9 Things I Learned During A Year Of First Dates

Online dating taught me more about myself than it did about men.

I met my boyfriend online one year ago. Our first date was at a Russian restaurant in West Hollywood that has since closed. He showed up in an Uber even though we only ended up having one drink -- we talked for four hours instead.

Looking back on my year of dating before that, I remember a lot of awkward silences, moments of wanting to bail 30 minutes in, a variety of cuisines -- mostly local farm-to-table -- some good conversations and many forgettable ones.

Truth be told, I can barely remember the name of one person I went out with. But I did learn a few things about myself.

1. Conversations matter more than chiseled features.

Dating in Los Angeles provides a fair share of “slashers" (actor/model, musician/actor, actor/waiter), and plenty of people who are still relying on their good looks from high school to replace substantive conversations. It quickly became clear that I much preferred going out with an intelligent, clever guy than a hot one. I’ll take the brains over the bod, any day.

2. Being a woman with a great job is polarizing.

But it weeds out the bad guys who are intimidated by your success and attracts the good ones.

3. It's OK to walk away from something and not apologize for it. 

It’s true that a big criticism of online daters -- men and women alike -- is that they are too shallow and focused on physical appearances. And while it's certainly easy to write people off in an app, it's also easy to waste a lot of time dating people you're not that into. I went out with plenty of men who seemed nervous or shy online thinking that maybe they were really great guys that I'd click with in person. But when we met, I was usually bored to tears. Feeling obliged to give them a shot anyway didn't do either of us any favors.

4. There’s no such thing as becoming just friends.

After going on a date where zero romantic attraction manifested, but the guy was seemingly interesting or cool, friends often said, “Well maybe you guys can be friends!” Nope. That never happened -- and that's fine! Got plenty of friends.

5. Talking about yourself is exhausting.

I much prefer to ask questions and listen. Explaining your own career trajectory over and over again feels more like an interview than it does a fun night out on the town.

6. If you can’t laugh, just throw in the towel.

I had a first date with someone in a dark, upscale bar in West Los Angeles. When I arrived, he slid out of the booth and we walked up to the bar to order a drink. I was pleasantly surprised that he was taller than I expected and actually a little bit cuter. That never happens! Twenty minutes into our conversation, which covered topics like how he finds the weather in Santa Monica and what his driving route to work is, we both got texts from other numbers saying, "Hey. Where are you?"

Horrified that he was talking to the wrong girl, John Doe got very upset and barely said goodbye as he rushed off. I laughed hysterically and enjoyed the Old Fashioned he had bought me. When I relayed the story to the guy I was meant to have my date with, he barely laughed. Months later, when I told my current boyfriend this story, he laughed his ass off. Dating is weird. It's best to have a sense of humor about it.

7. I got a new motto: life before love.

If you aren’t out there going on adventures, traveling, learning new things and reading new books, you won’t have much to talk to your date about. Always choose the experience. It will make you far more interesting.

8. Reading between the lines is important.

I quickly learned that lines like “I just want to meet someone I can have fun with” and “everyone takes this dating thing so seriously,” really mean “I just want to have sex.” If that's what you're looking for, then great! If not, move along.

9. I have a really strong stomach.

I’m not talking 7-minute abs. Trusting your gut is one of the greatest superpowers that human women possess. When someone seemed weird but I couldn’t figure out why, they ended up being weird. When someone wrote something slightly off-color over text, it was usually just the tip of the iceberg. Seven-minute gut checks became the theme of online dating, and learning that my intuition was usually right was one of the best assurances I’ve ever had.

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