Raymond is a 44-year-old public servant who lives downtown. He says, “I frequently wear the same thing: crisp shirts with the sleeves rolled up, dark denim or cords, and a messenger bag. That’s my ‘look.’ Tailored, practical and clean, as much as possible.” Raymond likes to read long-form articles and non-fiction books, listen to podcasts about health, politics, urbanism and popular culture, and cook for himself and friends. He says he is “funny, committed, independent, dependable, organized and routinized.”
I met Paige online. She was a grad student, and seemed very interesting. At the time we met, I was feeling unsure about the future of my role at work, and my professional trajectory, and was contemplating a return to university to do my PhD, before going back to work in my industry. I had been working the longest hours of my career with no sign of it letting up. I had a romantic view of what taking a leave to pursue a PhD would involve, especially as it would be a break in my working life, and not intended as a pathway to teaching at the university level. This happened before COVID-19 hit. At the time, working from home seemed more appealing than it does now!
I’ve always been particularly drawn to smart women, and I was really impressed that Paige was pursuing her doctorate. It takes significant commitment and focus to get through. Her field was more technical and scientific than mine, and while I don’t have any special knowledge in it, I find the area of inquiry fascinating and even relatable. I was excited to meet her, more so than most women online who don’t usually have something as “remarkable” about them. You can’t help but think about what life would be like with someone even before you meet them, so I admit I was fantasizing a bit about what an “academic life” with Paige might be like.
We met for a casual, low-key drinks date at a popular bar. I was saddened to find out that I wasn’t instantly attracted to Paige. That didn’t change throughout the date, but I reasoned that it might come in time. There was nothing “wrong” with her, there just wasn’t that instant sense of wanting to be around someone, for me. It didn’t seem to me that she had made any special effort for our date, and had more likely tacked our meeting on to a regular workday. She seemed somewhat distracted and spaced out.
Our conversation turned to the academic right away. I felt like we clicked in that area, and I thought to myself, perhaps we can be friends. I told her a bit about my working life, and my potential plans for school. I’ve since decided not to go, but at the time I was excited to have someone to talk to about it, who had some experience to share, even if we wasn’t necessarily a romantic match. She seemed as interested in my areas of interest as I was in hers. We started talking about her research, but it became a bit hard for me to follow the conversation. She actually seemed somewhat obsessed, more so than identifiably “passionate.” I noticed that as she got more into what she was saying, she spoke more and more loudly. I found myself pushing my chair away from the table a bit, and even turning away from her. I glanced at my phone to see when I might be able to leave, and wondered if I should move the date to another location, outdoors, so perhaps her loud voice wouldn’t be such an issue.
Soon, our conversation turned to her department and colleagues, and I perked up a bit. I could contribute more to this part of the conversation. However, I got the sense from the way she talked about it that it wasn’t necessarily the work itself that she was passionate about, but the rewards. She talked about grants, funding, awards and connections even more passionately than she had talked about her research. I understand how important those things are, however, her personal focus seemed different than I would have expected for someone who had devoted their life to this work.
It was only at this point that I decided there would be no future with her. I realized close to an hour had passed and I could leave without being impolite.
Raymond rates his date (out of 10): 2
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