I went on the best date I’ve ever been on just a few days ago — one that started at the MFA and ended deep in the depths of Downtown Boston, passing the time just talking and laughing. For those that know me or follow this column, you know I don’t usually date. They might also know I have never been on a very bad date, just a few mediocre ones. But just because I’ve been on some good dates doesn’t mean I am not terrified every time I am on one.
There hasn’t been a date I’ve gone on where I haven’t contemplated turning around from where we’re supposed to meet and walking all the way home. This time, I took laps around the MFA and thought about just circling the building until my legs wore out. When I was in London and meeting someone for the date, I considered riding the escalators all the way back down and going home. This isn’t some “call of the void” expression, but more like my mind and body’s reaction to fear.
Every time before I go on a date, I am terrified to my core.
Few things are scarier to me than meeting someone new, trying to be funny and hoping that at the end of the night, they’ll still want to talk to me. Every time I think about walking away from a date, I think about my desire for self-preservation. For someone who seems to have a penchant for getting hurt, I should, by any means necessary, stay away from dating.
Finding someone who is compatible with your quirks is a difficult task. It’s frustrating on the most basic level and tedious for others. It seems like there are many levels you have to pass through just to try to reach that person, and the road is lined with corny Tinder pickup lines and being stood up on dates. Sometimes it can feel like it’s a never-ending cycle, and sometimes it can feel pointless. But it isn’t always this way, and it seldom has to be. I do believe that once you find someone who makes the whole process worth it, it feels eye-opening.
Dating someone new is especially terrifying, but even just in general, dating can be a terrifying experience. Sometimes I get nervous thinking about going on a third or fourth date. It is scary to try to open yourself up to someone else.
Nowadays, in the prime throes of hookup culture, it can feel like it has become both passe and a lost art. It is easier to engage with a culture that values convenience over anything else, and apps like Tinder prove that “love” is truly just a swipe away. This means that a great date has all the more value, mostly because of its rarity. Dating can be fun, exciting, nerve-wracking, terrifying and all the like, but most of all, it can symbolize the possibility of something that can grow beyond what either person imagines when a couple meets on their first date. A butterfly-filled first date signifies the possibility of growth and adventure, stemming into something unimaginable. And that is an incredible thing.
Sometimes just the word “date” can be scary. But, if you’re willing to get hurt and be vulnerable, the risk is completely worth the reward. Getting to know someone, letting them past your boundaries and your walls, enjoying their company and spending time together is worth the discomfort. I believed this school of thought three years ago when I started this column, and after everything that’s happened, I still believe it. The old-age maxim states that “it’s better to have loved and lost than to have not loved at all,” and as trite as that saying can sometimes be, I still think it holds true. It took me a while to reconcile with, because recently I had reached the point where I didn’t believe that the effort was worth the suffering.
Sometimes, you just need a really good date to restore your faith.