After the First Date: The Middle Bucket
Sorry.. another post about dating. But hey, its on my mind (along with the rape culture, access to women’s healthcare and Hilary Clinton.. but that’s less fun to read about at 8am). So…. dating.
After my latest ‘first date/no call back’ scenario, I expressed frustration to some friends about why I continued to be surprised and frustrated by this behavior. After 20 odd years of male interation, I clearly know better and I’ve got enough going on to really not be waiting for the phone to ring.
I got a lot of shrugs and ‘that’s just guys’ but I felt I needed an expert opinion as to why this continues to bother me, so with some embarrassment, I consulted my trusty therapist. I mean we’ve covered a lot of heavy stuff over the last few years, I was sure she’d enjoy some frivolous discussion about dating at 41.
I can claim some leeway on my amateur dating status since I didn’t grow up with the US ‘dating culture’ (the UK has all kinds of different ways for people to get naked that don’t involve Starbucks or match.com).. but after 17 years in the US, apparently I’m now dating like the average US woman. This is to say, badly.
According to my wise one (therapy, the best $120 per hour you’ll ever spend), despite women’s empathy, understanding and willing to be flexible in all other areas of life, when it comes to dating we tend to be ruthless bitches. We have two ‘buckets’ for our dates. The ‘future relationship’ bucket and the ‘oh hell no’ bucket. And, prior to, during and after the date, we lady folk basically sort the guys into one of the two buckets. Seems logical right?
And it is – in a way.
The process of dating is about getting to know someone and hopefully develop a long term relationship (unless you’re on plentyoffish.com in which case you’re probably looking for two hookers and a spanking). So, as you ‘get to know’ someone you’re sorting through information that either resonates or scares the bejesus out of you. You’re sorting potential partners. Except the process of doing so makes the contents of ‘serious potential’ bucket very important, even if you’ve just met. After all, if you’ve decided that you want to see him again… well suddenly we’re wondering if .. maybe… he could be…. well, you know…..
Which is why we ladies get crazy if a first date goes well.
Even if we don’t know his last name, we barely remember everything he said and our only true memory is how firm his ass looks, we threw him in the ‘yes’ bucket and suddenly he’s a candidate for being your future ‘live in’ spider killer. Which is, you’ve got to admit, a little loaded for the second date. (and men, if you think this isn’t true, I defy you to find a single women who doesn’t do this).
And if your date landed in the ‘oh hell no’ bucket (he chewed with his mouth open, wore man sandals or was a Republican), he’s essentially dead to you or at least blocked from your email. Which again, seems a little harsh. (ok, maybe not for Republicans).
What my therapist shared with me totally blew my socks off.. and to be honest, I think I’m going to trademark it. (NOTE: I am going to trade mark this, after I’ve dealt with my Klonapan addiction and figured out how to build a jet pack).
What she shared with me is the concept of the ‘middle bucket’ (yes, it needs a better name).
Instead of thinking ‘future candidate’ or ‘dumpster fodder’, there’s a third option. The ‘middle bucket’. And instead of mentally throwing your date into the dumpster or up on a pedestal, you actually put the majority of your dates into the middle bucket after the first, second or even 10th date. This is the bucket for men who you had fun with. And therefore, will enjoy having fun with- again – at some time in the future. I know, radical isn’t it. The only people landing in the ‘hell no’ bucket should be those who demonstrated seriously bizarre, creepy or offensive characteristics (that would be Republicans). If not, and you had fun, then into the middle bucket he goes.
On the other side of the first date analysis, even if you could bounce a walnut off his ass and he owns a yacht, if you had fun, into the middle bucket. No-one moves into the ‘future boyfriend ‘ bucket until you know them. Like them. Have an understanding of who they are. Can remember their middle name.
Until then, they’re all middle bucket material. Which is essentially guys you had fun with, and guys who want to have fun with again.
(FYI – ‘have fun’ is not a shorthand way of saying ‘rode like a pony’. ‘Have fun’ means great conversation, laughter, activities. You know… fun)
*Phew* Doesn’t that take the weight off?
No more ‘why didn’t he call? Did my large shoulders intimidate him? What will our retirement plan be? Instead its all – who do I want to have fun with? And if someone calls – time to have fun. If not, there’s other people to have fun with.
(again, ‘have fun’ is not a euphemism.)
Eventually, you can decide if its not going to develop into something, or if it looks like you have enough in common to consider ‘dating’ you can redefine the parameters.. but until then.. its middle bucket all the way.
Best $120 I ever spent.
Apparently guys too only have two buckets – ‘fun chicks I would hang out with again’ and ‘dumpster fodder’. They don’t even have a ‘future girlfriend’ bucket. They only head to Home Depot for that one if you’re Megan Fox or they actually know you.
Me? I’m heading to Home Depot for a 24 gallon bucket. After all, I have time on my hands and a lot of fun to plan. Non of which involves waiting by the phone.