Picking up First Date Clues

by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, Clinical Psychologist and eHarmony Founder

Picking up First Date Clues

By asking a few key questions and listening carefully, you can learn alot about someone. Gather some important clues on your first date to see if you might be compatible in the future.

Most people who go on first dates are at least a little bit self-conscious.You want to make a good impression, come across as confident and charming and avoid any major embarrassing moments. All of that is perfectly natural.

 
However, I also encourage others to be “other-conscious” on a date. That is, be keenly attuned to the person you’re with so you can evaluate the level of compatibility you share. Stay focused and alert to any “red lights” or “green lights”— indications that you should go no further or proceed at full speed ahead.

If you learn to pay close attention to all the clues you receive during the first several dates, you will end up with a wealth of information on which to evaluate your budding relationship. In order to do this observing well, though, you will need to be secure within yourself, because accurate observations always start with “getting beyond yourself.” You can’t be so concerned about yourself that you miss important signals about how the two of you might match up.

Just the other day, a young woman told me, “I was on a date with a guy named Andrew, and I tried to really focus on what he was saying. Normally, I’d be worrying about myself too much to realize what he was all about. He made several statements that were subtle but definitely derogatory toward women. That’s a hot-button for me. Andrew was a decent guy, but it sure seemed like he had issues with women. I’m really glad I picked up on his attitude, and I might have missed it if I wasn’t paying close attention.”

If you want to gain maximum information from another person, get him or her talking — and then listen carefully. Asking key questions is critical to the process. These questions can begin with something as innocuous as “How is your life going these days?” or “What do you enjoy most about living in Norfolk?”

Then as you listen to what the person says, you can ask follow-up questions in a natural way, and you can move toward more meaningful topics. You want to discover what the person enjoys about his daily experience, whether he is happy and why, how much his job means to him, what his friendships are like, and so on.

Pay close attention to information about family background, especially the relationships with parents. I suspect there is no more important information available than that which reveals the depth and quality of these two primary relationships.

Although bombarding your date with one question after another would be inappropriate, any person who listens well and asks thoughtful questions will almost always be seen as caring and sensitive. Along the way, you can pick up significant clues about your dating partner’s beliefs, background and attitudes.

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