Going on a date is all fun and games, so why is it so difficult? Like Forrest Gump said, “you never know what you’re gonna get.” This is especially true now with the multitude of dating apps people have access to. It can be overwhelming even choosing which apps to use. In addition, not everyone’s personality—and image—is transparent online, which makes dating even more of an uncertainty. Someone may look really nice online but could end up being a total jerk in person.
Dating is all in the name of putting yourself out there. Maybe you’re looking for a relationship, and maybe you’re not. Whatever the case may be, dating is rooted in first impressions, which can be really challenging. First impressions are especially hard when you don’t know what you’re looking for, and they are even harder when you don’t know yourself and how you come off to people.
A good rule of thumb is to date yourself before you date anyone else. It’s important to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t, especially when it comes to personality, ambitions, opinions, perspectives and—of course—compatibility. Identify the difference between what intrigues you and what makes you uncomfortable and what kind of boundaries you want or already have. Above all else, do not date potential. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt can only go so far.
Even though my own dating life is in its infancy, one thing I know for certain is that the setting of the date doesn’t determine how well the date is going to go. For example, the worst date that I have ever been on was actually at one of my favorite bars in Portland called The Elvis Room. I chose to go to this place because they have great cocktails, antique artwork and furniture and a unique ambiance. I had also gone on some dates there before, and they had turned out pretty well for my standards at the time.
As soon as I got there, the guy seemed a little too relaxed for a first date. He was in a great mood: really happy to be there and happy to talk to me, giving me high fives every other sentence—which irritated me to no end. He also expressed great enthusiasm when asking me to go to other bars with him later. After sitting and talking for about 20 minutes, I could tell he had way too much to drink, which to me is a giant red flag. That’s when I knew it was my cue to make up a fake emergency and call a Lyft.
Oddly enough, the best date that I have ever been on was in a similar setting. We met on a dating app and decided to meet up at a bar. But this time, we were both sober enough to enjoy the date. The guy was really nice and we both listened to what the other person had to say, never having awkward silence or dull conversation. And that’s when I realized it doesn’t matter where you go; all that matters is how it goes. What made this a “good” date wasn’t the location, it was the person. We had similar values, different perspectives and a lot to talk about when it came to life experiences.
I decided that I didn’t want to pursue the guy beyond the first date, due to us being in very different stages in our lives, but I still really enjoyed the date itself. In the world of dating, we’re all just trying to figure it out. The best thing to do is have a little faith and see where things go. It may or may not turn into something very worthwhile. Pick someone who reflects how awesome you are and go for it.