Did the Date Go Good or Bad?

I found this wise and interesting response to Captain Awkward’s ‘It came from the search terms’ regular spot. This is her answer to the question of how to assess a date after the event. At first I found it odd that we’d have to ask, but then I realised that we never know another person’s perspective or the view from inside their mind, which leads to the guessing games we all know from dating . Read on if you dare!

CA says: This is a great question. You can’t control whether another person will like you, so after a date ask yourself:

  • Did I enjoy myself?
  • Was I relaxed and comfortable with this person?
  • Could I be myself around this person?
  • Did the conversation flow?
  • Did I feel like the other person was on my team, helping the date go smoothly and laughing gently at any awkward moments? Or did the awkward silences turn into awkward chasms on the edge of the awkward abyss?
  • Did the other person seem at ease and comfortable with me?
  • Was the actual time we spent together fun/enjoyable/comfortable/pleasurable?
  • Was it as good as spending time alone doing something enjoyable or with a good friend or do I wish I’d just spent the evening at home?
  • Was I bored? Checked out? Apprehensive?
  • Was it easy to make plans?
  • Do I feel like the person was listening/paying attention/engaged?
  • (If kissing is a thing you’re interested in) Can I picture myself kissing them?
  • Am I looking forward to hanging out again?
  • Were there any red flags?*

If the date went well for you, where you enjoyed yourself and felt good, ask the person for another date. The rest is up to the other person.

If you can get in the habit of checking in with yourself about your own comfort and enjoyment levels during and after dates, even a “meh” date can be useful because you’ll know more about yourself and what you’re looking for.

Below is a bonus list of some of my personal First Date red flags from back in the day when I bravely put on clean shirts and lip gloss and met strangers from the Internet for drinks:

  • Was the person I was meeting generally congruent with the person presented on the dating site and during any prior conversations? If you’re “single” on the dating site and suddenly “planning to get divorced btw we still live together and no one at work knows we’re separated so I’d appreciate your discretion” when we meet, if you’re 28 in all your dating site photos and 58 in person…it’s not going to work.
  • Did the person monologue the whole time?
  • Did I feel like I was monologuing the whole time at someone who just shyly stared at me and nodded? (The Silent Type is a great type and it may be your type but experience tells me it’s not mine).
  • Did I feel like I was an unpaid nonconsensual therapist while someone shared everything about their life?
  • Did the person constantly talk about their ex and exes?
  • Was literally everything they said a complaint about someone or something?
  • Were these complaints at least funny and entertaining?
  • In these complaints was nothing ever their responsibility? Was it just a long list of Ways I Have Been Wronged By Others with a subtext of Surely You Have A Duty To Not Disappoint Me Like Everyone Else Has (Now That You Know My Tale of Woe)?
  • Ugh, mansplaining, especially politics or philosophy, how movies get made, the “authenticity” of whatever food we were eating, the makeup and history of the neighborhood where I lived and they did not …
  • Talking during movies. No.
  • Taking me to some sort of performance and then critiquing how much it sucks into my ear in real time. No.
  • Overfamiliarity, over-investment.I can’t wait to introduce you to my son, he’s going to love you!
  • Overdoing innuendo and sex talk too soon, like, “I just got a new bed, it’s very comfortable, you’ll have to come test it out with me later heh heh.
  • Overdoing it with the touching. If dinner and a movie remind me of how my cat likes to constantly crawl all over me and make annoying biscuits everywhere it’s too much touching!
  • Negging of all sorts, especially “I don’t usually date ________, but you seem really cool.
  • Constant contact, expecting constant texts/calls/emails before we’ve even met in person, all up in my social media biz, “liking” every single photo/comment going back through the archives. It feels good to be seen and not so good to be ‘surveilled’.
  • Neediness  – We literally just met, so, surely there is someone else in your life who can drive you home from dental surgery or hold your hand while you put your dog to sleep or fly home with you to your father’s funeral or weigh in with you about whether you should accept this job offer?
  • Casual, ‘ironic’ sexist or racist comments, dropping code sentences like “I hate all the political correctness these days, I feel like I can’t say anything.
  • Bringing your feature screenplay to the date for me to read.
(Note that the bold text shows the most common experiences for me!)

Your Mileage May Vary, as the great saying goes. My list doesn’t look like anyone else’s and I may have had stuff on there that is not necessarily a problem in itself or not a problem for you, or where there are exceptions to be made. It’s not meant to be universal and it’s about compatibility with you vs. any one thing being Good or Bad.

I developed [the list] over time by paying attention to what made me feel good, comfortable, safe, relaxed, happy, excited and what made me feel the opposite.I stopped asking people “Is this normal/cool/okay thing when you date?” and started asking “Am I good with this?” and “Am I delighted by this?” Those experiences (and the decision to be picky about second and third dates) helped me avoid some entanglements that would have been fleeting at best and draining at worst, and it helped me know “Just Right” when I saw it.

We focus so much on the auditioning aspect of dating – Am I good enough?

Does the other person like me back? – that our own comfort and needs and pleasure can get lost right when we need them most.

It was a good date if you enjoyed yourself and felt good and did your best to be kind and considerate. It was a bad date if you didn’t enjoy yourself. Whether a good date will lead to another one is up to more than just you.

Thanks to Captain Awkward at https://captainawkward.com/category/dating/page/3/

Are They Relationship Material?

Maybe you’re new to dating or maybe you’ve been around the (performing) ring a few too many times and you’re looking to find a person who fits your shape as you spoon, kisses just right and presses all your (good) buttons exactly the way you like it.

Not everyone reaches this stage but, in my experience, most people online want to stop the endless dating dance and build something meaningful with their chosen person/people.

Today I read this article by Debatably Datable and found it an excellent summary of qualities that really show a person is genuinely interested in melding their life with yours. Together with their daily actions, these show that they might be there when the honeymoon phase wears off.

Over to DD and I’ll elaborate with my own experience alongside her suggestions. I’m going to make this gender neutral because all these signs and behaviours work for anyone, not just women looking for men.

You’ve been seeing someone for a few weeks or months and things are going great! You’re hanging out together regularly and you’ve talked about the relationship progressing from exclusive to fully committed and official. There are some telltale signs to show that your lover is really ready and good relationship material.

Communicates

They’re communicating about their feelings and thoughts, your feelings or thoughts, or just about the weekend plans together. They’re asking about your day and filling you in on theirs.

Eve says: This might sound really obvious but most people will happily talk to you about their lives if they are not hiding secrets or nurturing a conscious or unconscious desire to keep you at arms’ length. Not everyone has a high EQ but if someone has feelings for you, they will certainly try to communicate their feelings and show an interest in yours. Where you can be sure it’s one-sided – to a degree or fully unrequited – is when someone shows limited interest in your stories, your feelings and your text messages. They may never ask you about your life, your day or your memories. A pet peeve of mine is when, by text, you ask questions that go unanswered or make comments that are ignored. Worse still are the people who just drop off the radar for hours or days. If this pattern continues you can be sure you are not their first priority, and unless they have a very unusual and demanding job, they are probably seeing other people as well.

Makes plans for the future

They’re looking past just the next few days with you and plans into the future. They’re thinking about concerts, festivals, and gatherings with close ones that are weeks and months into the future. They see you in that future, not just a present short-term relationship.

Eve says: Anyone who plans beyond the next week or so and factoring you into that picture is at least interested in imagining a future together. Not everything has to be long-term and written in stone with vows exchanged in a public gathering. If this is what you want, however, make it clear from the start and look for signs that your lover is open to those ideas. One of the first conversations my beloved had with me concerned his annual leave booked over a year in advance and his desire to cancel his holiday plans so that he could be with me instead. We’d only been seeing each other for three weeks and he was having to make decisions about flights and an overseas holiday he needed to either book, or wait. He chose to wait and instead we began planning our own overseas getaway. It really did demonstrate to me in a concrete way that he saw me as part of his future and was very serious in his intentions. He also shared his shiftwork roster so that we could plan his time off together, which also spoke volumes about his willingness to commit not only emotionally, but his time.

They factor you into their future

When they’re thinking about their future they’re including you and considering how it will work for the two of you together. This may come a bit further along but when considering school, work, or big financial decisions, they’re factoring in how it will affect the relationship and how to make the future work cohesively.

Eve says: Big decisions can either scare someone off or consolidate the relationship. In the scenario I outlined above, it could have freaked me out and made me run a mile – if I wasn’t ready for that kind of statement of emotional intent. If I was someone unsure about my feelings, or unwilling to take a risk, it could have been a dud move on his part to lay it all on the line and declare his feelings from the get-go. However in our case, we found each other at the right time, and I’ve always been an emotional risk taker anyway. I was prepared to back this horse and I’m happy to say it was a bet worth taking. I made it clear to him that he didn’t need to cancel his holiday plans or change them to suit me, but underneath, I appreciated that he cared enough about me to know that he couldn’t cope with five weeks away in the mountains without even mobile phone coverage. But it doesn’t have to be a big decision that shows someone is planning ahead their time with you. If they show an openness to talk about the next week or month, or ask for a next date when you’re together, it usually means you’re important to them.

Improving themselves

They’re improving themselves for their future, with your support and motivation. They want to make sure they’re the person you want.

Eve says: An objective eye to how they come across is a positive sign that someone wants to fight for you, even if it only means they’ll work out, exercise or indulge in your favourite things to demonstrate their affection. We all want to feel attractive to our partner, and taking care of yourself through your appearance, clothing, eating and exercise habits are all signs that someone is seeking to hold your interest. Although DD didn’t comment on this specifically, taking an interest in the things you like is a very strong message of intent and authenticity. Very early on my beloved and I discovered a shared interest in dystopian-themed movies, and I’ve appreciated his willingness to spend time exploring my tastes as well as his own. This gets back to communicating – I’ve met so many men who give only a tiny slither of themselves when it comes to sharing their likes, dislikes, ideas and feelings. To me, this is a total turn-off. I like a man who knows how to talk and behave like an adult.

They try to connect with your friends and family

They know your friends and family are an important part of your life and they want work on integrating into your social world. The relationship doesn’t need the added pressure of your friends or family not approving of them so they’ll work to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Eve says: How your friends and family perceive your beloved does matter, though we might like to believe that it’s enough to be ‘two against the world’. The reality is that life chugs along so much more smoothly when people are harmonious, and that takes time and some effort. In my last two serious relationships during my dating period post-long-term marriage, both men never introduced me to their families or friends. One didn’t actually seem to have any friends, which is also something of a warning sign. I’d take this up a notch from DD’s point and add that wanting you to meet their family and friends is also just as important as wanting to meet yours. It’s an investment and usually a signal that they take you seriously. It was a big step for me to introduce my beloved to my birth family, which came some months after meeting my kids. I took both steps slowly, and I appreciated his show of support for me and his very obvious affection. I’m sure he felt the same way about my willingness to meet his kin, especially the fact that I’ve made a lot of effort to bond with his young children. By our actions we show our feelings and our values – something that, in the online dating world, so many people forget.

Thanks to Debatably Datable again for giving me the idea to add to her article. I’d love to know your signs that someone is genuinely into you beyond a casual fling, especially if we’ve missed any.