People hate hearing this, but the reality is simple: the first dates (usually dates 1, 2 and 3) are more like interviews than real, “let’s have fun and see what happens” dates. At least, that’s true if you’re “dating right.”
Unless there’s some egregious, rude misstep or a total lack of attraction (in which case why did you go out with them in the first place?) I recommend giving people at least two dates to find out who they really are. Some people don’t make good first impressions but become more comfortable on a second or third date. Further, this is when you can find out just how well they match what you’re looking for.
Before any first date you need to make sure you know absolutely what it is you want! I talk to a lot of people that believe they’ll “know it when they see it” (no, you won’t) or that they’ll just sense the “chemistry” (frankly, a lousy way to determine if a person is really right for you or not).
If you don’t know what you bring to the table (in other words, your “value” to someone else) you won’t be able to express it clearly and concisely. If you can’t, then who will? Further, if you don’t know what you want then how will you know when it shows up?
There’s only one way to really know what a person stands for and that’s to ask them. Far too many people focus only on telling their stories assuming the other person will do the same. Simply put: you have to become a great asker if you want to become a great dater. So, what is it you want to know?
Here are 10 things you should know about the other person before the end of the first date:
10. What Are Their Personal Goals? Their Relationship Goals?
I can’t emphasize the importance of goals. Most people have at least some idea of what they want in the future when it comes to their careers and lifestyle, but how many of them have goals for their relationships?
Most people have an idea of whether they want to be married or have kids, but that’s simply not enough. What about other relationship elements? Who is the person you’re going to be with? What do they stand for? How will your life differ when you find this other person?
These are important questions for both the person being asked and for the asker.
9. What Do You Think Is The Biggest Mistake People Tend To Make In Relationships?
People answer this question in one of three ways. They answer it based on the mistakes their last boyfriend or girlfriend made, they answer it based on the mistakes they made themselves or they answer it based on mistakes made by both. Which one they choose tells you a lot about their mindset.
When someone can only tell you what the other person did you instantly know they aren’t inwardly-focused enough to see their own responsibilities. They may come to that, but then again, they may not.
There is never only one victim and one perpetrator. The reality is that every relationship problem has two of both. Realizing that is a high level of maturity and results in people that take responsibility for the quality of their relationships. You don’t want to be the only person who is concerned with that, do you?
8. How Important Are Your “Top-3” To Them?
First off, if you have a list of things that are important about the next person you date or become involved in a relationship with and it has more than 5 “must have’s” you’re really missing the mark. I’ve had clients with a list of over 100 things they “must have” in their next boyfriend or girlfriend.
That’s absurd. Trust me on this: you don’t have all those attributes for someone else’s list either. Pare them down to a top-3 and no more than a top-5 list. Everything else is a “nice to have” or “not important”.
Then, ask the other person where your top-3 things fit into their plan. If they don’t think those things are important (at least in their top-10) you’re never going to be happy striving to make them important to that other person.
On the other hand, if they are, you should see him or her as a serious contender for a possible relationship.
7. Are They Married Or Otherwise Encumbered Right Now?
Contrary to popular belief, women are just as good at hiding marital and availability status as men are – maybe better. You might be shocked at how many people don’t bother finding this out up front.
For example, women often use the “boyfriend play” where they casually mention a “boyfriend” when they’re actually talking about a boy-friend (that guy they won’t date, but keep around for attention and to have something to do when they’re bored) in order to see how a real potential boyfriend handles it.
Too few people are willing to follow up on these things. Something is mentioned and rather than getting the cards out on the table, they dance around it instead.
Two simple questions; “So, are you actually available to date?” and “Why?” goes a very long way to solving this problem.
6. What Do They Do For A Living, Do They Enjoy It And Are They Good At It?
Knowing that someone works in retail doesn’t tell you much about their job satisfaction. Knowing that they love working with the public says a lot about the person. You should get to know where they spend 8 hours a day and what they’re doing with that time. It tells you a lot about the person.
5. What Do They Want Over The Next Year? How About The Next 3 Years?
This is a broad question with very specific implications. I’ve had clients tell me that they began dating people only to find that they planned on moving in 6 months or a year or two. It might have been nice to know this before getting involved if only they had asked.
If you listen carefully you’ll find an important answer here. Specifically, how their life will change if you turn out to be the person they’re looking for. Sometimes that can be a really great thing. Other times, not as much.
4. Do They Have The Same Basic Lifestyle Choices Or Are They (Or You!) Flexible On These Things?
For example, some people eat only vegan. If you’re dating someone that is a carnivore and you are completely against that lifestyle it might get very difficult on a relationship very quickly. Are they allergic to cats? That could be important if you just acquired your 18th feline friend.
3. What Do They “Bring To The Table”?
I love this question the most of all, but it requires some commitment on your part. Before you ask a person this, you’d better have the answer to it yourself.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked this of a date only to have her say, “Well, I dunno. I guess I’m pretty and I’m smart”. Really? That’s what you bring to the table? That’s it?
This is your chance to sell yourself – to really present a great argument as to why someone should date you. If you don’t know, how can they? Likewise, they should know their own value. Dating isn’t only about solving loneliness. It’s about connection and chemistry and value. This is the precise moment when you discover those things – right from the other person’s mouth.
2. Are They Local And Available To Have A Relationship?
I’m sorry to tell you this, but long distance relationships simply don’t work. In fact, the people involved in them come out the other end damaged, and it often takes months (and sometimes years) to repair. People get militant about their LDR’s but the fact is; they don’t work if you begin things this way.
I consider any relationship where it takes more than an hour to meet-up (going one way) to be an LDR. You simply can’t be there when things (good and bad) happen.
Thus, the other person needs to be close enough to actually date and to be in a relationship.
Likewise, they need to be mentally ready for these things. If they are devastated by the breakup of their last relationship or have other mental or emotional problems they need to have these fixed before they jump into the dating arena. It’s not your job to fix anyone or to make up for harm cause by someone else.
1. Can You Eventually Fall In Love With Them?
Whether you’re dating to just fill in the time or you’re looking for your soul mate, you should be able to answer this question. Not every dating situation leads (or should lead) to love, and “sport dating” is just as valid as “love dating”. However, you should know what you’re getting into – especially based on the previous questions.
If you know what they could potentially mean to you in the future, you’ll be far better at making decisions for later dating.