When single friends ask me for dating advice and their questions start delving into the granular details (e.g.,“Should I respond with two short texts back-to-back or one larger text?”), I can’t help but rack my brain for ways to tell them: “I promise you . . . these things do not matter.”
Yes, it’s important to put your best foot forward, to leave an element of mystery, to present yourself with poise. But analyzing every aspect in a whirlwind of self-critical perfectionism is crippling—and not a good look for a budding romance.
Frankly, Mr. Right doesn’t care about the character count of your texts, the occasional overdose of emojis, or even if you had a tiny little bit of spinach in your teeth after you ate dinner (although, seriously, it’s super-annoying when he doesn’t tell you). It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and evaluate every single little action in the natural insecurity that hits us all in dating. But the truth is, if he puts too much pressure on these types of things, he’s probably Mr. Wrong.
As someone who committed several face-palms when dating the guy I would marry, I’m living proof that when it’s right, the little things we’ve all obsessed over with the wrong guy fall away. Here’s what I mean:
01. I didn’t wear makeup the day we met.
I am a woman who rarely leaves the house without a little bit of something on. At the time, this quote by the elegant Coco Chanel was tucked away in my mirror:
“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little—if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”
It would be an understatement to say that I was not following her advice the day I met my husband. In addition to my non-makeup appearance, my hair was a puff of frizz-ball humidity, I was profusely sweating, and my outfit was decidedly mediocre. In fact, I had just spent six hours in a car—and I looked it. Not cute.
Perhaps you’re one of those cool, hippie girls where this doesn’t matter. Let it be clear: I am not one of those cool, hippie girls. So when I started talking to this handsome, funny stranger whose smile killed me and made me laugh really loudly, it was actually tempting to just shrink away and think: “Meh, not today. I am not having a good face day.” But as it turns out, Coco Chanel was wrong. You don’t necessarily need to look your prettiest for destiny.
02. I accidentally ate an entire cube of wasabi and promptly spit it out—in front of everyone.
You know those little green squares that kind of look like avocado, but they’re actually spicy hot death when consumed whole like avocado? Well, somehow one of my little maki rolls fell atop my little green square, and in my starry-eyed distraction, my chopsticks picked up my little roll and my entire meal’s allotment of wasabi. And you can guess what happened next. If not, I’ll tell you:
In one shocked, non-elegant exhale, I spit out the entire contents of my mouth on my plate (loud sound effects included). Of course, this made everyone laugh, but it was still a humiliating experience—as manners are certainly something I take seriously and, at the time, was something I judged others on. Awkward, awkward, awkward.
03. I unintentionally called him in the middle of a workday—and left an awkward, long-winded message.
You know the script: Boy meets girl. Girl and boy exchange numbers. Boy calls/texts girl to see if she’s available to hang out again. Girl calls/texts back, and they agree to an outing. Generally, these calls or texts are lively, coy posturings where you show off how witty, fun, and interesting you can be.
But in our script, there was a caveat. In the middle of our burgeoning flirty exchanges, I had just received my first smartphone—as in, I had obtained it only for a few hours after he sent me some follow-up texts. Because I hadn’t quite mastered how to use it yet (It was 2011, OK?), I ended up accidentally calling him mid-text conversation—on a Tuesday morning. The worst part? I couldn’t figure out how to hang up! Somehow I had swiped out of that screen, and I was lost.
Lo and behold, the call went to his voicemail—forcing me to record my awkwardness, as I continued to detail how I didn’t mean to call him, how this entire thing was an accident, all the while trying to find the hang-up button. Needless to say, this was a painful, long, first voicemail. Instead of turning him off forever, he laughed and loved it. “This girl is awesome,” he later told his best friend.
We proceeded to solidify plans for the best (and last) first date of our lives. And while I don’t recommend trying to be the awkward Bridget Jones of real-life impressions—I will say, if you’ve met a guy who’s right for you, you’re not going to want to spend your time and energy overanalyzing the details; you’re going to want to spend your time talking and thinking about the big picture—a picture where spitting out giant wads of wasabi is just another ridiculous anecdote in your shared history of endearing #fails.