Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gotta Have Faith....

In my last post I talked about bad dates, specifically outlining one of mine. What I didn’t mention about that date was that I didn’t even really want to go on it.  I’ve always found myself going on dates for reasons other than looking for a romantic partner. In this case, I went on the date because I was heartbroken, reeling from the end of a relationship. I was forcing myself to get back on the saddle, to move on. I don’t think this is an uncommon phenomenon, and while it does have lots of benefits, it can be counterproductive. If the date doesn’t go well, it can leave you feeling even more despondent and lonely than you were feeling before, which can lead to all kinds of issues.

But this blog post isn’t about those issues, nor is it about dating for a purpose. It’s about the good dates, the ones that we come home from with a smile on our face and a spring in our step. The ones that make up for all the duds, that remind us why we’re even doing any of this, the ones that restore our faith.

I went on one of these recently, and on my way home, kept thinking about how incredible the date had been and why. The success wasn’t on account of anything complicated, in fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how EASY it is to have (and be) a good date. There are some things you can’t control,  like chemistry. With chemistry, it’s either there or it isn’t, and you know if it’s there pretty early on. Another thing you can’t control is compatibility (personality/ values/needs/wants etc) Unlike chemistry, you can fake it, but only for a little while. However aside from those things, the rest is easy. The rules are simple:

Plan: If you’ve asked someone on a date then it is your responsibility to plan the date. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it’s not a good idea to just wing it. People like to feel like thought was given. The day before, my date CALLED me and gave me a choice of two locations, asking which would be more convenient for me, and after I told him, he replied that he’d be in touch soon with a plan. He texted me shortly after with the name of a place, address and meeting time. (Normally I’d say to pick your date up, but it’s London, and it was an after work thing, so meeting there is acceptable) The point is that, he thought about, it wasn’t thrown together last minute.

Venue: It’s a first date, or an early stages date, so the venue should reflect that, somewhere cool and fun that you can have a good conversation. My date picked a really cool and fun (sorry to use the phrase twice in two sentences) place that he’d never been to before but had been wanting to try. I was late (A big no-no but I blame my 4 inch heels) and when I got there he had a delicious drink waiting for me and had secured us a spot outside where we could sit down, nibble on appetizers and talk while we waited for our table.

Conversation:  A good conversation is key to success in so many forums, and to be fair, a lot of it depends on chemistry and compatibility, which we happened to have (I think the wait for a table was over an hour but it felt like 10 minutes) but I am a firm believer that everyone has something in common, you just have to find it. Ask them questions, respond to their answers. Steer away from  being too controversial, smile, make eye contact and avoid any talk about exes (Though I have found that swapping bad first date stories is actually a great conversation, if nothing else, it brings laughter and entertainment)
Also: it is SO important have a sense of humour. My date and I had a little banter about something innocuous that we had differing view on…we kept it lighthearted and fun, and at a few points asked the waitress or people at the table next to us to weigh in, and when I was proven right (obviously) my date took in stride, remained charming, and even sent me a follow up text the day after our date in concession.  (This was a lesson to me, who isn’t always the most graceful in defeat)

Listen: It’s very easy to get caught up in the conversation, or ourselves, that we don’t REALLY listen. It’s not just listening to answers to questions, but listening to other comments. For example: I made an offhand comment to my date that my phone was about to die, and he asked the staff around us if they had a charger. They didn’t. About 3 hours later we moved on to a wine bar, and the first thing he did (after finding us a seat and ordering us drinks) was ask the staff if they had a charger. Again, they didn’t, but the point was that he listened, he remembered, and I was impressed with his thoughtfulness.

Physicality without being Sleazy: I mentioned in my last post how I was really turned off by my bad date taking my hand and trying to kiss me. I said he was pushing intimacy, but the truth is, that if I had been into him, I doubt I would’ve been as bothered. Case in point: My amazing date helped me navigate the cobblestone streets of London in my high heels by taking my arm and later my hand, but then released it when we got to our destination. It was the perfect kind of gesture because it was natural, it had a purpose,  it was sweet, and was completely comfortable. He was a gentleman, showing me he was interested in and attracted to me but without pouncing on me.

Leaving on a High Note:  I kept checking his watch to make sure I wouldn’t miss the last train (he then set an alarm to ensure that I wouldn’t) and when the time came for me to leave, he walked me to the tube station. This should be obvious, everyone should do this, but they don’t. He then CALLED me to make sure I got home safely and to reiterate what a lovely time he had with me and how he was looking forward to seeing each other again, today.

Pretty easy right? It's the little things, like that, like wanting to find me a phone charger, and calling to set up our date and calling to make sure I was home. Those are the things that leave us with a lasting and positive impression. Those are the things that matter. All you have to do is plan a little, listen, have a good conversation and be a gentleman/lady. It's really just about having fun and being comfortable and considerate, and making sure your companion is having fun and feeling comfortable and cared for. 

I know some people will argue that it’s supposed to be easy on a first date, that we are all the best versions of ourselves, but I disagree. If that were true then there wouldn’t be so many “bad dates” occurring. There is a right and wrong way to conduct ourselves when we begin dating someone new, and thank goodness for the good dates, otherwise who knows if we'd keep going out with people after the weird, bad, and awkward ones.

 I have no idea what is going to happen from this date, to me it was a success regardless of the outcome. It was a success because it was the kind of date, the kind of man,  who not only reminded me what it was like to go out with someone considerate and gentlemanly and have a really good time with them, but also completely restored my faith in the whole process, (and let me know that we don’t have settle! We don’t! Keep the faith!!!)

*Thanks to all of the good dates out there, who make the experience fun and remind us of how it should be. 

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