My (Almost) First Kiss at 20

Since I was a little girl, I was obsessed with the idea of dating. On Valentine’s Day in Kindergarten, we were asked what “love” meant to us. The other kids gave cute answers like, “When Mommy hugs me” or “When Daddy reads to me”. As a 6-year-old wise beyond my years, I proudly stated, “Love is going on dates”.

Now that I’m older, I realize this isn’t love. In fact, if I told someone I loved him on the first date, he’d surely start a blog about me. Now I’m 23, and I’d like to say I have a lot of experience dating, and in some ways, I do. I’ve gone on a lot of first dates. Probably 15-20. But my experience ends there. I don’t go on many second or third dates, and I’ve definitely never had a boyfriend. My first kiss wasn’t until I was 21, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have offers. I suppose my anxiety outweighed my hormones.

A couple weeks ago I met a guy. He was cute, nice, funny, and into my “schlubby” look (he didn’t understand why I was offended by this “compliment”). But he was too into me. I don’t know if this was my way of self-sabotaging, or if he legitimately was too into me, but I ended things before it got serious. Which reminded me of my almost first kiss, when I was 20.

Three years ago I was home from college for the summer and I downloaded Tinder. I swiped until I couldn’t feel my right thumb anymore. Then I switched hands, then fingers, and finally found someone who caught my eye. I assume he messaged me first, because I’m a gosh-darn catch, but I honestly don’t remember. We got to talking and I divulged too much information about my mental health issues, yet he was still intrigued. I even sent him a video of me doing stand-up comedy, and he was still intrigued. I basically gave him a lot of outs, but he chose to still find me attractive.

We made plans to go out to dinner, and I was nervous all day. But I was also really excited about the potential of this situation. The meal was great. We talked, laughed, and flirted. I didn’t want the date to end. And in all the blogs and videos I read and watched in preparation for this date, I knew that I should ask to extend the date by suggesting a new activity: frozen yogurt. Brilliant.

We spent a while looking for frozen yogurt shops, but they were all closed. So we made our way over to Millennium Park, where we sat on a bench in front of those towers that shoot water out of faces. It was here that I realized he liked me, and probably wanted to kiss me. Alarm bells started going off in my head. I had never kissed anyone, and the first kiss was a big deal. Did I like this guy? Maybe he was a terrible person who was mean to his little sister. Maybe he got some B’s in high school. The possibilities were endless.

In my moment of panic, I stopped looking at him. For about an hour and a half, or so it felt, I looked at the Chicago skyline instead of his face. I know he noticed, because several times he asked, “Am I that ugly?” or “Why won’t you look at me?”. Being the honest person that I am, I said, “Do you want the truth?” I assume he nodded his head, but I couldn’t tell because I wasn’t looking at him. So I spouted off, faster than I’ve ever said anything before, “I’m afraid that if I look at you you’ll try to kiss me, and I don’t want you to kiss me. If I turn around do you promise you won’t kiss me?” He said he promised.

So I leaned my head as far away from his body as possible, and turned around. He leaned in ever so slightly to try to kiss me, or at least I think. It also could have been the wind. I quickly turned away again. I don’t remember much else, except the excessive apologizing I uttered the rest of the night. I left Millennium Park in an Uber, and after apologizing for the 20th time, I promised a second date. Then I went home to my parents’ house and cried in bed with my mom, because I figured I just had too much anxiety to ever date.

So this guy I met a couple weeks ago, maybe he was great, but my anxiety just got the better of me. But who knows? In the meantime, I’m single and almost ready to mingle.

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