It feels like I have been dating for more than one lifetime, having now tried it in two countries, at home in New York, USA and in Italy. After a serious relationship ended a few months ago – in late 2018 – I knew full well how difficult my dating life might be once again. It had taken me ten years to find the last one, and now there I was again, with an upcoming speed-dating event in my near future.
Speed Dating Woes
At my first speed-dating experience I was told that each “mini-date” would last 5-6 minutes and then a moderator would come by to tell the men to switch seats and go to the next woman… All I can say is the 5-6 minutes most often felt unending, like watching a kettle that never boils. The first guy, disheveled in a wrinkled button-down shirt, khaki slacks and sneakers, sat across from me and stared into space so I had to try to come up with some questions.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“Staten Island,” he said.
“Oh, have you ever done this before?” I added.
“Yes. It’s great for meeting women,” he said. Unbearable silence ensued. I began to stare at the large clock on the wall by the bar area praying that the minute hand would move. After another uncomfortable 4 minutes, the moderator arrived to say, “Time to switch.”
Another guy at that event sat down on the sofa next to me with a palpable air of arrogance. He said he was a radiologist, and worked at a hospital, again on Staten Island. Then silence. Not one question for me.
“That’s great.” I said. “Are you from NY?” I tried for a sincere, interested smile.
“No.” More deafening silence.
The next guy was from Bulgaria. He was an electrician, living in New Jersey, who liked to dabble in finance and gamble in Atlantic City. He said he had been married twice.
“I hope you’ll say you like me too and check my name. I want to see you again,” he said.
“Oh, that’s nice,” I answered. What else could I say?
Internet Dating Woes
I have tried internet dating as well. In our phone conversation, a man I was planning to meet for dinner said he was about my age, in fact, he said he was a few years younger than I was. He boasted about his career in journalism and gave me his name. I googled him. Yes, he was that prominent journalist. But, unless this was my would-be dinner date’s father, he was also 82 years old, not 58.
“Steve. I just wanted to confirm that your photos are accurate so I know who you are when we meet at the restaurant. Mine are accurate,” I said.
“Yes, they’re me. Accurate.” He answered.
“And you are, uhm, the age you say on your profile, right?” I asked. “You’re 58?”
“Yup, 58,” he said.
He texted me the following day claiming he had a bad cold and would be in touch as soon as he recovered. And that was it for Steve.
European Dating Woes
Ok let’s switch countries now. When I lived in Rome, years ago when I was an actress, I dated countless Italians and one Swiss guy, and then too my dating life was like a revolving door; one guy for a few months and then on to the next. As a vulnerable American living alone in Rome, I thought all the Italian men were gorgeous and sexy. Physically there were. Too often my new man was a grande bacciatore –a great kisser–who had a girlfriend somewhere.
One man I fell for was an architect who was caring and kind in the beginning. He quickly asked me if I wanted to be his ragazza (girlfriend). I challenge any girl alone in a foreign country with abandonment issues to say anything but yes! Turned out he was afraid of intimacy and of women. We quickly ended that ill-fated union.
I thought maybe the Swiss guy would be different. He was boyishly cute and always on time. In fact, sometimes early to pick me up for dinner. In that respect he was different. We became a couple and one afternoon I was lying on the couch in my apartment with him next to me and I proudly displayed my newly pedicured toes. (I do have nice feet.) He suddenly moved closer and studied my toes meticulously. “Your second toe is too long. It should be a little shorter than the big toe. Your feet are not perfect,” he complained. Our relationship ended shortly after that.
This next time I try speed dating, I decided I will change my mind set. Instead of hoping to connect with someone as a date I will fancy myself a reporter, taking notes for my next article on dating woes, blog or the next book after A Place for Grace. That is how I will get through the night and take myself out of the dating woes mindset–at least for one night.