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Friday, October 7, 2011

Guest Post: How to Deal (When The First Date Turns from Conversation to Therapy Session)

Welcome to my inaugural Guest Post! 

As much as I love writing for you fine folks, I unfortunately have other responsibilities that I sometimes have to tend to. But that shouldn't mean you're left without good stuff to read, right? Right. As such, I've decided that every week(ish) I'm going to use this space to highlight the excellent writing of someone else. That way I get to actually work every now and then (groan), and you get to discover new talent. Deal?

Today's guest post comes from Sarah Storer. Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who already read her blog, or follow her on Twitter. But if you aren't, you need to get on that train ASAP. She's thoughtful, has a knack for telling a good story, and most important, she's balls out funny. 

So without further ado, here she is. Today's topic:

HOW TO DEAL WHEN THE FIRST DATE TURNS FROM CONVERSATION TO THERAPY SESSION

You decide to meet when you figure out that you have a lot in common.

You’ve been divorced. So has he. You have certain philosophies about sex. So does she. You both had an unfortunate experience in bed with a person named Jamie.

You both have baggage. (Don’t we all?)

Your first date is going well. You like his eyes and his ambition; he likes your sense of humor and the way you fidget with the stem of your wineglass. You’ve talked about your experiences in high school and discovered you both had “awkward phases” that lasted well into your twenties.

And then one of you—you can’t remember who—mentions something about heartbreak. You test the waters, and give the briefest of details on the relationship and break-up that laid your soul bare, left it raw and open and flayed to pieces, caused you to be so emotionally damaged you made your friends worry if they’d lost you.

Of course, you don’t say this. You only nod a little, look at your fork, twirl the stem of your wineglass again and say, “Yeah, I’ve been there a time or two.”

You think your lack of detail means the conversation is over.
Your date, however, thinks it’s an invitation.

And suddenly, you’ve left the realm of “I’ve been there” date talk and you’re in a full-blown therapy session.

You’d think by now we’d have all learned the rules of first dates...try not to talk about religion, politics or past relationships (thank you, Cosmo).

And yet, there’s always the one individual who is still so raw and wounded, they can’t help but soul puke it all on the table with a person whom they assume will gravitate toward the information...you know, rather than be scared shitless by the crying psychopath sitting opposite them who really did order fava beans and a nice Chianti.

It’s a hard line to toe, this dissemination of rather pertinent, “I am this way because of...” information. I think the amount of how much is divulged at once largely depends on how near or far removed from the baggage one is. Five and a half years out from a divorce, I can laugh when a recent date asked, sincerely, “So are you glad you got divorced?” 

Um, YUP.

Five and half MONTHS out from a divorce...completely different story. (Don’t worry, back then I would have softened the “crazy” blow by putting out later. What can I say? TOTAL CATCH.)

This is not to say that one day, as you’re stepping along with someone into a deeper sense of commitment that you may not go into the gory details of this or that relationship. Or that you won’t start a blog to detail them. Ahem. WHATEVER.

But the first date? What if there are tears? Or bitter, hateful tirades? Or just way, way, WAY too much information?

I could list a step by step how-to on ways to deal with these types of situations:  exit strategies, quippy niceties to steer conversation in another direction, steps to escape by jimmying a window open in the restroom (after covertly paying your server for your portion of the meal, of course).

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to deal with these situations. Instead, I advocate being what one of my readers calls a “Real Fucking Person.” Listen if you can, be honest if you need to, and if it gets really uncomfortable (or offensive...been there), just excuse yourself from the date.

And as you’re walking to your car, sans new perfect potential lover on your elbow, give a silent thought of gratitude to the universe for making this one an obvious decision. No agonizing over why he or she hasn’t texted. No need to think about what this or that look meant. And certainly no surprises three months from now when the crazy really comes out.

Or hell, even better, it might just be a good excuse to say, “I’m glad that mess in there isn’t me anymore.”

After all, maybe the reason you’re the therapist this time is because you’ve already been the patient.



The Naked Redhead  is a blogger, speaker and storyteller who calls Columbus, OH home. Her internationally read blog (www.thenakedredhead.com) is a quirky mix of life, love and relationship advice, and snarky musings. When she's not writing, she enjoys helping businesses with creative social concepts, and has also been seen on the stage and screen performing improv, theatre and stand-up. She is currently looking forward to co-hosting Jane in the City, a dating show coming to theJane.TV network in Fall 2011, and helping other women learn to trust their guts and use their noggins when it comes to love. 

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