Misery is for Sharing

One of my icebreakers on first dates is to ask about a time they’ve been on a really terrible date.  Before you get all holier-than-thou, and throw out that the first commandment of early dating is “thou shalt not speak of one’s exes,” let me explain.  I do not tell the worst or most painful stories I have about my most meaningful relationships.  I do not even always use this icebreaker.  However, with a person who has a good sense of humor, I think each sharing a bad first date story can do a few things:

  1. Ease the tension a bit. Even if you’re not someone who gets very nervous about a first date, most people tend to hope that things go well, and with that hope often comes some anxiousness that things will not go well.
  2. Form a connection.  By each sharing a bad experience you’ve had while engaging in the very activity you’re currently participating in, you realize you’re in the same boat and have at least one thing in common: your commitment to wade through ridiculousness in order to find happiness.
  3. Get a sense of whether your current date shares the undesirable trait(s) of your past date.  Hopefully the person sitting with you laughs uproariously at your tale of woe and says, “oh man that sounds awful!  That person was crazy.”  If they stare blankly when you’re done and say, “I don’t understand what that person did wrong,” well, you’re screwed.  You might as well order a really strong drink and accept the fact that you’re on another bad date.
  4. Give your date a clue about what not to do.  Your story is about hating how someone monopolized the conversation and never asked a single thing about you or your life?  If your date is the type of person who tends to ramble when they’re nervous, you’ve now presented that as a deal breaker, and they can try to be extra conscious about not falling into that habit.
  5. Laugh. Let’s all admit that it can be funny to hear about someone else’s misfortune.

Try it sometime.

With love, B!


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