Was I "getting to know you" too hard on a first date?
June 9, 2016 1:32 PM   Subscribe

A woman, who I met through the gym and who eagerly interacted with me on social media and dating sites, told me the day after a first date (that I initiated) that she felt weird about dating someone from the gym. What did I do/not do/say that completely changed her mind about me? Was I asking too many deep questions for a first date?

I recently went on a first date with a woman who I met through my gym. She eagerly followed me on social media and eventually she found me on a dating site after we had been casually chatting through social media. I took the opportunity of crossing paths on the dating site to finally ask her on a date. I wasn't sure before if she was single and dating and this made it clear to me that she was. We hadn't had any real life conversation before this date.

The first date was seemingly really successful! An important note here is that we happened to run into two separate people from the same gym we go to having dinner at the same place we chose for the date. I thought it was a funny coincident and it meant absolutely nothing to me that they would see the two of us together. I found it pretty funny and even joked that she had planted them there to witness our date :) I waved to each of them and she also waved and we went on with the night ..

Any way, so we have a lot in common. The questions I was asking were, in my opinion, really standard fare for a first date with someone I didn't have any mutual history with. I asked about job, family, hobbies, etc. I was genuinely curious. I also reciprocated when she asked and we joked a lot about things. There was laughter and playful coyness and a whole lot of normal things that I felt were signs of a brand new dating relationship (I'm not necessarily in a rush but ultimately want to be in another relationship). In my mind, getting to know these things helps me feel more comfortable for the future dates that would come where we'd be more care free and more interested in having fun with the things we were doing instead of busy interviewing each other. This is an important first step for me. (Is it an important note that she has been engaged? I didn't consider it an issue.)

A few times during the date she made joking comments about how my questions felt more like therapy. I just wrote that off as being nervous on the first date. These were actually very normal questions, in my mind. Stuff about family history and hobbies. I may have asked how she felt from an experience but, again, I felt like I was just learning about how she handled things that she came across in life.

The night ended with me walking her home and we stood awkwardly in front of her house, trying to say goodnight. I said "I had a good time, did you?" and she chuckled and said she did and then quickly shot back the comment of "Well, nice debrief!" with a heavy amount of sarcasm. Again, I wrote that off as nerves. I felt the tension for a kiss but I wasn't ready. I like to wait for first kiss. She did seem eager but when I didn't engage and after we exchanged some grinning, she giggled, knowingly, at how silly the awkwardness was and we said a final goodnight and parted. No first kiss. I still felt good about things.

The next day, I was riding high. Eager to be back in the game (after the recent breakup and a few non-starter dates with other women in the meantime that were otherwise successful). I was glad to know I still had my wit and charm. I also thought this might finally be a case of finding someone while doing things you're really passionate about instead of just dating as a hobby.

She texted me in the morning to reference something we talked about the night before and I replied with some funny, light-hearted responses. I knew this was the beginning of textual flirting in between dates and I was ready!

Then .. out of the blue, later that day .. she told me that .. she did have a good time the night before but based on how she felt awkward that the other people from our gym were there (seeing us on a date) that she didn't think dating would be a good idea and said Sorry.

I was completely blind-sided! I did not at all think she came off as nervous that night based on having people we knew present.

I obviously respected her decision and told her Thanks for letting me know and that was that. I asked no questions and made no comments.

What in the hell did I do wrong!? I was not setting myself up for THE ONE but I thought this had great potential for dating and it just fell flat.

It triggered the rejection from my recent breakup and I started feeling physically ill. I'm really anxious that I took the wrong path to get back into the dating world and maybe I am doing something completely wrong. Did I fail a script? Did the first kiss really matter that much? Please help me understand what I did wrong! I also plan to bring up my physical reaction at my next therapy session but that's over a week from now.
posted by modernman to Human Relations (67 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
A few times during the date she made joking comments about how my questions felt more like therapy. I just wrote that off as being nervous on the first date.
...
"Well, nice debrief!" with a heavy amount of sarcasm. Again, I wrote that off as nerves.


Whatever way it is you have of communicating with people was clearly too intense for her. I can't tell you if it's generally too intense or if you two just weren't compatible, but it sounds like you alienated her with your mode of questioning and really didn't take the hint when she asked you to stop being so whatever it was you were being.

Next time you are on a date, stop writing off criticism of your dating style as "nerves." They're not necessarily going to be all 100% legitimate, objective criticisms but you really need to listen to what your dates are telling you and adjust yourself if you want to keep seeing that particular person.
posted by griphus at 1:40 PM on June 9, 2016 [87 favorites]


It's hard for us to say. That may not have been the reason at all, and you may have done nothing wrong. It honestly seems like the kind of reason someone might give if they were not into you for reasons they didn't want to say, whether that's "I realized I wasn't over my ex" or "I'm more into someone else" or "I'm not attracted to you".

But of course, I can't say for sure. From your description sounds like you were a pretty normal/great date, though, and I can't think of any script you possibly failed. I know it's hard, but this is just the nature of first dates: some of them fizzle for inscrutable reasons. Sucks, though, I know.
posted by R a c h e l at 1:40 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


I said "I had a good time, did you?" and she chuckled and said she did and then quickly shot back the comment of "Well, nice debrief!" with a heavy amount of sarcasm. Again, I wrote that off as nerves.

She wasn't nervous, she was annoyed. You didn't do anything wrong, but this comment and her "this feels like therapy" comment sound like attempts to communicate that she was feeling under interrogation. Not everyone likes to have a first date that feels like an interview or a therapy session with lots of personal questions about their past, their emotional connections to family, et cetera. Many people prefer the reverse of your preferences: they like to have light fun on a first date and slowly ramp up the release of personal information as their comfort level increases.

File this under a learning experience, but don't beat yourself up. This was just a communication style mismatch.
posted by palomar at 1:41 PM on June 9, 2016 [67 favorites]


Please help me understand what I did wrong!

There's no way to know. Either her explanation to you ("she felt awkward that the other people from our gym were there") was sincere or it wasn't. My random-Internet-stranger guess would be that it wasn't. But if it wasn't sincere, then you'll never know the real reason. Maybe the kiss stall wasn't her style. Maybe you asked a question that triggered a memory of her ex. Maybe someone else texted her the next morning, and she's interested in that person now. You have too little information to ever discern the truth.

The next day, I was riding high. Eager to be back in the game...

But this, right here, is the important point: what you're experiencing is exactly "the game." It's part and parcel. The game is trying people on, seeing how they fit, maybe trying a second date, maybe rethinking your first-date impression after the third date. Go right ahead and pat yourself on the back. Don't let this rejection deflate you. You were exactly right: this experience, every bit of it, means you are back in the game. You dated, and you handled rejection like an adult. Good job. Now do it a bunch more times.
posted by cribcage at 1:41 PM on June 9, 2016 [17 favorites]


Oh, I'm sorry, I missed the therapy line. That suggests that your questions may have been too deep/intense for a first date, you may have been overly focused on her (it's totally possible to ask too many follow-ups on an intense topic), or you may not have shared enough of yourself.
posted by R a c h e l at 1:42 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's impossible to say. It doesn't sound to me like you did anything wrong, but everyone's different. Maybe she really compartmentalizes her life, and doesn't want to overlap. Maybe she could sense that you're interested in something long-term, and she wants something more casual. Maybe those other people said something to her. There are any number of possibilities. But, as a guy who's been in your shoes before, it doesn't really matter. You're probably never going to get an explanation (and she doesn't owe you one), so just move on and try again.

Something to hopefully cheer you up: when I was in your situation a few years ago (met a girl through a mutual hobby, went out on a seemingly enjoyable first date, shot down by text the next day), I took the advice I just gave you, and the next woman I went out with became my wife. So things aren't that dire. You can rebound from this.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:43 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry things didn't work out.

You say that you felt "physically ill" when she turned you down for more dates, though, is making me wonder if maybe you were just putting a lot of significance on this date in your own head, and that kind of carried a "tone" she picked up as a subtext to what you were saying. You're asking for "what did I do wrong", and I have a hunch that the answer is "put your expectations too high", because that is QUITE a strong reaction to her saying "thanks but no thanks".

What I mean is, maybe it's not so much that you said the exact words "so where did you go to school," maybe it was the tone with which you said those words, which she interpreted as very interrogatory, and that put her off.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:46 PM on June 9, 2016 [16 favorites]


I thought it was a funny coincident and it meant absolutely nothing to me that they would see the two of us together. I found it pretty funny and even joked that she had planted them there to witness our date :)

For me the thought of something like this happening every time we ran into someone we knew from the gym would be enough to make me say "no thanks" to a second date; YMMV.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:46 PM on June 9, 2016 [17 favorites]


People won't tell you this because usually the problem is that people don't show enough interest in the person they're sitting across from, but you, you personally, you need to talk about yourself more. Don't wait for the other person to ask you questions. If you ask a question and get an answer, don't ask another question. For the love of crap do not say "and how did that make you feel?" Start sharing something about yourself--maybe a similar situation you had or a funny thing that happened when you did something tangentially related.

It sounds to me like she was telling you loud and clear that you're a little too intense and she didn't like it. When I find myself spending time with someone whose personality I discover to be off-putting, and then see a mutual acquaintance, yes, there is the fear/concern that they already know that guy is off-putting, and ugh, maybe they'll think I LIKE that kind of personality, maybe I have one, too, and avoid me in the future. Guilty by association. So I could easily see myself having the same reason for not wanting to see you again in her position.

It's ok. Not every person is gonna hit it off with every person. This one was a bust, sucks that it was so one-sided but hey, it happens. Go find other people to date.
posted by phunniemee at 1:46 PM on June 9, 2016 [18 favorites]


A few times during the date she made joking comments about how my questions felt more like therapy.

Ah, I know this feeling, both in dating and non-dating contexts where I've been getting to know someone. My hunch is that she was signaling that she felt like you were prying, and/or that you were concentrating too much on asking questions and not on actually conversing. The times this has happened to me -- and again, this has been in both potentially romantic situations and clearly platonic situations -- I've inevitably found it off-putting, because it's exhausting and because it always seems artificial.

The thing is, good conversation has an ebb and flow, a sense of engagement in how each person responds to what the other is saying. If someone is just constantly asking me questions, it feels less engaging -- like they're just running off a script, rather than interacting naturally and meaningfully with what I am saying and with what they're saying in turn.

"Asking questions" is a good part of a conversation, but it's not the only part of a conversation. The other parts include sharing and listening. Maybe you need to be mindful of striking a more natural balance in those areas?
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 1:47 PM on June 9, 2016 [30 favorites]


Agree with phunniemee. Also, if you ask a lot of questions, one way to diffuse the intensity is to express them as statements that the other person can 'answer', or just play off of, or just acknowledge and change the subject. For example, instead of "how did that make you feel?" you could say, "wow, that would make me feel awkward." This happening is no big deal overall, though.
posted by michaelh at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2016


Maybe it wasn't you. Maybe it really, truly was the reason she gave you: that she felt weird running into fellow gymgoers while on a date with one. Maybe she's realized that she doesn't want to date anyone she goes to the gym with, no matter how great.

Otherwise, from how you describe your date, it sounds like you may have focused on asking getting-to-know-you questions, rather than actually have a conversation. Did it go like this:

You: What's your favorite movie?
Date: I can't think of a favorite, but I saw Inside Out recently and really liked it.
You: I haven't seen it. Uh... so, what's your favorite band?
Date: Hall and Oates.
You: How about your favorite book?
etc.

Or was it more like:

You: What's your favorite movie?
Date: I can't think of a favorite, but I saw Inside Out recently and really liked it.
You: I haven't seen it, yet. I generally like Pixar films, though. I thought Finding Nemo was pretty good.
Date: Yeah. Are you going to see Finding Dory when it comes out?
You: I'm not specifically planning on it, but yeah, probably. I haven't been paying attention.
Date: Me either, I gotta admit. And if Dory's the main character, why does she need to be found? She's like already right there!
You: Heh, she probably forgot where she is.

You get the idea. Instead of standing across from each other throwing the conversational ball back and forth, try to carry that ball forward and pass it between you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:59 PM on June 9, 2016 [37 favorites]


Here's what I think happened: it was great, and good fun, but there wasn't enough of a fire between you two: and then there were enough minor caveats about the way that you met and how the date went, that she was a little stuck in her mind trying to overcome those things. It's not that it went poorly, or anything! It's just perhaps she wasn't on the same page; or she, being on the receiving end, felt compelled enough to weigh things and make a decision one way or another on behalf of the both of you.

Perhaps having officially met 'online' after not having talked in the gym-- perhaps she had friendships with those people that saw you, and she may have felt a little pink in the cheeks, being spotted, trying things out with you--! & then perhaps the conversation was more of a fact-finding cover-all-the-bases for her than entirely and totally fun, but-- even though things went well, there might remain a good few reasons why she just couldn't cross the bridge and want to continue to date you right now. Honestly? I think it's telling that you felt so well after the date. I think that's good evidence for judgment that you still did well.

We make these choices! We sometimes are at a point in our lives where we need to have discretion how and who we date. Anyway, one of the most important things I've learned recently is that people's actions cannot and simply do not have to reflect your value as a partner; they're at their own place in their lives, and their attitude is such-and-such on that particular day. Let their decision just be theirs, and not of particular import to where you are in your life. It sucks, but you're still pretty great.
posted by a good beginning at 2:03 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


Metroid Baby's conversation examples are what I was thinking about when I said that some people prefer a little lighter conversation in early stages. The first example would feel sort of pointless, like I was filling out a questionnaire or a census form. The second example, to me would feel more conducive to actually learning about the other person's personality and determining if we have good conversational flow, which would make me more inclined to want to see them again.
posted by palomar at 2:05 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


You seem to do a lot of assigning emotion/intention to her activities -
*She eagerly followed me on social media
*she made joking comments about how my questions felt more like therapy. I just wrote that off as being nervous on the first date.
*she chuckled and said she did and then quickly shot back the comment of "Well, nice debrief!" with a heavy amount of sarcasm. Again, I wrote that off as nerves.
*I like to wait for first kiss. She did seem eager but when I didn't engage and after we exchanged some grinning, she giggled, knowingly, at how silly the awkwardness was and we said a final goodnight and parted.

I hate to say it, but I think you misinterpreted her feelings and signals.
posted by Burn.Don't.Freeze at 2:05 PM on June 9, 2016 [61 favorites]


she did have a good time the night before but based on how she felt awkward that the other people from our gym were there (seeing us on a date) that she didn't think dating would be a good idea

Some people really and truly only want to date people who don't know anyone that they know. It's a common way for people to go about dating in large cities.

I found it pretty funny and even joked that she had planted them there to witness our date

The thing is, if you don't know someone well and they tell a joke like this, you don't know if they are really joking or if it's a half-joke/half-warning sign of serious issues with paranoia. It could well leave the impression that you are the sort of person who would later accuse someone of all sorts of bizarre things. OTOH, it's a quick way to find out if your senses of humor are compatible, and if you make a lot of jokes that seem kind of creepy to some people, it's a win for both of you if you can get that out of the way on the first date.

It sounds like the two of you just aren't compatible, there is nothing wrong with finding that out early.

I felt the tension for a kiss but I wasn't ready. I like to wait for first kiss.


Explaining this might be a good idea next time.
posted by yohko at 2:08 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sometimes people, especially anxious people, can really get derailed when something like the people-from-gym thing happens. Like "Oh god I don't even know how I feel about this guy and now people from the place I go every day will think were a couple, CAN'T DEAL..."

It sounds like you did things fine, were yourself and did a generally fine job, but the fit wasn't right. Happens. This line stood out to me, as it apparently did to others...

A few times during the date she made joking comments about how my questions felt more like therapy. I just wrote that off as being nervous on the first date.

If someone tells you one time that the things you are saying feel like therapy that is your cue to back off pretty much immediately and try to be a little less intense at whatever you're doing. The fact that she said it more than once and maybe more than twice indicates a misalignment. Some people are less inclined to share personal information on a first date and keep it lighter than "family history" (which for me is 50/50 hilarious anecdotes and horror stories, so it can be tricky) so maybe you need to work more at banter as Metroid Baby outlines.

Again, no big deal and it's possible she really enjoyed her time with you but just didn't see it moving forward. You sound like you're in your own head a lot (I am too! No shame in it!) but I'd just gather the good stuff from this and realize that ultimately this time it didn't work out but you had a good time, met a neat person and dating is a numbers game and you seem to be doing okay.
posted by jessamyn at 2:14 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


she made joking comments about how my questions felt more like therapy. I just wrote that off as being nervous on the first date

yea, you can't just "write off" when someone gives you an indication that they are uncomfortable. That was her telling you that your questioning was bothering her, and that you were crossing her boundaries, and you ignored that. Next time you are trying to find out about someone, also make sure you take into account information that pertains to their current emotional state, because that is also a really really important thing to know about a person.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:16 PM on June 9, 2016 [31 favorites]


If someone indicates to you they are uncomfortable with something that you are doing, it is not your job to decide whether their discomfort is "valid" or "serious" or the result of "nerves." Your job is basically to listen to what the other person is telling you about their own preferences and boundaries, and back off as requested.

In other words, please note how in this entire question you are treating all of your preferences and habits as logical, reasonable, and correct. And then consider how quickly you brushed off her preferences as though they could not possibly be valid.

Why would someone want to interact with someone who does not think that their preferences are valid? It is not fun, it is unpleasant.

Even regardless of whether listening to others' boundaries is the right thing to do (it usually is), it's the smart thing to do on a date. If someone gives you information about how to make them happier or more comfortable, why would you ignore it ?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:19 PM on June 9, 2016 [69 favorites]


That was her telling you that your questioning was bothering her, and that you were crossing her boundaries, and you ignored that

This. If I had to tell a guy to stop /anything/ three times on a first date, it is absolutely a guarantee he would not get another.
posted by corb at 2:20 PM on June 9, 2016 [14 favorites]


There's a reason why phrases like "don't fish in the company pool" are standard dating advice: most relationships end, and when they do, it can make life awkward for the participants if they still have to see each other on a regular basis. Work is obviously problematic, because of potential power imbalances, etc., but any social group can be poisoned a little by relationships gone wrong.

It sounds like you guys are regulars at your gym, and have mutual gym acquaintances. So she's probably being cautious/conscious of what could go wrong if you guys got into a relationship and it ended poorly.

I think that what you should tell yourself is that she probably had a good time but didn't feel a "spark" and didn't want to risk further pursuing a relationship that if it did sour, could make things awkward at a place where she spends a fair amount of time.

Maybe you asked too many questions, maybe not. Maybe you asked a perfectly reasonably number of questions but it was just too many for her. Accept that she's just not that into you, be friendly at the gym, and go on more dates with other women.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:20 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, the fact that you are asking us is indicative of the problem here: we can't tell you more than the individual woman you're with can tell you. She was very clear. Why would we know more than her? And why would we know more than the next woman you might date?

The people you are with are experts on their own emotions and preferences. Paying attention to what they communicate about themselves is key to successful dating.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


Here is where I see you doing some mind-reading/ emotion-ascribing that was probably not accurate:
She eagerly followed me on social media
playful coyness


Here is where I see you writing off anything that indicated the date wasn't as successful as you'd hoped as "nerves":
A few times during the date she made joking comments about how my questions felt more like therapy. I just wrote that off as being nervous on the first date.
"Well, nice debrief!" with a heavy amount of sarcasm. Again, I wrote that off as nerves.


So, all in all, I'd say there were signs she wasn't so into it as you'd hoped but you didn't want to see them or you wrote them off. It sucks to get your hopes up then dashed, but maybe your next date will click with your style more naturally.

Also, the gym thing seems plausible to me-- she feels a little weird now, that happens--might as well believe her.
posted by kapers at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


Agree with other posters that she isn't into you. Move on.

But wanted to say it's really hard to know reasons for why someone doesn't want to date. We're just basing an interpretation based on information you shared with us. It's entirely possible there were other things that you didn't know, that you missed, or that are going on in her head. I.e. an ex, etc.

I also want to say that as a woman, I love this communication style. You shouldn't take this as a cue to simply stop asking people personal questions on a first date - it's just a mismatch. I would hate to go on a first date that is boring and too light.

She wasn't into it. You sound like a real catch (respectful of her wishes, proactive), so I wouldn't let this drastically change your dating strategy. The key learning here is to pick up the cues earlier - and cut the bait when it's becoming apparent you guys are not a match.
posted by pando11 at 2:25 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't really know if this is threadsitting but I wanted to add an additional question, after learning this new information ..

I get the weird sense of conflicting information about "you did nothing wrong, don't sweat it" to "here's exactly what you did wrong: missing cues, and that's a really bad thing and you should have known better, shame on you".

I guess I really did miss the cues but I'm guessing my lack of overall dating experience (or lack of conversational expertise?) is to blame for that. This is honestly good information to know and I didn't realize my mistake. I had no idea.

Do I do any sort of apologizing to her for being invasive or do I just let it go and let someone continue to think I'm a 'bad date'? Being labeled as 'bad date' makes me feel like a bad person.
posted by modernman at 2:26 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


What in the hell did I do wrong!? I was not setting myself up for THE ONE but I thought this had great potential for dating and it just fell flat.

Why are you making this about you? She told you: "that.. she did have a good time the night before but based on how she felt awkward that the other people from our gym were there (seeing us on a date) that she didn't think dating would be a good idea and said Sorry. " Why are you not just accepting that? It seems completely reasonable to me.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:27 PM on June 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


I (a happily married in a very monogamous kind of way) see people flirting at my gym fairly regularly and always wonder what the hell they are thinking. It could be because it is mostly class-based so you tend to see a lot of "regulars" at, say the weeknight 6pm or 7pm class most nights, but i would be as wary about dating someone from the gym as from work for all the same reasons - if it went poorly does one of you have to go? its been a long while since i dated so maybe im minimizing the upsides, but i would not discount that she initially thought the gym thing wouldnt be weird and has somehow reconsidered it.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:28 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's a theme throughout this question of you not believing her plain words. You write them off as nervousness. So, surprise surprise, when she tells you she doesn't want to date someone from her gym you yet again don't believe her.

You need to start listening to the words people say and giving them way more weight. Starting now. She said she doesn't want to date someone at the gym. Believe her.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:29 PM on June 9, 2016 [39 favorites]


For heaen's sake do not approach her about this! That takes you from "bad date" to "creepy" right quick.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:33 PM on June 9, 2016 [47 favorites]


stoneweaver - your point is well made but (and absent the other ignoring of what she said directly) i wouldnt fault someone from questioning whether "not wanting to date someone from the gym" was a real explanation or covering for a less-easily conveyed truth (the fact that she accepted the date with him, knowing each other from the gym, would seem to cut against the "truthiness" of the explanation - though its entirely plausible she thought she was okay dating someone from the gym and changed her mind, as is her right).

whether the gym is the real reason, or it was your behavior (or any other reason), its time to move on.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:34 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do I do any sort of apologizing to her for being invasive or do I just let it go and let someone continue to think I'm a 'bad date'? Being labeled as 'bad date' makes me feel like a bad person.

No way-- apologizing WOULD make it incredibly awkward for you both at the gym, exactly what she was trying to avoid. Stay clear but remain friendly and light if she approaches you.

You have nothing to apologize for, just listen to what people here have noticed and see if it helps you in the future.

Everyone on this earth who has been on dates has been on-- or been-- a bad date. Doesn't mean we're all terrible. It's just a matter of finding someone you click with. I'd be a nightmare date for most men but a dream date for a few. Luckily I only need a few.
posted by kapers at 2:34 PM on June 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


It is so impossible to know exactly what's going on here. Could be that she really does feel awkward/anxious about the gym buddies seeing you. Could be that's an excuse because she feels awkward about the real reason, which could be anything from being annoyed at your conversational style to getting a phone call from an ex and realizing she's still in love with him. Back when I was younger and dating, I can recall calling things off after a reasonably good first date just because I freaked out emotionally and decided I couldn't handle dating at that moment - which had literally nothing to do with the other person, but was my own emotional freakout thing. It could be any of those things or something else.

Sure, I think it's good to be aware in conversations, but if you're otherwise dating and making friends normally, I wouldn't sweat it too much. Could just be a bad match here, and/or something entirely unrelated to how the conversation went. While a little more attention to cue-reading is never a bad thing, I think it can be dangerous to over-analyze things to the extreme. You can never perfect your conversational style to make it perfect for every woman you meet -- ultimately it's about who you're a good match with. If you like more intense conversations on a first date, there are people out there who like and are fine with that (I like it!)

Finally, definitely do not reach out to this woman again. You really have zero idea whether the conversation thing was the issue or something else. You'd basically be saying "I believe you are lying to me about the real reason you don't want to date me, so I'm going to tell you the real reason under the guise of an apology." Just...no. She knows your number, so if she does change her mind she is perfectly capable of dialing a phone. Having one bad date in your life does NOT make you a bad person -- or if it does, I think 99% of people in the world are bad people of that sort (which I'm pretty sure is not true!). Let it go, be cool, move on.
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:36 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Nobody said shame on you; practice taking people at face value and not assigning motives that may or may not be there.
posted by JenMarie at 2:36 PM on June 9, 2016 [51 favorites]


I get the weird sense of conflicting information

Well I think there are two things

- You like to ask probing questions. That may or may not be a thing that people jibe with, that may not be a thing you want to change about yourself. There is nothing wrong with being that way.

- Since you asked about this specific instance it seems that the way you handled feedback on this mismatch was suboptimal. Which is to say that the way you are is fine, but didn't work for this person. You could have gone a few different ways with that information, the path you chose was one that reduced your chances for a second date with this person as far as the internet peanut gallery can tell.

Being labeled as 'bad date' makes me feel like a bad person.

You're not a bad person. But you need to distinguish between not managing interactions as gracefully as you could have and having something actually wrong with yourself. MetaFilter can sometimes come on strong about social stuff it thinks other people should already know. I think the best approach is to sit with the unease that maybe this could have gone better because of something that was nominally under your control but that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with who you are as a person, but that maybe being more considerate/mindful/aware in the future would serve you better in the future. That said, move on. Absolutely do not contact her to work this out or apologize, that is actual creeper territory.
posted by jessamyn at 2:39 PM on June 9, 2016 [50 favorites]


You don't owe her an apology; just let it fade and be friendly if you see her at the gym. On preview, kapers has it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:40 PM on June 9, 2016


I've gone on bad dates with good people. (Hell, I'm a good person and I know I've been someone's bad date more than once.) One has nothing to do with the other.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 2:42 PM on June 9, 2016 [14 favorites]


Nobody labeled you as a 'bad date', except you. You are probably a great date for the right person. Just not for this woman.
Let it go and move on, you'll be fine.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:54 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


do I just let it go and let someone continue to think I'm a 'bad date'? Being labeled as 'bad date' makes me feel like a bad person.

WHOA there nelly. You can't control what people think of you. You can only behave in the way that you feel best displays who you are, and let them draw their conclusions accordingly.

Secondly, yes, literally everyone is a bad date for someone, at some time. You could only be universally a bad date if all women were universally identical (or, I guess, if you were a psychopath who actively harmed everyone you went out with).

Any time you start feeling like a thing that happened with one woman is a Thing That Happens With You and Women, realize that you're falling into the trap of forgetting that women are humans. We're all different. This should have the dual effect of snapping you out of your anxiety spiral, and also of making you a more conscientious dater.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:55 PM on June 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


It's not impossible to know what happened, if she's been accurately quoted; she felt interrogated (strongly suggested by use of the very specific word "debrief") and disliked the intimate nature of the questions ("therapy"). Answerers here offering advice following that line are the ones you should listen to.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:55 PM on June 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


I mean, really think about that: by your logic there, unless every heterosexual woman on earth desires a continued romantic relationship with you, you're a bad person? How does that even parse?

Dating after breakups is hard, I don't mean to dump on you. But this is the kind of stuff that bubbles up when you start dating for the first time/after a long time, and you gotta nip it in the bud before it starts to fester and do weird shit to your head.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:57 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Do I do any sort of apologizing to her for being invasive or do I just let it go and let someone continue to think I'm a 'bad date'? Being labeled as 'bad date' makes me feel like a bad person.

No, don't try to apologize for anything about the date. Move on, treat her like anyone else you know casually from the gym.

There's no indication that she thinks you are a "bad date", stop leaping to conclusions about what other people are thinking.

Even if it was a "bad date", that wouldn't make YOU a bad date.
posted by yohko at 3:02 PM on June 9, 2016


You sound: Serious, by-the-book, maybe a little tiny bit desperate, tend to overthink things and live in your head, have been mostly in serious long term relationships.

She sounds: Spontaneous, wants to have fun, funny, less serious, less likely to overthink things and more likely to live in the moment, probably has had some shorter term dates.

Not a good match. It's really hard to say if your, "heavy, serious, real-deal" style is basically within the realm of normal and she's just not a good match, or if your "heavy, serious real-deal" style is too serious for more than 50-60% of women, or whatever. Really hard to know.
posted by quincunx at 3:04 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, it sounds like she may have laid down some cues you didn’t pick up. The therapy comment wasn’t nerves -- it was a nice way of saying the questions were intrusive and/or coming at an intense rate.

Listen, I have had next to no luck in the dating scene, but I am pretty good at picking things up, and your style of writing makes it really clear how much this meant to you – your writing is practically vibrating with intensity. Unfortunately, that probably came across to her and probably raised the stakes way, way too high for her.

I would recommend saying to yourself before the next date with anyone, “I’m just going to relax. Enjoy the in-the-moment pleasure of being around someone who I find charming and attractive.” Don’t load it up with thoughts about where this could lead, what it could mean, etc. Do whatever most relaxes you or zones you out – watch TV. Surf the ‘Net. Listen to ocean waves or blue noise. Don’t go for “fake relaxed” where you’re hyped up but trying to look suavely relaxed, either.

PURELY for the purposes of practicing that demeanor, it might be worth going to speed dating. NOT for the purposes of actually matching up with any of the people you meet, but for the chance of just having 10-14 conversations with different women in one night.
posted by WCityMike at 3:08 PM on June 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


I found it pretty funny and even joked that she had planted them there to witness our date :)

This would bother me waaaay more than the fact of running into them. It just screams to me that I am a conquest in your eyes and a notch on your belt and counting coup matters far more to you than getting to know me. Apparently to you, a date with me is something to brag about to people neither of us even really knows, not a first step in getting to know me better to see if a relationship might make sense. To me, a romantic relationship is a private matter, not a feather in your cap to prove to acquaintances that you are big man on campus. I am not your trophy date and I am not interested in becoming your trophy girlfriend, much less your trophy wife.

And a lot of people will react negatively to something like that, even if they cannot quite put their finger on why. And maybe that is why she cited running into them as the reason to not proceed.
posted by Michele in California at 3:11 PM on June 9, 2016 [25 favorites]


Oh my. As a formerly single woman who's met my share of intense men who, for whatever reason (entitlement, cluelessness, social awkwardness), had trouble reading my signals... I instantly felt smothered reading your question. Unfortunately, you're coming across (to me, at least) as desperate, needy, and maybe even slightly immature.

-You dismiss her repeated references to your probing questions as nerves.
-You've recounted in excruciating detail the lead-up to the date, the date, and your feelings afterwards.
-You say you feel physically sick because a first date didn't work out
-You're trying to analyze her every word/ action/ emotion
- "In my mind, getting to know these things helps me feel more comfortable for the future dates that would come where we'd be more care free and more interested in having fun with the things we were doing instead of busy interviewing each other." Wait, what?! You basically admit to thinking that a first date should be more of an interviewing style and thereafter more carefree and fun. Nonononononono! It's the opposite.

Stay single for a while. Don't date, and enjoy being alone. Go to therapy - someone who feels physically ill as a result of one bad date needs help, I think. You're going to drive women away if you continue to be so intense.
posted by Everydayville at 3:39 PM on June 9, 2016 [14 favorites]


Go to therapy - someone who feels physically ill as a result of one bad date needs help, I think.

Come on, rejection is no fun for anyone, any time. I basically agree with your analysis: he came on too strong and didn't recognize it when she tried to get him to take a gentler approach. I wouldn't have gone on a second date with him, either. But we are just talking about one date here. Most of us have flubbed a date or three, especially when we're out of practice. It's too early to call it a problematic pattern.

OP, try to take in what's being said without being defensive. Other people are weird, and you look weird to other people. First dates are often awkward. You can improve.
posted by praemunire at 3:44 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


OP, I'm sorry if I came on too harsh, but I feel even more strongly that you do need to talk to a professional on reading your previous questions. Please, enjoy being single for a while. You are entirely too caught up in wanting to be in a relationship, and this is an unhealthy state of mind to be in before you start out in one.

Trust me, I've had men write me 8-page missives in this exact same tone, wanting to know what they did wrong or reaching out to apologize or basically looking for any excuse to meet with me) and it made me physically ill to think about what's going on in their heads. My girlfriends and I would talk about such dates in that semi-horrified, semi-tickled, semi-pitying tone that implies the date goes in the 'never again' archive. Don't be the bullet that she'd be glad she dodged.
posted by Everydayville at 3:53 PM on June 9, 2016


Something to keep in mind: There is a lot of advice out there right now suggesting that when in doubt, ask questions, because people "love to talk about themselves!" This is...not always true.
posted by Shouraku at 4:01 PM on June 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


Do I do any sort of apologizing to her for being invasive or do I just let it go and let someone continue to think I'm a 'bad date'? Being labeled as 'bad date' makes me feel like a bad person.

I'm not sure how to put this but: the more women you date, the more women you will know who do not want your romantic company for whatever reason. And unless you do something like trying to follow up past the point of being told they are not interested (which I hope everyone above has dissuaded you from) the fact that you're not a "good" date will matter far less than I think you suppose it does, going just by how distinctly I think this incident is playing in your head.

Unless you really luck out, there's going to be a bunch of women who you will leave with the parting thought that a date with you is not their favorite way to spend an evening. That's just dating, and if you're the sort of person who wants to be liked by people, it sucks - really, truly and genuinely sucks to know a person has a less-than-positive opinion of you (and, just to be clear, it is a kind of suck I am personally familiar with.)

But it's important that you learn to be okay with leaving people with a less-than-positive opinion of you (at least in the context of being a 'good date') because taking romantic rejection as an insult or injury of some sort is a far greater disservice to yourself than learning to be okay with letting go of the impossible standard of being a Good Date for everyone you go on a date with.
posted by griphus at 4:04 PM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


And on the flip side, as you date more women you will undoubtedly find yourself in the reverse position of "not feeling it" when the other person does, even if you thought it was going to be a good date going in. I bet you will instinctively be more charitable to yourself in that situation than you are being now. But really, the situations are not very different. It was a mismatch that neither party foresaw until you spent more time 1-on-1 together.
posted by AndrewInDC at 4:25 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


Stay single for a while. Don't date, and enjoy being alone.

I actually think you need to date much more! Dating is like anything else - it takes practice to become comfortable and to be able to pick up on cues and signals and respond accordingly. That includes making dates fun and not like clinical interviews, for both of you; figuring out how a date is actually going, not how you'd like to think it's going; not taking it personally when it doesn't work out, and also figuring out what you really want; and, when rejected, being able to say "No worries - thanks!" and put it out of your mind without deep anguish. All of this comes with more dates, more experience, and less stakes. Be mindful but go easy on yourself, and look forward to the next one.
posted by naju at 4:30 PM on June 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


Do I do any sort of apologizing to her for being invasive or do I just let it go and let someone continue to think I'm a 'bad date'? Being labeled as 'bad date' makes me feel like a bad person.

Please just let it go--I mean, leave this person out of your attempts to figure it out. This woman has made it clear she does not think dating you is a good idea, so trying to do a date debrief would probably also be unwelcome. Especially a conversation intended to control what you think is her impression of you. You have no idea whether she thinks it was a bad date, no indication that she thinks you're a bad person. All you know is she does not want a second date with you. Let her involvement in this end, as she clearly wants it do.

Anyway, I suggest you work on getting past this idea that one person thinking you're a bad date (or even a dozen people thinking you're a bad date) makes you a Bad Person. It's unlikely that someone you had a single bad date with has any Grand Opinion of You as a Human Being. In my experience, that's just not how it works. Even if that person does, it's hardly truth. What makes you a good or bad person is more complicated than that. And if you're respectful to the people you date, you're doing that much right.

Just from the other side, when I was single, I mostly went on First (and Only) dates because I had a very high threshold for when to go on the second date. Some of them were really terrible evenings, but mostly, they were just okay, perfectly ordinary interactions with perfectly ordinary people I just felt no interest in going out with again. Even with the really terrible evenings, I rarely left feeling like I had just spent hours with a bad person. The couple of times I actually felt I was with someone who might be a bad person--instead of a person having a bad night--(like the guy who started pressuring my for sex within ten minutes, or the guy who fished a lint-covered demerol out of his pocket and then ordered us two shots of Jager each), I just left and rarely thought of that person again.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:51 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Don't apologize to her! Everybody is somebody's bad date.
posted by corb at 6:07 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


The quickest answer is that you did something she didn't like. She told you a few times but you didn't listen. You're asking people on the internet instead of listening to what she said.

She felt like you were interrogating her. She didn't like it. She was annoyed that you didn't stop after she told you at least twice.

If it's just a lack of chemistry, don't give it a second thought. If it's something you might have heard (and also ignored) from others, then it's up to you to address it if you want.

But I would suggest listening more when someone tells you what the problem is. That's the bigger issue.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:48 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


If she doesn't want to date you because you're both gym regulars, imagine how she'd feel if you bring up the date again in any way, but particularly by apologizing or doing something else that reads as "too intense." If she's already feeling awkward about the situation, that's actually pretty likely to push her away enough to quit the gym. Don't be that guy.
posted by instamatic at 6:53 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure she doesn't think of you as a bad person, or even a bad date. She probably won't think of you much at all. She'll forget about you, and you'll forget about her. It's not the kind of interaction that gets stored in the long term memory.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:20 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think level of intensity is kind of a personal preference thing. But this specific person has clearly indicated they feel you are out there. No good will come of apologizing, querying them, etc. That is called "digging your grave deeper."

Just lay off and work on getting over your mortification. You have two paths forward on that: 1) Digging through everything endlessly, bean plating the hell out of it until you know with certainty exactly, specifically, everything you did wrong starting with asking her out or 2) admitting to yourself that she might have a point here about you being kind of out there and sometimes total strangers just do not hit off and it doesn't merit weeks of analysis to figure out what you might have done differently because it probably wasn't going to fly anyway.

And that isn't intended as some kind of dig at you. That's firsthand experience talking that sometimes overanalysis is totally a waste of time and no real gain comes from it.

But, you know, maybe skip making jokes about your date arranging a chance meeting and make a mental note to NOT wave at these bare acquaintances like that social engagement matters more to you than the girl sitting at the same table as you. (If they wave first, okay, acknowledge it. But that is not the scenario your description suggests.)
posted by Michele in California at 7:46 PM on June 9, 2016


I basically agree with all the comments here -- I know they (especially when you read them all at once) may come across as really harsh, but if you can stomach hearing all this, it's valuable feedback.

Just wanted to add that the best possible thing you can do here is let this go. Be just as friendly to her as you would to any casual acquaintance. Don't give any indication that you're still thinking about this or that your feelings toward her have changed at all from before you went on your date. Smile and wave if you see her at the gym, say hi in passing, but don't make an effort to interact with her or start conversations. If she started feeling uncomfortable during your date, it absolutely doesn't mean you're a bad person, but you could make up for it by making her feel comfortable now. And that means, don't make her regret going on the date in the first place. Act as if nothing has happened and you never had any romantic interest in each other.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:58 PM on June 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think everyone's covered your possible faux pas pretty well, but as an anecdote:

A very cute, very funny young man who I had been flirting with consistently for months because his parents owned the vietnamese sub place across from my work, once asked me on a date. I reluctantly said no, because I really liked his sandwich shop and my work and I thought it might be awkward if the date didn't go that well.

It's kinda possible that she just wants to be able to keep her gym because she likes it, and if you guys happened to have a bad breakup and then you continued going there, she might need to leave to avoid a toxic situation (I'm not saying this is true, but she doesn't know you) and she doesn't want that. Often "couple places" that you go to together are lost to one or both of you after a breakup, and that can really suck if it's a place you're attached to.

You guys had one date, you might have been a little too strong with the conversation and a little too timid with the kiss, and the date didn't blow her away, and when she weighed the possibility of "possible relationship" against "possible gym loss" your side just wasn't quite worth the risk. You put a lot of importance on this date, which is something to try not to do. Creating a pedestal for dates before you even go on them usually makes them not live up to your hopes. She, since she is single and dating, might have a bit more emotional remoteness from the date, and it probably seems like much less of an emotional blow to say "had fun, but don't think this works, sorry." to her.
posted by euphoria066 at 9:59 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Don't want to sledgehammer you here, but:

we stood awkwardly
heavy amount of sarcasm
I wrote that off as nerves. I felt the tension for a kiss
She did seem eager
she giggled, knowingly, at how silly the awkwardness was

Being labeled as 'bad date' makes me feel like a bad person.

suggests to me that not only are you completely and utterly ignoring communicative clues but you're putting your own spin on everything in a way that is exceptionally self-centered and somewhat creepy.

You don't know if she followed you eagerly on social media. You don't know that she was being sarcastic. You don't know that she was giggling knowingly and you don't know if she was nervous. It may not have been tension for a kiss; she may have wanted to bolt inside her house to get away from you or to pee. You don't know.

The problem is that you think you know and you're continually attributing motives to her behavior (and the responses you got here) that are in not based in reality. They're based on how you want to perceive things in a way that works for you but completely ignore what's going on in front of you.

I'm saying it's a little bit creepy because you seem to think she's putting out all these signals that she's into you and wants to kiss you where no signals exist. I think you need to really pay attention to what people are telling you. Don't misread signals. Don't assume you understand a person's motivation and don't assume there's attraction.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:23 AM on June 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


I agree that you just kept misreading her cues, and that's a self-centeredness to your posts that borders on entitlement. You're basically acting as if getting a second date is a matter of you wanting one and doing the right things to get one. It doesn't work that way. There's no secret formula. People are individuals, with their own agency. The point of date one is to figure out if you want a date two. On both sides. It's not just about you.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:23 AM on June 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Then .. out of the blue, later that day .. she told me that .. she did have a good time the night before but based on how she felt awkward that the other people from our gym were there (seeing us on a date) that she didn't think dating would be a good idea and said Sorry.

This answers your question. She's not interested in dating you, don't contact her to apologize. Be polite and cordial when you run into each other at the gym.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:22 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sometimes you click, and sometimes you don't. You two didn't.

But, yeah, you missed or ignored her social cues about how the date was going. Try to better next time.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:03 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


You guys had one date, you might have been a little too strong with the conversation and a little too timid with the kiss, and the date didn't blow her away, and when she weighed the possibility of "possible relationship" against "possible gym loss" your side just wasn't quite worth the risk.

Just wanted to echo this. I don't do well with ambivalence (makes me super anxious), so when I go on a date and do a few hours of "Maybe I like this guy...but...maybe...I don't know...do I want to go out again...I'm not sure" I usually end up decisively saying no thanks, at times abruptly, because I just can't handle my own indecision and want to get this whole shebang over with and stop stewing. So the fact that you were surprised by her sort-of turnaround from "had a good time!" to "nope!" may have more to do with her and not really anything to do with you.
posted by sallybrown at 9:57 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Your date has been very honest and straightforward about what her concerns are with dating you. You're deciding she's either lying or doesn't know her own mind and a few thousand internet strangers KNOWS HOW SHE FEELS BETTER THAN SHE DOES.

This presumably grown woman told you throughout the date her comfort level of how you were interacting. You chose to ignore it. She then told you why she wasn't going to date you again. Still, you're ignoring it. You are not a bad person. You are not a bad date. But you don't respect her opinion or her boundaries. I would figure out why that is before you try dating again.
posted by Jubey at 3:20 AM on June 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


An important note here is that we happened to run into two separate people from the same gym we go to having dinner at the same place we chose for the date. I thought it was a funny coincident and it meant absolutely nothing to me that they would see the two of us together. I found it pretty funny and even joked that she had planted them there to witness our date :)

Coming late to this question but if I was on a date and the guy even "jokingly" suggested that, what, he was so hot that I'd have to arrange to plant witnesses to prove that I was able to snag a date with him? UGH, never again. I mean, be yourself by all means, better to find out on the first date than the 20th date that you're not compatible. But don't assume any particular woman is automatically going to share your sense of humor. I'd feel very insulted by this "joke" and might very well use not wanting to run into mutual acquaintances as a convenient not-quite-lie to avoid another date.

And I agree with everyone that her "therapy" comments were polite attempts to let you know she doesn't like the probing questions. But even if it was just nerves, why did you continue with the behavior you believed made her nervous?
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:04 PM on June 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


You are not a bad person. You're a bad fit for this other person. That doesn't make you bad, in and of yourself.
posted by RainyJay at 4:42 PM on June 11, 2016


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