give me perspective on the date I just went on.
October 15, 2013 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I went out with the kind of guy I thought I'd never meet but always wanted to. I really like him but some self-sabotaging behavior may have screwed this up for me. Help me do damage control and tell me what I need to ask myself to know if I really like him or just the idea of him.

This guy is smart, mature, so hot, passionate about his job, has varied and cool interests, AND good manners. He's slightly older than me (5-10 yrs). We went for dinner and drinks, and I didn't feel anxious like I usually do in these situations. I am young and inexperienced when it comes to "real" dating, plus I'm dealing with fear of intimacy/trust issues/daddy issues/find it very difficult to become exceedingly close long-term with guys.

In the past I've gone for emotionally unavailable guys, fuck-ups, and casual sex. Now that I'm at a good place with myself, I do expect and want more from my relationships. I'm not into degenerates anymore. But I feel like I self-sabotage when I meet a good guy.

This guy (from the date) talked about himself a lot. I decided halfway through that he was full of himself. I couldn't decide how much he cared to hear about me and my interests/life. But in retrospect, I realize that he may have been nervous and just trying to make conversation. Anyway, after a couple of drinks I told him he seems self-centered. I probably came off as a bratty little bitch. The night was going so well and I don't know why I had to say that. He was taken aback but admitted that he's heard that before and it's something he wants to work on. I feel terrible. How can I fix this? We kissed after that conversation and it was amazing and passionate and perfect. I feel so much chemistry with him despite the fact that there were some periods of silence throughout the evening, and despite the talk about his being conceited. How does that even make sense?

Does awkward silence on a first date mean that you and that person aren't right for each other? I did like what he had to say when he spoke. I think he may be a bit reserved. I want to see him again but he probably thinks I hate him because of the mean things I said. We held hands and laughed and kissed after the meanness and ended things on a good note. How do I know he wasn't just being polite at that point?

I wonder if I just found him conceited because I was intimidated by the fact that he's older and more cultured than I am. He was very kind to me and didn't make me feel stupid if I hadn't heard of something. He contacted me to make sure I got home safely (we don't live superclose) and I tried to clear the air a little. He expressed that he enjoyed his time with me. I can't decide if the ball is in my court. Does he think I'm evil and never wants to see me again? Should I wait for him to say something? Or should I text him since I was the one who was critical? What would I even say?

Help :(
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It doesn't seem like you messed up things too badly if you wound up kissing after that comment. I would send a text saying I had a good time and I hope we can get together again.

It usually takes more than one date to figure out how much you like someone. Give yourself a break.
posted by xingcat at 7:56 AM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

Go ahead and apologize for that thing. But do it face-to-face (rule of thumb: apologize as intimately/publicly as you offended). Set up another date (go ahead, take the lead) and start it off with, "So, that thing I said about you being self-centered? I'm really sorry about that. I don't think you're self-centered. Anyway, let's go see a movie." And then go from there.
posted by Etrigan at 8:02 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Send him a text that says: "Hi, I like you. Want to grab dinner on Thursday? I know a great Thai place."

Stop overthinking this.
posted by phunniemee at 8:03 AM on October 15, 2013 [26 favorites]

Definitely simmer down. You're over-analyzing this to death for no reason. You've had one date, one conversation, one kiss.

If you like the guy, make another date. If he took you out the first time, return the favor.

If you don't like him talking so much about himself, talk about something that means something to you and ask his opinion on it; get him to take an interest in you. People will talk about themselves because it's what they know best when first meeting someone.

Make your next date about something you like to do; if art is your thing, go to a museum or a gallery. Live music - go to your favorite club or go see a band you'd like to hear live and invite him along.

One date means nothing other than "will there be another date?" That's all.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:04 AM on October 15, 2013 [7 favorites]

It sounds like things went well except for that little blip, and he doesn't seem to be dwelling on that. Let him know you'd like to see him again, and then on your next date, try not to overthink things, and just enjoy the experience.

Really, one of the most important pieces of dating advice I can give you is "don't overthink."
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:05 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't invest ANYTHING only one date in. Ask him out again on another date. If he's put off, oh well, move on. If he's not, give him another try.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:07 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Anyway, after a couple of drinks I told him he seems self-centered. I probably came off as a bratty little bitch ... He was taken aback but admitted that he's heard that before and it's something he wants to work on.

So you were right! He seems self-centered. Why are you being down on yourself? Reading this, it sounds like despite all his good manners, all he did was talk about himself and (perhaps unintentionally) make you feel like you paled in comparison. Keep in mind that he was probably aware of the fact that you were feeling a couple drinks when you said that. First dates can be awkward, yeah.

It's true that you are overthinking this at the moment, and I also think you're allowing yourself to become too emotionally invested in something that's only one date in. You don't know each other yet. It's one thing to date emotionally unavailable fuck-ups, but it sounds like you think this guy is the complete opposite and maybe that he's superior to you, maybe that you don't deserve to date someone like him? Be wary of that.
posted by wondermouse at 8:15 AM on October 15, 2013 [10 favorites]

Yeah, it sounds like you're casting the two of you in this weird "one up, one down" dynamic that isn't going to be healthy if you have a long-term relationship with him. You are a grown woman, not a "bratty little bitch." It's pretty natural to feel put off by someone talking excessively of themselves, and even pointing it out to him is really not the end of the world. You should be able to be clear on what you want and while yes, there are smoother ways of steering the conversation away from him if you'd rather not be so direct, this was still a minor hiccup at most and NOT an inexcusable sin. The more you continue fixating on it, the less energy and attention you'll have to really assess whether or not this guy is someone worthy of being in a relationship with you.

So I'd agree with the folks who have already said that you're way overthinking this. Laugh it off, figure out ways you would prefer to handle such a situation in the future, and move on. And in the meantime, really work at seeing this whole thing as a meeting between two equals with different strengths, backgrounds, and experiences, rather than you basking in the presence of some magnificently cultured, dapper, well-mannered vision of perfection.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:16 AM on October 15, 2013 [11 favorites]

Sometimes, even the most polished, together-seeming people get nervous. Maybe he was gassing on because he was nervous--did you do any talking, about yourself or anything else? If you go out again, maybe an activity in which you can both participate, rather than just chatter at each other. And even if he did seem conceited, I think it's a tich rude to just blut that out--you wouldn't like someone doing that to you. But don't bring it up again.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:24 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

So where you left it, he'd called you or texted you to make sure you got home safe? Then yeah just text him back and say you had a nice time and would like to see him again. I wouldn't apologize for the comment you made! He admitted it was true and he didn't pout about it, and you both seemed to have a nice time. Sounds like a great date to me, as first dates go. (And I bet if you hadn't said it, you'd be wondering how to bring it up, or even if it's a dealbreaker. Since you already brought it up and he was decent about it, that's one less thing to worry about.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:24 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ha, you are FINE!

You gave him a ribbing and he took it gracefully and even kissed you afterward. I would say you are in the driver's seat, honey.

Here's how I'd play it. I believe the best way to treat most guys you don't know well is like a bratty brother and tease them a lot. You basically did that! Well done. I'd ask him if he had any desire to go out and talk about himself some more, because you'd love that.

Good luck! And, yeah, relax. Just have fun with dating, remember you are in control no matter what, and it's all just fun life experience. They are lucky to have a chance to get to know YOU, not vice-versa.
posted by Punctual at 8:25 AM on October 15, 2013 [16 favorites]

You must have come across as direct and honest, and the fact he kissed you afterwards and held hands tells me he must have liked you. (I doubt very much that people hold hands and kiss out of politeness.)

I wouldn't dwell on your comment any further, certainly not apologize to him for it.

Go on more dates with him, get to know him. You've only just met his 'first date' persona.
posted by Dragonness at 8:28 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

He kissed you goodnight, which makes it pretty clear that he didn't get too upset over it. He probably isn't thinking any more about it beyond "God, I am so embarassed that I came off as self-centered to her! I hope I didn't ruin everything!". Seriously, he probably could write this same question, only he'd be wondering if he ruined his chances with a great girl because he came off an self-centered, so much so that she actually had to call him out on it.

Quit stressing.

Ask him out on another date.

Enjoy the smooches and hand holds and awesomeness.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:47 AM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

First dates are frequently awkward. You made a mis-step, but the fact that you had a passionate kiss afterward seems to indicate that he's totally willing to try and work past that. It doesn't sound like a big mis-step, so it should be easy to work past by simply apologizing and then not doing that thing again (and not making a huge deal out of it -- a simple, sincere apology and then moving on completely would be the best).

Ask him out on another date. You like the guy, and he seems to like you. Go for it!
posted by Scientist at 9:07 AM on October 15, 2013

There's no blueprint. You have to allow for the fun of discovery -- which will include awkward moments, foot-in-mouth, misunderstandings, etc -- as you explore the territory of The Other. That's not a bug, it's a feature and part of the wonder of it all!
posted by thinkpiece at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2013

Like DingoMutt, I think you should probably work on not feeling SO horrible about this that you're putting yourself at a power imbalance from the beginning of the potential relationship. Don't put this guy on a pedestal. You're totally fine and worthy and deserving of a sweet guy. That sweet guy may not be this guy! Become okay with that fact. Don't start overlooking his flaws if they really bug you, just because he has his shit together otherwise and you feel like you owe it to him to be nice.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 9:15 AM on October 15, 2013

Sounds to me like it was just a wee bit of awkwardness that he doesn't seem to have held against you. Heck, it sounds like he may have even appreciated it. Only one way to find out for sure - ask him on a second date! It's possible he's sitting on the other end, wondering if he ruined the whole thing by talking about himself too much.

I find myself talking a lot more about myself than I'd like to in certain nervous-making situations (See? I'm doing it now!), because I hate awkward silences with a white-hot passion, and my experiences are the only topic I really know well enough to freely ramble about. Even when I'm talking about books, or music, or movies, or that time Clarabelle Cow dumped Horace Horsecollar, it's really about my experiences with those things. So, on a second date he may end up coming off as less self-centered than he did the first time.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:31 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Your date sounds awkward in a good way! You were both feeling each other out, and it sounds by the way it ended like he'd be up for another date. Save any apologizing for your next date, in-person (NOT TEXTING), and make it short and sweet - Etrigan's script sounds great to me. You're not apologizing for being a "bratty bitch" btw, you're just apologizing cause you said something that you realized could've come off as mean, and you want him to know you like him!

I also think you'd do really well to examine the sense you seem to have that he's way cooler than you and you have to be perfect and impress him. You wrote, he's older and more cultured than I am, and that kind of thinking is something I'm wayyy too familiar with. I guarantee you, you are JUST as awesome as he is, you just don't notice it cause all the awesome things you do seem normal and everyday to you. I've fallen into that trap in quite a few relationships and for me, it's always resulted in me clinging to really crappy relationships because I'd put the dude on a pedestal and forget all about how important my own feelings were. In contrast, on my first date with my current SO, I made fun of him for texting his friend on our date, then I texted my own friend in 'revenge', and we ended the date with this terribly awkward first-date hug-of-uncertainty (because he had told me he was getting over a bad cold and ew, stranger's cold germs!). He's someone I feel an equal with, and the way we interact makes me appreciate our joint awesomeness and lets me be myself rather than feeling like I have to be this impossibly impressive construct.

I think your date sounds like it went great, and you should set up a second one soon-ish so that you can continue to figure out how you feel! You don't need to impress this guy - you just need to figure out how you feel and then go from there. Go get him!
posted by augustimagination at 9:35 AM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I also say that it's not cute to point out people's flaws to them immediately. Next time something like that happens, keep an eye on it and evaluate quietly. Essentially, what you did there was neg him, and that sucks whether it's a man or a woman doing it.
posted by namesarehard at 9:41 AM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

You are thinking way too much about this. There's no strategy involved. If he likes you, he'll ask for a second date/second chance.

You guys kissed afterwards. And also, know this: you don't know him that well and there are so many good guys out there.

Don't ever get hung up on one guy after one measly date. Dating is about experience and making mistakes. You made a mistake. Big deal. Just don't get fixated on this one guy.
posted by discopolo at 10:16 AM on October 15, 2013

I'd ask him if he had any desire to go out and talk about himself some more

Eek, I would not recommend this at all. Just drop it and aim for a second date. Move forward. If you absolutely must bring it up, then there are plenty of suggestions as to how to do this when you see him. But I kind of think you build on the nice way the date ended and not bring up the rest unless he does.

And something to consider in early dating: stop drinking after one and you'll be more you during the getting-to-know-you phase.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, anorigamilife, you may be right that my advice is on the weird end of the spectrum :-). My circle of friends and lovers are very harsh teasers and we say stuff like that - I would LOVE it if a guy referenced our date this way in jest.

So, sorry, anon - I may be an outlier! But I see it as a way to create a fun inside joke!

Best of luck!
posted by Punctual at 10:27 AM on October 15, 2013

You told him the truth and it went over fine.

Quit apologizing or second-guessing yourself.

Stop using words like "bitch" to describe yourself.

You don't know if he's a "good guy" yet, but he's discovered something about you - that you are forthright and will tell it straight!

You're doing fine! Stop apologizing and don't bring this up again. It's past.

Quit dating him if he doesn't cease to be so self-absorbed.

That is all.

PS - you don't need to text him or ask him on a date, especially now that you text-rehashed stupid stuff you did not need to attempt to reframe for him in the first place.

Let it ride. Involve yourself in other activities. Don't wait around for this guy, OK?

Frankly, he's lucky to have me you. I wish you knew this already:))

Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 10:27 AM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

Does awkward silence on a first date mean that you and that person aren't right for each other?

No, it means it's a first date.

And honestly, the biggest favour I think you can do for yourself is to stop reading the actions of your potential partners like they are mysterious tea leaves:

I want to see him again but he probably thinks I hate him because of the mean things I said. How do I know he wasn't just being polite at that point?

Well because you"held hands and laughed and kissed and ended things on a good note" and he "contacted me to make sure I got home safely" and "expressed that he enjoyed his time with me."

I can't decide if the ball is in my court.

I'd say it is. Plus, since we're being grownups now, we're not playing Stupid Dating Games. If you want to see him, let him know. So contact him and say you enjoyed meeting him and would be up for doing something again; would he like to go to the farmer's market / museum / zoo this weekend? Do something WITHOUT ALCOHOL and see how it goes.

And since you've already apologised, don't keep apologising; that is awkward.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:25 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Does awkward silence on a first date mean that you and that person aren't right for each other?

It means you don't know enough about each-other to keep the conversation flowing when one topic came to a dead end. There's nervousness, over-thinking, and a ton of other reasons silences occur on early dates.

Also, it's often easy to talk about yourself when there are awkward silences and you feel awkward asking the other person a ton of questions, or if you feel like the other person isn't getting to know enough about you from the prior conversation threads. If he keeps steering conversations to him and how great he is, or just the things he has done or read, then he might be self-centered. But saying "I'll try to work on that"? Green flag from my point of view.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:37 AM on October 15, 2013

You totally negged him! Maybe try to think of it more as you did something wrong that was just a bad thing, like littering/being a bitch to your grandma/whatever, rather than doing something wrong that ~ruined a fledgling relationship~

Because it wasn't that cool, but on the other hand, he still seems to like you. Some people are playful about their flaws.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:50 AM on October 15, 2013

Maybe I'm crazy, but why not just take what he tells you at face value? If he says he had a good time, he had a good time.

Also, use the next few dates to please figure out whether or not you actually like this guy. Your first date went a little hate/love. It's going a number of very different directions in a really short amount of time. If that's how you're feeling about him on an ongoing basis, you're probably not right for each other.

Here's how I'd play it. I believe the best way to treat most guys you don't know well is like a bratty brother and tease them a lot. You basically did that! Well done. I'd ask him if he had any desire to go out and talk about himself some more, because you'd love that.

This is what you'd do to attract the guys you were previously into. If you're at all looking for something more than a couple of dates or a hook-up, don't do this.
posted by cnc at 2:51 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

I feel terrible. How can I fix this?

Quit beating yourself up about it already.

Quit worrying that he thinks you are evil, or that he held your hand and kissed you to be polite.

Start thinking about if you want to go out with him again, instead of if he wants to go out with you. If you do, just take that ball and run with it without worrying about whose court it's in.

Also, if YOU kiss people that you don't want to kiss because you think it's polite, STOP THAT.
posted by yohko at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

From my wizened point of view, listen to your first response. Many a dating / weird interpersonal snafu gracefully side-stepped had I done so. But, you know. Experience. Note that this was after I forced myself to "give people a chance", and "just try it". People not worth a second glance. It's totally okay and recommended to be picky. Discernment does not a diva make. But, what's wrong with divas?

You wrote:
I decided halfway through that he was full of himself. [Emphasis added; he was!] I couldn't decide how much he cared to hear about me and my interests/life. But in retrospect, I realize that he may have been nervous and just trying to make conversation. Anyway, after a couple of drinks I told him he seems self-centered.
I've done the whole "give it three or four dates before deciding whether to toss back into the water/city/dating pool/place of choice". What I found to be true is that my first voice and what I considered to be "superficial", "haterade" thoughts in my head that sounded a little snapsnap "you must not know about me" were so on-point. X months later. Hindsight 20/20, six to one, half a dozen to another, so on and so forth.

It sounds like you are trying to like him, even though your first impression of him was not complimentary. Kissing can sometimes muddle such decisions.

And, man, frack all about kissing someone just because. Whatever. A kiss is not a contract. But, yeah, don't kiss if you don't want to. But, you're smart and already know this. Dating may give you diabetes, so prepare and pace accordingly.

Keep dating other people! Dating is (allegedly) supposed to be fun. Take your time. And, this guy doesn't know you, and sounds boring. Everyone is supposedly on their "best" behavior on the first date, smarmy charming sounded this latter one you had. If that's his best, then he best move on. I sound all flippant, but it's meant with heart.

So, yeah, looks meh on paper, whatever, is versed in the art of proper hygiene, is physically attractive, but the latter is a dime a dozen (really, hooking up is easy). However, a good person sense about someone who is not boring? We're special relationship snowflakes for a reason. Find someone whom you don't find boring. He sounds like a bore/boar.

Go get 'em.

PS: You didn't do anything wrong.
posted by simulacra at 6:07 PM on October 15, 2013


He's not better than you because he's sucked more oxygen into his lungs for longer than have you (so far). He's not better than you because he's x, y, or z. Don't start the game of, "How can I start belittling myself before I'm even in a real relationship, much less in a dating thing?" That way lies utter desolation. Avoid. There be dragons, etc. Come from your power. Come from your, "I know what I want." Come from something solid within yourself that says, "I choose him." Do you? Would you?
posted by simulacra at 6:14 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you were turned off by how much he talked about himself, take it seriously. This is unlikely to get better, in my experience.
posted by macinchik at 11:10 PM on October 15, 2013

as far as the date you are fine. he kissed you and was holding your hand so he's showing interest. personally, i'd be wary of someone who has heard before that he's self-centered. red flag! some people come off really polished and together but all they have is veneer. in no way does having a polished exterior or good manners make someone a good guy. when you are young and inexperienced it is quite heady to date people like that because they appear so together, but they can really do a number on you. is he like that? hopefully not. just don't rush into anything and keep your head about you. take it slooooooow.
posted by wildflower at 1:21 AM on October 16, 2013

Well, what you inadvertently did with honesty (and alcohol), was what more reprehensible humans might call 'negging' (Pick-Up Artist garbage.) Some people use those moves to get power over others, or keep them engaged, or intrigued. It's gross, but it seems like you weren't being intentionally manipulative. I wouldn't worry about what you said, but I'd worry about how much you are beating yourself up, period. Calling yourself names is never cool, and it's worth investigating. Also, you are calling your own judgement into question just because your conclusion was 'not nice.' That's dangerous. Good luck.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:14 AM on October 16, 2013

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