The Magical Unicorn First Date

We met on Tinder.

Okay, okay, okay – I know I broke up with Tinder a month or so ago. And while I had every intention of making it a permanent separation, like we all do in moments of weakness (and when intoxicated), I gave in and saw my ex-account. As I sat at a picnic table on Stone Street across from my roommate, sticky with sweat from our boxing class, I aimlessly swiped left and right. I tried my best to ignore the deja vu as my 900+ matches loaded, and the same trite, ridiculous digital conversations starting rolling into my inbox.

Ugh, ugh, ugh, ohhhh?

That one margarita was enough to send both me and C over the edge (hey, we’ve been really healthy lately and apparently, that makes you a lightweight) – so with one swift mature adult decision, we went home to change and continued to bar hop. It was Sunday Funday, and I was intrigued by the first guy to message me on Tinder since I had sworn off the scene. He checked off all of those checkboxes – employed, attractive, not creepy – and I agreed to a first date.

After so many mishaps and men who don’t have a clue about how to date, I was a little surprised when this dude (who I originally matched on Tinder with in 2013, for the record), made a reservation at a cute Italian bistro near Union Square. I was even more taken aback when a 6’4″ handsome dude with a big smile walked through the revolving door and said, “Wow, you must be Lindsay.”

Hello, Mr. Unicorn.

We headed toward the back and started right in on the witty banter. The flow was easy, the vibe was warm and flirty, his glances were strong and sincere. I was hungry for another date before our first one barely started, and for me, that’s a pretty damn good sign. I noticed he was wringing his hands under the table in an awkward fashion, and while I didn’t quite understand, I didn’t point it out – trying my best not to put this amazing first encounter on the spot before he got a chance to know my humor. I was telling some story about something when he stopped me:

I’m sorry, but I have to say I’m really nervous around you, he said.

Why would you be nervous around me? I asked, as if on queue from a Nicholas Sparks movie.

You’re just so gorgeous. How are you single? he whispered, never losing eye contact.

He then leaned in and kissed me, right at the table, deeply, but not long enough for it to be real PDA. And I kid you not – I sort-of-kind-of lost my breath.

The rest of the date was a mix between kissing and drinking, laughing and chatting. It wasn’t until nearly 3:30 a.m. that I remembered the cardio dance class I was signed up for the next day.

I’ll walk you home, he offered.

It’s a 30-minute walk, I can just take a cab! I replied.

But that’s 30 more minutes with you before our next date, he insisted.

That’s really sweet of you, I smiled.

Plus, you keep tripping in those wedges, someone has to be there to break your fall, he teased.

We then slowly made our way back to my apartment – where he didn’t try to come upstairs. Where he didn’t make a move. Where he escorted me straight to my doorstep, planted a gentle, sensual kiss on me and said I can’t wait to see you again. I was asleep by the time the text arrived, but at 5 a.m., when he actually made it to his apartment in Brooklyn, he wrote: I’m home. Tonight was amazing and so are you. Looking forward to seeing you soon. 

To say I was a smitten almost instantly is an understatement.

It’s also a white lie to say I was calm about the whole thing. To Mr. Unicorn, I was excited and engaging, but to my friends – I turned into a mental case for nearly an entire week. I won’t put you through the same torture that they endured – but with every text message, I analyzed. I agonized. I tried to read in between the blue iMessage lines, and I carefully crafted every text so it wasn’t too forward or too vague. I tried to air on the side of sexy while not seeming overconfident. I didn’t sink to the level of counting minutes from he replied to when I did, but I did think about it.

But like many before him, Mr. Unicorn didn’t make plans. He ‘got sick’ and never confirmed (or uh, cancelled) our date the following Wednesday. By that Friday, I had one ‘Hey pretty lady, how are ya?’ text… and then the conversation died.

And as I write this blog, it’s still dead.

Like many whimsical creatures that seem too good to be true, Mr. Unicorn disappeared back into the land of unavailable men who can somehow manage to hypnotize you on a first date, only to never be heard from or seen again. This isn’t the first Mr. Unicorn I’ve encountered, and that’s partially why my manic qualities got the best of me. I never thought I was a scorned single woman – or a bitter, cynical one – but I do have a tendency to get my hopes up high…

…way too fast. And those unicorn dates…. well they have a way of making me believe in something magical… instead of the thing I’m really looking for:

A real connection with a real person who wants to be in a real relationship. No fairy dust needed.

It seems so silly really – as I type it here in black and white –  but after so many not-so-quality men have left me frustrated, something as simple as “You’re beautiful” is enough to send me over the edge. How sad is it that in the past year, Mr. Unicorn was only the second guy – other than my father – who has complimented me or made me feel attractive?

Is that why we want so badly to believe in the unicorn date, even when we know – in our heart of hearts and with our proven logic – the likelihood that it’ll work out is pretty low? Is the unicorn enough of a myth that when we start to believe it, we go from the smart, sweet and amazing women that actually went on the date to girls who have to turn off their phones so we don’t check for a text…

…from a guy we went out with once? ONCE.

Though I never did hear from Mr. Unicorn, and though he mentioned wanting to see me again about a dozen times on our first date, we never had a second. But he did teach me something about how I treat dating, and it was a lesson I needed to learn sooner than later: don’t fall in love with the story before you fall in love with the man. Because if we’re being honest, my first date with my future husband could be terrible, but then the third one might change my mind. (My dad did ask out my mom for six months before she agreed and they’re still happily together, 30 years later).

Perhaps the bigger lesson is to have a little more faith in myself, instead of dreaming of a mystical creature to give me that confidence. A date that goes well doesn’t mean another one won’t come along sometime soon, it just means that my hope, if anything, should be renewed in the possibilities… instead of believing this unicorn of a stranger is the only one that could make me happy.

I think my mom might have said it best: You don’t need a unicorn, honey. You’re looking for a stallion. Or someone to ride with off into the sunset – on your own damn horse, but side-by-side. 

Amen, mama. Amen.

4 thoughts on “The Magical Unicorn First Date

  1. I know the feeling. And you could have not describe it better. But we can’t lose our confidence. No matter how hard is it and how low we may feel sometimes.

  2. Linds:
    Emily and i did not meet in person for 5 weeks. But did message a LOT. Started slow. But got frequent enough changing to personal email made sense. Then texting was easier. Then so frequent i just up and called her.

    And we seem a near perfect match.
    We make each other happy and joyous.

    Do phone “dates” work ?
    I think so.
    When you really like someone, looks matter very little. The person makes us feel beautiful. Then we are happier, smiling more, and we seem to become more beautiful.

    Physical beauty can be a mask.
    Just as gorgeous women know how to play that, so do men.

    Still guard your heart. And open it warily.

  3. Your post could not have come at a better time for me as I just went through a similar experience with a guy I met on Tinder. It was our second date and everything went perfectly; chemistry, banter, PDAs. I tend not to get too excited early on, but we hit it off so well and he kept talking about doing stuff in the future, like months in advance, that I let myself think it might go somewhere. Everything was going great until I tried to confirm our plans for Sunday and I didn’t hear back. I got a lukewarm apology yesterday but he didn’t try to reschedule. Feels like he’s blowing me off. Guess it’s time to move on to the next…

  4. I don’t know how but you have literally reached into my head and put my thoughts here on your blog. (You actually do that often.) I always enjoy reading.

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