Dating Differences

Don’t get too excited by the title up there, this is nothing to do with a single father going on dates and more to do with a single father raising two girls.

Still . . . nothing makes my head swim quite like being Dad to two girls – one of them now the age I was when I first started seriously dating myself.  Even then . . . I don’t mind telling you at this point that I was painfully poor at it.  Still, it never stopped me from trying.  In fact, I had more than a few dates that were woefully laughable today.

I could go back into high school, I suppose, but my attempts in those years were at best painfully pathetic.  It’s probably best not to re-live those youthful attempts both for my own and those unfortunate few that went on the occasional date with me.  It’s best not to embarrass any of us further.

College wasn’t a lot better.  I went out with one girl who had just started modeling.  When she realized I couldn’t help her career as a local TV person she disappeared.  Another was Afghan and devoutly Muslim.  When she stated there was no way she’d ever end up with someone who wasn’t Muslim or willing to convert I knew there weren’t any other dates coming.  One girl, whom I sincerely liked, went with me to see George Carlin.  When he went off on a tangent about how much he hated anorexia – nay, said, to quote: “some rich bitch decides she doesn’t want to eat her cheeseburger?!  F**k anorexia!!”  I had no idea at the time that my date had been anorexic.  (In fairness to George, the old line used to be . . . if you weren’t offended at least twice at a George Carlin show, you weren’t paying attention.)

That’s just a few memorable ones.  Those don’t include the ones that had no spark whatsoever.  So you can see . . . my dating experiences were varied, strange, even odd.  All of them colored with my stammering, nervous, sweating and scared beginnings.  Even the date with Andrea, who would become my wife, was filled with strange, confused, beginnings.

But having two girls . . . my point here . . . that’s put a whole new perspective on things.  I honestly don’t know if the way my girls see things; hell, the way all girls here seem to see things is the way girls saw things when I was a kid.  I grew up seeing things much as my father did.  You went out with someone you liked.  You asked a girl out, or to the Homecoming dance or to the Prom because you liked that person, not just because you needed a date for those occasions.

But apparently I was mistaken.

For the last four years, all through the high school years my oldest had been through, the schools have pushed and prodded and encouraged a “you have to have a date” mentality for the school dances.  When each dance would approach, the desire to go or attend with a date was less a desire and more of an off-putting event.  But as the dances would approach and every…single…friend would attain a date, I would come home to the depressed, hormonal, upset daughter that just kills me.

I talked with other parents, other girls of my daughter’s age (that she doesn’t know) even, and they all say that this is the way things are.   Have I been hiding under a rock for God’s sake?  At least now it’s the way things are.  You just go . . . get a date, almost any date, as long as they’re seemingly tolerable.

I never quite understood nor could come to grips with this concept.  As I said, I just wanted to go with someone I liked.  If that wasn’t going to happen . . . so be it.  I went alone.

But I also have a far different take on things now.  I was always the guy looking from the outside.  Seeing it from a girl’s perspective is new.  Before I’d have said that it was easier to just go alone or realized that the girl I wanted to date didn’t want to go.  But now I see these things as my daughters both see them.  Being alone yourself, when your friends all have dates . . . and you see guys who went alone, without even just asking you to go on a date themselves.  That’s got to be painful, even difficult.

As a Dad, it’s hard not to try and fix this, but some things are just part of life.  I also think, though my daughter doesn’t likely think this is the case, that being a smart, funny, quirky (yeah, I said it, even though women around me told me it’s the kiss of death) girl is hard for a guy.  Being a girl who’s likely an even match or – in many cases – smarter than the guy is even harder because they don’t like that.

But at the end of the day, I never thought about the fact that there were girls out there – nice girls, pretty girls, smart girls – who just wanted a date.  I didn’t think about the fact that going with a friend who is a lot of fun gives you a date and her a date and makes for a good night anyway.  I’m not sure which is the better mentality to be honest.

The hardest thing to come to terms with is the fact that I have to listen to the situations unfold and not be able to do anything about it.  Nothing.  Not one single thing.  I could try but then I’m the fodder of most 1980’s sitcoms.

But as hard as it is . . . I know that my daughters have amazing years ahead of them.  They get to meet people. fall in love, maybe have (another) breakups, but they will have the opportunities I didn’t.  My daughters have more confidence, as do my sons, and will get to go through life better than their father managed in those years.

At the end of the day, can you really ask for more?

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