Friday, November 18, 2011

Conversation Skills Required

My experience with eHarmony did nothing if not help me whittle down my lists of "Must Haves" and "Can't Stands", as they call them.

Kevin was my first eHarmony date. We met at a local coffee shop, one of my favorite places to hang out on the weekends. I got there about 15 minutes early, wearing jeans, a nice tank top and a cardigan. I ordered my coffee and sat at a table for two with my Writer's Digest magazine.

We'd emailed back and forth a few times, so I knew his basics. He was a self-employed web software developer who liked to sail and loved water sports. I don't know why I was so surprised when he walked through the door looking more tanned than a Miss America contestant.

He was wearing jeans and a white, short-sleeved linen button-down shirt that only amplified his golden skin. As he approached, I stood and smiled, reaching out my hand to shake his as he leaned in to hug me. This was my first sign that we weren't on the same page.

"Nice to finally meet you in person," I said, trying to avoid any awkwardness.

"You, too," he said. "I'm just going to grab some coffee. Do you want anything?"

"Oh, I already got mine," I said, holding up my cup. The look on his face told me I should have waited so he could treat me. Since I couldn't take it back I tried to smooth things over by offering a warm smile and a quick suggestion. "The Charm City blend is my favorite."

By the time he'd ordered and returned to the table I'd put away my magazine and was fidgeting with the corner of my cup sleeve. He started the conversation by telling me he'd driven past the shop, which was why he'd been a few minutes late. I asked him about his plans for the day. "I'm heading to my parents' in Delaware. I'm going to spend the week up there," he said.

There was a pause while I waited for a reciprocal question. When it didn't come, I said, "So tell me more about your work. What exactly do you do?"

And this is how it went. I spent the entire time it took to drink my coffee asking him questions. He spent the whole time answering them. Despite several pauses in the conversation, not once did he ask me anything.

When my coffee was gone, I said I needed to get going. I gathered my stuff and told him I was parked around the corner. He'd also parked around the corner, so we made small talk as he walked with me.

"I'll give you a call when I get back from Delaware next week," he said, and gave me a hug.

It seemed he thought it went well, but I couldn't get past the fact that he walked away that day not knowing one single additional thing about me. I didn't hear from him again. I wasn't particularly surprised--or disappointed.

Must Have: Someone who can participate in an intelligent conversation. (Note: Conversations include reciprocity. Spending an entire date talking about yourself does not constitute a conversation.)

Kevin clearly didn't fit the bill.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I went on a few of those type of dates back then. I had terrible luck with eHarmony. For all their questions and steps you would think you'd meet better potential partners.

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