I went on a “first date” on Friday evening.
Rather surprisingly when I referred to the evening as a “first date” to my partner in crime he retorted that it wasn’t a date at all, it was a “first meeting”, because calling it a “first date” placed far too much stress in terms of expectation.
Now whilst I understood his point, it did occur to me that as we get older we take the subject of dating so much more seriously. I never remember travelling to a first date when I was sixteen years of age wondering “I wonder if we’ll hit it off?”. I met each romantic encounter with a relaxed air in the knowledge that if this one didn’t work for some reason then there would be other opportunities down the line. My unwritten dating raison d’etre wasn’t to find “the one” at the age of sixteen, so maybe that gave me an advantage in the lack of expectation stakes.
When you date in later life you frequently hear the word “attraction”, together with “chemistry”. When you were sixteen “attraction” was probably a cheap perfume you bought in preparation for all your first dates and “chemistry” was taught twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday mornings by Mr McNiven.
Personally speaking I believe attraction to be infinitely the more important of the two when it comes to dating. Chemistry you can have between any two people, it isn’t necessary that it has a sexual element. It’s rapport, a mutual unspoken understanding if you will. It exists between close friends and colleagues, it doesn’t have to lead you down the road to longing and yearning for someone in the way that attraction inevitably does.
Now, if I’ve got this right I understand “chemistry” to be the last test to establish that attraction is present. You may have e-mailed, texted each other and spoken on the telephone and thought “mmm …..not bad” but it’s only when you meet face to face and you get that “mmmm!!!! Definitely not bad!!!” feeling as opposed to “mmm….. not bad …… but not for me” that you really know.
In practice I’ve always known prior to a first date if we were going to hit it off or not, but my sources tell me that men still hold out until they’ve taken in a woman’s physical presence before they make a decision on whether to move it forward or not.
My most recent ex, Mr Distant Cynic, was a forthright believer in this theory; he operates very much on the chemistry plane. I, on the other hand, favour the mutable law of attraction and the deep-rooted sense of knowing that goes with it. Our relationship was a curious combination for that reason; maybe it was a chemical reaction that hadn’t been discovered or explained yet.
I’m all for tipping chemistry into the dating bin as another term we’ve come up with to add to the mystique and complexity of the process. Goodness only knows I don’t need finding my soulmate to be more difficult than it already is, so the next time I hear anyone utter “I wonder if there will be chemistry between us …” I’ll remind them that there was nothing sexy or desirable about test tubes and bunsen burners thirty years ago so why have we suddenly decided otherweise?
No, I’ll opt for one huge helping of attraction please.
You know exactly where you are with attraction; it’s either there and you know it’s there, or it isn’t and it’s time to drink up and make your excuses. If it is, it will draw you in, take a hold of you and keep you spellbound. You can’t shake it off, it doesn’t go away and it’s well nigh impossible to ignore.
Give me attraction every time. Unexplained, mysterious and entirely preferable to something I dreaded on Tuesday and Thursday mornings all those years ago. Having said that, those were the days of enjoying all that carefree fun, the days before we handed it all over in exchange for the responsibility of being a grown-up ….. and the apprehension of the “first date”….