Looking for a life makeover? Grab an issue of the January-February 2016 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines for tips on how to eat well, become physically and financially fit, and take chances on love again, beginning with the cover story of Heart Evangelista.
I never thought I would marry my first boyfriend. I had always pictured myself going through a handful of relationships (perhaps even affairs!) before settling down--if I settled down at all.
Well, my husband may have spoiled those plans, and happily so, but that's not to say I didn't ride the dating merry-go-round several times before finally going steady with the guy I would eventually marry. In fact, some of my friends called me a serial dater because I had a strict three-date policy.
My policy was simple: on the first date, I had to have been sufficiently interested or impressed to want to spend another three to five hours in the guy's exclusive company. By the second date, the attraction level needed to be such that I could picture myself hitting first base with the guy. And, by the third date, I would ask myself whether or not I could picture myself going exclusive with him. Guys who failed the date policy got shown the door with the appropriate "it's just not working out" and "let's just be friends" speeches. This way, I figured, I wouldn't be wasting too much of my time or money on the guy--and the same would go for him. Only one guy has made it past three dates, and, as I've mentioned, I ended up marrying him.
But you know what they say: you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. Let me tell you about some of the froggiest frogs I've had the (dis)pleasure of going out with--and if you have horror date stories of your own, do leave a comment and tell me all about it!
1. THE UNCANNY X-DATE
Let me just begin by saying I don't have anything against the X-Men. In fact, I loved the last movie, and as a child, I watched the cartoon show whenever I could catch it. However, I do draw the line of listening to six to seven hours of X-Men lore on a first date. Here's how it started: a friend of mine set me up with her guy BFF--let's call him Logan*--so we could double-date with her and her boyfriend. I'd heard a lot about him--he was an artist, a musician, a really nice guy, and so forth. Basically, she thought we would hit it off. The date started well enough, considering my friend had a family emergency that forced her to cancel but urged Logan and me to go out anyway.
So we did. He picked me up, took me to dinner, and we proceeded to try to get to know each other. Or, rather, I proceeded to learn all about his undying fascination with the X-Men. He spent hours telling me about how the X-Men started out, listing well-known and obscure characters (complete with discussions on their powers and histories, all the way into the post-apocalyptic X-Men universe I didn't even know existed), and ranting about the differences between the comics, cartoons, and movies. It was past midnight before he wound down enough to take me home. And though the friend who'd set us up told me later that Logan had been extremely nervous about the date, I decided that my first date with him would be my last.
2. AGE / 2
I'm not really an ageist, but I do believe that the "age divided by two plus seven" rule is a pretty safe one to go by. How does it work? Basically, if you're 30, then to determine how much younger you can go in your choice of date without triggering the weird vibe, you'd calculate it this way: 30/2 = 15 and 15+7=22. This means anyone aged 22 or older is "safe." By the same rule, to determine how much older you can go, you would calculate for your age minus seven times two; so an 18-year-old would be able to date someone 22 years old or younger to avoid the weird vibe. At 18, though, I was playing fast and loose with this rule--I'd set my age cap at 28, but most of the guys I dated were between 21 and 24.
Until Bob* (as I'm calling him for the purposes of this entry). I met him because he was one of the friends of my favorite cousin's boyfriend at the time. We'd gotten to talking whenever we met at mixed-group get-togethers. My cousin was 25 to my 18, and I assumed everyone at the party was around the same age too. Boy, was I wrong. On my first date with Bob, we had dinner with my cousin and her guy, then split up afterward. Bob and I went driving--and then, as they used to say, parking. We made out with some heavy petting, which was enjoyable, but I felt we were moving too fast and told him so. In fact, I flat-out told him I was a virgin. He told me that, if and when anything happened, he would be careful of me. I told him I wasn't ready for that yet, and we agreed to date some more.
I got home late, and my older sister was waiting for me. I could see she was pretty steamed, which was unusual for my happy-go-lucky sister. She'd talked to my cousin, she said, and she'd found out who I'd been with. She asked me if he knew I was 18; since it had come up, and I'd mentioned I was a college freshman, I told her yes. She then asked me how old I thought he was. I told her he was probably around 26 or 27--I'd asked him if he was in my cousin's batch, and he'd said something like they hadn't gone to the same college but that it was possible he was a couple of years up. She told me I was off by 10 years--he was 36: twice my age! It didn't take much pressure from her to cancel my next date with him and avoid him after that. "If and when," I decided, was never going to happen.
3. ALLERGIC TO MY DATE
At the age of 18, I was diagnosed with late onset asthma. It was a mild case, but my main allergic triggers were car exhaust and dust, which meant that commuting by bus or jeep was a definite no-no for me. After I was diagnosed, I told all my prospective dates that I was up for anything as long as it didn't trigger my asthma. So when my cousin introduced me to a cousin of her boyfriend's--let's call him Nick*--and he promptly asked me out, I definitely let him know that I was game, but that I had certain health restrictions. That was fine, he told me.
When Nick picked me up for my date, I was surprised to see he didn't have a car, considering he lived in one of the more exclusive villages in Makati and it was a long commute to Katipunan Avenue, where I lived. But I shrugged it off, assuming we'd catch a cab. But instead, he grabbed my hand and dragged me onto a jeep which took us to Commonwealth Avenue (although I didn't know it was Commonwealth Avenue at the time, having just moved to Manila from Cebu a few months before). The traffic along UP was pretty heavy since there was construction going on, and I had to hold a handkerchief to my mouth the whole way--only lowering it to take a couple of puffs from my inhaler. I was coughing pretty badly and insanely relieved when we got off the jeep, where I managed to remind him that I wasn't supposed to take jeeps because of my asthma. He apologized and said he'd forgotten--he'd only wanted to give me what he called an "adventure date."
I should have gone home then and there. But I thought I'd give Nick another chance. He set out to hail a ride to wherever it was he wanted to go; I thought he was going for a cab when he flagged down an unair-conditioned bus, grabbed my hand, and brought me on board. By then I was spitting mad--had I not just reminded him that this open-air commuting was triggering my asthma? I wanted to get off, but the bus was moving really quickly (and it was my first time on a commuter bus). He told me I might as well sit down. So I did. By the time we got to SM Fairview (apparently, he wanted to take me there to show me a children's library), I was wheezing. He took me to the food court, where we went KKB. I ate fast so I could pop a couple of antihistamines, then told him I wanted to go home immediately. He offered to take me back on a bus, but I told him to forget it, got a cab, and left. My cousin told me he wanted to ask me out again, but by then, I was of the mind that hell would have to freeze over first.
4. HANDS OFF!
I don't have an older brother, but growing up, I had a spate of kuyas in my cousins, their friends, and my sister's friends, many of whom I got really close to. When I was 9, my cousin Phillip taught me about the damage that sticking my thumb in the eye of an attacker could do. When I was in my teens, three of my sister's friends, Tiano, Jonathan, and "Papa" Jerros taught me about fending off unwanted attention. They were all musicians, and I would go to gigs and bars with them. "Anyone bothers you, you come to us," Jonathan would say. "If anyone does something you don't like, you leave right away and you find someone you know and trust," Tiano told me on more than one occasion. "Anyone tries to touch you where you don't want them to, you hit them where it hurts"--this from Papa Jer, who was a big teddy bear with me, but pretty darned protective about it too. He even told me how and where it hurt the most too!
I never really had a problem when I went dating in my hometown of Cebu. I knew a lot of people in the club and bar scenes--was even friendly with a couple of bar owners, plus my family owned a couple of music bistros as well. When I hit Manila for college, though, suddenly I didn't know anyone. So I took a self-defense class in my second year of college, and I never, never forgot what Papa Jer taught me--to the pain of the guy who was by far my slimiest date ever.
This guy--let's call him Mark*--took me to a club, where he proceeded to get smashed on zombies and gin pom. I have alcohol allergies, so I try not to drink too much, but we'd come in his car and I didn't know how to drive at the time, so I didn't want to be the designated driver. Besides, if I'd had a car, I knew well enough that I wouldn't have let a first, second, or even third date drive it, and I could only assume he would feel the same way.
I asked Mark to dance, hoping I could get him to work off most of the alcohol that way. Once there, we were in a crush of bodies, so close dancing was the only option. It was the usual bump-and-grind kind of club, so I was only mildly annoyed when he put his hand on my butt and kept it there; I moved it a few inches higher. I was completely shocked when he slipped his other hand up my skirt and grabbed my crotch! Without thinking, I shoved him away from me and kneed him in the balls--hard. I left him rolling on the floor, and I haven't seen or heard from him since.
5. DESERTED BEFORE DESSERT
While I don't believe in the healthiness of rebound relationships, I do believe that a good dose of rebound dating can sometimes help a person crawl out of a funk brought on by the breakup blues. So when a friend set me up with a friend of hers who had broken up with his girlfriend around three months before, I thought, why not? Liam*, as we'll call him, was cute and a good conversationalist. He opened doors for me--not something I normally ask for, but something I thought was nice on a first date--and took me to a nice restaurant. We found out we had some mutual interests, read some of the same authors, and generally had the same sorts of ideas and principles about things like relationships, work ethics, and more.
The problem started after we'd cleaned off the appetizers and had gone on to the main course. Liam got a call from his ex and made the mistake of taking it at the table. She started haranguing him--I couldn't hear what she said, but since she was screaming into the phone, I could definitely tell he was getting an earful, and he got more and more upset. In fact, it looked like he was going to cry. Feeling awkward, I tried to think up a way to eliminate the problem; I was thinking about grabbing the phone from him and ending the call or telling the girl to just shut up already when he stood up and excused himself, still with the phone to his ear. I thought he'd handle it then come back. Ten minutes later, Liam still hadn't come back, so I tried his cell phone. I couldn't get through. I paid and went looking for him; if he was still hungry, I thought, we could go to a cafe or something. But he wasn't in the restaurant foyer, and, when I asked someone to check, he wasn't in the men's room. I checked outside--and noticed his car was gone! He had deserted me.
You can bet that I was in a bad mood when I got home; he'd not only left me with the bill, but I'd had to call a cab because the restaurant was one of those mountain view dining types 30 minutes from the city. He called me up the next day to apologize, and I told him it would be better if he sorted out his issues before jumping back into the dating game. He agreed, then had the gall to ask me if I'd want to "try again" when he had. Frankly, if he'd just cut the date short then taken me home, I might have. But abandoning me? That took him out of my "maybes" box and into my pile of "no, nevers."
Liked this? Check out other blog entries by Liana on "Married without Kids"--or go to the Staff Blogs page to learn about the other members of the FN team.