I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
One of the few things that I think a lot of people misunderstand about dating is expectation. From the first time you get romantic feelings for another person to the moment some of us say “I do”, all of our interaction is based upon what we can expect from the other person. From when we pass a note to someone in class asking if they like us “check the box: yes or no or maybe”, we hope that someone returns our affections. We hope that someone is just as interested in us as we are in them. And through all of our life, whether it in elementary playground flirting or drunken college parties or sending drinks to another person at a wine bar, everyone is laced with the hope and prospect of what we will gain from our efforts.
It is what we are taught. That if we are honest and just be ourselves, that we will have a positive outcome. It is these ideas of well-intentioned parents that set us up for disappointment. Not everyone will be attracted to you. In fact, most of the people you will ever meet you will not be truly compatible with. Sure, you might possess certain aspects that are more enticing than others. A prestigious education, power, money, great body, perfect hair, charm – and while these all widen your pool of prospective partners to choose from, none of that bares any weight on compatibility. But not everyone is going to like you. Conversely, you will not like every well-intentioned person who sits across from you on a date desperately wanting to love you. And that is okay. But understand that while you are under no obligation to return someone’s affections, try to keep in mind what it is they are projecting.
It is a given that insulting and impolite behavior should never be tolerated. Some of us handle confrontation better than others and some of us have trouble holding back our anger, but rude and bad-manners should be called out immediately. Whether on a first date or six months into a marriage, communicating what is unacceptable behavior is imperative for the health of any relationship. But assuming your date behaves accordingly, we should try and take a minute to understand that both of us are taking a chance. Testing the waters with someone who has passed the initial set of hurdles and now we are subconsciously running you through the second obstacle course of: How do you treat your mother? Are you compassionate towards animals? Do you want children? Are you curious about politics? Have you read a book recently? Will you effectively care about my feelings? Do you even want to get to know me?
While a million and one questions swirl though our heads while we make idle conversation, that last part is extremely important. When you sit across from someone on a date and they don’t ask any questions about your life, they are one, or a combination of, three things: Disinterested, selfish, or reserved and shy. You can choose how you deal with any of this however you like, but all three have potential to cause issues with any possible future you may have.
But the bigger question is, did YOU ask them questions? Are you making an effort to respect their time and energy? They agreed to meet up with you and took just as much time out of their schedule for you – did you respect that? Did you treat them the way that you would like to be treated? Did you only talk about yourself and wait for them to ask more questions about you? Do you find that you’re always talking about yourself? It is important to ask yourself these questions because you might be disinterested, selfish, or reserved and shy. And you might want to not only reevaluate the person you’re sitting with but also what you have to offer someone else.
And that is really what I’m getting at – you can’t expect to have your expectations met if you don’t do your job of holding up your own end as well. Just as you have expect your date to hopefully fit into your list of hopes, wishes, and desires THEY ARE THINKING THE SAME THING ABOUT YOU! And yes, all you can do is what you learned a long time ago – be honest and just be ourselves. But don’t forget that you also have to try. Just showing up doesn’t count. All relationships take effort, even and especially in the beginning.
Show up on time. Respect the other person’s effort. Ask questions. Be honest with your answers. Learn to communicate more effectively. Do your best to be fair. Don’t hog the spotlight. Don’t brag about your accomplishments because it only makes you look insecure like your personality isn’t enough. But most of all, don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself. Funny enough, when you can feel comfortable enough with yourself is when people will see who you truly are. And if you are an amazing and wonderful human, it would be their loss if they couldn’t see it. And that would be okay… because clearly they are not compatible with your marvelousness.