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Is it too much to expect action on the first date?

The question

I am gay and back into the dating scene after a few months single. I soon met a decent-seeming chap online: same age, same career, same interests (generally). We corresponded for weeks; witty banter and intriguing parries of words. Finally we decided to meet in person: my place, wine, a little fun?

The night came. Wine flowed. More wine flowed. After four hours of (good and fun) conversation, I decided to "make a move," as we did discuss the possibility of some post-wine "fun." Cue the losing game-show buzzer. He was "just not that into it" and he "wasn't attracted to me, but let's be friends."

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I freaked out. I accused him of leading me on and dramatically kicked him out of my place. He seemed confused and maybe a little taken aback.

I admit, I feel bad about it. What do I do? Apologize? Do nothing? No more merlot on first dates?

The answer

See, what happened to you sums up my whole beef with online dating.

I know everyone loves it now (my friends in New York use "dating" and "online dating" synonymously, these days). It's convenient, you know everyone involved is looking, and la la la.

But if you think about it, it's reversed tens of thousands of years of human evolution in that first you get to know someone, then you meet them.

It's backasswards. I read somewhere that human beings make up their minds if someone is attractive or not in less than one-tenth of a second.

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But in the online dating paradigm, as I understand it, you spend all this time getting to know someone, then you arrange to meet in person.

You spot the person from across the bar, think, "Ah, hell, no." But then you still have to spend all this time with them, so they don't detect the fact you're not attracted to them.

I'm sorry to be both blunt and the bearer of bad news, but that sounds like what happened to you.

Don't be hurt. You just weren't his type.

And don't be sad. There's someone out there for everyone, I firmly believe that.

Probably your first mistake was arranging to meet at your apartment. Now, I can certainly understand how a fellow could get the wrong idea under those circumstances. You're sipping merlot, his biceps are rippling, you're gazing into his long-lashed eyes. He's hinting at a little post-wine "fun"…

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But in the future, might I suggest you meet your potential mates in a more neutral venue, e.g. a coffee shop? That way, if one of you decides he doesn't like the look of the other, you can just say "Thanks for the cappuccino" and part ways.

Perhaps Mr. Merlot was being a bit of a coquette and a tease. But what can you do? At some point, he obviously decided he wasn't interested. And sir: You can't get mad at, or freak out on, someone just because that person is not attracted to you. That is not a good look.

The net result of freaking out on someone for not being attracted to you is appearing even less attractive to that person, and you don't want that – do you?

At the same time, I wouldn't beat myself up too much about your freak-out, either. First of all, hey: What's life without a little bit of drama?

And it's possible this fellow was one of those narcissists who just likes to see if people find him attractive and, having ascertained that, moves on.

Sort of how it sounds, to be honest. And I most certainly would not be kicking yourself about the missed opportunity to make a friend. Please, you used an "online dating service," not an "online friend finder."

You both knew that going in. This guy talking about being "friends" was just blowing smoke, it seems to me; a way of parrying your thrusts, if I may put it that way (it's a fencing metaphor, people).

Even if Mr. Merlot did genuinely mean it when he said he wanted to be "friends," it's a lousy basis for a friendship: you eternally wanting to get into his boxers, him eternally having to fend you off.

I don't know you, but I believe you deserve better than that. Sure, if you feel really bad for freaking out on him, send him a quick note of apology.

But other than that, I'd basically just forget about the whole incident and move on. And if you want my true advice, try dating the old-fashioned, non-online way: Meet at a bar, through friends, whatever.

Then you'll have chemistry first, and figure out later whether you actually like each other. That's the way these things were meant to go, if you ask me.

Good luck, sailor! I fervently believe, and have my fingers crossed for you, that somewhere out there is a man who wants to get into your boxers as much as you do into his.

David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.

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