Many of my early online dating experiences had started out the same way - awkwardly. I was usually the one writing the first email, trying to find something to comment on in the woman's profile, and then if she wrote back we might have a few email exchanges and then perhaps progress to online chat, but throughout the whole interchange I was often struggling to come up with interesting material. I'd gotten as far as going on a couple of dates but those had been somewhat awkward at times too. The common factor in all of these instances was me - was I just not very interesting?
Happily, my next experience was a change from this cycle. I had started chatting with another woman and somehow it was very different. I seemed very different. Chatting with her just seemed to flow so easily. I think it partly came about through my being less cautious when we were first in contact - I made some bold and confident comments and jokes and she seemed to really enjoy that side of me. It was almost like I was a different person when chatting with her - not that I was being dishonest in any way, but somehow was managing to display a different aspect of myself.
I hoped that our enjoyable online chatting would translate into an enjoyable meeting in the real world, so I asked her out on a date. Her response was a disappointment for me - she was going to be busy with university work for the following four weeks. After this our online chat became less frequent. Was all of this her way of gently rejecting me? Is anyone really too busy to squeeze one date into a four week timeframe?
As the end of the four week period arrived I had hardly been hearing from her at all and was thinking that she was no longer interested, so it was a very pleasant surprise to receive a text message from her asking if I still wanted to meet up! Wow, maybe she was actually just being straight with me and she really had been too busy to meet up or even chat much. I guess I'd been too quick to assume otherwise!
We arranged to meet at a bar for drinks after work one day (by this time I was working during the day rather than on night shifts, which was a big help!) On arrival we recognised each other easily from the photos which we'd exchanged - always a relief! I bought drinks for us at the bar and we had a bit of an awkward silence while waiting. I was briefly concerned that this didn't bode well, but then we sat down with our drinks and didn't stop talking for over three hours! I was managing to be in that same mode as in online chatting with her - funny, confident, maybe talking about myself a bit too much - and she seemed to be enjoying this version of me.
At the end of the evening we said our goodbyes at the station, with talk of meeting up again, but our goodbye kiss was on the cheeks and felt awkward. On my way home I got to thinking that despite my witty banter I hadn't managed to be confident and initiative-taking in terms of physical contact - maybe she had expected me to take the lead there too and I didn't.
The next day I sent a text saying again that I'd enjoyed the evening with her. She texted back but didn't mention the evening at all. Bad sign. She mentioned that she would be studying that day so I asked if I could distract her with some emails. She said yes and added "You can tell me what you thought of me!" I took this to be a better sign, so I did as she suggested. Unfortunately I think I might have come on too strong with it. Through the wonders of email accounts I still have that email eight years on - here's what I wrote:
"So... what did I think of you? Well, I thought you were pretty, fun, easy to talk with, inquisitive - but in a good way! The time flew by, I didn't realise we would stay until closing, but I was enjoying it more than enough to stay! And I'd like to see you again, which I think says a lot in itself!"
Again her response didn't mention any of this. After a few more emails I asked again about meeting up again and she wrote the two dreaded words: Just Friends. Ouch. I was left wondering whether I'd said or done things to put her off or whether there was actually nothing I could have done to change this outcome. I'll never know. We didn't meet up again - our emails and texts dwindled and then stopped.
If I were to meet this Busy Student again some day, I would say: Did I manage to put you off or was it just never meant to be? Either way, I hope that you went on to find the right guy for you.