So, that was... fine.
I mean, it was a nice enough evening. I really liked the restaurant, the cocktails were fun and original (and tasty), the food was delicious. Enjoyed the atmosphere, although it's almost bordering on "too hip for me" status. Maybe. I don't really like to think such a thing exists, at least not in restaurants, but I suppose one should try to be realistic.
We talked about this and that. It was pleasant conversation, and there weren't really any lulls. On the other hand, there were also no moments where I thought, "Wow, this guy is super interesting/funny/smart/charming!" He is adequate in all of those areas, but just... sigh.
This is the point at which I start second-guessing myself, and the inner voice weighs in.
"You shouldn't be so picky, you know."
"It takes a while to build a connection, so don't try to rush it."
"Someone who is kind and reliable is a better companion than someone who is witty and exciting."
"At your age, you really should stop holding out for sparkage."
Really bad dates, when the person is deadly dull or irritating or flosses his teeth at the table, those are easy. And of course, those elusive creatures, the really good dates, when you get all caught up in a fascinating conversation and you find yourself admiring his eyelashes and laughing maybe a little too loudly at his jokes, but he's just so funny, you can't help it, and suddenly the whole evening's gone by and you've barely noticed any time at all has passed... well, those are also very easy.
It's the middle-of-the-road dates that are difficult. The ones where you had a perfectly acceptable time, there were no neon flashing warning signals. He is polite to the waitstaff, and to you. Conversation is a little bit interesting, a little bit amusing. No real highs, no real lows. Like an agreeable evening out with a colleague. Or maybe someone you're seated next to at some event, and find yourself exchanging pleasantries to pass the time.
There's no real reason to not see each other again. That's kind of how we ended up on this second date in the first place. But there's also no compelling reason to repeat the experience. Which is why there was a three-week gap in between.
Intellectually, I realize I don't have to have a specific reason why I don't want to date someone. But emotionally, it's hard, when I don't have anything to point to as justification, for me to see my indifference as anything but my own failing. I should be more open, more patient, more grateful there is someone willing to spend an evening with a middle-aged nerd like me.
That's the problem with the mediocre date, you see. I see it as a reflection of my own mediocrity. That voice up there, the second-guessing voice, it keeps whispering in my ear that if I were really awesome, I'd have fabulous dates with amazing dudes, like other people seem to. (Who are these people enjoying this spectacular dating life? Handwave. Just, you know. People. Out there. Who are not me.)
We kinda sorta have tentative plans to go out again, on an unspecified evening in the relatively near future, although it wasn't clear whether this is an actual date-type thing. I don't really want it to be, I don't think, but I need to clear the hurdle of my strange sense of obligation.
I would honestly have preferred a genuinely bad date tonight. At least then I'd have a good story to tell, instead of half-hearted mumbling apologies and negative self-talk. This is why I hate dating. It often makes me feel like an asshole.