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“I Am For You, Ulrick of Volt”

Hi Jeanne! I saw your Dating Game story that was posted today and it jogged my memory to submit one of my own. About a year ago I finally decided to get back into the dating game after enduring the heartbreaking end of a four-year relationship. At the recommendation of some friends I posted a profile with a few online dating websites and struck up a conversation with a woman that lived in the area. As time passed we exchanged phone numbers and then agreed to get together for dinner.

We were trying to decide where to go and she asked me if I had ever had sushi before. I told her that I had only had sushi twice, with mixed reviews, but I figured why not, I’ll try it again. She assured me that she knew the perfect restaurant, that she’d been there before and loved it. She also assured me that she would choose some things that she knew I would like. The night of the date approaches and I am exceedingly nervous. We meet at the restaurant, exchange pleasantries, and then go inside and have a seat.

We order drinks and the sushi menus arrive, at which point I defer to her based on her previous statement that she loved the restaurant, loved sushi, and would order something I’d like. She proceeded to say, “Oh…the last restaurant I went to had combos, they didn’t just have rolls on the menu.” Okay, sure, but maybe she has an idea of what kind of fish/seafood to get in the rolls. I ask her for some guidance, and she says, “Oh, I’m sure whatever you get will be fine”. She also had no idea how big a sushi roll was so we ended up with a giant platter of sushi of which she took about three bites before announcing that she was full.

The rest of the date went fairly poorly though nothing compared to some of your other stories and not necessarily for etiquette reasons (she liked to try and figure out how I wanted her to answer questions rather than just being honest). After I paid we parted ways amicably enough, but am I wrong for feeling a little frustrated that she gave so little input into the meal situation? Admittedly, four-year relationship aside, my dating history is far from extensive despite being almost 30, so maybe this sort of thing is normal? 0607-12

The start of courtship and dating is a lot like an awkward dance.   Both people are trying to figure out who is leading and who is following, there are lots of stepped on toes in the process until things work themselves out.  Assuming they ever do work themselves out.   When a man asks his date what her preferences are, and she waffles in her answer, she’s not helping him learn her likes and dislikes, she is not communicating effectively so that he gathers information that he can use to build a relationship.   It can be frustrating because he’s running blind and inevitably he will do something, totally innocently, that was not to her preferences.   Meanwhile the date is trying to yield to HIS preferences in the hopes that he will take the lead in this dance.   I truly think some women use this as a test to see what a man’s leadership style is.

There are women out in the dating world who are like that empathic bride in a Star Trek: Next Generation episode, where she awakens from her protective stasis and says, “I am for you, Ulrick of Volt” , to become the woman Ulrick always wanted.   She adapts herself to whatever she *thinks* the man wants from her in order to become the woman he is seeking.   Problem is, there are men who want an independent minded woman with opinions she’s not afraid to say so the, “I am for you, Scott of the Internet”, isn’t going to work.   Keep looking.



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  • Carol June 12, 2012, 7:17 am

    I’ve seen that episode several times and had no idea she said ‘Ulrick of Volt’. I always thought it was something like ‘Yuri Gavult’. Shows how much I pay attention. (And now I’m wondering how many times Joss Wheadon watched that episode, because of Dollhouse)

    To the OP: One of my friends said the best thing once about dating – the right person is out there for you, but you aren’t meeting them yet because they aren’t ‘done’ yet. They haven’t yet become the person who would be right for you.

    So just keep yourself open, go on these dates thinking ‘at least I can get a funny story to tell my friends’, and one day that person will be ready for you. And that person will be an honest person who isn’t afraid to be herself with you.

    Good luck!

  • MoniCAN June 12, 2012, 7:56 am

    I think you went on a date with one of my ex boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend (the girl he dated just before me). She was like this, very knowledgeable on paper, good at talking about how much she knew about everything. She especially liked to claim expertise on things like exotic restaurants or whatever was trendy at the time in their city. But when it came right down to it, she either didn’t actually know any of the the things she claimed to or wasn’t actually as interested in the things as she said she was. If she didn’t make the decision when it came down to it, no one could call her on being wrong!

    When we first started dating, my boyfriend didn’t seem to understand that I said what I meant and meant what I said, as his last 3 or so years with this woman was the opposite of that. It took some adjusting.

    So no, OP, I don’t think what she did was normal. Not exactly a huge etiquette fail, but annoying still.

    I LOVE sushi and going out to eat it is always an adventure for me, not matter how many times I go in a single week. Don’t let this one bad date keep you away from the fun that is raw and rolled seafood!

  • Angel June 12, 2012, 8:17 am

    What an odd date. First of all I couldn’t imagine going to a sushi restaurant on a first date. I love sushi but I think I would rather go with someone who also shares the same affinity for it. In fact, restaurants on first dates in general can be very, very awkward. If I was going out with someone who I had never met in person before, I would meet them at a coffee house or something and limit the time to 2 hours at the most. If it goes well, then you ask them out on a proper date.

    I don’t know it just seems like a huge waste of time to me to spend the whole evening on a date that is not going well. I know sometimes that you can’t forsee if it’s going to go well or not, but there should be some kind of polite way of getting out of it when you can see that it’s not going well, you don’t have much in common, or the person is obviously trying to come up with the “right” answers in order to start up the relationship. And not only women do this. I was once on a date with a guy who just kept agreeing with everything I said. After a while it just isn’t interesting anymore. If I wanted a person who agrees with everything I say I would go out alone.

  • Jay June 12, 2012, 8:36 am

    … except in the Star Trek TNG episode, she actually bonds herself to Picard rather than the man she’s supposed to, because Picard’s ideal woman is independent-minded, and she wants to be that woman.

  • --Lia June 12, 2012, 8:36 am

    I wonder if she’s telling her friends how she went on a date with a guy who said he’d had sushi before and was dying to try it again but then expected her to guess what he’d like. He ordered too much and thought she should finish his meal.

    I often wonder if dating wouldn’t go easier if people approached it like they just wanted to expand their circle of friends, not find a life partner. But if you did that, you’d probably be accused of not being serious.

    Yes, it is like a dance where you step on some toes before deciding either that you don’t mind or that you never want to attempt to dance with that clumsy fool again. Either way, it’s better than being a wallflower.

  • allyoops June 12, 2012, 8:45 am

    I think admin has some good insights, but the one little tidbit I can add in here is that if you are scrutinizing the evening so closely as to be so totally aware of what transpired over these sushi rolls, you may be thinking way too much. 🙂

    But then again, if the sushi rolls were so totally on your mind during a first date, that probably tells you a lot of what you thought of that first date and you should move on.

    I can assure you, when you find the right person, you won’t have idea where you are, what you ate, or what you said that evening.

  • Cat June 12, 2012, 8:45 am

    The young lady may have been told not to be assertive on the first date for fear of scaring you off. She was so non-assertive that you were left floundering amidst the sushi. It’s as if you were trying to dance the Virginia Reel and she was trying to Tango. You were not in step with one another.

    Common ground is necessary in any relationship. Maybe a bit more time chatting on the phone and laying the ground work as to what interests you share would give you something to follow up on when you do get together with a date.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith June 12, 2012, 9:15 am

    I don’t know about the etiquette of this situation- but I’d be miffed. Basically, OP was lied to. If the young lady represented herself as the authority on sushi to the extent that she had been to the restaurant before, would pick things he’d like and even encouraged him to try sushi again, she should have delivered some real value for the experience, if only because she determined the venue based on her own interests and preference. I don’t think there is a real take away from this, except that OP might have dodged a bullet. How can you protect yourself against both silliness and deception? It’s a part of many social encounters and dating is just one more variant in the dynamic.

  • Joy June 12, 2012, 9:20 am

    I laughed as soon as I saw the title of the post! Most, if not every one has done this in the dating/flirting stage. Youth = stupidity… Then you learn you are important and so are your preferences. It does make it easier on both sides if you speak up, and usually results in more enjoyment whether it is one date or many. Terrific site BTW, I have read every post over the years. Try to get more on BRATS- they make me scream LOL!!

  • LS June 12, 2012, 9:44 am

    Wouldn’t it be a red flag when someone presumes to know what you like before knowing you?

  • Magicdomino June 12, 2012, 9:44 am

    First dates are always tricky, whether off a dating site or a blind date set up by a friend. If the gentleman is doing the inviting — and presumably the paying — I’d prefer him to make suggestions for restaurants and activities, simply because I can’t see into his wallet. Even with a blind date, there has been a telephone conversation or two, which would help narrow down the choices.

    However, the gentleman here seems to have dodged the proverbial bullet. The lady was less than truthful all the way through, from claiming familiarity with the restaurant and cuisine (in all fairness, the menu might have changed since her last visit), to answering his questions the way she thought he wanted. Even if it doesn’t work out for later dates, honesty is best. Honesty can even be fun; one of my better blind dates had so little in common with me, we spent the time laughing and trying to figure out why my sister thought we were a good match.

  • Lisa S. June 12, 2012, 10:39 am

    Well, A) do you know for a fact that the letter writer is a man? I’m a woman and I’m straight, but nowhere in this letter did I see a reference to the letter writer’s gender.

    B) I think ultimately, the letter writer’s gender is completely irrelevant.

    C) The writer asked, “Am I wrong for feeling a little frustrated that she gave so little input into the meal situation?” No, absolutely not!!! I’d be frustrated too. She said that she’d been there before and loved it, and knew exactly what you should order. Then the date comes and she waffles, completely negating her previous statements. I would decline the opportunity to spend any more time with this person. Life is too short, no matter your gender.

    Before I married hubby last year, I dated quite a few men, and nothing drove me crazier that going back and forth with “But what do YOU want to do?!” I loved it when a man took initiative and planned a date, but I was also very comfortable with him asking me what I’d like to do and voicing my opinion.

    To the OP, hopefully, you will soon meet a woman who knows her mind and isn’t afraid to how you who she is. And don’t settle for someone who can’t think for herself and lives through you…

    • admin June 12, 2012, 4:16 pm

      I know the writer’s gender because he signed his name to the story.

  • Debra June 12, 2012, 12:28 pm

    If I had tried that on my husband, we wouldn’t have made it past date 1. That’s standard protocol for some women and it’s just not worth the hassle.

  • Goldie June 12, 2012, 2:07 pm

    So the woman failed to properly advise OP what food he should order for himself at a restaurant? OP, if this is your worst dating story, you’re luckier than the rest of us. Here goes. If you don’t like sushi, suggest a different restaurant. If you don’t know much about sushi, but want to try, go online and do some research prior to going. Get on the restaurant’s website, study their menu, and decide on what you’ll order. If all else fails, ask the waiter for advice. This is what I do before a dinner date at an unknown restaurant — works great every time. There are plenty of things to worry about on a first date other than whether your date will order you something you like.

  • Mabel June 12, 2012, 2:21 pm

    Good point about the waffling. I’m a woman but if I were a man, I’d much rather be with a girl who had definite preferences and wasn’t afraid to let me know about it. Confidence is very sexy.

    Also +10 nerd points for the ST: TNG reference. Love that episode! 🙂

  • Shalamar June 12, 2012, 2:31 pm

    I sympathize about the dinner! If she hadn’t been there before, why did she say she had? On the other hand, it wouldn’t have hurt the OP to take matters into his own hands and ask the waitress for some guidance.

    Mind you, when my husband and I were new to the sushi thing, we didn’t have any luck with our waitress. We ordered a bunch of stuff with no real idea what we were getting (we basically just pointed at the menu and said “We’d like that, and that, and that …”). We enjoyed it very much, and then afterwards thought “You know, it’d be a good idea to know exactly what we had, so we can order it again next time.” So, we called the waitress over and had this conversation:

    Us: Hi – we just wondered if you could tell us what we ordered?
    Her: *weird look* Sushi.
    Us: Um, yes, we know – but what kind of sushi?
    Her: *even weirder look* Fish.

    We gave up at that point. 🙂

  • GroceryGirl June 12, 2012, 8:10 pm

    “Basically, OP was lied to.” …I dunno about that. It seems like the girl was trying to make herself out to be more hip than she is; a lie, maybe but she was probably only trying to impress this guy she liked.

    When I first met my fiance we bonded over skiing and I may have made myself out to be a little more advanced than I actually was. Years later he told me he had had a big problem with this when we first went skiing together and he realized I wasn’t quite as skilled as I made myself out to be (mind you, I said I was a double-diamond-back-bowl-skier when I’m really more of a single-diamond. It’s not like I had never put on skis in my life). It bothered me that he was so miffed by this. I think doing something like that is forgivable considering the circumstances.

    OP – sounds like an awkward and unpleasant date. I hope you find the right person soon!

  • Cat Whisperer June 12, 2012, 8:32 pm

    People who refuse to tell you, honestly and up front, where they want to go when you go out to eat, isn’t just a dating problem. Nor is it an issue confined to one gender.

    Husband and I went back to Philadelphia and offered to meet his sister, who lived there with her boyfriend, somewhere for dinner.

    We asked his sister and her boyfriend where they wanted to eat. After all, it’s their town. “Where do you want to eat?” SIL returns. “I don’t know, what kind of food do you want to eat?” I responded.

    We went back and forth on this for half an hour. SIL damned with faint praise or praised with faint damns everything that we suggested. Finallly, getting desperate with hunger, I suggested a restaurant that served American classic food. SIL and boyfriend agreed. And so we went.

    …and SIL’s boyfriend spent the whole dinner kvetching about the food there and how just about every item on the menu was upsetting to his apparently tender tummy. At dinner’s conclusion, I asked SIL if there was any place we could have gone that would have been better for boyfriend. She mentioned a couple of places. “Why didn’t you suggest one of those?” I asked her. With a straight face, and apparently seriously, she replied that she thought it would have been impolite for her or boyfriend to have suggested something. Which had me wondering, did she think it was polite for us to spend the whole dinner listening to complaints about the place we’d chosen, when we could just as easily have gone somewhere else????

  • Angela June 12, 2012, 9:25 pm

    Well, there’s a lot of focusing on sushi here and to me, the central point of the story is a date who wants to impress and/or please without actually revealing very much of herself. That would drive me crazy if I were the OP. Who is this mysterious person who ordered sushi and then didn’t want to eat it?
    And I sympathize with MoniCAN about being with someone who is used to a partner who plays games or isn’t straightforward. It took a while to convince my husband that “I like it” doesn’t mean “Buy it for me”; if I wanted him to buy it I would have asked him to buy it.
    I remember bringing a first date to an end when I was in college by telling him I needed to study. It was 10 pm but I think he believed me.

  • Scott June 13, 2012, 8:03 am

    Hello everyone, OP here! I want to thank everyone for your encouragement to keep looking. I’m definitely still on the market for the woman that’s right for me. To respond to some of the comments or questions, it was an extremely awkward date and I think she felt it too. I am certainly blessed that that is my worst dating experience so far and hopefully it stays that way. I know it could’ve been much worse but I’m not interested in finding that out for myself!

    Skimming the comments I think some of you wondered why I didn’t try to end the date early, or choose a shorter option like coffee. I guess for me between coffee and dinner, dinner actually has the more obvious ending point. When the check gets paid that’s a very clear time to be able to end the date if I wish. I also think dinner makes it easier to get to know someone. It could be just me but I think people tend to bring their guard down more when they’re eating. I’ve only had a few first dates my life though so I could be 100% wrong about everything. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks to all of you for your comments! I’m definitely not going to settle. I’ve seen too many of my friends make that mistake to fall into that trap.


  • Shalamar June 13, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Good luck, Scott!

    I’ve learned to be honest with people about whether or not I like something. The guy who became my first husband was bonkers about airplanes, and I pretended an interest I definitely didn’t feel in the hopes that he’d like me for it. BIG MISTAKE – I was dragged off to an airfield almost every weekend and nearly died of boredom. When he asked for a divorce, one of my first thoughts was “Thank God – now I don’t have to pretend to like airplanes anymore.”

    Therefore, when the guy who became my second husband asked if I liked camping, I answered honestly – “No, I hate camping.” He said “Oh” and looked a bit crestfallen, but he still married me. 🙂

  • Lucy June 13, 2012, 5:49 pm

    What a ridiculous question. You went out with one girl. One is not a representative sample. If you go out with 25 more and they’re all like this, you might have a case for asking if such a thing is normal. You went out with a dud. It happens. If she might have other qualities, hazard a second date. If it was that bad, don’t call her back. It was sushi, not an arranged marriage.

    Guys like me because I’m straightforward. And I’ll eat almost anything. I do have preferences, though, so if they ask me out and don’t make a decision, they’re going to end up eating Cajun, Greek, or Vietnamese (and, yes, I will think less of them if they can’t handle chopsticks. Maybe not enough less to matter in the long run, but slightly less just the same). I once ordered menudo on a date to see what he’d do. I used to get really nervous about first dates but I’ve given that up. I’m a reasonable person: I’m clean, nicely behaved, smart enough, etc. I don’t have to be fake to be presentable, so if he doesn’t like me as I am . . . well, forget it. Moving on.

  • Kate June 14, 2012, 2:44 am

    I’ve got friends who do this, and it does tend to become irritating. They’re usually the ones who say “Oh, anything’s fine” when you ask for dinner or lunch suggestions, and then veto every single suggestion you come up with. You end up not eating for half an hour because the “I’m fine” person turns out to be an unbelievably picky eater.

  • Imjustsaying June 14, 2012, 10:13 am

    My Boyfriend just informed me that on our first date when the check came I slowly and very awkwardly started reaching for my purse. In my head I was unsure if he was going to ask to split the check (which I was fine with) or if he was just going to pay. I truly thought I was being discreet. Luckily the date went very well so he let it go as nerves, doesn’t mean he doesn’t tease me whenever a check comes to the table at a restaurant. Oh the awkwardness of dating.
    I will say that the boyfriend likes to try new things and usually I don’t. I commit to one bite of something new and that way I’ve at least tried it before saying I don’t like it (most recently it was fried squid, no second bite there). We realize that we’re different people but we have much more in common so food differences don’t matter.

  • delislice June 15, 2012, 6:02 am

    “Is this normal,” as in, “Should I expect this on every date?” To a degree, maybe, because everyone’s trying to put his or her best foot forward, so there can be some stepping on toes.

    “Is this normal,” as in, “I know all about sushi, I’m your experienced guide … oh, whoops, Miz Scarlett, I don’t know nothin’ bout birthin’ no babies!” Not so much, and possibly a clue to her personality. I get annoyed by people who pretend a greater expertise than they have, just as I get annoyed by people who say yes when asked to do something if they really mean no. Because then they waffle, cry off at the last minute, or do a really half-hearted job. If you mean “no,” for heaven’s sake say no. That lets me know that I need to keep looking for someone who will say yes and mean it.

    Now, not everyone gets annoyed by people who pretend a greater expertise than they have, but if she faked it over sushi, she might fake it over something else, and you could end up with a lot of dates that leave you baffled.

  • Enna June 16, 2012, 2:20 pm

    Could just be nerves? She may have be confident on the dating website but in person she could have lost her confidence. Hopefully you and her have had better dates scince!

  • RJ Stoller January 6, 2014, 2:22 pm

    I have trouble seeing, so if I missed the answer above, forgive me.
    The above posts mention two separate Star Trek episodes:
    1- the lady in the egg, who bonded to Picard, went on to fulfill her appointment
    2 – “I am for you, XYZ” — I think that was a Capt Kirk/WShatner episode,
    an advanced computer system would create a being sent specifically for personX.
    Anyone other than personX was not negatively affected.