My mum says I need a soulmate. And God knows I’m trying.
Dates have been a mixed bag for me throughout my twenties and thirties. Some great, some not so much.
I was on one date with a girl that worked in the same building as myself, however we didn’t work together. We were four or five drinks in and it was going pretty well.
Well I thought it was.
She was lovely, but very blunt in her acknowledgements.
‘Sam, why do you have these eyebrow tics, and why is it only when I look away?‘
She didn’t just call my tics out, she called out the fact that I only did them when I thought she wasn’t looking!
It certainly sobered me up, and made me realize that my ‘discreet’ tics aren’t very discreet.
What tics usually affect me on a date
As is often the case, my tics are mainly from the shoulders up. Shrugging, head nodding and eye-brow raising. And in a pretty intense social setting, the tics I really don’t want to have are the most visual ones.
Of course, these become even more intense.
On a date, the majority of the evening is spent sitting opposite each other during conversation and rarely breaking eye contact.
This is when I need to relieve myself of my tics. I know that she would wonder why I am tic’ing and this makes me want to do it so much more.
I wait desperately for her to look away briefly and I quickly let a tic out. I hope she doesn’t catch me but after this specific date, it’s safe to say she probably did.
I’ll usually do a quick head-nod or eyebrow movement. I don’t do many shoulder shrugs when we break eye contact, as I can relieve these in a more natural looking manner anytime. Readjusting my posture for example.
I sometimes get a staring tic too. This may be an overwhelming urge to look at her cleavage, or another person on another table. I know these wouldn’t go down well in the moment- and it isn’t what I want to do- but this only reinforces the urge. It is how TS often works.
Why I feel they worsen in this environment
It seems like the tics are focused on what the other person will notice, and what I don’t want them to notice.
Tourette’s works like this. It is a reason why so many documentaries focus on the Coprolalia side of things. People seem to love hearing the most inappropriate things being shouted at the most inappropriate times.
For a sufferer it can seem impossible to hold back, not to mention stressful.
I know that certain tics may be a make or break for this date, and one bad decision could have her lose interest in me. First impressions are always vital, and it doesn’t take long to make a judgement of someone.
I mean this has great benefits, you can tell a lot about someone in their first moments. Tourette’s can give someone a negative impression however, especially if that person has not made it clear that they suffer from tics. Tics can be seen as something else, such a drug problem.
What makes a date easier
After I was asked the unexpected ‘why do you tic?’ question, there was a surprising lack of care about it after my answer. Not that she wasn’t interested, more it didn’t really impact the date or become a judgement.
I simply told her why I do, and that was sufficient. She said ‘ah, okay.’ And that was that.
Now in my thirties, I am finding it more and more important (and liberating) to talk about my condition.
I have always struggled with being open about it, but since creating this website I have enjoyed being more upfront about having TS. I don’t do it in a reluctant way, more in a proud way. I am proud of who I am.
I have enjoyed giving an explanation to people that wonder what my tics are, without being misdiagnosed or judged by them.
If I want to find someone who is comfortable with my tics, I’m going to have to tell them about it anyway. Being open an honest early on is both a big weight off my shoulders and also helps the other person to understand who I am.
No one is perfect. And it is easy to judge or make assumptions about people when we don’t have the facts. I will be the first to say I have been that person too.
But not everyone judges. In fact, I like to think most people in life are welcoming. And the ones that do judge, well we don’t need them anyway.
Instead of trying to be the person the other person wants you to be, be yourself.
Whether it is tomorrow or further down the line, the person you are and the person someone wants you to be will be the same.