In a recent blog post, “First Date Dilemma: To Go or Not To Go,” I posed the question: “What happens when a guy–who you are not romantically interested in–asks you on a date?” From reading the feedback in the comment box, I know many readers are on completely opposite sides of this issue.
Before we continue, I’d like to try to clear up any misconceptions you might have about the insincerity of my plan. I never meant to imply being insensitive to someone’s feelings. In reading your comments and talking about this further, I wanted to highlight one very important reason I feel strongly about this that may not have come across in my initial post.
As humans we share in the image and likeness of God. Our dignity demands fair and honest interactions. For that reason, I believe that we deserve one another’s time—real minutes spent in face-to-face contact. In today’s culture of cell phone text messaging and Facebook chatting, we have grown more and more distant from one another. The art of conversation is lost—replaced instead by ongoing cyber-interaction which is devoid of any type of body language or real emotional sensitivity.
I believe that real human interaction is one of the cures for our desensitized culture and is one main reason I feel we should encourage these face-to-face interactions among people. Especially on a dating site like CatholicMatch—where our first impressions of people come from online profiles, messaging and chats. It’s so important to remember that these online interactions give us a glimpse of the real person but not the fullness of who that person really is. That is something you can only find out when you look someone in the eye.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s just say you have accepted that date with someone you don’t immediately see any long-term potential with. How should you handle it from here?
Casual Atmosphere. First, it’s important to try to keep the date in a “getting to know you” format. Coffee shops, lunches rather than dinners, or ice cream and some window shopping are some ideas which will frame the date in a way that doesn’t lend itself easily to a possibly misinterpreted romantic atmosphere.
Be You. Above all else, be yourself. Oftentimes, in trying to keep our distance, we don’t really show our hand and let people know who we really are. I believe this false front approach is a byproduct of our cyber-culture and it doesn’t help us to develop real relationship skills to deal kindly and gently with people who have very real emotions and feelings. Being yourself challenges us to be fair and honest with those with whom we interact.
No Mixed Signals. Work hard not to give the person mixed signals. Be aware of your body language–friendly doesn’t mean flirty. Don’t just flatter someone because it makes it easier to be with them. It isn’t fair to you or to the person you are spending time with.
Upfront Conversation. You already know that you don’t see immediate long-term potential with this person so take some time beforehand to really think about how you would like this conversation to go. Again, we need to remember that these are people with feelings that we are dealing with. How can you kindly say you just want to be friends? This is going to be different for everyone. I think it’s important to be positive in your assessment of the person. You are here because this person deserves real minutes from your day. Remember that encouraging people to have real face-to-face interactions is part of the big picture here. Keep this in mind when deciding what to say.
Realize too, that just because you are on this date, doesn’t mean you have to have this conversation immediately. It is a very real possibility that this date is honestly just about getting to know you better too–insinuating anything more than that on either side truly is presumption. If you pay attention to the signals and the conversation, you will know if it is the right time to have the “just being friends” discussion.
Exit Strategy. The grace of being able to bring things to a close–whether that is this date or just a friendly telephone conversation–is really a lost art. Plan out how you would like to say good-bye. Don’t kiss or hug just to do so. Don’t imply or agree to see the person again because it makes things easier. Focus on the present moment–say something like, “It’s been wonderful to get to see you in a setting that’s different from (work/school/gym).”
Dating is the art of building relationships–real, face-to-face ones–and in this day of email and text messaging, we sometimes have to work harder and go a little out of our comfort zones to make this happen.
What are some ideas to make this kind of date work for you?