Maybe you have a tried-and-true routine before a first date: a lucky outfit, a go-to spot, painstaking preparation. Practice winks in the mirror (just me?).
While your pre-date ritual may be consistent, what lies beyond the initial meet-up is utterly unpredictable. Here are 10 kinds of first date every guy will experience.
1. The Dennis Rodman. It's a rebound date, either off a recent relationship or extended romantic drought. No matter what, it's less about your date and more about you—finding your bearings, seeing if you've still got it. Sometimes it's amazing: You're the greatest rebounder in history. Other times, not so much: You're in a wedding dress or, worse, North Korea.
2. The Tornado Drill. It's a disaster. Escape. Duck, cover, and pray you survive until the storm passes. Then consider moving far, far away.
3. The Blackout. You're nervous because you don't know anything about your date. So you pour yourself something strong at your apartment and arrive early at the restaurant for a couple more. Your date shows up—and it's great! The conversation is flowing and so are the cocktails and then you're dancing and downing tequila shots and laughing and taking more shots and…you wake up the next morning and can't remember a single thing. You realize you still don't know anything about your date.
4. The Meh-be. The portmanteau of "meh" and "maybe," this date is extremely, insanely average. So average there's nothing else to say.
5. The Enigma. You can't tell if it's a date. Even after many cocktails, obvious flirtation, and possible come-ons, it's anyone's guess. How is this possible?
6. The Catfish-ish. Unlike on the TV show, your date doesn't intentionally lie about his or her appearance, gender, or general existence. Instead, he or she benignly misguides you through omitted personal details or deceptive online photos. You show up, and she's six inches taller than you imagined. Or definitely older. Or sports an unexpected face tattoo. Either way, it's rarely positive and hard to see past.
7. The Booty Call. Don't get it twisted: It's a casual hookup masquerading as a bona fide date. It generally starts with some nonchalant Tinder browsing and thinking to yourself, You had me at swipes right!
8. The Red Flag. A la Kristen Wiig's brilliant (and horrifying?) performance in this SNL parody commercial, this is where you tell your friends afterwards, "It was perfect, but…" Regardless, you're going on a second date, either to see if your potential mate really is "perfection" or, more likely, tragically flawed.
9. The Happy Accident. An homage to televised landscape painter Bob Ross, this is a date you didn't realize you were on until you were on it. Somehow your social scene splinters, leaving the two of you alone. "You walking this way?" becomes "Want to grab a drink?" becomes "Do you have a toothbrush I can borrow?"
10. The Everything. This is the one that is so good and so perfect and your date was this and that and you did this and that and you felt a real connection and this could really be something and…woah, hold up there, champ. Remember: It's just a first date.
Ben Kassoy has been on all of these dates—and has probably catfish-ished a few people, too. He tweets @bkassoy.
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