Have you encountered this favorite pastime of online daters? As soon as you order your drink, your date leans in with the bait. “So, how do you like online dating?” he asks. Before you can even answer, “I’ve met some nice people,” he exclaims, “Well, I’ve got a story for you!” Thus begins a so-called “horror story,” which I’ve noticed tend to be variations of these three themes.
The dates did something considered rude or impolite. They said something inappropriate. They laughed out loud with a piece of black olive lodged in their teeth. They were late. They spent the date playing with their phone or their dog.
The dates misrepresented themselves. They were fatter, thinner, taller, shorter, older or younger than they advertised themselves in their photos. Maybe he had more hair, or she had a way better tan than the person who showed up on the date.
The dates veered from dating customs. They expected you to pay — or grabbed the check when you wanted to treat. They made an unwelcome sexual overture or waited too long to kiss you. They got one look at your paisley unitard and bolted out the door.
Although such tales are occasionally entertaining, they’re not helping your love life. Except in the rare case in which you can show off how you handled the bad date (You got the drunk woman home safely and were a hero!), it’s better to resist to temptation to tell all.
Besides showing a lack of tact, here are some reasons your stories aren’t a great reflection on you:
1) They show whom you attract into your life
Of course, we never know who’s going to show up on the other side of that café table. (Everyone has had at least one surprise!) But at some level, if you tell your new dates that all your former dates were total disasters, the newbies might start to question your judgment. You do get some idea of your matches’ personalities by communicating with them beforehand. You can’t always screen out crazy, but you can improve your odds of better dates by investing some time getting to know people. At the very least, if you’ve had a string of disappointments, it’s not a great idea to advertise it.
2) They show your lack of tolerance
Before you break out your worst tales, ask yourself if they were really “horror stories”? Was property damaged? Were hearts or bones broken? Were the police involved? If not, stories about life’s everyday inconveniences (or others’ occasional poor judgment) make you look inflexible and disapproving. And you definitely don’t endear yourself to anyone if you brag that you that you ditched the date who had put on a few pounds since they posted their profile photos.
3) They make your date nervous
If you attempt to entertain your date with the story about the date who fell asleep during a movie or said something too political or wrote “it’s” instead of “its,” you run the risk of causing your date to be extra guarded. She will censor her comments, or he will be hesitant to write long emails if he thinks his grammar will be picked apart. It’s not a great strategy to grow close to someone.
Everyone loves an audience to hear their stories. Just think twice about whether they’re helping your romance credibility.
What do you think about other people’s “horror” stories?
About the Author:
Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate and Salon.