Yipee! My date’s not gross!
Just like everyone else with a body and libido, there are male physical types I prefer over others. Yet I have found myself attracted to men of all shapes and kinds: short, spindly, tubby, flubby, weak chins and giant noses. Sexuality and adoration are rooted in the mind and spirit, and a men who are brilliant or big-hearted or hilarious — but otherwise outside of my physical ideal — have made me wild with desire over the years.
Last week I wrote about a killer first date that began before it began — and in my pre-date jitters that played out in a ridiculous scurry for a botched pedicure. I’m very happy to say that I’m still seeing that man and the more I get to know him, the more I adore him.
It got off to a killer start, in part, because he undersold himself in his profile.
Like I said, I have scary-good intuition when it comes to men’s online dating profiles (seriously – send me a link and I’ll tell you if he’s worth hiring a babysitter for an evening — or a weekend). I expected this guy to be smart and humble, warm and funny (in the weeks preceding the date we had a running joke about me dressing for the event like a pirate – it doesn’t translate here but take my word that it was clever). I could tell that he was super-smart and also successful and generally a happy and interesting person. Physically, he hit a lot of my favorites: tall, broad, dark, bearded and bespectacled.
But, in most of the pictures he wasn’t particularly hot. At all. Plus, he said a few times in the profile that he is overweight. I expected to meet a perfectly fine looking — if schlubby — man with an unusually amazing personality. That was plenty to send me into a preemtive tizzy.
Then, a week into our pre-date digital flirting I noticed that he added a new picture to his online dating profile (because, full disclosure: I was stalking it). This image was by far the least attractive of them all. An out-of-focus, too-close selfie in what looked like a bar during daylight hours, both of his brown eyes turned sideways.
Way, way sideways.
It was evident he had a lazy eye.
“Hm,” I thought. “He doesn’t want any potential dates to be surprised to meet him in real life and find that he’s cross-eyed,” I thought. I more or less forgot about it and focused my attention on my swelling anticipation for the evening — and on my toenails.
Fast-forward to our first meeting. After I sprung out of the cab and into restaurant, I immediately spotted him across the room, sitting at the bar with his back to me, chatting with the bartender. Already I could see that his was not a schlubby profile. No, not at all. He was unusually tall (no online dating exaggerating for this one), with a perfectly proportioned, muscular back under his white dress shirt, his long legs casually bent under the stool in dark, straight jeans.
I couldn’t walk fast enough to meet him.
He immediately turned around and gave me a huge grin as he stood up to kiss me hello – seeming taller and trimmer as the seconds passed in slow motion. In a blur, the waitress lead us to seats in the banquet and as we faced each other to sit down my mind kind of exploded in trying to take in this remarkably handsome face. A big, natural smile shone under a trim, prematurely silver beard. And his brown eyes stared at me.
Both of them.
At the exact same time.
It turns out that his eyes are not in the least bit lazy or crossed. And OK, look, most of us could stand to shed a few pounds. But no honest human with two synchronized, focusing eyes would describe this man as heavy.
That was two weeks and a four dates and a breakfast ago and I can’t wait to see where this goes. I wonder if my feelings around this affair wouldn’t be as glittery if it had not been launched with a jolt of exceeded expectations. Because face it: life is full of disappointment, and dating can be ripe with letdowns — particularly when it comes to online dating. I have not met a female online dater without tales of men who exaggerate their height, or male friends who say 80 percent of women they meet are far heavier than implied in their profiles. It is very, very hard to overcome the surprised disgust/disappointment/irritation you feel when someone waddles into a cafe for a first date — no matter how hard you try to focus on their other qualities.
Which begs the questions: So what? What’s the answer? Intentionally create a mediocre online profile, or have your friends undersell you to blind dates — invariably reducing your chances of getting dates in the first place? It comes down to the same rules of business — sell the shit out of yourself, then exceed their expectations. Which, of course, is highly subjective and very difficult.
Which brings me back to my awesome first date. Now, there is nothing I wrote here that I didn’t share with him. The lazy eye story sent him into fits of doubled-over laughter (he was clueless that he appeared to have amblyopia). His only defense about the lousy profile pics is that he simply does not have many photos of himself.
“The only person who takes a lot of pictures of me is my mom,” he said.
“Right,” I replied. “And she thinks you are the most handsome man in the world.”
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.