Rarely do we remember the first date. We remember where we went to dinner and what time of year it was, but it’s not often that we recall the actual conversation. Few people realize the magnitude of this meeting. It’s the basis of the relationship, where people verbalize exactly who they are and where they are in their life. Because we’re usually excited and nervous, we talk and drink more than usual.
In order to honestly realize who the other person is, we have to listen and pay attention to their mannerisms and exactly how they articulate their words. Often, because we over drink, we overlook conversational red flags that provide insight into their emotional availability and interest level. Sometimes the other person makes a comment we feel is a little off, however we laugh it off like a joke.
One of my clients met a man at work and they went on their first date. He was still married and he told her he wasn’t divorced yet but was separated. At that time, she could’ve said, “After you get divorced, if you still want to go out, give me a call.” Instead she asked if he was still in love with his wife and when exactly was the last time he had seen her.
Everything seemed fine until months later. She got home earlier than expected and found him sitting on the couch drinking with his ex-wife. Eventually she found out that he had been sleeping with his wife throughout the divorce and recently she got word that they were back together. All of this could have been avoided by responding to the “I’m still married” comment with “Check please.”
Another client told me that her husband sold their home without her knowledge to clear gambling debts. At first she was stunned that this happened but as we went mentally back to their first date, she remembered him talking about gambling high stakes and going to Vegas twice a month. Not to say everyone who gambles is going to lose the house, but that was a red flag that needed to be examined more thoroughly.
We’re not idiots. Quite the contrary, we’re in love with the idea of love. Often, we wear rose-colored glasses to these first meetings because we want things to work out. The next time you go on a first date listen, drink less than normal, and pay attention. If the person across the table makes a comment you don’t understand, don’t gloss it over.
In Dallas, pick a place you can hear each other well, and a place you feel comfortable and at ease. We’re good at using filters nowadays. When we don’t like what we hear, we cast the information in a different light and hope that it will go away. But this just creates pain and suffering in the future and eventually we regret the lost time. Be honest with yourself in the beginning so the second and third dates only happen when you really enjoy the person you are with.
Ashley Berges is a Dallas-based life coach, family therapist, and syndicated radio talk show host of Perspectives with Ashley Berges, which can be heard on 570 AM KLIF and 660AM KKSY.