I did take down my online dating profile, but I didn’t give up on dating completely. I just decided that I was going to let things unfold naturally. So after a week of exchanging text messages with my Saturday coffee date, we settled on a second date, a Monday dinner date. Although I still felt that we were on different paths, I thought I should give it a second chance.
We agreed to meet downtown at a Szechuan restaurant, but when I arrived I found him standing outside the ‘CLOSED’ sign. This made me smile. He wasn’t as predictable and organized as I thought he was. Still set on spicy food, we found another Szechuan place, a place where he knew the owners, and was given a special menu, which I couldn’t read. We ordered frogs, chicken, and spicy eggplant. When the dishes arrived, he asked if he could serve me, and reached for my bowl before I could answer. For a moment, it felt awkward, and I wondered if it should have been the other way around. Then I flashbacked to my time in Asia, and the only difference was that my date had actually asked, before he started piling rice and chilies in my bowl.
During the course of the meal, our lips turned a deeper shade of red as we discussed dating — online and crossing borders. I told him that I hated online dating, but he thought it was an efficient way to date. I didn’t disagree with him, but told him that I liked meeting the old-fashioned way, in person. He asked why I replied to his online message, and I told him that I recognized him. After he almost choked on a frog, I brought up our mutual friend and her potlucks. Then he also began to recall my name and Thailand in a conversation with our friend many years ago. And in the moments that followed, we felt like we knew each other a little better; we had a context outside of the online dating pool.
And he wanted to know if I dated outside the white pool, if I’d dated Asian men overseas. Yes, to overseas and at ‘home’. I knew he was expecting some profound discoveries, but to be honest, I didn’t have any for him, and I wasn’t ready to open up. I mentioned that I found Asian men more family oriented, and I liked that, and that I found some Thai men had a flexible definition of fidelity, and I didn’t like that. (Now that I am writing this, I have a lot more to say on the topic of dating outside the Western (mainly white) pool, but I will save that for another post.)
As he had asked me about my dating past, I asked about his. He thought Western women were more independent and ambitious. He felt that Asian women were more materialistic. I challenged him on his views, because I felt that they stemmed from his failed marriage, and because I know Asian women who are amazingly ambitious, and Western women who are wrapped up in material wealth. And as we talked, he told me about some of the women he’d met online: the woman who drank wine with every meal, the woman who seemed too good to be true and was — she went to Afghanistan, the woman who was a great badminton partner but nothing more, and the woman he met offline and dated for six months, before she left Canada in search of better job opportunities (she was Asian….sounds ambitious to me?). He concluded that his parents were happy that he was dating again, and that although he is traditional in many ways, he wanted to be the one to find his own mate.
After getting the topic of dating off the table, we talked about home renovations, mainly his. He pulled out his phone, pushed the half-eaten plates out of the way, and handed it to me. As I swiped through before and after pictures of his kitchen and bathroom, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Not only does he have a stable, brainy job, but he is a practical DIY guy! And he also makes his own planes — remote control planes. These planes are his passion, his ‘babies’, and he arranges playdates with fellow flyers. At first I thought I would have to pretend to be interested, but after watching some videos on his phone, and listening to him describe the perfect landing, I didn’t have to pretend.
So, yeah, the second date went well. He’s a well-rounded guy – interesting hobbies, well-traveled, healthy lifestyle, good job, family values. Checks all the boxes for a potential mate, and anyone looking in from the outside would think he’s a great catch. But as he paid the bill, divided up the left-overs, and drove me home, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. Later that evening, when I texted my friend about the date, I wrote that I was holding my introvert card too tight. I felt that I didn’t share enough, and that the silences were awkward. There was a missing connection.
Update: We are still texting, and meeting up this weekend for the third time. We’ll see how it goes! Third time a charm, third time you’ll know, that’s my thinking!