I previously had thought it was silly to spend so much time preparing a meal but as time went on, I stopped dreading the process — and started actually enjoying it as much as eating. Later that year, when I became single again, I started inviting my dates over. You know those awkwardly forced getting-to-know-you conversations over a too-long table in a large room where you can hardly hear one another? Those were eliminated! I could hear them talk, hear myself think and avoid awkward pauses because I was somewhat busy cooking. We could do it together, even: He could chop vegetables while I make the sauce, or he could prepare the salad while I set the table. We were a team, and I loved the activity of it all.
Plus, my new hobby allowed me to filter prospective partners: If somebody was generally boring and useless while I was cooking (i.e. wouldn't so much as open the bottle of wine or grab me something from another room), I knew we were likely not a good match. On the flip side, if I felt a reliability and chemistry while creating meals, including coming up with new ideas together and offering various techniques, I would be more likely to consider someone for a second date. When you're sitting at a table and your conversation stalls frequently while you stare at your menus or wait for your food, it's more difficult to properly assess your compatibility. It's like test-driving a car to see how it feels in action versus looking at it from afar and wondering what it might be like.
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I even began to hold dinner parties which, for the record, are one of the most oddly impressive things to do in the eyes of other people. I would hold intimate gatherings with six or so people, one of whom I might be interested in, as well as large ones to encourage mingling among friends (as well as between myself and certain boys). Even though I still burn things — probably more often than I'd care to admit — I'm so glad I started cooking for myself and others. In addition to keeping my spending at bay and letting my creative juices (literally) flow, it's worked wonders for my dating life.
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