I'm Swearing Off "First Dates"

The other day I saw a vomit-inducing commercial on Match.com featuring "matched" couples on dates in various stages of bliss. Contrary to Match's portrayal, I'm not sure first dates are ideal situations for falling in love.

first date
(Image credit: Goldmund)

The other day I saw a vomit-inducing commercial on Match.com featuring "matched" couples on dates in various stages of bliss. Contrary to Match's portrayal, I've learned that first dates are awkward, full of pressure (opens in new tab), and detrimental when they happen too early.

My friend recently made an insightful observation about first dates. She said: "How often do people go on first dates and think, "I would love to have another ten of those?" (opens in new tab)

I'm wondering if a romantic spark requires a gradual buildup.

Is it not this instant burst I originally thought it was? (opens in new tab)

Along the same lines, I'm beginning to think I'm a great "middle of the relationship" guy, but I'm a horrible first-dater. Most of my positive experiences with women required significant time for them to "get" me.

In the beginning, I tend to come on too strong with my personality (opens in new tab), or too gently (not acting like myself).

Case in point: I made up a great date the other day while watching Iron Chef (opens in new tab). I'd have the girl name a secret ingredient a few days before the date, and then I'd cook up a three-course meal for her at my apartment, presenting the courses like they do on Iron Chef:

"For the salad, I chose to go with strawberry and feta to give it a summer flair." (opens in new tab)

The girl would then vent her frustrations, or sing her praises. But the problem is, having a girl over and cooking her a three-course meal is a total fifth date — not a first date. All my great "relationship ideas" require a few dates under my belt (past that awkward beginning phase).

After my first date last week (opens in new tab), I chatted with some friends and family about how they felt after the first date with the person in their deepest relationships.

My friend told me her first date with a guy she eventually fell in love with was emotionless, and she wasn't even sure if she'd go out with him again. It wasn't until the third date (opens in new tab) that she fell for him.

Both my sisters said that when they went on their first dates with their husbands/fiancés, they were intrigued but not smitten (opens in new tab). And they went out with them both within a week of meeting them, just like I tried to do last week with the girl I bored to death.

My buddy recently told a girl he'd been drunkenly making out with for a few weeks: "What do you say we actually go out sober sometime — you know, like on a date?"

How romantic (opens in new tab).

But, I can't help wondering if he's figured out the right way to do it.

I never actually went on dates with the last few girls I actually had fun with. We became friends, ran around NYC (meeting up at bars/parties, running errands), and making out.

But, we were friends at the core of the whole thing, and there was no pressure. Eventually a spark just happened, but there really were no dates necessary.

I might swear off of the "first date" until after I've really gotten to know a girl. My personality does not do well in the early stages of dating (opens in new tab).

Post-college, it's not easy to create these meetings. We don't "naturally" run into one another after we meet. We have to call, Facebook, text people to try to get them to go out (opens in new tab).

So, where's that leave a guy like me who needs to grow on someone before dating? Single (opens in new tab).

But it's tough when a "first date" is your one chance to impress (opens in new tab) — especially when most people walk away from a first date not knowing what to think. I can't be myself on a first date because "myself" is loud and instantly comfortable. I have to be reserved, and careful — not really me.

This chivalrous and traditional first date with a girl I just met sure isn't working. (opens in new tab)

But maybe I'm overreacting. Perhaps I was just boring, and this girl wasn't into it last week and there was no match, end of story. I can tell you one thing: Match.com would never use our date footage for one of their commercials — but how many first dates look like a Match.com commercial date? How often does the spark happen the first few times you meet someone?

In short, I'm starting to think "love at first sight" is impossible. It takes time.

Do you agree with me that first dates too soon in a courtship can ruin things? Have you ever had a good first date with a person you didn't know well, or walk away from a first date completely glowing after feeling a spark? What do you think of my theory?

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/richravens (opens in new tab)