First Dates       March 29, 2004

Do you remember your first dates? Are they good stories or horror stories? This week, two of the three letters could be considered for publication in the "Dates from Hell" series of books. What makes a first date so special...or so terrible? After a first date from Hell, can you possibly have a second date from Heaven? Our savvy skeptics balance dates and data.

Dating dilemma.
Seconds, anyone?

A hair-raising story.
Who nose what?

Chance encounter?
Chance for what?

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Dating dilemma

Dear Conversely,

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I went out on a date with a woman I met at an online dating site. The first half of the date was fine—we talked and laughed...the normal getting-to-know-each-other stuff. During the second half of the date, she turned psycho (well, not psycho, but very weird). She started talking about all these problems she has with her ex. Then she wanted my opinion and wouldn't drop the subject. I decided not to call her again, but she kept emailing and calling me. Finally, I wrote her to say I had met someone else (which was a lie). She called and apologized for the way she talked about her ex and I told her it was fine. Now, she wants to go out again and I don't know what to do. I liked the first half of our date and I like her on the phone. I don't have much dating experience, so any help would be nice.

Her view:

Dear Seconds,

Give her another chance. It sounds like a perfectly nice girl had a bad day, probably spurred on by a negative encounter with her ex-boyfriend. These things happen. It's the negative encounters with her ex that make her available to date you. You really are over-reacting.

Plan another date—make it something fun and see if you can revive the way she was during the first half of the date. You've written her off way too quickly. You really have nothing to lose. You haven't met someone else, and you're available.

The worst thing that can happen is that you have a bad dinner and it doesn't work out. That describes at least fifty percent of all second dates, so give it one more go.

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His view:

Dear Seconds,

What's a second date? you might ask yourself. Everyone deserves a second chance, right? What do you have to lose, except another fifty bucks and an evening?

The problem is that I don't think you're going to see much change the second time around. You're hoping she's going to leave her second-half at home, and she's going to do her best not to talk about her ex. But I suspect that what you got the first time is what you're going to get the second time. And the third, if you let it go that far.

Nonetheless, you'll probably still end up going out with her again, just to satisfy your own curiosity and avoid any regrets. This is natural, and even desirable, in a twisted sort of way.

The only thing to watch for is this: with your expectations so very low, you might judge the second inning a success simply if she manages to avoid mouthing off about her ex. Be forewarned.

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