under Date Night
A long time ago, I wrote a blog that I never ended up posting about Damon Lindelof, the creator of the television show Lost. While that post wasn’t my greatest, and hence not one I chose to post, I constantly find myself thinking about Lost. Sometimes it’s because of the mysteries the show left unsolved — were we supposed to learn more about that giant foot? What happened in the mental hospital? Did Hurley actually eat the entire tub of ranch?
But really, my mind always comes back to Lost in a different sense, usually one that relates to dating. Every week Lost would end and there was a vague teaser of the next episode. That little bit had you glued to the TV most of the time, especially as the seasons got shorter and every episode started to leave viewers with more questions than answers. You had to know what happened next.
There is another example of this in romance. In One Thousand and One Nights, the king in the story framing the narrative kills every new wife after bedding them once. However, the narrator, Scheherazade, knows this before marrying the king and decides to keep herself alive by telling him part of a story on their wedding night. She doesn’t finish the story, leaving him curious, and he keeps her alive as she does this night after night.
Most of us are not trying to stop our deaths after being romantic with one another. However, I have found in my time that nothing sets up a great romance quite like planting seeds of what’s coming next. This was especially helpful in the year I spent largely beginning my relationships over Skype. Whether it was getting excited for the party we’d go to, the trip to Texas they’d make, or even just a simple dream of spending the day on Coney Island or a mystery date, it gave us an experience to look forward to together. And when those dates were done, I’d already planted the seeds for the next one, only to leave us craving more good times.
This can be a little dangerous — how do you keep building that momentum after so long? But at the same time, I believe the bigger danger is planting nothing, and letting a relationship fizzle as you question what to ask the person to do next. At a certain point it’s less necessary, but nothing begins a good relationship like exciting adventures that you pine for right after the last one.
under Date Night
My friend Jackie’s birthday is next week and she’s been dating a new guy that she met on JDate for about three weeks now. She’s mentioned it’s her birthday, and he mentioned celebrating it, but she called me to ask what to do next: should she mention it again and see if he asks her out for her birthday? Or should she make plans and let him take the initiative to ask her out later that week? And if he does ask her out to celebrate on her birthday, should she accept?
Birthdays are a precarious subject… on one hand, you want to be with the person you’re dating. On the other hand, is it too soon to expect that? And what if you break-up next week? Are you going to be pissed that you “wasted” a birthday celebration? Or will you appreciate it for what it was?
My take: unless you’re in a serious, committed relationship, just make plans with your family and friends and save another night to celebrate with your date. It doesn’t have to be anything over-the-top, a candle stuck in the dessert with a quick rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” should suffice if it’s early on in a relationship. No present is expected or necessary, aside from having your date pick up the check.
And if you’re poly-dating, and each date wants to celebrate your birthday, well then lucky you — your birthday just turned into a week-long celebration!
under Date Night
If you’re going on first dates right now it’s probable that the war on and in Israel will become a topic of conversation. If you’re passionate about Israel then it may come up — even when there’s not a war going on — or if you’re passionate about another major current event then you can use that as a measuring tool as well. Finding out how someone feels about what’s going on in Israel, and around the world, will likely have an effect on how you feel about your date.
Let’s assume you’re a devout supporter of Israel’s right to defend herself:
If your date doesn’t have much of a clue aside from some headlines while they scroll through their Facebook feed or watch TV, then you may be turned off by the lack of interest in a topic that effects all of us.
If they are knowledgeable but don’t spend time advocating for Israel, then that may be acceptable to you.
If they are sharing articles, attending pro-Israel rallies, and losing sleep after watching the news then you may feel a deeper connection.
If your date thinks Israel is at fault, and denies Hamas’ use of civilian shields, and tweets FreeGaza, and so on, then this person is very, very likely not for you.
You can gage a lot about a person by how involved they are politically, and make some valid assumptions, and then decide for yourself if this is the type of person you want to be with in a romantic relationship. That said, don’t spend your entire first date debating anything political, that’s less than romantic. Simply stating that you’re stressed about what’s going on in Israel right now and listening to their response, should be enough of a telltale sign. Then carry on as you see fit.
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Not everyone has a backstory, but lots of people do. Positive or negative, when to reveal that story after you begin dating someone you really like is a normal worry — especially when you have something important to divulge.
I’ve written previously about being honest and addressing a physical disability from the beginning; and I’ve written about how to discuss a divorce and/or having children in a minimal way in your profile and on a first date; but how about a backstory that isn’t visible? Are you a cancer survivor or do you suffer from depression or were you abused or were you adopted or any other background that made you who you are… but no one would necessarily know unless you told them?
This type of backstory is not one to include in your JDate profile, or even to bring up on a first date, but you do need to open up relatively early on. If the story is too much for your date to handle, then let them leave — clearly it’s not the right person for you and that’s why you need to reveal your story sooner rather than later. Unless it’s relevant to a conversation you are having on a first date, then save your confession for your second or third date. This does not mean that you are ashamed of your backstory, just that you want to have prospects get to know you for you, and not your story, particularly if it is a sob story.
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Going on dates, being someone’s significant other, and just being an all-around good friend means that you need to be a good listener.
When you’re on a date, it’s normal to chime in with a “me too!” when you’re looking for commonalities, but make sure you allow the other person to complete their thought. When you’re in a relationship, it’s normal to become a sounding board and to chime in with advice — but sometimes it’s best to just be there as a symbolic shoulder. Being a good friend does not always mean needing to speak, but instead just allowing the other person to talk and feel heard.
Listening is a skill. Learn it. It will come in handy in your love life and many other areas of life.
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Here’s the scenario a JDater recently asked my advice about:
“I’ve been poly-dating as you recommend in your book, but I’m afraid I’ve let it get too serious with two guys at the same time! Now I feel like I’m two-timing. Each relationship is just progressing naturally and I haven’t had “The Talk” with either, but I feel like I’m betraying both of them because I like both of them. What do I do?”
In short, keep dating both of them unless you feel stronger about one, or until you have “The Talk” with one. People, particularly women, are not used to poly-dating and feel guilty. “Betrayal” is an accurate word for how people feel, but unless you are in a committed, monogamous relationship, then you are free to date whomever you want and you’re not betraying anyone. Poly-dating is not for everyone. But if you are finding yourself in a pattern where you fall for each new prospect too quickly and then get hurt, poly-dating may be something you ought to start practicing. It will keep you grounded and prevent you from falling too quickly for anyone… and it’s fun (just practice safe poly-dating and no one should get hurt!).
under Date Night
In light of the attack on Israel, and all the conversations and debates going on, it seems as good a time as any to discuss how to deal with politics when you’re dating.
This is not typically a first-date topic, but skimming the surface is important if politics is one of your passions. Knowing if your date shares your stance on domestic and international issues can be imperative in deciding if there should be a second date. Getting into a full-on debate over dinner on your first date, however, is not a good idea. Having a healthy disagreement on a fourth date is awesome though as it will reveal your date’s views on current events, their level of interest in current events, and how well they listen and respect your opinion.
Obviously if you are a pro-Israel advocate, and your date is a Palestinian sympathizer, then you may have difficulties. Same goes for a staunch left-wing, card-carrying member of the NRA and a super-liberal, anti-corporation socialist. Probably won’t work. But never say never. Respect goes a long way!
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When you start dating someone who seems like a total catch, it is easy to want to know everything about them as soon as you can. It’s easy to build someone up to be something they’re not since it takes time to get a clear, accurate picture of who someone really is. However, discussion alone may not get you the answers you’re looking for, and prying too much too soon can prove disastrous.
Behavior is a great way to gauge how someone behaves in most situations (and for me it’s often a lot more indicative than their words). Maybe they think they’re a great dancer, but have no rhythm. Maybe you like that they’re really smart, but soon discover they don’t have a lot of common sense or tact. They can’t tell you those things. Or maybe you think they’re conscientious about how they treat others, but they don’t respect your opinion in making decisions. You just have to see those things for yourself.
If they aren’t as great as you built them up to be early on in the relationship, you are likely to be disappointed. Try to take what you see and hear at face value (or less). It’s easy when we’re excited to let our minds fill in unknown information, or to pry for lots of details to help fill our knowledge gaps about the person.
This is why we date: to figure out who someone is.
It’s hard to wait sometimes, but try not to rush getting to know someone. If you’re right for each other, waiting three months to discover he or she is a clean freak probably won’t make a huge difference in the long run. Also, part of the fun of dating is getting to know someone better, and hopefully enjoying his or her company more and appreciating each other’s quirks more as time progresses. Sometimes you build someone up and on the third date you realize you don’t think he or she has the good character traits you were envisioning. Recently, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by learning more and more about a guy I’m seeing. I didn’t gather that he was very cultured from first meeting him, but when we went out and I learned how knowledgeable he was about many things I wouldn’t have expected, I was impressed. Instead of building him up and being let down by elevated notions of him, I went with the flow (for once), let him reveal himself over time, and was excited when he exceeded my expectations.
- Don’t have sky-high expectations. They lead to a lot of unnecessary disappointments.
- Don’t rush getting to know someone because you’re worried they might not measure up. If they don’t measure up, you will certainly figure it out in time.
- Don’t build them up to be someone they’re not. They can’t live up to the fake version of themselves in your head.
under Date Night
We all have crazy schedules and many responsibilities. Everyone has a life outside of dating and relationships, and sometimes it is difficult to find time to see someone you like. That’s why you need to take opportunities when they arise.
If the school you teach at has early dismissal before a long weekend, then make a date for the afternoon rather than going home to catch up on sleep. If you can stretch out your lunch hour and sneak back into the office late, then go on a date in the middle of the day when you don’t have to cut it short and rush back. If you have a busy weekend with out of town family, then break away to have a brunch date or a coffee date, or even a walk around town.
Bottom line: If you want to see someone, then make the time to see them.
under Date Night
Recently, I went on a very formal first date. I was flabbergasted when he showed up with a giant bouquet of flowers. I’m rarely speechless, but I think the flowers overwhelmed me from the start. While I appreciated them, I had no idea how to interpret the gesture, and was a bit freaked out. They’re still brightening up my apartment though, and now I can breathe easier knowing that they aren’t a declaration of love by someone who I’ve known for less than two months.
We went to a symphony and dinner, ate dessert, and sipped wine. I felt a bit out of my element; I’m more accustomed to starting out with a low-key first date. Being wined and dined isn’t something I expect on a first date. I just like to talk, laugh, and get to know each other in a casual setting. I decided, after a lot of confusion and conflicted feelings, to give this guy a second shot to wow me… in a way I am used to and comfortable with. So we went to a casual dinner, walked around a park, and had ice cream.
After the formal date:
- I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back out with him and felt bad about myself
- I was exhausted trying to interpret what had happened on our date
- I didn’t think he was able to read my signals and vice versa
After a candid discussion and a good dose of humor, he asked if he could try again in my style. No red carpets, no flowers.
After the casual date:
- I felt at ease and able to talk more freely
- I thought we had much more in common and walked away feeling good about myself
- I had no problem sending or receiving his signals
When planning a date, make sure to think about who you’re dealing with. Not everyone likes the same kind of first date. Starting out with daytime coffee is a great go-to if you’ve never met. If it goes well, you can extend the date. If not, you only waste 45 minutes to two hours of your life. It’s not super creative, but it’s tried and true. If you have met before, try to match the date to their preferences. Some people might love skydiving as a first date, while others might have a panic attack. I am in the latter camp. I would avoid trying to sweep someone off their feet on a first date. There’s plenty of time for that later on in the relationship, and you may end up accidentally sweeping them out of your life.