9 Terrible First Date Convos I've Had This Year — Because 2017 Is A Dumpster Fire

Remember when we all thought that 2016 was a particularly terrible year? Well, if last year was like a flaming bag of crap on your doorstep, 2017 is that bag catching the whole house on fire. The news can be emotionally taxing for many, many reasons, but lately its been seeping into one aspect of my life that used to feel like pure fun and escapism: 2017 is fucking up my dating life.

Etiquette says you should never discuss politics, religion, or sex on a first date. But between near-constant attacks on women's health, a president whose mere tweeting can cause panic, and case after case of high profile sexual assault or harassment, it's impossible not to talk about these things. Politics and sex have become the big, ugly elephants in the room on every first date. And I used to love elephants. 2017 has ruined elephants. I'm pissed.

And it's not just me! My dates can't help but bring up sex and politics, either — and let me tell you, this does not make it better. Instead, I've found myself navigating loaded first-date conversations that never would have come up in another year. Gone are the days of asking about someone's last great vacation. Now we're parsing whether abortion after 20 weeks should be regulated, while wondering how many drinks is enough to just straight ask who the other voted for in 2016.

Don't believe me? Ahead, find a handful of the crazy conversations I've had in the past year. Tell me how you've handled dates like this in the comments below. Because my desire for a meaningful relationship and hot sex means I'm not giving up dating anytime soon, so the conversational hits are just going to keep coming.

The Harvey Weinstein thing is all about power dynamics, which can be kind of hot sometimes.

This lovely nugget occurred over coffee with a guy who, once he learned I was a sex writer, was trying to mansplain dom/sub relationships to me. This was annoying to begin with. Just because I often write about sex doesn't mean I want to discuss sex on a first date. Would you ask an accountant for tax advice on a first date? I rest my case.

This delightful young chap was completely uninformed on the subject of BDSM relationships (which by definition are consensual). But more importantly, what Harvey Weinstein is accused of doing is not sex, or in any way "hot," but sexual assault. I quickly told my date how fucked up his position was, gave him a brief explainer on consent, paid for my latte, and left.

I voted for Donald Trump, and people treat me badly because of it.

In this case, we weren't even talking politics. We were talking, again, about the fact that I was a sex and relationships writer, and he asked if people treated me differently because of it. When I told him not really (aside from people like the previous guy), he dropped this line. I wanted to laugh at him.

"Do they really?" I asked him. "Yeah," he said. "They think I'm racist and a misogynist, which I'm totally not. It's fucked up." I had nothing to say, because he’d basically forced me into this conversation. He’d backed me into a corner, using my job as an entry point to talk about himself. It felt like he was actually asking, “Are you one of the people who believes this?” We didn't go out on a second date.

One of the things I look for in a woman is low sexual partner count.

These next two are connected, because they were said by the same person over a particularly contentious cocktail. I can't even remember how we got on the subject, but we eventually started talking about the things we look for in partners. He was looking for a woman who hadn't slept with that many men. Too many men was five by his definition. When I asked why, he said, "Because I've slept with seven women." I thought everyone knew slut-shaming was an understood no-no by the time Kim Kardashian was sued for defamatory treatment of Blac Chyna, and Donna Karan was publicly dragged for her reaction to the Weinstein allegations. But here we were.

Instead of rolling my eyes, I asked why a woman's sexual history was important to him. "If she has too many sex partners, it shows she has bad judgment," he said. "And, she probably has engaged in risky sexual behavior." I asked how the two were connected, and he said that he just felt like they were. Cool, dude.

You really think that all sexual behavior is good?

But since I hadn't given up yet, I asked him to explain what he meant by "risky sexual behavior," expecting him to say something like a disregard for safer sex practices. But no — he actually used the word "deviant behavior" and went on to shame any woman who engaged in any kind of sex outside of the context of a monogamous relationship for about five solid minutes.

When I was finally able to speak again, I told him that I thought the idea of judging a woman based on how many partners she had was sexist, especially because it's subjective. I then told him that as long as sex was safe, consensual, and happening between two partners who were enthusiastic, that it couldn't be bad. He scoffed, told me I was ridiculous. I asked for the check, paid my share, and left.

I voted to leave the EU.

I went out on a date with a Brit who told me he voted in favor of leaving the EU. Given the amount of bad coverage Brexit has received, I joked (slightly tipsily) that I didn't think I was supposed to like him. He laughed, said that was common, and then asked if I wanted him to explain why he voted the way he did. So I did, and I'm glad, because I was wildly unqualified to be taking about Brexit anyway. That in and of itself taught me a valuable lesson about how we debate things in this country — we yell without being informed. It's a problem.

When all was said and done, I told him I probably would have voted to stay, but that I didn't hold his vote against him. We're getting dinner this weekend. He's a good kisser.

Aren't women equal at this point, though?

My date had just moved from D.C., and asked whether I'd been there. I told him I had — most recently for the Women's March. "I didn't really understand that," he told me. "Aren't women equal at this point?"

I actually laughed. I asked him if the government ever tried to tell him what he could and couldn't do with his own body. He answered no. Then I asked him if he knew that there were actually more CEOs named John in the U.S. than female CEOs. He answered no. I asked him if he'd ever received rape threats on Twitter, or if he was afraid of being followed home after we left the bar and went our separate ways. He answered no.

I asked if that answered his question, and, thankfully, he answered yes.

Why don't women understand that that's just how men talk with one another?

Yep. We were talking about that tape. The one Republican pundits chalked up to "locker room talk." This was my date's own version of that excuse, which would have been funny if it weren't so tiresome to unpack. When I told him as much, he came back and asked if women didn't also talk like this. He was trying to trap me. So I responded truthfully. "Sure, women may comment and say that we think a guy is hot or has a nice ass," I said. "But I can say with certainty that I have never talked about non-consensual behavior I'd like to enact on them." The fact is, every few days there are new allegations of assault against a public figure coming to light. (Yesterday there were two.) We’re not living in a world where men are generally afraid of being harassed or assaulted by women. But women have every right to be fearful of men. "Are you made to feel afraid if a woman tells you that you've got nice pecs?" I said. He told me no. Checkmate.

I'm going to crash Hillary Clinton's book signing to get more views on my YouTube channel.

I gave him $20 for my drink and left.

I just feel like I don't know how to help.

My date told me this when we were talking about the #MeToo hashtag, and it almost made me weep. He seemed so sad when admitting that he didn't know where to start, and even though it was our first date, I was almost proud of him for saying so.

I told him the easiest thing to do was to acknowledge us and believe us. When a woman comes forward with a story of sexual assault, believe her and tell her that you support her. When we say that we're not equal, recognize that you can wield your privilege in ways that lift us up.

We didn't go on a second date (we didn't have much in common), but I left that date feeling appreciative that at least one guy is willing to listen.

So here we are: I leaned into the uncomfortable conversations that this year seemed to require, and it hasn't been easy. I've gotten good at navigating around these conversations for the simple fact that I used to enjoy dating, and I'm desperate to again. I've learned some things about how I choose dates, but I've also learned that sometimes it's better to address the elephant in the room than just let it shit all over everything and pretend nothing stinks.

appearance by Laura Delarato.
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