Face it. Dating can really suck. And, it can suck the life right out of you, too. Not only is it expensive, but it can also be really stressful.
That seems really strange, doesn’t it? But of course, you’re both going to feel really uncomfortable, thinking about how the other person is feeling about meeting you. And, that isn’t only the case for the first date. Until two people begin to really feel comfortable in each other’s presence, this is going to be the rule, and not the exception. The best idea is to simply be yourself. As trite as it sounds, it’s the best way for you to let the other person know what you’re really like.
So what are some dating ideas that can actually foster mutual trust and ease both of your feelings of stress about dating? Perhaps a movie and dinner is not the ideal date, after all. True, we all want to eat and everyone loves quality entertainment, but if that’s all the person you’re seeing wants, maybe it’s time to change things up a little bit. Find other activities to engage in. Find things to do, places to go, that you both feel are fun and exciting. Maybe consider a yoga class together, or a session of in-home couples massage. If they keep suggesting dinner and promptly dash away afterwards with a different lame excuse every time, you just might be dating a “meal hound”, seeing you only because they want a free dinner or lunch.
Massage is intrinsically relaxing. Unwinding next to one another is a great way to break down barriers. The same is true for a yoga class. Those who heal together, feel less stressed together. And, less stress leads to an easier time seeking closeness. A movie really isn’t about healing, or growing close. Neither is dinner. During a movie, you could hold hands, and during dinner you may talk. But both are somewhat awkward situations. Holding hands with someone you don’t know too well can seem weird. And, the classic dinner conversation between two people who aren’t very familiar with one another can feel like a job interview gone wrong.
We all want to make a favorable first impression. At the same time, if we try too hard, it comes off as insincere, and our true selves remain shrouded in a too-well-maintained veneer of falseness. It goes without saying that in the initial phase of dating, we will all be on our best behavior. In fact, any guy or girl acting terribly on the first few dates is a red flag; insults, lack of self-control, mean-spiritedness, excessive drinking., and extreme negativity are but a few such signs. While it’s best to be genuine, if your date seems like a genuinely antisocial person, it shows they can’t even manage to be respectful with a relative stranger. And, that’s a very bad sign.
To make matters worse, there have been a number of women exposed in recent years who serially date men, often dozens at a time, simply in order to get free meals and entertainment. No one wants to be led on; during the first dates and phone conversations, we all try to gauge how interested the other person is. We don’t want to appear to not be interested, but at the same time, we don’t want to seem desperate or head-over-heels over someone we just met. So, most men and women play it cool, and don’t really express how they feel…at first. This is probably a good idea; showing an interest in someone too intensely and too soon could spell disaster and scare them away. You don’t want to seem obsessive. But be forewarned: Playing it too cool can lead the other person to think you aren’t interested at all, and you may ruin your chances in this way as well. Be balanced; it’s really the only way.
And, of course, it’s not only women who lead men on. Men can do the same, whether dating men or women. Both sexes can appear to be interested, whether straight or gay, when really all they want is a free meal or sex. In today’s straight dating world, it isn’t always the man who pays, and there are some men who will chow down on a date’s dime, feigning interest merely to get some free steak. This is about as disgusting as it gets; using another person so that you can save on your food bills is heinous.
So how do you know when you’re being used? Follow your intuition. Don’t be paranoid, either. Keeping your guard up isn’t the greatest way to learn whether you’re getting along with someone, and presents a really unwelcoming vibe to others. So, be open, but not too open. Be polite, but don’t be a total phony, either. And when it comes to dating, if your date is only interested in eating meals together and then rushes away, your curiosity may be rightly piqued, especially if it happens again and again.
If your date keeps telling you that they have nothing else planned, or that their other plans fell through and they’re now available to hang out, and that’s the only time they are interested in seeing you, that’s really bad. After a while, your time together should be part of their plans. However, some people are just very busy with work, a social life, and other responsibilities and obligations. Again, don’t be too concerned if the person you’re dating is often busy. But if they constantly break plans with you, get caught in lies about what they’re doing, or something just doesn’t seem right, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.
Try to vary what you do with your new love interest. And be clear about your intentions from the outset. Likewise, don’t read too much into indicators. If a dating partner tells you she is only interested in making new friends, and nothing more, as she’s just come out of a five year hell of a relationship, respect that. In time, she may change her mind, but don’t force things. It’s best to be realistic about where you stand, as well as what the other person’s intentions are.
Dating is complex. It should be an exiting adventure, not a boring routine. If you keep going back to the old standby, the movie and dinner, it’s time to start working on your creativity. There are so many more options that allow for more interaction and meaningful engagement that are less stressful than grilling one another over a plate of grilled eggplant and vegan portobello burgers.