Somewhere deep down inside I know that I’m not ready to date because I cannot get to know someone while still figuring out who I am after a year of emotional tyranny and unrest. Dating is already difficult when you’re an introvert but it becomes even more convoluted when you have to sift through the hurt of past loves, daddy issues and your own criticalness. Yet, I yield to the notion that at this age and all that I have to offer to someone, I should be dating and having fun and waiting for the one to fall in my lap.
I recently went on a date and slowly regretted ignoring my gut because throughout the talking process there have been many red flags that I disregarded. Concerns popped up in my mind and I quickly dismissed them because here is a good guy that likes me and maybe everyone’s right – I’ll never get over my past if I don’t find someone for my future. And who am I to nag someone to death with every whimper of conflict my over-analytical mind conjured up anyway? So I pushed every doubt I originally had to the bottom of my to-do list and agreed to a date.
We arranged for an early dinner at a Japanese restaurant in the city. I arrived first and texted him to ask his estimated time of arrival because he already warned me that the train was running off schedule. No big deal that’s how the MTA gets down on its best days. A handful of texts, “I’m walking to you”, “I’ll be there in 5 mins” turned into 30 minutes of muddling. I became overly annoyed – Red flag number 1. In New York City time a half an hour can feel like an eternity, especially when every guy who finds you attractive uses your solitude as an invitation to approach you.
As we sat for dinner my annoyance simmered down a bit and we began to speak about the happenings of the week and so on. Our food arrives and I inquire on if he knew how to use chopsticks and offered to show him. He refused my offer, stating that it was only something he would learn to do in private and I was immediately turned all the way off. Some may see that as a minute occurrence but bells, whistles and horns went off in my mind at that moment. I hushed them for the reminder of the date because I thought I was being irrational but as days went on the chopsticks festered on my mind.
After speaking to a close friend about my feelings on the subject and why I was so bothered he said “it’s because he probably won’t dance in the rain with you” and all my frustrations made sense. He also advised me to present the issue to my date because I wasn’t being fair to him in that moment no matter how I felt about the situation.
I rattled my brain on how I’d present this issue because chopsticks, really? But I entered the conversation and laid out all my thoughts for the sake of communication. I stated that this was a red flag for a few reasons: my introvert mind takes things personally especially when I open myself up to someone; the idea that he was embarrassed to use chopsticks is a signal of his avoidance of change or his unwillingness to leave his comfort zone; and I firmly believe that when someone likes you they usually are open to trying things with you, as so far as, it doesn’t mess with their self-respect or dignity. I was expecting a conversation and a resolve of the issue but instead he said my concerns were understandable and chose to verbosely express himself to a mutual friend of ours about his true feelings on my critique of the chopsticks. Red flag number 3.
The most important purpose of dating in the earliest stage is to get to know one another and solidify some form of compatibility. These little red flags pop up and people often pay them no heed because there is attraction or a chemistry that is happening between them. If we allow the red flags to go on unaddressed, we risk delving into relationships that may develop great crises that could have been resolved at the point of inception. But no, we compromise and negate to use the red flags as a guide for what is to come because we don’t want to be single or alone. Or as everyone tells me, don’t trip over the small things when a good guy comes along because they are few and far between. You know, good girls are supposed to have ghastly dating experiences because it builds character.
In actuality, maybe I’m aiming a little too high because who would want to dance in the rain with me, right? But it is not whether anyone will actually dance to the pitter-patter of the raindrops of my romanticized imagination, as much as, if they’re down for the concept at all. Once I’m comfortable with you, I want to be able to give you all of me: the quirky, off-the-wall, silly and passionate chick that lives under all her armor. That level of me is rare because it isn’t even something many people see but its a level of intimacy I want with the person I’m with.
This is the first time in my whole dating experience that a man has not been open to do something I asked. That may sound self-absorbed but when someone likes you I feel there should be an understanding of your interests and who you are and how that plays into your interaction with one another. You do not have to be like me, for us to mesh well but there should be trust, chemistry and a mutuality that says I would never do anything to embarrass or jeopardize your person. The small things to me are a preview into the bigger things and a demonstration on chopsticks is the smallest of things that could happen within an impending relationship.
I won’t be the single person to ignore the red flags anymore because I refuse to underestimate or reject the meaning of the behaviors of the person I’m dating. I’ve been that person before and in retrospect had I addressed the red flags in some of my previous relationships, especially my last one, I would have saved myself the strife of many emotional roller coasters. As much as we want to believe that love conquers all, fundamentally, that is far from the truth about relationships. To be in a successful relationship your emotions should be tempered with some rationality. Your heart and mind should coexist because when leading solely with one or the other, the forks in the road become an agony of fallacious choices more so than of the road less traveled.
It is important to pay attention to the red flags before you commit to someone and address them according to your standards. No matter how much people want to advise you on what to make of a situation, the only person who knows who you are in a relationship is you. You know what works for you, what sets you off, and what makes you uncomfortable. Turning a blind eye to these things because you found a good person to date can result in unnecessary issues and bigger catastrophes later.
So, yes I have a problem with ones refusal to learn to use chopsticks. That says a lot about me and who I am at this current moment in life. But for once, I can say I am content in my observations and choices in my dating life and that’s progress.