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Erika Ettin: Going on a date isn't a waste of time

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

I browse hundreds of dating profiles every week (no, that’s not an exaggeration), and I tend to see some things over and over again:

“I like to travel and spend time outdoors.” Great, but who doesn’t?

“My friends say I’m charming, intelligent, and fun.” Maybe that’s why you’re friends?

“My mom says I’m handsome.” I always hope this one is an attempt at humor.

But one thing really irks me: the many, many people who talk about not “wasting their time.”

For some, they feel it’s an inconvenience to meet someone face-to-face for an hour or two — and would rather put their potential match through an interrogation about the important questions before agreeing to a date. But here’s exactly what that achieves: unrealistic expectations and a rocky start to any kind of relationship.

Asking the “big” questions off the bat — regarding religion, politics, money, having kids, relationship with exes — doesn’t make you get a better idea of the person. You’re really trying to rule out those who don’t give the answer you want to hear … and that quickly depletes your pool of candidates.

 

Remember the old adage of topics to avoid during a polite conversation? Those apply to a first date (and pre-meeting in-person!) as well. The first date is to see if you connect — if the conversation flows, if you have some things in common, and if you’re comfortable around each other. The talk about “the hard stuff” will come after you’ve established whether you even enjoy each other’s company, a prerequisite to any type of relationship!

If you ask me, spending an hour to see if someone is a good fit is always a good use of one’s time. It’s definitely better than watching another episode on Netflix, right? Sure, it may end up being a bust. You may know from the first five minutes of conversation that it’s not going to work. But it’s still one step closer to finding your life partner. (And if scheduling is tough due to childcare or something else, then set up a video call. You don’t even have to leave your house!)

Another thing to keep in mind is attitude. If you go in with the mindset that the date is going to be a “waste of time,” it’s likely going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Approach every new interaction with an open mind and optimism. You owe it to your potential match, but mostly to yourself. Worst case scenario? It’s good practice for your next first date.

Everyone has busy schedules, packed calendars, and an ever-growing to-do list. However, a date is when you may need to put off a few things until tomorrow to see if you have a good connection with a new person. Nothing more, nothing less. Assuming we all plan to live a while longer, an hour (with an optimistic attitude) doesn’t seem like such a big deal. And who knows? You may come away with a great connection … or have a really good story to tell friends at your next happy hour gathering.

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