You’ve been chatting online with someone from CatholicMatch for several weeks now and you think it’s time to meet in real life. You have lots of ideas for the first date, but then you are suddenly struck by the bone-chilling thought:
What if her (or his) idea of a perfect date is very different from my idea?
You could, of course, just ask her. But sometimes the answer is: “Whatever you want to do!” or, better, “Just surprise me!”
If that happens, you can get a clue from her (or his) temperament as to what you should (or definitely should not) do on your first date.
If your date is a sensitive, artistic, high-minded and somewhat introverted melancholic, I do not recommend a wild evening drinking, clubbing, and dancing to “Party Rock Anthem.” An evening attending the symphony, a romantic walk along the beach, or dining at a quietly elegant restaurant might be more appropriate.
On the other hand, if you are the melancholic and your date will be a lively, sociable, spontaneous sanguine, don’t kick off the evening with holy hour and Eucharistic adoration. This does not mean that sanguines don’t appreciate adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They do.
But your goal is to make that first date one that is particularly appealing to your potential partner. The first step in a lifelong relationship of self-giving is learning to appreciate things from another’s point of view. Your sanguine might really enjoy a spontaneous stroll through the botanical gardens, followed by ice skating in the park, gelato at the corner ice cream shop or a night cap at a lively Irish pub.
Your phlegmatic date is blessedly easy to please. Phlegmatics are happy doing whatever you want. This easy going, mellow temperament will be happy chilling on the couch watching baseball, walking the dog, visiting the parents or fixing a simple meal at home.
Finally, what if you are ready to wrangle a choleric? A laid back, low key (phlegmatic) approach might not get their attention. And you don’t want to play it by ear, because the choleric may find you indecisive and boring. Have a dynamic and challenging evening planned: a lecture at the local community college, hard-to-get-tickets for a show, box seats at the opera, and so on.
When the date begins
Once you are on your date, don’t try to be someone you are not. This doesn’t impress anyone but the most undiscerning.
My point is that, occasionally, you might need to go beyond your comfort zone in order to get on your prospective date’s radar.
Each temperament can sometimes fall into the trap of being overly comfortable with its own tendencies and fail to step up to the challenge.
A reserved and cautious melancholic might fail to even send out the appropriate social cues that she is interested. An easygoing phlegmatic might not step up to the challenge of calling and making plans for subsequent get togethers, assuming these will just happen. A choleric can be overly commandeering, too aggressive and push his new acquaintance away. A sanguine can be so busy and scattered that she fails to follow through, or she may be so active that she fails to provide the intimate, quiet times necessary to really get to know another person.
Nonetheless, each temperament also has its special gifts and strengths that God has given you so that you will have everything necessary to fulfill His will. As St. Paul says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).