For my 22nd birthday, my Nana Roza bought me a three-month subscription to JDate. Having graduated college early to start my dream job in Atlanta a few weeks before, I was excited to get situated down South and make new friends! With my recently adopted rescue puppy and an awesome new apartment (oh, how I miss the ATL housing market), I was ready to meet a nice Jewish boy.
I started chatting on JDate almost immediately with a guy named Joel*, who engaged me in witty banter as we learned we had some pretty cool things in common. A fellow Georgetown Hoya who had even graduated from my high school a few years before me, he and I also shared a love of Atlanta sports teams and a weakness for fro-yo. Joel soon planned a very thoughtful first date of an Atlanta Braves game followed by cocktails at The Sun Dial, Atlanta’s touristy-but-cool rotating restaurant on the 72nd floor of the Westin hotel. I couldn’t have been more excited for my very first online meet-up.
The excitement ended less than a minute into the date. As I walked into Turner Field, I scanned the bar at the entrance where we planned to meet, looking for a guy resembling the three JDate photos of Joel. Suddenly, a man at least 10 years older than me began eagerly waving me over, his tiny hands emerging from a sweatshirt at least two sizes too small for his substantial midsection. Rather than stand up to greet me, he stayed seated on the low bar stool, his legs swinging. There was no way this guy who claimed he was 5’7″ would even end up being eye level to my 5’3″. Within minutes, I learned he fibbed a bit about his “stats”, apologizing that his photos were several years old. Pressing a damp Kleenex to his schnoz, he then profusely apologized for his allergies acting up. As he sneezed, my heart sank, realizing I had a 6-hour date ahead of me.
By the time Bobby Cox waddled his way to the mound in the 7th inning to replace Tom Glavine with the relief pitcher, we had clearly run out of things to say. While Glavine may have walked the last batter, I couldn’t believe Joel then tried to get to first base himself, reassuring me his sniffles weren’t contagious – just seasonal. Help me.
Even staring at catcher Javy Lopez’s tuches behind home plate for three hours couldn’t help pass the time. When the game finally ended, I felt horrible seeing how crushed he was when I made up an excuse to get out of the post-game plan at The Sun Dial. I was grateful for such a thoughtful date, but I needed to get out of there.
I’ve had five online first dates since that fateful day ten years ago, and they’ve never lasted more than an hour. And that’s by choice – a choice I’ve made and articulated ahead of time, whether the date ends up sizzling’ or fizzlin’. I call it the One-Hour #NoFail First Date, and it truly takes the pressure off app-dating these days and helps prevent burnout. If only my young, inexperienced 22-year-old self knew the secrets of the One-Hour Date back then, both Joel and I would’ve been spared. (And, who knows? Maybe the Braves would’ve even won the game that night if my crushing disappointment and Joel’s deafening sneezes hadn’t reverberated through Turner Field.)
Check out the guidelines below. Now, after you’ve hit the hardest part – getting to the point where a date is in the works – here’s what to do to seal the deal for the One-Hour #NoFail First Date:
(Disclaimer: this guide pertains to dates where you have never met the person before – apps or set-ups, in which you are intention is something more serious than a hook-up.)
1) Nail down the night and a convenient location, making sure you either have a reservation or it’s a place where you’re guaranteed to be seated comfortably and quickly (and that you can easily carry on a convo).
2) When securing the time, tell your date you have a commitment later that evening (whether you do have something or not), and you’d love to meet him/her earlier. (Ex: Tuesday sounds great! I have a friend’s birthday at 8, but how about we meet at 6 or 6:30?) Don’t wait until you’re on the date itself to say that you have to leave “in an hour or so”, or it’ll make it seem like you are immediately disinterested – so cruel!
3) On the date itself: You’ll know when it’s been about an hour, so DO NOT keep your phone out to check the time. (Or, if you’re old school like me, don’t keep glancing at your watch.) Even if you realize there is zilch chemistry, give it 150% the entire time! Laugh, learn, make eye contact, savor every sip of your cocktail, and then get the hell outta there. It is ONE hour, y’all. Have fun!
But WAIT!!! What if sparks are flyin’, the witty banter is flowin’, and… the person sitting across from you could be “THE ONE”?!
It doesn’t matter.
After about an hour, you’ve got to go. There’s nothing wrong with leaving a little bit of mystery after a first meeting and letting the excitement propel you to an awesome, thoughtfully planned second date! And, trust me: There’s nothing like some good ol’ built up tension leading to the next get-together. And, if it wasn’t an amazing date, aren’t you glad it was just an hour?! You’re welcome:)
P.S. I actually found my original JDate profile from 2007. Check it out below!
MY JDATE PROFILE: February 1, 2007
About Me: Time to make my little Polish Grandma happy and give JDate a shot! I just graduated early from Georgetown and moved down to Atlanta a couple weeks ago. I’m really sick of the college keg party scene and am looking forward to working and meeting new people here in Atlanta. I love to cook, I have a weakness for Jeopardy and Chuck Norris jokes, I enjoy volunteering and working with kids, I eat my steak bloody rare, I love anything having to do with Spanish, and family is everything to me! I love animals, especially my family’s neurotic twelve and a half year old beagle, Fred. I’m interested in meeting someone smart, funny, and ambitious. I’m not into drama and prefer someone who is sweet and easygoing and looking for something more than a fling.
My perfect first date:
A nice dinner, tickets to a sporting event, or something fun and creative that gives you the chance to talk and get to know each other.
My ideal relationship:
One built on a strong connection, communication, respect, and trust. Mutual attraction and similar beliefs and goals are also important, as well as having fun together and making each other laugh.
My past relationships:
Communication is so important, and playing games never accomplishes anything. Breaking up is difficult, but each person teaches you something about yourself and what to look for (or avoid!) in future relationships. When a relationship doesn’t work out, it’s for a reason, and shouldn’t be overanalyzed- I don’t believe in breaking up and getting back together over and over again!
I am looking for:
Someone intelligent with a good sense of humor who values family and friendships, is honest, goal-oriented, kind, and enjoys having a good time (but does not always depend on alcohol to have fun!).