Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dissecting a Creepy First Date Email That Sounds Like It's From an Aspie

"You're a good man, but you're bad for the women you choose to date."

That's what I was told the other day when I caught a friend up on the details about my dating life that I felt like catching him up on. He's a spectrum person like me, and was asking me about dating experiences (maybe I'm still the "resident player" among Aspies and high-functioning autistics, though I sure don't feel like it). His belief is that my looks and initial charm rope them in, until they find out exactly how logical I am. Okay, so I have been seeing one girl regularly, and I'm putting more energy into that relationship than first dates, but I'm also still figuring out what I want post-Lindsay and can't settle until I know I've achieved professional goals. So here's what you'll really be interested in...

I did a random Google search about terrible first dates after talking to him, and found this email that a man sent after a first date ignored him. It's a 1600-word message that may be cringe inducing to some, but I didn't think of it like that (rather, I was once cringing at the fact that he even hit 'send' after writing his thoughts). I looked at it and realized that his thoughts were indeed more similar to mine than I expected. I cannot help but think this guy would be similar to me. Lately, after my last two first dates, I asked them point blank if they actually wanted a second date or if they planned to let me down nicely; calling their bluff if you will (both times that was the case, and I don't think my question had anything to do with it).

So now I break down this email and where my thoughts on dating are similar, or different.

I’m disappointed in you. I’m disappointed that I haven’t gotten a response to my voicemail and text messages. FYI, I suggest that you keep in mind that emails sound more impersonal, harsher, and are easier to misinterpret than in-person or phone communication. After all, people can’t see someone’s body language or tone of voice in an email. I’m not trying to be harsh, patronizing, or insulting in this email. I’m honest and direct by nature, and I’m going to be that way in this email.
Well, that's a strong way to start...not a positive strong, but a harsh strong, yo. It's true that these are impersonal, but sometimes it is our best way of starting out communication. That's why I've become okay with text messages, as my words are ever so slightly clearer via messaging versus using my voice and thinking two sentences ahead about what I will say. However, every time I have told someone important to me "we need to talk" we actually talk, just because it's common courtesy. So that would be a starting point, but "can we talk" would have sufficed.
By the way, I did a Google search, so that’s how I came across your email.
Hey, I do Google searches too, because knowledge is power. However, I don't stalk to the point of finding her email and telling her how I found it. That was one thing I never had to learn the hard way.

His first two signs of "mixed signals" during the date:

  • You played with your hair a lot. A woman playing with her hair is a common sign of flirtation. You can even do a Google search on it. When a woman plays with her hair, she is preening. I've never had a date where a woman played with her hair as much as you did. In addition, it didn't look like you were playing with your hair out of nervousness.
  • We had lots of eye contact during our date. On a per-minute basis, I've never had as much eye contact during a date as I did with you.
  • To be fair, yes, they are signs which I pay attention to, and I felt bad for the guy here. I'm not used to women playing with their hair out of boredom, but rather playing with their drinks or looking at their cell phone after 40 minutes. Since I'm relatively terrible when it comes to body language, I have to go on the basis of the tips they provide us in Google searches. They also claim fiddling with jewelry as flirtation or nervousness, which has proven true every time for me. As for eye contact, I certainly focused on that often; if I lock eyes I'm more likely to keep her around, unless I'm the one disinterested (which has happened...I'm single, not desperate).

    Normally, I would not be asking for information if a woman and I don’t go out again after a first date. However, in our case, I’m curious because I think our date went well and that there is a lot of potential for a serious relationship. Of course, it’s difficult to predict what would happen, but I think there is a lot of potential for a serious relationship developing between us one day (or least there was before your non-response to my voicemail and text messages).
    Of course, I'm not in the market for anything monogamous. However, I wonder if something halfway between his above statement and "yeah let's do this again" should be brought up right at the end of the date. Obviously, I want a first date to turn into a series of dates until we decide it won't work. She's free to leave when she wants. However, I will not lie, as I have sent a text after first dates in the past, about a week later, just to check in about date two before finding out one of the possibilities. The only part that bites is when they stop texting back, so I keep myself from going off and hating:

    We have a number of things in common. I’ll name a few things: First, we're both very intelligent. Second, we both like classical music so much that we go to classical music performances by ourselves. In fact, the number one interest that I would want to have in common with a woman with whom I’m in a relationship is a liking of classical music. I wouldn't be seriously involved with a woman if she didn't like classical music. You said that you’re planning to go the NY Philharmonic more often in the future. As I said, I go to the NY Philharmonic often. You’re very busy. It would be very convenient for you to date me because we have the same interests.
    Another legitimate question that was probably covered during the date. It's one thing that has frustrated me throughout my relationships, and even with girls I have dated over the last five months. Trust me, I want a girl to like good music (and if she agrees that Nick Drake's "Northern Sky" should be our song, then I might start ring shopping early...haha). I also want to share in other interests when possible. I dated a girl I met through a mutual friend for three months, and she helped get me even more into biking. Her and I may have ended our romance, but I realized that I sure want someone who likes bike riding if I'm going to go next level. I digress; I think Mike's point is worth bringing up if Lauren wanted an extended conversation without being prompted by that email.

    We have numerous things in common. I assume that you find me physically attractive. If you didn't find me physically attractive, then it would have been irrational for you to go out with me in the first place. After all, our first date was not a blind date. You already knew what I looked like before our date.
    The best flattery I have received by most women is that I look a bit like Ryan Gosling, except that I'm a bit more like him in Lars and the Real Girl versus a film like Crazy Stupid Love. I'm confident that looks have gotten me halfway, and that every female thinks I have an incredible posterior.

    Perhaps, you don’t think I have a “real” job. Well, I've done very well as an investment manager. I've made my parents several millions of dollars. That’s real money. That’s not monopoly money. In my opinion, if I make real money, it’s a real job. Donald Trump’s children work for his company. Do they have “real” jobs? I think so. George Soros' sons help manage their family investments. Do they have “real” jobs? I think so. In addition, I’m both a right-brain and left-brain man, given that I’m both an investment manager and a philosopher/writer. That's a unique characteristic; most people aren't like that.
    Mike, man, an investment manager a real job. I think all the females are concerned about is that you have a good job and can keep a work-life balance. Not always easy for me, as I have noted in past entries. This is a part I don't even consider as to why she didn't want to go on another date.

    Am I sensitive person? Sure, I am. I think it’s better to be sensitive than to be insensitive. There are too many impolite, insensitive people in the world.
    True, though I am sometimes the insensitive type. We already know I struggle with empathy. So I could easily deploy my own system just to get through the dating life cycle:
    Okay, not really. I'd rather put the energy of an actual date into the time I spend with a girl I see on a consistent basis. At least Mike is not pathetic like Dennis.

    I suggest that we continue to go out and see what happens. Needless to say, I find you less appealing now (given that you haven’t returned my messages) than I did at our first date. However, I would be willing to go out with you again. I’m open minded and flexible and am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. I wish you would give me the benefit of the doubt too.
    That is definitely way too straightforward. I may find a girl less appealing when she doesn't reply, like any man would. One time, a girl said she wanted to go out to dinner for a second date without me prompting her, and when I asked her after a day pause, no response. If you say you want to go to dinner, that means you want a second date! Give me a good reason why you are the first person to say this! I was still up for the dinner if she ever replied back, but I certainly wasn't covering the tab. Consider that my sadistic revenge.

    If you don’t want to go out again, in my opinion, you would be making a big mistake, perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in your life. If you don’t want to go out again, then you should have called to tell me so. Even sending a text message would have been better than nothing. In my opinion, not responding to my messages is impolite, immature, passive aggressive, and cowardly. I spent time, effort, and money meeting you for dinner. Getting back to me in response to my messages would have been a reasonable thing for you to do. In addition, you arrived about 30 minutes late for our date. I’m sure you wouldn't like it if a man showed up thirty minutes late for a first date with you.
    The last sentence adds to the creep factor because it's petty. However, the first part sounds like what an Aspie would say. I would probably put a smooth tone on it and try the first sentence that way (likely failing miserably), but I admittedly have used that above note when dealing with communication in relationships...not my best moment. The second sentence, though, is really just good advice, and I don't really see that as a problem if he ever sees the girl again; I would say it's her loss if it weren't for this email. Instead, you look like bitter guy.

    If you give information, at least I can understand the situation better. I might even learn something that is beneficial.
    That's exactly why I asked the question at the top at the end of the first date. Maybe it makes me look overly cynical, which I'm not, but I'd rather just know now so I can know better next time. Since I hardly know her, I like to learn right away. Any girl I'm currently seeing should know how to be kept anyway.

    The final paragraph is where he lays it down thick:
    Again, I’m not trying to be harsh, insulting, patronizing, etc. I’m disappointed, sad, etc. I would like to talk to you on the phone. I hope you will call me back at [number]; (if it’s inconvenient for you to talk on the phone when you read this email, you can let me know via email that you are willing to talk on the phone and I’ll call you). If you get my voicemail, you can a leave a message and I can call you back. Even if you don’t want to go out again, I would appreciate it if you give me the courtesy of calling me and talking to me. Yes, you might say things that hurt me, but my feelings are already hurt.
    At least he does what I do on bad first dates and advises that he's not trying to sound a certain way. My thing is to tell others "don't take this the wrong way" before speaking, especially if I fear my foot will enter my mouth. She might not have liked the date, or maybe she just felt a bit jaded. By this point, though, he should expect the worst. I never got yelled at after a bad date, but when I asked for honesty from someone who could not hurt me at all, I definitely got it.

    Read the rest of it if you want, as you may be cringing like I was for other reasons.

    I don't know the details of this date beyond the posting, so who knows if he really acted like me. I also cannot say if he was an Aspie, as much as we can tell each other when we are. However, his response sure sounds like what may go on through my head after a first date heads nowhere and I don't even sense it. At least two first dates, in addition to the three-month period I mentioned earlier, were the only times where we both had clear signs that things were over for various reasons. Otherwise it was simply getting over confusion. Hey, the first girl I dated consistently after my breakup in 2009 was one I saw for six weeks, and even her decision to break things off had me thinking about all these signs above. Thankfully all I did was say "okay" and I got the reasons from her without having to write 1600 words.

    Where I basically agree with Mike is that it would be nice to know why she didn't want a second date. To my credit, at the end of a couple dates that didn't go so well, I straight up said that it wasn't going to go anywhere, as nice as the chick was. He probably wanted more than I did, but I can also see myself, if I was ready to get real serious, kicking myself when something with potential didn't quite make it. I have been told that in some cases, our personalities didn't match, and I just went on.

    However, keep these thoughts in your head! Also, let it go if it's been a few days and you don't hear anything. Otherwise you will certainly be subject to ridicule, and that's something I unfortunately cannot disagree with. Mike, if you ever see this, you have my sympathy. Just don't ever write a long email again; that's bad for any woman you date.

    Better yet, don't start falling in love on date one.

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    The Culture Shock of Traveling Abroad

    Next month, I will be spending two weeks in the British Isles - as much of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland as I can fit into that time, without going too crazy. So of course, I'm due for a major culture shock. The main reasons I am traveling to that part of Europe are pretty simple:

    1. English is still the official language. I have a limited working knowledge of Spanish from my high school and college years, but nothing close to fluency. That's what happens when you don't have reason to use the language or expand the knowledge base of said language. So even if the dialects are different, I'll take that as a starting point.
    2. Lindsay and I had talked about the trip since late 2011, but even since her passing I still wanted to take this trip myself. Now I have a second purpose abroad, and that is spreading some of her ashes in the Atlantic Ocean off of the Irish coast. She loved her time in that country.
    3. There's some good frequent flyer miles to rack up, especially with the pending American Airlines merger with US Airways, the only airline I can use to fly between RDU and Philadelphia International anymore since Southwest ended the direct service between the two.
    The big problem is going to be understanding the language of the locals. Knowing how I talk, I will likely have some issues with this translation. I'm so focused on things like the cars traveling on the opposite side of the highway versus the United States, and the use of the metric system (which I always preferred but never adopted myself). I know that when I went to Vancouver, Canada two summers ago, I had a moment where I was trying to approach a bus driver about a pass, and used the proper currency names. He looked real confused but was friendly and let me on for free. That's minor, but I think you know what I'm getting at.

    I'm overthinking, as usual, about names like fish and chips and what the street signs will say by the time I reach Ireland. I'll be staying with my cousin outside of Birmingham for a good chunk of the trip, but otherwise I'm going the private room route for the majority of the trip (meaning many reservations via airbnb). After my first two days in London, I think I will be used to the travel schedule and will feel better about the whole trip. Maybe it will take me that brief time to understand where I am. It's something that scares me, as aspies are prone to ridiculous moments of being out of the element.

    Get ready for the follow up when I make my return.