We’ve all been there: sitting on the couch after an incredible first date with a promising prospect and, waiting for the call for date number two. Days go by, the phone never rings, and you are left with a myriad of negative thoughts flashing through your brain. As a psychotherapist and re-partnering coach with over 35 years of private practice experience, I’ve had this scenario laid out for me countless times in my career by hopeful singles who are desperate for some insight.
Did I talk too much? Did I say something wrong? Did I ask too many questions? Am I simply bad at first dates? Am I destined to be alone?
Understanding first dates can be tricky. To fairly assess why a first date may not lead to a second one, there needs to be both a healthy need for introspection, as well as a consideration of some of the external factors over which you have no control.
Before looking at where your “I” has control over the date, let’s take a look at some of these external factors:
1. Your date did not know what they wanted. They were not a mature dater. They did not know what they were looking for in a companion and were unable to go after it. They were neither straightforward nor honest about their interest in you.
2. You cannot accurately assess a person on a first date, no matter how astute your instincts are. A first date is an abnormal situation; each of you may be nervous, shy, over-eager, have your guard up or had too much to drink. Therefore both of you may be behaving abnormally. Your “I” cannot begin the process of getting to know your date’s “I” unless you move to date two.
3. Your “I” cannot read your date’s “I.” There is only one person who knows the truth about why you didn’t get that second call…. and it is not you! It is the person you went out with. Unless you ask that person directly what the truth is, you will never really know. Don’t default to internalizing that something is wrong with your “I.”
4. Be aware of differences in dating expectations. Understand that you may be looking for two different kinds of relationships
5. Both of you are “projecting” your baggage onto the other. On your first date, your perception is your reality. Each of you is likely to project your past experiences onto the other and feel confident that those quick judgments are accurate. How many times have you jumped to negative conclusions about somebody new, only to end up liking that person later?
Now let’s turn our attention to your accountability on this first date:
1. Don’t – be self-absorbed. Refrain from looking at your phone throughout the date; talk about your ex(es); mention your finances, sexual practices, special diets, and arrest records; talk about how miserable and lonely you are. Do – be honest with yourself about the kind of person you are looking for; be polite and considerate; be even-keeled, not dramatic; reveal your strengths not your weaknesses.
2. Be yourself. Your goal is not to change who you are or to pretend to be someone you are not.
3. Be real – let go of illusions. One would hope that people have enough life experience and good character to be honest about their intentions. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Don’t play games with yourself and ignore the red flags. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you are different and your date will change.
4. Maintain your belief in your “I.” Be careful not to internalize your date’s bad behavior. You are two separate individuals with different histories and emotional climates. Your self-esteem must remain intact and your boundaries clear irrespective of your disappointing dates. Take responsibility for what is yours, but don’t assume blame for your date’s bad behavior.
5. Be honest with yourself. Perhaps your friends are wrong when they tell you “It’s him, not you.” Indeed, you may have some behavioral patterns that are real impasses to moving onto second dates that you need to take ownership of.
Remember to stay focused on you and continue to enrich your own life. You will meet someone worthy of your time, love and attention even if you have to kiss a few frogs first!