Love at first date?

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LOCALS SHARE THEIR NIGHTMARES AND ROMANCES

Dating. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Most people believe that their soul mate is out there — somewhere. But as anyone who’s been on his or her fair share of bad dates knows, you’ve got to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince or princess.

We asked a few locals for their first date stories: the good, the bad and the ugly. The responses were amazing. Sometimes heart-warming, often terrifying, these tales illustrate the possibilities and pitfalls.

Shelly Fromm, Bluffton: The French Exit

Shelly Fromm’s first date was off to a fantastic start. After talking to a guy we’ll call “Todd” for two months, she was finally ready to meet him and found he was just as pleasant and friendly as he’d been over the phone. He complimented her and ordered a bottle of her favorite wine.

“We started talking,” Fromm said, “and as the dinner progressed, I realized why he was single. He remembered everything, yet used the afternoon to attack everything I was passionate about, my life experiences, my family, their professions, even my upbringing.”

dating2After 40 minutes, Fromm excused herself, left $100 with the server, and gave Todd what’s known as a French exit — no excuses, no goodbye.

But Todd wasn’t done.

“He calls me about an hour later ... and invites me to (his parents) house in Hilton Head Plantation to ‘Netflix and chill,’ aka hook up,” she said. “He literally didn’t even ask about being left in a restaurant with no explanation.”

Ann Nix, Hilton Head: You and Me and Teddy

First dates usually fall into a few standard categories: dinner and a movie, a walk in the park, maybe paintball if you’re into it. On their first date, Ann and Daniel Nix chased a rodent around.

“I guess maybe our first ‘date’ was at his house in Rose Hill when his family invited our family over for dinner. I was 9, he was 10,” Nix said. “He introduced me to his hamster, Teddy, and we followed her around the house on our hands and knees until she tried to crawl into his parents’ bathroom cabinet.”

She also shared a photo of one of their next dates, her 11th birthday party at Adventure Cove. Since they’re happily married now, maybe the rest of us should try a little mini golf.

Jennifer Walter, Hilton Head Island: Double Blind

Meeting the parents can be a little awkward. Doing it on the first date is definitely awkward, Jennifer Walter said.

 “He asked me to go to dinner and a movie on a Sunday night. I agreed, and then closer to the time for the date, he told me that his parents had invited him to go to dinner with them and asked me if I minded if we went with his family.”

Things went downhill quickly.

“I was too nice to say no and ended up going to a restaurant with him, his parents, his best friend, his best friend's girlfriend, and his best friend's girlfriend's mom.”

And then the whole gang went to Shoney’s.

“My date ordered a hot fudge sundae with extra hot fudge and then complained when he didn't get enough hot fudge to suit him. When we finally got in his truck, he asked if I still wanted to see a movie and I claimed to be too tired.”

Because Walter is a good sport, she eventually went on another date with the guy who is now her husband—they’ve been married almost 15 years.

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Shannon Roper, Bluffton: “Went on a Match.com date once and we went to Crystal Beer Parlor in Savannah. The bill totaled around $50. ... He showed it to me and said, ‘Don't get used to this.’ There was no second date.”

Mary Malphrus Cooper, Ridgeland: “Went to the movies with this guy one time. He informed me that there was way too much dog hair from my golden retriever in my apartment. I said, ‘She lives here, you do not.’ No second chances when it came to my girl. Love me, love my dog. Otherwise, toodles.”

Kerry Guzman, Bluffton: “We met on Okcupid.com; on our first date, I brought five of my friends with me to Wild Wing Cafe just in case he was crazy. Now we have been together 10 years, married almost seven years, and have two kids.”

Haleigh Cuerden, Bluffton: “My husband took me on a four-day cruise for our first date in 2010. Not kidding. We chatted on the phone for a week, met up for a drink on Friday and on Saturday he added me to the itinerary.  We were married two months later. We are now expecting our fourth child.”

Dawn Johnson Kleiman, Bluffton: “Met a guy online that was terrific. We talked for several months before agreeing to meet face to face. When I told my family I was going to meet him they were terrified I was going to wake up in a bathtub with my kidneys gone or he was going to roll me up in a carpet and throw me off the mountain. Internet dating was very new and extremely taboo back then. We decided halfway between us was a good meeting ground. That was Roanoke, Virginia. We had a fantastic dinner and a lovely walk under the giant star on the mountain. No missing kidneys and no rolled up carpets. That was over 20 years ago and not only did I find the love of my life but my very best friend as well.”

Cynthia Margaret Klein Travis, Beaufort: “I went on an internet date one time. We met at a restaurant for lunch and he kept picking at the back of his head that had sores on it and then looking at what he picked. I could hardly eat, and he talked the whole time he did this like it was normal. And at the door of the restaurant he said, ‘Can I walk you to your car?’ I said, ‘No, I think I can find it by myself.’ Worst date ever.”