Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I’m divorced (happily and gratefully), and finally dipping my toe back in the dating pool. At the advice of many, I’m trying online dating.
After exchanging several messages with “Jeff,” we met for our first date. I had high hopes. He’s attractive and funny and seems like he’s got his act together.
About an hour in — and things seemed to be going really well — he asks, “So, do you want kids?” I felt like this was an enormously personal question. I must have stalled because he followed up by saying we shouldn’t “waste each other’s time” and we should just get the deal breakers out there.
I said OK, yes, in the spirit of honesty, I do want kids. Maybe not now, but someday. He looked disappointed and said he has a son already and he definitely doesn’t want any more. And that’s how the night ended. He paid and said it was nice to meet me and left with a handshake.
Is this what dating is like now — so efficient, just jumping to the big questions, marking possibilities off a list and plowing forward? I mean, what happened to hanging out for a while and having fun before making huge commitment decisions and having hard conversations?
Well, there are a lot of ways to look at this one, but no matter how you slice it, it sounds like you and Jeff are not on the same page. He appears to be looking for a more fast and furious commitment with a like-minded partner while you’re just hoping to wade back into the dating shallow end and remember what butterflies feel like.
I know you’re disappointed and the question surely felt invasive. I would recommend more rigorous up-front screening on your end. Most online dating apps allow you to be pretty clear about what you’re looking for — whether it’s a casual hookup, a more serious commitment or a lifetime partner.
Finally, I would say Jeff’s let’s-get-to-it attitude is indicative of dating today. In many ways, things move faster, communication flows freer and online dating means we know a whole lot of stuff about a potential partner before we even connect in real life.
And while Jeff’s keeping-it-real approach might burst the dreamy bubble of romance around online dating for an enthusiastic newbie like you, at least he’s authentic. Date around long enough and you’ll surely meet guys from the other end of the spectrum who will leave you equally frustrated, flummoxed and furious.
Flakes. Ghosts. The far-from-forthright. The hardly honest. These daters have no problem stringing you along, disappearing on you or wasting your time, whether out of their loneliness, selfishness or cluelessness. They might be players or they might still be figuring out what they really want out of a partner and life. Either way, you don’t want to get caught up in their games, hustles or stall tactics.
If anything, you should thank Jeff for his sincerity and cross your fingers to meet more people like him. Or maybe you think it would have been better to spend three months dating and investing emotionally in him before he broke things off?
This doesn’t mean that you have to adopt Jeff’s surgical style or expect every stranger you agree to meet will be like him. Deal breakers certainly don’t need to be first-date fodder. And you can spend time as much time as you want getting to know someone before you decide to have serious conversations about the future. You’re just getting back out there; you’ve got time and curiosity on your side. Just don’t assume your fellow daters will take the same approach or be on the same timeline as you — online dating will be a much more fun experience for you that way.