We’ve got a brand new blogger in the mix! Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. She’s amazing, and will be contributing to the eH blog several times a month. In her first entry, she writes about the gift that is our gut instinct. Should we always just follow our instincts, or give that mediocre date another try? Read on for her thoughts…
“Give them a chance!”
That’s the ever-so reasonable cry single people hear when they inform a friend or family member that they didn’t go on that second, third or fourteenth date because they … didn’t want to. It can feel arrogant and foolish to decline a date for no apparent reason. The good soul you had dinner with was polite, employed and perfectly nice to look at. And yet, when confronted with the option of going on another date or, say, filing your tax return, somehow the 1040 form beckons. It’s enough to make your friends and family say, “No wonder you’re single!
Of course, there are lots of great reasons to push through resistance and go on just one more date. Even if this person isn’t the love of your life, you might get to see a new neighborhood or try a new restaurant and perhaps learn a thing or two about telemarketing or chemical engineering.
But it’s also important to trust your instinct. A study published in the Journal Science found evidence that gut feelings deserve more respect than we often give them credit for. Newlyweds were shown pictures of their new bride or groom and asked to click a button that said either a negative or positive word, like “awesome” or “awful.” Those who hesitated to give a positive response were more likely to be divorced four years later.
Granted, there is a difference between pre-wedding jitters and meh third-date feelings. But the principle remains the same: You know more than you think you do. So here are a few suggestions for tapping into that wisdom.
1) Limit Feedback
If you’re unsure about whether you want to continue seeing someone, it’s only natural that you’ll want to hash out your feelings with your twelve closest friends. But listening to the judgments and preferences of others can cloud your own instinct.
Your sister may not think it’s a big deal that your date has never voted in a single election, but if you’re deeply involved in community civic life it’s understandable that his apathy would be off-putting.
Of course, sometimes you don’t have a concrete reason for why things didn’t click—they just didn’t. So you give your friends an explanation: He’s into monster truck racing. She doesn’t like camping. He thinks Pineapple Express is the funniest movie ever made.
When explaining why a date didn’t work out, we often point to these small details. Friends and family roll their eyes: Good lord, who cares what movies he likes!
Here’s the thing: If you’d had a good time, you wouldn’t be concerned about your date’s taste in music or movies. In fact, you’d probably find a newfound appreciation for soft jazz or Seth Rogan.
2) Take the Next Step
Instead of debating this person’s merits with your friends, stay quiet and keep the question to yourself: Do you want to go on another date? When you think about the idea of seeing this person again, does it make you feel lighter or heavier?
If the answer is still unclear, start planning. What would the two of you do together? Attend a gallery opening? Go ice-skating in the park? When would you want to see this person? Tomorrow? A week from Tuesday (provided things aren’t too crazy at work)? If the thought of disrupting your workout schedule or missing the next Real Housewives makes the whole thing feel like a burden, that’s a fairly good sign that you’re not into this person.
On the other hand, if you find yourself feeling energized when you imagine the two of you splitting a plate of calamari, then you’ve got your answer.
3) Drop Your Expectations
Of course, there is a lot to be said for heaving yourself off the couch and just going. The price is fairly low (one evening) and the reward is potentially very high (a lifetime of companionship). But it doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead of putting all that pressure on yourself and your date (Is this worth it? Can this possibly go anywhere?) Try just being curious about the person you’re walking through the park with. This person may not be your soulmate, but he or she is someone who is searching for love and doing their best. That much you have in common.
About the Author:
Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter at @saraeckel or on Facebook.