Janice threw herself down into my office chair with a sigh.
One look at her told me how well her last week of dating had gone.
“So!” I said. “Anyone interesting?”
“Anyone psychopathic, more like it.” Janice groaned. “I know we talked about connecting on dates instead of checking off boxes. After that last date? I totally see what you mean.”
She’d gone out on a date with a man she thought was successful, intelligent, and had similar interests. Janice wanted a partner she could have great conversations with. She wouldn’t go out on a date unless she thought they’d have enough to talk about.
This time, she was surprised when her date kicked off the conversation by asking her what she was looking for.
“We had just sat down and ordered. No small talk. He wanted to get straight down to business.” She shook her head. “I thought that was kind of rude, but I went ahead and told him that I didn’t have any expectations. I wanted to see if we had a connection and then take it from there. And he got offended, James!”
Her date told her that he had enough friends. He wasn’t looking for more. He was dating because the one thing missing in his life was a romantic, sexual relationship with the right woman.
“He had all these boxes, and he wasn’t interested if I didn’t fit in them,” Janice said. “You’re right, James. It sucks to go out on a date with someone who’s just interested in what they can get from you.”
Janice, like so many women, was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
She wanted a partner for a lifetime of conversation, happiness, and ultimately family.
But she also knew that you can’t see people as a means to an end. People know when you’re trying to get something out of them, even if it’s a good thing like a relationship.
That’s why we’d discussed the difference between results-oriented and heart-oriented dating.
It was a lesson Janice’s date had yet to learn. Ironically, the best way to get results in dating is to stop focusing on getting results! Here’s how it works…
If you’re busy—and who isn’t?—you don’t have a lot of time to waste on relationships that aren’t going anywhere.
So naturally you judge a man when you meet him for the first time. Do you want the same things? Are you headed in a similar direction? Could it ever work between you?
Those are great questions…
To ask AFTER a first date.
If you don’t make a connection, it doesn’t matter if you have the same goals.
Too often we assume that compatibility is a matter of wanting the same things. But what we want isn’t static. It changes over time.
You might meet someone and decide you’re open to a different kind of relationship. A man might say he wants the same thing as you, only to backtrack when push comes to shove.
It’s important to take what he says on a first date with a grain of salt. Most people are aware they’re going to be judged based on what they say, and they censor themselves accordingly.
You cannot determine whether he’s “the one” on the basis of what he tells you on that first date.
So the goal of a first date is NOT to evaluate him and give him a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. It’s something else entirely…
The goal of a first date is one thing and one thing only:
Without a connection, you can’t move forward.
I urge my clients to try what I call heart-oriented dating, or making a connection at the heart level.
On that first date, find out what’s special about him. Is he is a good guy? Does he have a good heart? What has he done in his life that’s meaningful to him?
See if you can discover what makes him unique, even if the two of you never go on to have a relationship.
We thrive when people want to get to know us for who we are, not because they feel we can contribute to their lives in some way.
It’s like the difference between conditional love and unconditional love. Conditional love says, “I’ll love you only if you agree to love me back.” Unconditional love says, “I love you because you’re lovable. I don’t need anything from you.”
Men are very aware of the conditional nature of dating.
Many men believe that their ability to get a second date depends on how much they earn, the car they drive, and whether they come across as an alpha male. So they’ll slip those things into a first date conversation, even if you could care less.
Making a genuine connection on a first date can feel like swimming upstream. The way is blocked by so many unspoken expectations and false assumptions that it’s hard to find a way through.
But you can try the strategy I gave Janice…
If a man asks you what you’re looking for, tell him you’re looking to get to know him. You’re looking forward to finding out who he is and what he’s about.
Time spent getting to know someone new is never wasted, even if he’s not your Mr. Right.