Recently, I went to my friend Laurie’s house to watch the season finale of Bachelor Pad. (Yes, for some reason, we enjoy these types of cheesy reality shows.) And while we were watching the heartbreak that ensued on screen between several couples, I asked her how she knew her husband was the one she wanted to marry.
In short, she replied that she knew he genuinely loved her and that he was honest, caring, supportive, and faithful. She also knew he was a family man, and they now have son they both adore. I guess Laurie’s answer that night was obvious, but hearing it struck a nerve.
After months of online dating, I was feeling drained from meeting guys who weren’t anything like what they claimed to be on their profiles and many of them had more baggage than I could have ever imagined. However, a couple months ago, I began dating one man who proved to be a complete gentleman and his profile was true to life. Yet even though he was attentive, reliable, and charming (three attributes I look for), I wasn’t sure that special spark was there.
Because I found him to be a breath of fresh air after many disappointing encounters, I continued to see him. Each time, he won me over a little bit more and my friends and family made it known they were rooting for him. But I still wasn’t sure I felt a romantic connection and then along came another man who just blew me away!
After our first date, I was sure he was Mr. Right. But within no time, Mr. Right quickly became Mr. Wrong. Not long after dating him, I saw a scary side and knew there’d be no future for us. This experience along with Laurie’s words of wisdom opened my eyes quite a bit and suddenly it became clear that the man I had been seeing all along was exactly the type of man I wanted in my life.
Once I realized this, I felt a tremendous sense of contentment and happiness come over me, and I was able to give so much more to the relationship. Shortly after that, we decided to become exclusive and I know that was the right decision.
Although every situation is different when it comes to dating, there are times when it’s worth considering going on a second date with a guy even if he doesn’t quite sweep you off your feet the first time. Stacie Ikka, founder of the dating consultancy Sitting In A Tree (www.sittinginatree.com), agrees.
“Oftentimes, it takes several dates to forge a connection with someone,” Ikka says, adding, “One of the tips that I give to my clients is to make a concerted effort during a first date to find five attributes that they really like about the person sitting across from them.”
Typically, “I find that we are pre-programmed, even if only subconsciously, to find all the reasons not to see someone again. If we make it our mission to find not only one but five redeeming qualities, I find that it helps to keep our focus in the right direction.”
Ikka likens this process to what people experience during yoga when they concentrate on their breathing. “(Doing this) stills the mind, allows you to be present, and ensures that your practice is as wholesome as possible. The same thing happens on a date when you actively seek out the positive rather than lazily observing or concocting the negative.”
Here are some of Ikka’s recommendations regarding when to consider another date:
· You felt energized (or neutral), but not drained, upon leaving the date.
· It wasn’t difficult to be present during the conversation (i.e., you were not too easily distracted and didn’t “zone out” often or at all).
· You weren’t devising an exit strategy as soon as you arrived.
· You were not offended or uncomfortable at any point during the date.
· You learned something new on the date.
· You didn’t wish that you had stayed in your PJs on the couch instead.
· There is still more for you to learn about your date.
· You don’t have any other prospects.
· You do have other prospects but want to keep your options open.
· You’re not sure about the person.
Another tip that Ikka borrowed from her friend, Natalie, is to simply ask yourself one question (and one question only) at the end of a date, which is, “Do I want to see this person again?” The answer should be yes or no—nothing more than that. Ikka says that if the answer is “yes,” just go for it and don’t question it, second guess it, or seek other opinions. If the answer is “no” and the reason is anything less than suspicion of criminal behavior, Ikka says you may want to revisit your rationale and be sure it’s based on fact.
According to Ikka, some of the real deal-breakers (aka when to end it) include the following:
· Your date said things that offended you, your value system, or your character.
· You felt uncomfortable at any point during the date.
· Your date used excessive profanity or language that you found sexually explicit/inappropriate.
· Your date spoke negatively about their ex(es) for a prolonged period of time.
· Your date made advances after you already said “no.”
· Your date was preoccupied with sex and didn’t seem interested in getting to know the real you.
· Your date was rude to the wait staff (or, worse yet, to you).
· Your date showed signs of anger management issues.
· Your date was a “glass half empty” type of person.
· You couldn’t stay focused on the conversation, despite a fair effort.
· Your date was critical of you.
· A pit in your stomach is forming (RUN!).
Finally, if you’re just not sure the man you’re with is measuring up, check out Ikka’s other website www.gogoodguy.com for some examples of great guys who are out there. “Yes, they really do exist!” Ikka assures. “And on this site, we are celebrating those good guys.”