Can you weed out bad dates? Relax, it’s not a superpower of the elite. With some self-awareness and a few simple tips, you can hone your dating skills, too.
There isn’t an exact definition for a bad date. It might be the time your date passed out stone cold drunk after dinner and you had to pay for their cab. Or, maybe it was the online date who ended up looking more like your elderly aunt or uncle than the attractive photos in their online profile. Perhaps it was someone who talked too much or didn’t even show up to the date at all.
Dating is like looking for a job: When we are going after our dream job, we use our wit, intelligence, drive, motivation, and persistence to research job possibilities until we find the right one for our success. We go on interviews. We turn down positions that don’t feel right and say ‘yes’ to the ones that do. We are assertive. We keep our eye on the prize. Shouldn’t we give the same preparation and attention in our dating life?!
Premise #1: Dating Should Be Fun
If you’re crying over a past relationship on your first date with someone new or treating them like they’re your therapist, it’s time to call it an early night and try again next time. Dating should be fun—otherwise, why would we do it!? Sure, most of us want someone we will connect with on a mental, emotional, intellectual, (let’s not leave off, physical) level, but we also want to build good memories by enjoying the moment. Think of dating as the play time of love. If you aren’t having fun with the person now, you might as well stop all future talk, because you’ll be having a lot less fun when you have your first couple’s argument or crisis.
If you form a connection that is based on mutual respect, getting to know each other slowly, and (yes) having fun and enjoying the moment, the better you will relate to one another over time.
Premise #2: Have a Plan
So, you’re convinced you want to have fun on your date, but you’re not sure how. The risks, especially with blind dates or dates arranged through online dating sites, is that you may or may not even like the person. Modern convention says if you haven’t met your date in person before, opt for a public place and a simple ‘one act date,’ like coffee, a drink (one or two, not five), or a meal.
A meal can seem daunting to some, as it requires more time with someone you may or may not like, but there are benefits, too. On a lunch or dinner date, you’ll have some of the pressure taken off having stellar date conversation when you interact with your server, glance through the menu to order, and eat. This can alleviate first date jitters and the pressure to tell someone your life story. Once you know if you like someone (or don’t) and go on dates two, three, and so on, give your favorite internet search engine a go for fun date ideas. Google can be a fun dater’s very best friend!
Premise # 3: Think Physical
What is your type? Are they short, tall, thin, plus sized, athletic, voluptuous? The answers will vary person to person, but if you have a set type you like (or don’t), honor that within yourself. Some are open to various body types or backgrounds, but if physical attraction is important to you, be realistic about it being a component of what you’re looking for.
Online photos, well, LIE. Most of us don’t mean to falsely represent ourselves, but when we’re choosing profile pics, it’s easy to opt for the most attractive photos we have. If you are concerned that someone’s photos might not represent them, before a blind date, be direct and ask them, respectfully. You could say something like, “Great photo! When did you travel to Greece?” or whatever the photo’s clues of time and place might point to. Other options are to create an email address you don’t mind sharing (as in, not the one you use for work or have had for ten years) and suggest that you trade recent photos before meeting. This will also weed out the people who try to sent gratuitous body shots or nudes, unless that’s what you’re looking for. If you don’t mind disclosing your full name, you could also ask for their Instagram or Facebook account information, though some people don’t share that before they meet.
Last, realize that if you do end up meeting someone who is older, less athletic, or different than they represented themselves online, it’s probably a sign they just don’t feel that good about themselves or may not even recognize how their own appearance has changed. Be kind and thankful that there are other fish in the sea.
Premise #4: Safety, First
Often women worry about this more than men, but blind dates should be safe. It’s not likely that your date will end up being a psychopath or a most wanted criminal, but they could be. Due to the unknown variables, first (and sometimes even second or third) dates should be held in public places. Gone are the days when prospective dates had to pick you up at a house to be polite. Offer to meet your date at the restaurant, bar, or location you’re going to. That way your own vehicle can be your ‘getaway’ car if you don’t click or if they have one or more red flags. It’s advisable to tell a close friend or family member where you’re meeting your date and their contact information or name, as a backup.
Even if your date isn’t wanted by the police or about to rob the place, there are other factors to consider. If you poll online daters, more often than not, they’ve interacted with spammers, scammers, or Catfish (people pretending to be someone they aren’t). Some Catfish do it to eventually request money, while others do it as they have low self esteem and want to connect pretending to be someone more glamorous than they are. Requesting follow up pictures and social networking links can help verify someone if you’re growing suspicious. If your online date is hesitant to meet in person, that can also be a warning sign. You can search out your dates before meeting them online on Catfish catcher sites, like SocialCatfish.com.
Premise #5: Trust Your Gut
Your intuition is your number one friend. If you feel comfortable with how you vibe with someone you’re set up on a blind date with or met online, have enough conversation to get a feel for them. Don’t be cynical or scared, but be openminded and know that for every bad online date that happens, good dates happen, too. The more clear you are about what you’re looking for, the more you’ll attract or repel those who want the same or don’t.
About the Author
Jennifer Donnell is a poet and writer from California. Her love of writing can be traced to the first time she read “Harriet The Spy” and began keeping a spy notebook. After her best friend was caught spying on their neighbors and grounded, she scaled back her own attempts to become a world class sleuth and stuck to her journal, short stories, and writing poetry. Currently employed as a staff writer for a website, her creative publishing credits include: The Delinquent, Pure Slush (Slut, Gorge), Tin Foil Dresses, Bohemia, The Scrambler, Borderline, Daily Love, Bohemia, Young American Poets, Marco Polo, Elephant Journal, Walking Is Honest, Orion Headless, SIC 3, The Scarlet Sound, Don’t Blame the Ugly Mug (Anthology- Tebot Bach), Poetix, The November 3rd Club, The Criterion, Astarte, Speech Therapy Poetry, Deep Tissue Magazine, A Few Lines Magazine, Artistica, Negative Suck, and a winner (poetry) through the library of Laguna Beach- 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.