What they did for love was … gross: Dating Diaries
Most of the dating stories that are included in the Dating Diaries, the Toronto Star’s long-running and popular relationships column, don’t go exactly according to plan: a promising string of texts leads to awkward silence over dinner or a cautious drinks date turns into a three-day-long sleepover. The incredible variability of dating life also means that some dates will be interrupted by the realities of the human body — or just the experience of being human. (Do you have stories to tell? We want to hear them — details on how you, too, can become a dating diarist at the bottom of the piece.)
“Mia” met “Teddy” on a dating app, and found him “funny and charming.” However, at dinner (and after a few previous instances of bad date behaviour), Teddy popped a zit in the bathroom “and came back holding a tissue to the side of his face” to stop the bleeding. Mia wrote, “He then put the used tissue down on the table, right in front of me, while he put his jacket on.”
Sometimes, something “gross” is not the dater’s fault — until it is. “Tamara” and “Gus” hit a restaurant where “the sun was setting and it all felt really natural and romantic. We ordered appetizers and mains, seafood and pasta, the whole thing.” Nice! Later, in the car, “suddenly Gus pulled over to the curb, jumped out and ran behind it” to throw up. Tamara found it funny, but was worried about what the vomit event would do to the otherwise great vibe of the date … and then, when they arrived at Tamara’s place, Gus leaned in. Tamara wrote “I blurted out, ‘I can’t kiss you right now!’ He looked hurt, so I told him I had a really good time, kissed him on the cheek and got out of the car.”
Many examples come from dates with the freshly single. This post-long-term-relationship behaviour is usually about habits that might not have been considered gross in someone’s previous relationship. When “Natalie” met “Oscar” online, she didn’t find him “impressive or exciting,” but was “trying not to be too picky.” She wrote that Oscar’s “general vibe seemed to be Another Middle-Aged Male Confused by His Divorce.”
She wrote, “At some point Oscar realized he had something caught in his teeth. He started picking and digging at it with his finger in a really obvious way. He kept at it and wouldn’t give it up, and seemed really frustrated. Finally, to my amazement, he picked up the disposable bar coaster with a beer ad on it and somehow used it to dislodge whatever was in there. He then crunched the coaster up and put it back on the table.” Natalie wrote that even if they had been married, “that move would have been unacceptable to me.” She wrote that a lot of guys, post-divorce, “found themselves single and absolutely unprepared for it. Oscar really didn’t seem to understand that he was on a date with me, not out with someone auditioning to be his next wife, with whom he can settle back into whatever routine he used to have.”
And then there are the times when a “gross” date turns into something much sweeter. “Paul” says that “Georgina,” a woman he met at work, “was beautiful and seemed extremely smart and nice.” She was drinking wine and shots with friends before their date at an arts festival and ended up passing out drunk; Paul carried her home. Paul wrote, “Two people approached me and asked if everything was all right, and if I was aware that the girl I was carrying had been vomiting all over the back of my coat.” At her place, Georgina “blew chunks all over: the front door, the floor and even the walls! I put her sideways on her bed and went to clean the vomit. After I was done, I checked on her and found her doing better. I crashed on the couch, but checked on her a lot.” Still, Paul wrote that he “would do it all over again. This girl is worth it.” He also liked being the one to care for her “during a moment of vulnerability. I don’t think we get opportunities like that very often.”
The lesson? Try not to be gross and to be aware of the experience of the person you’re with. But if something does happen, apologize and leave the kiss for the second date!