Dating is chock full of awkward moments and it can start as early as the moment you meet. Do you shake hands? Do you hug? What’s the protocol? There is none. You don’t know this person well enough to hug them but you don’t want to kick things off like it’s a business meeting so what do you do? Wave? Yeah, because that’s not weird.
And what about at the end of the date? He’s seconds away from planting one smack on your mouth but his breath smells so bad you swear his teeth are melting. Do you quickly turn your head to the side at the last minute or brace yourself and try not to breath through your nose for the next few seconds. Either way, you better decide quickly.
Let’s say you make it through a few dates. Then you’ve got those pesky uncontrollable bodily functions that are three times as humiliating if they happen while you’re naked. Queefing, farting, or that sweaty skin-on-skin noise that forces both of you to insist it was neither of the first two. Hopefully you both have a good sense of humor and a waning sense of smell.
And the longer you’re together, the messier it gets. You start interacting with his friends. He meets your family. Things begin to get serious. And as a result of things progressing the number of times you want to dig a hole in the ground and crawl inside become staggeringly abundant. So in honor of all those cringeworthy moments in dating, here are some of my own personal favorites:
Meeting his ex girlfriend…
Unless she’s some hideous dirt troll, it won’t matter how much your boyfriend insists, “she’s not that hot,” (which, for the record, he has to do regardless) because all you see is some leggy blonde nuclear rocket surgeon who reads to blind children in Sudan and looks like she stepped off the Victoria’s Secret runway. Whether any of these things are true or not is irrelevant. Your insecurities get the best of you and no matter where she falls on the Dirt-Troll-to-Runway-Model spectrum, she is that hot.
The only thing worse than meeting his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, is meeting his gorgeous ex-girlfriend when you’re looking and/or feeling anything but gorgeous. I got to meet one of my boyfriends exes after a seven hour bar crawl in the rain sans umbrella of course because I left it bar number three or four, who remembers after the third tequila shot anyway? To add insult to injury I was also shoveling pizza into my face in a futile attempt to sober up. Meeting my boyfriend’s ex looking like drowned rat and wreaking of tequila with a bloated beer belly and pepperoni all over my shirt was a sobering blow to my confidence. And for the record, she probably wasn’t leggy blonde nuclear rocket surgeon but like I said, who remembers anything after the third tequila shot?
He says something sexual in front of your parents
The King of Inappropriate Comments was crowned as such for good reason. The first time he met my parents he actually referred to himself as a “dego” which, unbeknownst to me (at least prior to hearing him say it) is a derogatory term for Italians. And according to Urban Dictionary, Spaniards should be offended as well. He felt it was perfectly acceptable to use racial slurs at the dinner table because he was referring to himself. Sorry, pal, but as my mother was quick to point out, I wasn’t raised that way.
That was bad enough but you don’t earn the title King of Inappropriate Comments unless you exhibit a consistent pattern of behavior. In addition to the “dego” comment, he reminded on me during our Valentine’s Day dinner to watch my carb intake. Then there was the time he refused to shake hands with my friend’s boyfriend and protested, “I know where your hands have been” as he gave my friend a disgusted once-over. And, drum roll please, he winked at my father as he said, “don’t bother waiting up… I’ll have her up all night, if you know what I mean, sir.”
Was the “sir” part even necessary? I actually find that more insulting. Like putting sprinkles on a shit sandwich.
The dangling “I love you”
If the feeling isn’t mutual, this might be the most uncomfortable three words you’ve ever heard. If the response isn’t a sincere, “I love you too!” there’s no hole deep enough into which you can crawl. Trust me. And that’s true regardless whether you’re the one saying it or the one hearing it. The only time I was the one on the receiving end of an unrequited “I love you” was after I broke up with the Perfect-on-Paper Boy. He waited outside of my apartment for me to come home one afternoon. Lord knows how long he was out there and for simplicity’s sake, let’s just ignore the serious creep factor with this tactic. As I approached my building, he seemed to emerge from the bushes like some kind of wild cat of the serengeti who had been laying in wait until some unsuspecting meandering wildebeest gets separated from the herd. He claimed he was “in the neighborhood” but the likelihood of that actually being true is about 0.0%. He stammered through some verbage about how great we were together and how I should really reconsider my decision to break up with him and as the sweat beaded around his hairline he said, “… and… I just want you to know…that… that I love you.”
I responded with, “ok.” Not even, “thank you” just, “ok,” like he was informing me it would rain later that day or that his favorite color was blue or that bears shit in the woods. The whole reason I dumped him in the first place was because I was trying to avoid this very moment, yet despite my best efforts, he put it out there anyway only to get “ok” in response. I died a little inside for him that day because once it’s out there, it’s out for good. No backsies.
The birds and the bees
No discussion on awkward moments in dating would be complete without at least mentioning the discomfort of discussing sex – or anything sex related – with your parents. By the time I was 17, the topic of sex had progressed beyond an academic discussion about the propagation of the species and evolved into the precautionary reminder, “no balloons, no party.”
Uncomfortable? Absolutely, but that was nothing compared to the time I had a routine physical and my mother was in the room while the doctor asked me the usual battery of questions: Are you taking any medications? How often do you exercise? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking a multivitamin? When was your last period? blah blah blah… Are you sexually active. Cue record scratching sound as everything goes silent and humiliation washes over my entire body. If it were possible hang myself with the blood pressure cuff, I would have. This was the first time a doctor has asked me that question. Ever. So I had no idea this question was even on the list. To make things worse, I was convinced my mother had absolutely no idea that I was no longer pure as the driven snow let alone “active.” How do you even define “active?” Is there a statute of limitations on “active?” Like it has to have happened within the last two weeks and there has to be at least a 51% chance that it will happen again in the next two weeks to be considered “active?” Where do we draw the line here?
Getting back to my original point, I don’t remember anything that happened after uttering the word, “yes” in response to the doctor’s question about being sexually active. I do remember thinking that if I whispered it at a barely audible volume, there was at least a slim chance that my mother had spontaneously gone deaf and wouldn’t hear it even though she was about three feet away from me.
When we got into the car to go home, I burst into tears. My mother looked at me like I had six heads. “What in the world are you crying about?” she asked as we drove home. In between sobs, I attempted to explain my complete and total humiliation and I thought there’s no possible way I could more embarrassed than I am right at this very moment, but before I could get any of that out, my mother said, “Katie, seriously? I’m not stupid. You’re in college for Christ’s sake. You should be having sex. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first!” Kill me.
Kate’s Dates runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. It is written by the lovely Kate Richlin-Zack, who fully admits to majoring in engineering to meet guys. Her articles have been featured on xoJane, YourTango, and Romance Never Dies. She’s been quoted in Fox News Magazine and featured on Huffington Post Live. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.