Determining Compatibility on the First Date

Every first date is a gamble. No matter how much you might know about a person, the very specific context of a date can change everything. This problem is amplified when it comes to finding partners on dating websites. Online profiles simply don’t give you the information about someone that a face-to-face meeting can provide. And, needless to say, blind dates are total shots in the dark.

A first date is, in almost every case, a leap of faith. It’s a leap based on the hope that you and your date will have enough in common to get along and create a spark. Think of a first date in the same way you would an initial interview for a job: Both you and your date are “interviewing” each other to see if you will make a suitable match. As such, it’s important to know how to approach your prospective partner and the proper questions to ask.

Naturally, good visual appearance should be a priority on a first date. A man or woman who cannot take care of themselves and have the self-respect to look good when it matters is unlikely to be able to care for you and step up when needed. Even if you already know the person you’re seeing that night, you’ll still want to make a positive impression. A clean and sharp visual appearance won’t seal the deal, however, it is important to make that first impression a good one.

During your first date determine what kinds of interests your date has by way of casual questions about what they like to do. These kinds of questions are standard on a first date. In fact, they’re pretty standard in the context of any kind of first meeting. They’re so standard that we often ask them mechanically without paying much attention to the answers we get. Sometimes we can also become mechanical in how we respond to those typical questions. You know those standard questions. “What do you like to do for fun?” or “How do you spend your free time?”. Typical responses are reading, exercise, travel, going to the movies, watching television, and so on.

1-800-personalsIt is time to spice-up these ‘first date’ questions. These are important questions, but how about getting answers that really tell you if you are going to want a second date. Knowing that your date likes to read might be a big positive for you, but unless you know what they read, it is not a very helpful piece of information. If you only like reading 19th century novels and your date only likes reading Sport Fishing Magazine or Cosmopolitan, you might not have that much in common after all. The same principle goes for taste in movies, music, and all other kinds of art and media. Start asking specific questions about your date’s interests and goals outside of work. The key is to not be too invasive or demanding when you start asking specific questions. Don’t create the impression you are prying or overly pushy. A good rule of thumb is to NOT ask more than two questions on the same topic. No matter how curious you may be (especially if your date provides answers that just fascinate you), save something for later. A first date is not an interview for marriage. It’s a date. It is suppose to be fun.

You and your date’s interests do not have to line up perfectly. Plenty of happy couples have many divergent interests, and a lot of couples with almost exactly the same interests end up breaking apart. Whether a couple can blossom and thrive together has a lot to do with the character and values of the two people involved. Still, it is important to have at least some interests in common, because they will help maintain your relationship and keep it fresh over time. For this reason, it’s vital to know how well your date’s interests and your own line up so that you can both judge how well a long-term relationship between you might work out.

Once you have discussed common interests, it becomes important to start gauging how well your date’s personality blends with your own. Is there good give and take with your date involving questions? Do you enjoy that? Do think your date is too competitive? Look beyond the questions and answers. Is the conversation enjoyable? Does your date ask questions respectful and respond respectfully to your answers? If you insist on paying for the date, how does he/she respond? As difficult as it may be, remember not to get too drawn in by your date’s looks. Mutual physical attraction is definitely a factor but looks fade and beautiful people can turn out to be boring, or worse, insensitive. There must be some physical attraction … just don’t let that be the only measurement of compatibility.

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Dating is all about meeting a number of people. So the odds are many first dates are not going to work out to be second or third dates. That’s O.K.. Remember that dating is not just about finding the perfect partner … it equally about learning about what you really want in a long term relationship. It is about learning about other people, but equally about learning about yourself. As you come to know what you want, and don’t be afraid to recognize it just won’t work out with some people and say so (as kindly as you can). It’s better to be alone for a while than to be stuck in a relationship that’s almost certainly doomed to failure because you just didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.

Dating is about having fun, learning about others and yourself, but it pays not to lose sight of the fact, in the end, dating is about finding that special someone and being able to recognize them when you meet them. That takes asking the right questions, knowing yourself and being keen in your observations. I hope you meet that perfect someone.

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