What is the point of hiding who you are if you want to find a potential life partner? Over 60% of our users said they would be an open book on a first date; so maybe this is what people want. Yet, when you Google tips for first dates, most articles are about not revealing too much?!
Can you be an open book and still leave some mystery? Absolutely! The book can be open, but you should only let them read one chapter at a time…
What should the first chapter contain?
The first date should be about introductions. The foundation of who you are, setting the scene for your potential future. Things like what makes you tick, what makes you laugh; not what made your childhood traumatic.
If you are on this date to find a potential partner, you both need to sense what a future is going to be like together. I don’t mean asking what their parenting style would be like, but rather let them know about your lifestyle and personality (So, if you are sussing what type of parent they will be this might give you an idea.) For example, if you are going on a date with a woman, leave the empty pick-up lines out of it. She’d rather hear that you are intellectual, cultured and curious. Studies have shown that women are more attracted to the dates who don’t try hard to impress her with romance. This makes sense because, get real, movie romance isn’t going to work out during everyday life.
So, you’re being an open book, letting them know who you are and what you do. However, remember, you need to start reading their book too: Don’t forget to let them talk. Ask them questions, give them time to answer. When they ask you a question, share your story appropriately, then ask them the same or similar question back: it is polite.
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone, and you are the only one asking questions? You can’t help but think maybe this ‘getting to know one another’ is just reading their biography and not about you at all? It is as if you paid to meet a famous person at a Q&A!
Remember, your first date is not them paying for a Q&A with you. You will come across as selfish and self-centred if the whole date is about you.
What to say; what not to say
Find the the right topics and pace, so you’re open, but not spilling verbal diarrhoea (sorry for that metaphor…)
DO: Goals and Aspirations
This is obvious, no? This is how you find out whether your lives will fit together, as well as how driven and intellectual a person is. From asking what they do now, to finding out where they want to go (if it’s to have ten kids, you can’t be freaked out: you asked!)
DON’T: Politics (To an extent)
Just like you avoid politics at work (unless you work in a directly political field) you should probably avoid it on a first date. I’ve been the King of Ruining Dates with politics (this was a bit hard not to do when I worked in politics…) I know it is important to find out where your potential partner aligns on the political spectrum. However, on a first date I think you can work out a lot with their goals and aspirations. i.e, you will be able to guess if a person will have completely opposing political views without mentioning the word politics. Therefore, you probably won’t even make it to a second date. If you do, maybe leave the political affiliations to a later date.
DO: Ask unique and interesting questions (but don’t overdo it with weirdness.)
Ask something you think they’ve never been asked on a date. A question that will make them really think and be excited to answer. For example, when the conversation runs dry, ask a question like, “Tell me some good news”. Hopefully, it will make them smile because they’ll have to search their mind for positives. This is subtly asking them to be an open book with you, as the news they choose, what they think is good, will give you an insight into what makes them tick.
I’m sure you have heard of the 36 Questions to Fall in Love by now. On a first date, don’t attempt to try them all if you’re not looking for that intensity. However, you can choose a few random ones to use. These questions are thought provoking, but will tell you interesting things about your date. For example, “Given the choice of anyone in the world, who would you want as a dinner guest?”, or “What would constitute a perfect day for you?” (From that answer, you could plan your second date…)
DON’T: Talk about your baggage
If you talk negatively, it will bring your date’s mood down. If you had a bad day at work, maybe avoid that topic of conversation, you don’t want to seem like you love moaning straight away. (They can find that out once you move in with them.)
No one really wants to hear about your nagging Mother or your Daddy issues; leave the reasons for your quirks as that alluring mystery for a while. I once went on a first date where the person told me all about confronting their family around the dinner table about minor ignorance and crying in front of them. I like your activism, but you are really not selling sitting around a dinner table with your family in the future. No one likes the thought of meeting the family for the first time, so don’t scare them before it is has got to that point.
Speaking about Mental Health, physical health and all health. It is bad enough accepting your own back pain in your twenties, but telling someone on your first date in Nandos about your bulimia is more baggage I didn’t ask for. Before I even know if you’re a dog or cat person! Speaking out about stigmatised subjects is important, but just like politics, leave it out of a first date.
“But the don’ts shouldn’t matter: I want them to know who I am.”
Why shouldn’t we want to get it over and done with, to just let someone know who we are straight away? We won’t waste our time that way. If they cannot handle all of us at the start, then they never will. Being a complete open book will not only tell them your whole life story, it will also show good attributes about you. Such as; You’re honest. Bold. Handle your problems head on. Ultimately, you’re not ashamed of who you are and why.
However, as a writer, I have always been told not to give the audience all the juicy bits straight away, because halfway through they’ll get bored – you want them gripped till the end. Give a person a reason to want to see you again and again, that doesn’t mean you aren’t being yourself.
A book is still telling the story when it doesn’t give you the plot twist at the start.