Today is the big day. Today is the day we finally get to meet or spend time with someone who for whatever reason grabbed our attention and made us want to get to know more about them.
Chances are that we saw someone who made our jaw drop. We know almost nothing about them, besides maybe a few interests or hobbies. What drew us to this person is that we find them pleasing to our eyes. So we pursue because the beauty in the eye of the beholder can’t lie to us. Physical attraction is the one attraction that can make us stop in our tracks and take risks that we normally might be more reserved in taking.
Perhaps a few conversations took place before the big day. They typically are surface conversations, such as what do you do for a living? What types of music do you like? Food? Perhaps a few more light and gentle conversation starters. We do not want to come on too strong too fast or let our primal urges of physical attraction run a muck on us and potentially scare the other person away before we had a chance to have our big day.
We have a time and place all picked out and agreed upon. All that is left now is to show up and hope for the best and that the initial physical chemistry we felt can grow in to something more substantial.
First dates are nerve racking. Even if there have been a few conversations before hand, we truly do not know what may happen in a more intimate environment. This is the date we should really begin to get to know the other person. Yet what is it that we are really learning on this first date?
I tend to take the traditional approach. I am a bit of an old soul and I am a gentleman. I like to open doors, pay for the date (whatever it may be) because of my chivalrous nature. I do so not because I hope or wish for something in return that night, but because I wish my actions and intent to be seen as pure and non-aggressive. Yet some do like the aggressive approach. This is all part of the learning process and the determination if we are compatible with our date.
Coffee or drinks may flow, dinner may ensue or an activity will be embarked on. During this time we are putting our best foot forward. In fact, I would argue that on a first date, we only show the other person the very best of us. We would not dare under normal circumstances to open up our closet full of skeletons, and yes, we all have them. It begs me to ask, “Is this a truly authentic experience?” We all exaggerate and lie to some extent during our first date. To deny this is a bold statement, one I would challenge any person on. Yet this does not necessarily make us a bad person, it is simply the culture of dating in the 21st century.
When the date is over and if it went well, we are excited and look forward to that second date. Round two of white lies and exaggerations.
Chances are during the first date we left out some convenient aspects of our lives that are relatively important for a potential partner to know about us. There are certain things I believe we must be up front about during this first encounter.
The first one is the trickiest and arguably the most dangerous to do, but equally so, the most important in my opinion. A brief description of our last relationship. We should offer up when our last relationship occurred and when it ended. An added bonus would be to even include how serious it was. I believe this is fair and gives a signal to our date if we are truly ready to explore a new relationship. People who are experienced daters can tell if someone is holding on to someone from the past and if the person they are currently with is with them because they truly felt something inside of them or if they are looking for a quick rebound from a devastating heart break.
This conversation does not need to be long, and in all fairness and respect to the ex, we should be mindful and not make it seem like it was all their fault, regardless of who was to blame or at fault. A simple, “We weren’t meant to be together,” or “Our relationship had run its course and we decided it was time to move on,” can be sufficient to helping our date understand our emotional availability.
A good first date should be a fun bonding experience where both people learn new things about each other. We all have deal breakers and during the first date, this is a good time to get them out of the way.
Physical attraction is very powerful. Yet let it not blind us. I have found myself in a position where red flags were popping up left and right during a first date. It was obvious her ex was still in the picture and pursuing her to some degree. There were also some subtle signs that a lot of what I was hearing from her was scripted in a way. She was telling me what I wanted to hear so that I would like her. However my physical attraction was fairly strong with this one so I continued to pursue.
Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months turned to about a year.
During this year I kept finding more red flags about financial situations and previous experiences that she had been through that were not conducive to my lifestyle. Yet we had strong physical chemistry and attraction and that led me to keep the blinders on. Looking back on all of this, I look back to that first date. How different things could have been if we decided to be open and put ourselves out there.
That is after all what a first date is all about; putting ourselves out there to see if there is a common chemistry beyond the physical that can begin to bound us together.
I have described one aspect, that being a brief description of our previous relationship. I believe that to be vital in assessing whether or not there is room to grow with this new potential partner.
The second thing I believe is healthy to do during a first date is to find out the desires and expectations of the person with we are with. Do they want to just date and have fun? Are they potentially looking to settle down if they meet (hoping we are) that right person? Are they looking for just friends? Something needs to be spoken about what the long game expectations are.
No, it does not need to be about having kids or marriage yet, but at least leave us with an idea if this person is willing to move at the same pace that we wish to move at.
Since we are only seeing the best side of the person, I feel it is necessary to throw a curve ball in the mix during the conversation. This shows that we are honest and can lower our guard when necessary and be truthful.
I throw out a few vices I have at some point during the first date. During the beginning, I attempt to woo them with my ambition, smile, charm, wittiness and ability to have a deep intellectual conversation that can transition seamlessly from topic to topic. I may sound “too good to be true” during this date as I was once described by a certain young woman. Yet here I am, single in my 30’s. I would rather have my date not guess why I am single (And wow! Some of the assumptions that could potentially be made are nowhere near the reality of my imperfections and vices.)
I certainly do not lay all my cards on the table during date one, but I do wish to be honest and show my date that certain events in my life, actions and decisions I have made have kept me away from the alter up to this point in my life. I believe it is only fair that they know at least a reason or two as to why I am still on the market (and again, I would rather have them know the truth from me then leave assuming why I am single!) After that, and as much as I hate judgment, I leave the decision in their hands. Yet it is impossible to separate dating and judgement, especially during the first one.
On the big day, be yourself, but treat the encounter different. Never do or act the same way on a first date with a new person than you did with someone else. All of us are unique individuals with certain expectations and desires. It is important to feel the other person out and be more open and honest earlier on than to spend countless months wasted on a relationship that was doomed from day one.
Search for quality over quantity. Be understanding to certain imperfections if possible. It can be very difficult and nerve racking to even get a first date, so if and when we do get them, let us be more open and honest with the person who made our insides sizzles at the sight of them. It is much sweeter and more authentic to go down a path of trust and acceptance than to prolong a relationship that was doomed from day one because we tried too hard to hide the imperfections that we assumed our date could not handle.
The later these imperfections or demons are found out, the harder they are to be accepted to someone who made our heart flutter just at the sight of them. Think of all the wasted time we go through or have actually gone through trying to live in the shadow world of lies when the reality is that we either could have been accepted completely, flaws and all early on or we may have had a chance to meet someone who we feel an equally ravish attraction to, but this partner can relate to and/or accept the imperfections we have.
Date mindful and date well!
Author: Adam Wilkinson
Adam Wilkinson, high school Social Studies teacher by day, freelance writer and free spirit by night. Firm believer in fate and that all things happen for a reason. Worshiper of the sun, ocean and the stars. Lover of tattoos, deep intellectual conversations and meaningful connections with like minded people. A jack-of-all-trades, so to speak. Someone once said of me, “You’re a lot of things, but one thing you never are is boring!” Words spoken from someone whom I’ve had a close bond with most of my life and words that I have always tried to uphold. “Vive intenso!”