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Erika Ettin: Your last date doesn't represent your dating life

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

I have a client who is lovely. Let’s call her Julia. She’s 55 years old but looks 45 (which I rarely say!), she's extremely physically active, and she has a 1,000-watt smile. I’m helping her manage her Match.com account, selecting men, arranging dates, etc.

She had a first date with a man from the site, and they met at a dimly lit bar. I have my clients fill out a short survey after each date with their thoughts and feedback so I can get a sense of how it went. The survey read: “Yes, this was a quality guy. Good find!” and “I found myself more and more attracted to him as the date passed.” On the scale of 1 to 10, she gave the date an 8, saying, “I liked him — he has a laid-back disposition, he speaks calmly but he is very interesting and has done a lot of interesting things in his life — we had a lot of similar interests.”

I was thrilled. She was thrilled. They arranged a second date. That second date happened, and I received this email afterward:

“I am just back from my second date. I am completely perplexed... I feel [he] is not what he put forward on his profile. He is laid back and very adventuresome ... or was. But something tells me something is not right ... such a difficult feeling to sort through. It's not like I can say, ‘What year were you born? Show me your birth certificate!’ He is nice, but I feel he is much older than 58. Or, am I not in touch with myself and this is what a match is for me??”

The power of dim lighting on the first date perhaps had more of an impact than she thought? Much worse than the date not going well, though, my client started to doubt herself.

Now, I never do this, but I was curious, so, using the little information I had from his Match account, I did a bit of sleuthing and found her date’s profile on LinkedIn. (Honestly, I was surprised she hadn’t beaten me to it!) Assuming he graduated college at 22, that would have put him at 64 years old, not 58. For the record, lying online is not OK.

 

Julia was very upset. Rather than simply being disappointed with her date for portraying himself inaccurately, she was upset about her entire dating life. In her eyes, what message was she putting out there to attract this “old man”? Was this really the only type of man she could “get”? She even went as far as asking me, “Should I just start grilling all of my next dates about the year they are born?”

I cut her off with a resounding NO … and may or may not have made a joke about changing her Match password so she wouldn’t be tempted to start the inquisition.

She was letting this one man’s lie impact her own self-worth. I told her she can’t let one person’s behavior — or aging process — impact her thoughts about her own value. He should not, nor should anyone, have that power. His lack of confidence made him hide his real age. That had nothing to do with her. I told her she can’t project this one man’s behavior on other dates, thereby penalizing them before she even meets them.

She had a major high after the first date and then a major low after the second. I encouraged Julia to remember that your dating life is not only as good as your last date. Take each date for what it is: one date. Like in the law of large numbers, the more dates you go on, the less sway each one should have. With not very many in her sample size, each one can really impact what she perceives as the average. As she, and you, go on more dates, you’ll see it’s important to treat each one separately, not let one person determine your self-worth, and try to go into each new experience with an open mind.

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