People are dating strangers more than ever before. People plan dates with people they have met online. They have no history or friends in common. They did not meet at school, at work, at church, or out in the community. And while you may think you know a little bit about this person from your digital interaction, in reality, you know nothing. People can present themselves any way they want online. In other words, blind dates are truly blind dates. In the old days, there was a natural vetting process—where you had time to get to know someone before going on your first date. Today, you are truly operating in the dark.
Because of this, it is important to know how to assess if someone is on the up and up and mentally sound. And while it takes time to know someone in a real sense, there are some things that will tell you rather quickly if this person is the right one for you.
Now, I don’t know each and every one of you personally, so please forgive my generalizations. Each person has their own criteria of what qualities and traits make a good match.
However, I am going to be somewhat bold and offer some general red flags to consider. Take them as you choose. If you hear or observe the following, it may be a sign that more trouble lies ahead.
Your date starts talking about his or her messed up childhood on the first date. Not a good sign. If this is how your date introduces who he or she is at the beginning, it’s probably the tip of the ice berg. This is a sign that your date needs more emotional support from you than he or she is able to return. Be prepared to be more of a therapist than a date if this is how they present on day one.
Your date behaves as if you are the answer to their prayers. This is a sign of someone who does not have reality in check. They are too needy, too anxious, or too smitten. As wonderful as you are, you will eventually resent being put on a pedestal. Be prepared to spend time with someone who has no personal power or sense of self.
Your date assumes there is a relationship before one could possible exists. He or she may do things like call when they are “in the neighborhood” and wanting to stop by or assume that they will be included in family events or expect you will be their regular and exclusive date before any of that has been mutually established. These individuals tend to be smothering and obsessive. Be prepared to reinforce your boundaries and set limits regularly.
Your date mistreats the valet attendant, waiter, or any other service provider you come into contact with. If this is how they treat others in public, you can be sure this is how they will eventually treat you. Be prepared to walk away if your date is rude, impatient, or embarrassing.
Your date asks questions that reveal values that are not congruent with yours. For example, do you want any more kids, what kind of car do you drive, do you attend church? Questions provide more information than answers. Listen to what kind of questions your date asks. Clarify the meaning behind them. It will tell you volumes. Be prepared to cut your losses if your date has core values and needs that are different from yours. They really do matter in the long run.
If you or someone you know are getting mixed messages from your date and want help in sorting out what is true from what is not, please don’t hesitate to contact me. This is an important time to pay attention to what is there and what is not for you. Save yourself time, energy, and heartache by heeding the warning signs early and knowing when to cut your losses. Take advantage of the opportunity so that your next relationship can be the one that works.
As always, I’m here to support you in creating strong and powerful relationships.
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
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