In a recent interview, Grammy winner and former “American Idol” Kelly Clarkson was asked about her love life. “Man, I just keep going on horrible dates,” she answered. “I’m like, ‘There’s not enough wine in the world for me to enjoy this.’ I actually had a guy say to me . . . “I can’t believe I’m on a date with Kelly Clarkson.’ And under my breath I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t either.’ Some days I think, ‘I’ll meet him. Everybody finds somebody,’ and other days I’m like ‘Maybe I won’t. Maybe I missed the memo.”
Can you relate? For some singles, the words “first date” fill them with excitement and anticipation; others are filled with anxiety, even dread. As one single man said recently, “I’m so sick of first dates. I’ve been on five in the past two months, and they’re exhausting. You usually have to make small talk and run through all the same information again and again. But of course you have to go through a first date to see if it’ll turn into a second and third.”
That is the crux of the matter: A first date is necessary to determine if more dates are called for to further explore possibilities, especially since those possibilities might lead to a truly fantastic relationship. Not to sound like a fortune cookie, but it’s true that “Every long, glorious journey begins with one decisive step.” If you are feeling worn out and discouraged from a string of dead-end first dates, it’s time to regroup and retool your approach. Start with these ideas:
Take care of yourself. The analogy says that “dating is a marathon, not a sprint.” If that’s true, then you need to be intentional about maintaining your physical and mental health for the trek. These days, nearly everyone feels chronically stressed out, stretched thin, and sleep deprived. So when it’s Friday night and time for your date, you may prefer to put on your sweats and crash on the couch for the evening—instead of trying coax a little more energy from your empty tank. By taking good care of yourself, you’ll have some pep and enthusiasm when date night arrives.
Ease the pressure. Singles are often frustrated by their dates because they have sky-high expectations. Pressure mounts when you forget that a date is only dinner and a movie in the company of someone who may or may not be very interesting. Your dates will be far less stressful if your intent is simply to have fun–and if that fun date turns into something more, then that’s all the better.
Get more information beforehand. It could be that first dates are draining and disappointing because you don’t know enough in advance about the person you’re going out with. A little more time on the phone or a few more email exchanges would help you determine if you and the other person would enjoy a full evening out together.
Bow out gracefully – if you know the first date will be the last. Yes, you want to give every date a chance—and, yes, some new relationships take a while to warm up. But if you’re positive you wouldn’t want a second date, why waste more time and energy? With as much tact and respect as possible, suggest that you cut the date short.
Refuse to give up. After several uninspiring dates, you may want to throw up your hands and take a long hiatus. But it doesn’t take a genius to know you’re not going to find the person of your dreams unless you keep looking. Simply put, there’s no reason you can’t find the love of your life if you hang in there, keep going, and stay persistent. If you want to dramatically increase your chances of finding a wonderful partner, start by deciding not to give up. Believe the best about yourself, and always believe that a great partner is searching for you, too.
Kate Meyers, “Sunday with Kelly Clarkson,” Parade magazine, October 20, 2011.