“What kind of dates do you guys go on?”
All eyes were on me. My social anxiety had kicked into overdrive. I was sitting in a restaurant I couldn’t afford, with a group of women I had little in common with. As the only non-mother at the table, I’d had nothing to add to the conversation for the first part of the meal. Then the topic of dates came up. We were all married, and as the conversation had gone around the table, I’d realized just how out of place I was. These women talked about going to nice restaurants, weekend trips to beautiful places, and other activities along those lines.
I stared at my incredibly bland lemon pasta (years later, I’m still baffled at how they managed to make what should’ve been a delicious dish have absolutely zero flavor). Even before we were married, Tom and I hadn’t gone on many dates. The majority of our time together was spent watching tv and talking. A little over a year into marriage, not much had changed. At the time, he was working a job with insane hours. Most days I only saw him when he’d come home late at night, collapse into bed for a few hours, and then get up and immediately go back to work. I was just glad for any time I got with him where he was awake. Going on dates wasn’t even a realistic option. Finally, I answered, “Sometimes we go to Sonic together, but with Tom’s work schedule we really don’t get to see each other that much.”
Have you ever felt an entire group completely deflate? Because that’s exactly what happened. There seemed to be this thought that I, as the most recently married, would have stories of incredibly romantic nights out. I had told them the truth, and in doing so, completely killed the conversation. Quickly, the talk shifted back to motherhood and the antics of their kids.
I’ve been thinking about that night quite a bit lately. Previously, I mentioned that I’m working on drafts for a novella. The first draft is fine, but as I’ve been reworking the story, I’ve come to realize that it has a very big flaw. This is a romance story, and I have written the most boring dates in the world. They don’t seem boring to me because they’re the kind of dates I’m comfortable with. However, I realize that not everyone else is a socially anxious homebody.
This means I’m now racking my brain, trying to figure out actual dates to send these characters on. I’m not even sure I know how to date. Back when everyone else was learning how to do those things, I was sucked into the world of purity culture. It didn’t exactly give me a solid understanding of how dating actually works.
And now I’ll go back to working on my draft and hopefully I can come up with a date for my characters that won’t put readers to sleep.