Every date can be a learning experience, even if it doesn't turn out the way you'd hoped.
The first ten minutes of a date often determine whether a second date is ever going to happen, and let's face it: second dates are not the norm for many. That was definitely my story until I learned about (what I now call) "Date Waste."
Date waste is when a date is a drag but has little to do with whether you are a potential match. It's a drag simply because neither of you set the date up to succeed. These aren't the dates with jerks that you can't wait to end. They are the ones that are just a little boring, lack sparks or just go nowhere. You can turn these into very positive experiences.
I see date waste all the time when I'm coaching, and I lived it for years. When I accepted that every date was part of the journey and not just a means to an end, my life changed. Every date is an opportunity. You can talk to a nice person, learn something new, get much-needed practice and maybe connect with someone you want to know just a little better. It doesn't have to be "Oh, he's The One!" or nothing.
Here are nine things you can do in the first ten minutes of each date to make it a positive experience and begin to eliminate date waste from your life.
- Go in with the "I hope I like him" attitude. We usually approach meeting men with the "I hope he likes me" feeling. Start with whether he seems to be someone you like. This stops you from trying to read his mind and focuses you on what really counts: how you feel being with him.
- Find three things you like about him. Fight your habit to lead with the negative. Find reasons he can be ON your list rather than why you should check him off. It can be his timeliness, his smile, the restaurant he chose; what do you like about him?
- Compliment him. There's a chance he's nervous and feeling a little funky. Give him a sincere compliment early on to start off on a positive note. This will help him loosen up and, besides, it's just nice!
- Think of it as practice. Every meeting is practice that brings you closer to Mr. I Love You. Statistically, your date won’t turn out to be him. So what? Here's a chance to learn more about dating, men and yourself. After each date, jot down what you learned and apply that next time. See how no date is a waste?
- Dump your agenda. Don't let it ruin your time if, in the first 10 minutes, he doesn’t appear to be your man. Just relax and be open to what comes up. You never know; you may just let yourself relax into a very nice feeling.
- Ask the right questions. It's important to stay positive and put your best food forward. Avoid questions that lead to negative chatter. "So how's the online dating thing going for you?" stings of the negative. How about "I liked what you said on the phone about [fill-in-the-blank]…I'd love to hear more."
- Quiet those dang gremlins. We all have them: the voices that tell us we aren't good enough or it's not worth it. When these voices rear their ugly heads, take a deep breath and tell yourself "this is an opportunity I don't want to miss." (There are very effective ways you can learn to manage your gremlins and limiting beliefs. I can help you with that.)
- Let go of control. You are there to talk and listen to your date, not yourself. Your over-thinking and analyzing will exhaust you. Grab your grownup girl and remind her that you can't read minds and there are two people involved here. Stop and pay attention to the man sitting in front of you. If you don’t, you may completely miss the man of your dreams.
- Be kind and practice empathy. He has fears and insecurities just like you. Don’t get hung up on some little thing he does that you instantly determine you just can’t live with. Consider why he’s doing it and if it truly is a deal breaker.
Then look at him again with the kind and wise eyes of a woman working hard to find a good man. Regardless of how you end up judging him, always leave him feeling good about himself—even if you’re not going to see him again. It’s the nice thing to do, and you’ll help prop him up for the next woman who’s going to meet him.
You are looking for a lifetime partner with whom you can share deep connection, unconditional trust, mutual adoration and a lifetime of happiness. Everything you do should be toward that end. Every date is a spectacular opportunity. Don't be a date waster.