Let’s call him Mr. Bitter, because that’s how I referred to him after the date.
Mr. Bitter was one of my many online dates – although I can’t remember now which. From his profile, he was exactly what I was looking for. He was a devoted Christian, dedicating his life to serving the poor. He had started a very successful nonprofit that worked to end sex trafficking in an Eastern European nation. He had starred in a Christian TV series that had documented his missionary work in his younger years. He was cute, he was smart, he was funny – I was sure that this was going to be a match made in heaven.
What’s more, I had planned the perfect date. He was only in my state because he had briefly decided to leave his jet-setting life to come back to Ohio to live with his parents for a period of time. So since he wasn’t from here, I would do my best to show him my neighborhood. I lived in a cute suburb with a darling downtown filled with shops, restaurants – the perfect place to walk around on a Friday night.
The perfect date that I set up started with a stroll through the local art center, followed by a visit to the local make-your-own-candles shop, followed by dinner at one of the nearby restaurants, and capped off with a visit to the ice cream shop. Absolutely delightful, no? There were so many fun and interesting things to do, I was sure that I had set up the perfect balance between giving space for conversation with enough distraction if it dropped off. This was going to be an amazing evening!
Only my perfect date didn’t take into account my less than perfect date. From the time Mr. Bitter arrived to the time the date ended, the conversation mostly revolved around him and how unhappy he was – the issues with his parents, how disconnected he felt, how backwards were the people he was working with abroad – basically everything in his life that had seemed so good in his profile, he was discontented by. I tried to veer the conversation in a different direction – look, a candle! – but it always came back to that main theme, and with a surprising amount of detail for someone he had just met.
By the time we hit dinner, it was less a date and more a therapy session. He wanted to hang out longer, but I (thankfully) had to hit the road to drive to see my own parents late that night, so I bid him goodbye.
And yet, even though the date hadn’t gone the way I had planned, I still weaved romantic dreams about him on my way home. After all, hadn’t he wanted to hang out more? After all, didn’t I demonstrate what a caring and empathetic listener I was? Okay, sure, he was a downer, but I could make him happy.
Only I didn’t get the chance. Because he never contacted me again. Despite the perfectly-planned date, despite the listening and sympathetic ear, despite his seeming interest in spending more time together – just silence. When a couple days had passed and I slowly realized that I would never hear from him again, the pang of rejection was replaced by the feeling that I had dodged a bullet.
I had planned the perfect date to a T, but I couldn’t plan the perfect person to go on it with me. On to the next…