First Dates – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Posted by Pat Grissom at September 21st, 2016
How delicious is the winning of a kiss at love’s beginning. ~Thomas Campbell
First dates cover a huge spectrum, so for our purposes, we will focus on your first date with the relationship you want to learn from. Here are a few stats pulled from Grab Stats. As you read through these, they may trigger memories – what attracted you to that person, how you were introduced or found each other, and the results of your first official date. For some of us, first dates occur after we have already gathered a lot of information through email and phone conversations, and for others, a first date may be a blind date, which statistically has only a 17% chance of resulting in marriage, although my first marriage last 32 years, and we met on a blind date.
Stats according to http://grabstats.com (My comments.)
60% of women and 64% of men don’t talk about politics on a first date. (Smart to keep the conversation on “safe” topics, which I did not.)
44% of the adult American population is single. (This makes me feel less alone as a single person, yet it also tells me why so many people are focused on finding “the one.”)
51% percent of single people surveyed say that flattery is the best way to attract someone. (It worked for me.)
If you are a woman, you have 15 minutes to make a first impression on a man.
If you’re a man, you have about an hour to make a first impression on a woman.
On average, there are 86 single men to every 100 single women in America. So, the odds are slightly in favor of men finding a mate. (This also indicates more competition if you are a women.)
These stats may have helped you remember the fears or concerns you were experiencing with your first date. Things like . . .
- What is he really like once we get past this best foot forward period?
- Or why is he single/divorced/never married?
- What would his ex say about him if we had an honest conversation?
- Maybe you really wanted this to work out since you were tired of trying to find the perfect mate for you, so you ignored concerns or issues that now seem obvious.
- And maybe you were like me and wondered if the right guy was out there or if anyone would really want me.
Take an objective look at your at your first encounter, date, or time together and see if you can be impartial about where you were emotionally. Maybe like me you also spoke candid about issues that should have been discussed later in the relationship. Begin to look at who you were and who he was with some detachment – starting to get some perspective instead staying stuck in emotionally loaded blame and/or guilt. If you can, start looking at your relationship as a story about someone else, which was enormously helpful to me when I was writing Too Much Gold to Flush. This way you will more easily see what drew you in and how you can begin to make different choices.
You may find journaling extremely helpful in processing all this. It does not have to be done in any particular way, although there are all kinds of strategies you can use from free writing as Julia Cameron suggests in The Artist’s Way to using a more structured approach of writing about the specific aspects of this blog. The key thing is to do it. Give yourself a specific time, whether it is first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, or right before you go to sleep at night. Do it consistently, and give yourself permission to write whatever is on your mind, without censoring your thoughts. No one else needs to read it, and journaling can open your consciousness to aspects of yourself that you did not know existed.
When I wrote Too Much Gold to Flush, I went back through my journals that I wrote while I was going through every stage of my relationship with my ex, and they offered huge insights. A part of me knew what was really going on and there was that other part of me that wanted it to all work out, so it told me what I wanted to hear. The trick for me was figuring out which part was writing the journal for each particular entry. What you will write now is a conscious and open evaluation of what you are objectively seeing right now – without the veil of new love getting in the way.
The traps that you may find yourself in will relate to where you are in the break up. If it is a recent event, you may be too raw and not ready to look honestly at what happened, but don’t let that initial pain keep you from ever going there. If you avoid looking at the truth long enough, you will lull yourself into believing it will never happen again. It was simply him, and certainly not you. The next guy will be perfect. Yeah, right.
Another trap you may fall into, is actually falling back into that mystified state of young love when you go back and read those initial texts or emails or letters that he sent you following your first date. Your selective memory about that first magical experience may keep you from seeing it objectively. So sharpen your perspective and do not allow yourself to fall back into the allure of your memories, which can be deceptively selective.
My first date with Rael was the culmination of glancing at his online profile for over a year. When his status changed from divorced to widowed, I became curious. It should have been a red-flag, and in hindsight I recognize it as such. Instead, I was drawn in by the idea of no ex-spouse to contend with. About the same time, I changed my frumpy pictures to more flattering ones, thus motivating him to make an overture after not really noticing me prior to that.
I met Rael at a restaurant. When I walked up in my standard first date uniform – a fitted skirt and knit top, he muttered, “You’re beautiful.” Those two words remind me of the stats about 51% of people say flattery was the best way to attract someone. At that point in my life, it didn’t take a lot to bowl me over.
From his online profile, I knew that he was vegetarian, and in my limited understanding, I thought fish was okay which I came to understand, it is not acceptable to a true vegetarian. Whether it is or not, is not the real issue. The issue is that I made it important to order something that I thought would be acceptable to him. That was one of my first mistakes. I cared more about what he thought about what I was eating than what I thought about it.
Another tidbit of information that I recall from our first date is his response to the wine that I chose – the house red. His remark was that it was the cheapest thing on the menu, which was why he suspected I had opted for that. He was right, and my immediate reaction was that he already knew me. In time, my frugality and his awareness of that became a source of conflict, but initially I took it as insight and awareness on his part.
We talked so long and so freely that we did not notice it was time to go until the wait staff began putting the chairs on the tables. During that conversation, we touched on our family backgrounds, which prompted him to ask me why my parents had divorced after fifty-four years of marriage. It was an appropriate question from him, but I didn’t have to tell him my parents break up followed my father being arrested as a sex offender. I couldn’t know at that point how much that would impact the rest of our relationship. It was certainly information that could wait until I knew more about him.
At my car, I gave him what I considered a safe kiss for a first date, an ounce of tongue. From the email that I got from him the next day, I would have to say he was totally smitten:
“Driving home, I realized how much I miss having someone to talk with, someone to get to know, someone to excite and be excited about, someone who attracts me . . . someone like you. And in the parking lot . . . that little kiss . . . perfect! In your lips I felt no hesitation, no apprehension, no separation. To the contrary, I felt a total connection, as if I could fall into you through your kiss.” ~Rael McRael in an email written the night of our first date
Did I mention that flattery goes a long way with me? Well, I can sure look back at that and tell you he scored some points with that one. Look back at your first date, the emails, texts, etc. that preceded it, the ones that followed it. Think about your conversation and recall what you talked about, what you wore, and what you actually did – a meal, a sporting event, who determined what the date entailed, and how did you come to that decision? All of these are clues to the puzzle. Begin collecting them in your journal.
Conversation has a kind of charm about it, an insinuating and insidious something that elicits secrets from us just like love or liquor. ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca
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