Whether you’ve met someone online, through friends, or on your own, nothing prepares you for a bad first date. Bad dating behavior does not discriminate, and affects all ages from 25 to 65. It doesn’t matter if you’re newly single, been dating for a while, or divorced for years. The last thing anyone wants to experience is disappointment. Disappointment over and over again will lead to dating fatigue. Going through the preparation of getting ready, picking out a great outfit, and driving to a destination takes time, energy, and money. So here are some tips I give my clients on how to avoid the minefield of a bad first date:
Bad Date Scenario #1: They don’t look like their pictures.
Remedy: Stop meeting people online. Sorry, but it comes with the territory. 50% of online profiles are falsified in some way. You could ask for a more recent picture before meeting, but there’s really no way to know. It is what it is.
Bad Date Scenario #2: Ex-talk/dating talk.
Remedy: If you find yourself doing this, STOP! If the other person is starting to tread there, politely interrupt and say: “I’ve learned a long time ago to never to talk about ex’s or dating in general. Obviously it didn’t work out for a reason We should always be moving forward and not backwards. Tell me more about…”(Or ask them a question that changes the subject).
Bad Date Scenario #3: They insist on showing you something on their phone. This includes FB pics, dog/animal pics, kid pics, ex pics. (I was once shown someone’s warehouse inventory his company stocked for over 30 minutes!!)
Remedy: Again, be polite and redirect. Say “Hey I’m sure those pictures are great, but I’d really like to learn more about you.” Just try to bridge the conversation. If you have enough rapport with them, you can even put your hand over theirs, slide the phone away as you look into their eyes and say that in a flirty way.
Bad Date Scenario #4: There’s NO CHEMISTRY!
Remedy: First off, are you being too hasty? If you’ve been online dating for a while, the slightest tick could throw you into a tizzy. Assess your state first and foremost, are you being too judgmental? Are you open, happy, positive about meeting this person? You can sabotage potential chemistry if you’re not in the right mindset. If you’re on the fence, give it a little time and definitely a second date, this is an absolute must if you’re not sure.
Bad Date Scenario #5: They keep checking their phone or take a phone call.
Remedy: Admittedly this becomes more difficult when you have kids, but you’re there to meet the other person, not talk on your phone. If you’ve put the time and energy into arranging this date, try to stay polite and positive. Be direct; say something like, “Hey if you’re not enjoying yourself, its ok. We can split the tab and leave.”
Bad Date Scenario #6: The conversation is dragging, too charged (insert political views here), or lacking chemistry.
Remedy: Are you the problem or the solution? If you’re over talking, that’s the number one reason the conversation is lagging. However, if you find yourself clamming up, have a few stories ready. Ideally tell a story that tells them something light-hearted and funny. If the other person is struggling, ask them open ended questions like “So what were you like as a kid?” If you’ve paid attention and picked up on a trait, (like they love to travel) you could also add in “I bet you were always exploring. Maybe even got into trouble once in a while?”
There is no fool proof way to know if a first date will be a hit or a miss. Sometimes things can be going exceptionally well, and then POOF! The other person puts their foot in their mouth. So practice a little compassion and understanding when dealing with another human being. If you are interested enough in the other person, try to do less judging when they’ve messed up, and help them out. At the end of the day, relationships are all about supporting each other. If you can start practicing that on the first date, you’re sure to end up with the right person.
Aimee Burke is a Boston dating coach and matchmaker at LunchDates. Aimee specializes in date coaching for singles in the Boston area. She also serves as an executive matchmaker and recruits professional singles for her clients.
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