Second Date Strategies: Lessons & Stories From Paris Online Dating II

Lust for Life, film by Vincent Minnelli

In Part I of my online dating test, I had 6 failed first dates… what would it take to get to a second date? More precisely… with someone I actually wanted to see again??

“You didn’t give any of them enough of a try!” scolded Sassy. “You should have seen that Madman guy again!”

I was ready to shut down my profile and call it quits. After a few weeks of online dating I was already exhausted and this with only verbal or electronic repartee. Sassy had been following the whole story and had been rooting for a rather decent advertising exec, Mr Madman. Well, she might have had a point. He was the best of the whole lot, albeit not with very tough competition with the likes of a conversational karate kid, Mr. Almost Immortal who thought he could live to 250, the cinq-à-sept nudist, the trembling teacher… and the past romantic contenter Whatsapp Doc. While I found Mr Madman a tad boring in person, I had found him witty and fascinating over email. Could he have just been shy on our date? Nervous?

The problem with Mr Madman was not only me… at the end of our apéro together he’d left it at “maybe we can do something next weekend,” however, the next weekend came and went and there was no follow up email suggesting another date. Sure, I could have nudged him as well, but if he also wasn’t feeling it, why bother? Was my online going to lead to nothing but endless dead-end first dates? Here is a the tale of the two sides of the coin: Getting that second date… and not getting one when I wanted.

Cut the Virtual Cord? Not So Fast

Since I’d come to the all too quick conclusion that online dating was a dud, I thought I might as well go ahead and shut down my account. Then I got completely distracted with fate throwing other interesting suitors my way (described at the end of Part I). In addition to these, I had the very pleasant surprise of a visit from this sexy young Dutchman who’d been sending me messages all year who was finally coming back to Paris, yet right before I was set to fly off. There you go, I was leaving yet again, so I put my collection of dating candidates into a virtual shoebox to be reopened (or not) upon my return.

I shouldn’t have felt so demoralized. How could I really have expected a dating miracle to happen in two weeks?? The whole point of trying the online dating was to improve my chances of meeting someone with all the traveling I was doing. As such, it was quite perfect that I received the most charming message while I was in fact… away:

OKCupid message

Apparently I had a half-dreamy/half-amused smile, a smart forehead… and a heart-attack rending neck. Well, well, well! This intriguing and poetic message gave me renewed hope. Could there actually be original and creative candidates online?

Curiosity killed the cat, I logged into my account and had a look at his profile. By now I’d learnt to follow all the lessons outlined in my previous post. So I thoroughly examine his page: we had an 80% match rate, he looked reasonably attractive, was listed as single, had a filled in profile which painted the portrait of a rather interesting person: a sensitive filmmaker… lover of nature and zombies. Hmmm, I wasn’t so sure about the zombie part, but at least he didn’t seem to have any issues with mortality like the screenwriter from Part I. I dropped him a quick line saying it would be a pleasure to meet when I was back in a few weeks’ time.

Fast forward to the evening after my return, in an effort to fight jetlag, I sent him a reply letting him know I was back. Message sent, I ended up back on my dashboard… the “matches” button blinking with new finds, sucking me back in. Maybe in my month long hiatus some fresh options had sprouted? A little look wouldn’t hurt, plus it would help me keep me awake a little longer. Perusing a selection of high percentages matches, I almost stopped dead in my clicking tracks…

Your Perfect Match Could be One Click Away

Maybe not a “perfect match” … but I’d ran right into my twin. Not in looks, but we had so much in common, that it was almost eerie. A mid-thirties journalist who’d recently returned from living in Canada and he was also a vegetarian (a rarity in Paris!). To add to all of these, I hadn’t even noticed right away that he was also a Leo. Further strange coincidences would continue to come out of this dating woodwork.

I had nothing to lose, I wasn’t going to waste any time by “liking” him and then wait around hoping that he might one day contact me. I cut to the chase and sent him a little email, to which I received a friendly reply the following morning … suggesting getting together that very weekend. With that, I had a date for the next evening. I was finally feeling truly optimistic about a candidate.

In the meantime I received a message from the zombie-loving filmmaker and made a date with him for a few days later, best keep my options open, plus he’d been the reason I’d gone back online in the first place.

Lust for Life, by Vincent Minnelli

Fireworks and Thunderbolts on the First Date?

It was a beautiful sunny evening, and making my way over to our meeting point at the base of the Canal de l’Ourcq (yikes exactly where I’d met previous Date #2!) I was really looking forward to our evening. There he was, pretty much as advertised in his photo: dark hair, intelligent looking glasses and, an in-person-bonus, he was nicely tall. The best part—after his warm, wide-smiled hello—was that he’d brought a bottle of wine, two glasses, some and suggested we could sit along the canal instead of go to a bar. Exactly my kind of date!  

We had a lovely time chatting, no verbal punishment or forcing out conversation. I got to hear about his time and impressions living in Canada and he heard about some of my recent travel adventures. He told me a little more about his current job and other projects. I practically fell in the canal when he told me that he was writing a play, I’ve been working on two theatre projects… the coincidences were getting a little odd. As the light was beginning to fade and with our bottle of wine empty, we drifted to our respective homes with the bise cheek-kiss farewell and potential plans to go to the theatre sometime soon.

While I hadn’t felt that it had been an extreme coup de foudre (love at first sight), this was by far the best candidate I’d come across in this experiment, plus with so many things in common, it made sense to see if there could be some magic there. I decided to wait it out a few days, I was still going to meet the Zombie-lover to see if he had any potential, his initial email had been so intriguing…

Or At Least a Few Sparks…

As the weather was still nice, the filmmaker and I set a rendezvous point in front of Chez Prune on the Canal Saint Martin. Contrary to some other profiles I’d come across, he was actually cuter than his photo, another tall dark-haired glasses wearer like Mr Twin. The terrace of Prune was full so we wandered across the bridge and ended up grabbing a beer to go from a nearby bar to sip by the water’s edge. At the bar, it was a tad awkward because I could tell he didn’t really want to pay for mine, but accidently did by not getting his change back from the barman. Now, I don’t think girls should always be bought drinks. However, it was the way he went about it that showed he didn’t want to spend money… this with some other comments he made confirmed that he was thrifty, not really the best sign for a first date. You didn’t need a lot of money to have fun, just a little creativity, like bringing a bottle of wine which can be shared for less than the cost of two drinks…

I soon found out that the Zombie-lover had a part time day job and saved up all of his money to make his short films, the current one included a zombie. This might sound all cool and artsy, when you’re 25 max 30. He was 40. I was just plain and simply too practical, unless it was a real coup de foudre and any first date sparks were actually lightning bolts… I wasn’t sure if it was worth dating a frugal big kid. While I’d come to this conclusion after about 30 minutes into our discussion, he threw me a curveball:

“The thing with girls in the 30s is that they have experience and get jaded. They know what they want, or think they do, and don’t give guys a proper chance.”

What was I to say to that? Could I really argue?? He was right about the first part… but what about the second?

Lust for Life, by Vincent Minnelli

To Have a Second Date or Not

So according to his theory, a second date (or third or fourth) was really the only way to get to know if you had a connection with a person or not, since this was too hard to tell in just one meeting. Therefore, even if I really wasn’t so sure about him, I wasn’t totally against seeing him again, so on departing we left it at “let’s meet up again.”

That said, I still was strongly hedging my bets on Mr Twin and if we had a successful second date, I wouldn’t both with Zombie-lover. The days were ticking by and I was a tad impatient. Since Mr Twin had slipped out his last name (proudly as it was the same as the wine he’d chosen) in addition to where he worked, it was very easy to do some basic stalking, which is when the final coincidence struck me. Oh my god. Through work, he’d followed me on Twitter and from what I gathered… hadn’t even realized it. Man, this was getting a little weird… was destiny trying to draw us together one way or the other? Twist a fatalistic gal’s arm, I got up my nerve and carefully crafted an email to him following up on our date and propose a theatre date for the following week.

A message which would remain… unanswered. I was a little bewildered. I knew I’d looked very nice the day we’d met because I was trailed most of the way there by one of the guys who hang out around La Goutte D’Or (not exactly the types I was looking for… I really should cross over the boulevard when I walk by there). Our discussion had been easy and fun. Either there was something he hadn’t liked about me or he’d remembered that girlfriend in his closet… or he’d gone away on a long weekend and never got around to replying. The reason I would never know. I suppose just like the ones I hadn’t followed up with.

I did go through with seeing Zombie-lover again. With his poetic eloquence, he suggested meeting for a classic movie (Lust for Life, by Vincente Minnelli on the life of Van Gogh, depicted in the images here) at one of the Latin Quarter’s art house cinemas. My kind of date, or so I thought.

What about a Third?

Zombie-lover’s date idea was great, but the rest sort of fizzled out in the second half. We’d ended up in a wine bar down the road and he was yet again trying not to spend money (after trying to get a discount at the movie theatre). Our discussion got around to a few “deeper” questions and he asked in a roundabout way if I’d hypothetically be okay with not going away on holidays (i.e. save money to make zombie movies!). That wouldn’t really work and my attempt at giving a neutral response was rather dismal.

I think by the end, even though it was far from a disaster, we both knew that there would be no third date.

Lust for Life, by Vincent Minnelli

Online vs Classic Meeting: A Chemical Equation

Would things be different in a dating scenario, say by meeting someone at a bar or a party? Yes and no. The big difference is that spark. When you meet someone “in the flesh and blood” there’s either an attraction or there isn’t. Therefore, that part is already ruled out of the equation. Online, someone’s photo, their profile description or emails back and forth might stir some chemistry, however, there’s no compensating for the energy that’s exchanged when face to face. This is why it can make sense to have that second date even if you’re not 100% convinced.

Nevertheless, if there are no sparks by the end of the second date, then there’s probably no point in seeing someone a third time and alas, it’s then back to the dating drawing board… or in my case, to just let fate take it’s course. It’s since throw me several intrigues… but those, might or mightn’t have to wait for their own story. In the meantime, I’ll keep that online profile alive… just in case another twin, soul mate or as the French say, âme sœur (soul sister) clicks my way.

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