The First Date
One of the best parts of the human condition is that hope springs eternal. Whether it’s being outside on the first warm day of spring, seeing the light of from the sun rise shine on the mountains in the fall or making angels after the first big snow fall, it doesn’t matter whether you are 16 or 61, there’s always hope that today will bring you happiness and fulfillment.
This basic desire is what has driven the rapid growth of on-line dating sites like Match.com, E-Harmony and Singlesnet in the past few years. The growth of those sites also indicate how hard it is to find someone whom you’d consider dating, let alone actually going on the first date. However, getting to “know” someone on the Internet is chancy. What a person claims to be, including their facial picture, and what they really are might be totally different, as had happened to me twice. I asked one woman whose appearance was totally different than she presented on a dating site why she did that. Her response was that if she showed what she really looked like, she’d never get a date. While I was sympathetic to her plight, I also felt lied to and did not see her again. These sites, while valuable, also can provide a false sense of intimacy that only comes from face-to-face interaction.
The opportunities to find potential mates in the physical world has become much more difficult. Many companies have strict rules about office dating, though those rules are hard to enforce or be declared valid if challenged legally, as long as both parties freely consent to date. Church attendance is down and the idea of meeting someone at a church function is less considered in many faiths. Going to a bar to problematic; for my generation, the movie “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” showed how dangerous this can be. So we are going on first dates knowing. Because of liability issues, most supermarkets have stopped the go to meet nights. And since more singles live in suburban areas, meeting someone from the neighborhood is a thing from the past.
The likelihood of having a successful first date is less and the pressure on both parties to have a success is greater. So what can you do to have a successful beginning step in finding the Man of Your Dreams?
Look your best – I went on a date and we both agreed to dress in summer casual clothes. To me that meant business casual and to her it meant tank-top, shorts and flip-flops. Not taking the trouble to look your best is a turn-off and is disrespectful to your date.
Show an interest in him -I had a particularly painful first date with a very cute school teacher. I thought we’d talk about the usual – why we chose what we do as professions, what interests we have – standard first date conversation. She proceeded to talk only about herself and spent a lot of time looking around the nice restaurant I had taken her. Even if there isn’t a romantic spark, show an interest in him. You never know whether or where you might meet again, like on a job interview. Besides, if the man wasn’t interested in you, you’d be hurt if he was so impolite to you.
Do something mutually acceptable – If you’re not into the whole country music scene, then agreeing to go to a Toby Keith concert on the first date is not going to work. If you don’t like Indian food, then agreeing to go to the Middle Eastern restaurant is a recipe for disaster (bad pun, intended). Don’t passively agree to do something you know you don’t like in the vain hope of finding MOYD. He’ll know you’re not enjoying yourself and he’ll think it’s his fault or that you’re not interested in him, even if you are. A favorite first date of mine is miniature golf. Who doesn’t like putting the ball past the windmill? There are indoor miniature golf courses if there is inclement weather.
Don’t rush it – If you do hit it off during the date, don’t start planning your wedding yet. Have fun, get to know enough about each other to determine whether you’d want to have a second date. Nothing will scare off most men faster than a woman who wants to go too fast on the dating process. I’m not old-fashioned to say you should let him take the lead, if you’re interested, let him know and suggest an activity of your choosing for a second date. But get a sense of how he feels about you (and how you feel about him) and take the next step accordingly.
But don’t st back and wait – If you are interested, and you don’t hear from him in 2 or 3 days after the first date, call him. Don’t assume he’s not interested, he might have misread your actions or he became so tied up with work that he hasn’t had the time or energy to call. (Of course, you might be right in concluding he’s a workaholic with whom you might not want to have a relationship, if he can’t find the time to call.)
Accept the romantic gesture – Moonlight and love songs will never go out of date. If he sends you flowers after the first date, accept them as a nice gesture, even if you’re not interested in seeing him again. It’s his way of saying thank you and he’s being a gentleman. If you are interested in him, you have validation that he’s interested in you. Once you receive the flowers, give him a call to say thank you. It’s the right thing to do.
Go out with the right attitude. You’re meeting a new person who might be very interesting. Go have some fun. It beat’s staying at home and eating a frozen dinner.