stable man around the corner. If you are with someone that makes you happy there is no harm in enjoying that happiness and sharing that with them. Be with someone that makes you a better person and that reflects Christ, not someone that plays the game well.

Ally said...

Jeff: I always enjoy your perspective, so thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hadn't thought much about the "tasting 31 flavors" mentality with regard to dating until recently--great analogy by the way. A good friend's friend was telling me about her guy friends, who are all in there 30s, yet refuse to commit to a relationship because they are always wondering who is behind the next door--could they "get" someone hotter? And they don't put much effort into dating because there are so many attractive girls at their huge megachurch, so they figure if one girl doesn't work out, they'll just try the next one. I'm certainly not advocating for that, but once you meet someone you do like, pacing yourself (to some extent) is a responsible way to protect your heart and can help prevent you from substituting your plan for God's--even if that kind of seems like you're playing games.

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