I’ve been on a lot of first dates. I’ve been on a lot of second dates.
I’ve been on far, far fewer third dates.
In fact, I have an ongoing debate with my single girlfriends. Is it better to have an instant, unmistakable connection with someone, or a relationship you’re initially not quite sure about that develops and strengthens over time? What gives you a better shot at love?
I’m genuinely curious. I’ve had it both ways during my long lifetime of singledom. Both haven’t worked out for me.
I will go on a first date with almost anyone, screening-permitting. I will usually go on a second date even if the first date wasn’t perfect; I’ll forgive a few nerves. But somewhere between dates 2 and 4 is where I start silently calculating all the incompatibilities or the lack of a materializing connection.
I fully believe: If I can’t imagine a future with someone within the first few dates, I probably never will.
And then it’s sayonara.
I have several girlfriends who vehemently disagree with my approach. Wait it out, Julie. Give the guy a shot. Have fun, see what happens. Maybe he’ll change/mature/get better/fill-in-the-blank. Maybe you’ll end up liking him later on. Ifs, ands, buts.
Admittedly, I don’t know if my approach is the right one. If fictional characters disliked each other at first, fell in love, and lived happily ever after, surely it happens once or twice in real life.
But most of the time… I think my girlfriends are settling. Because I’ve settled. I’ve ignored incompatibilities and lackluster connections. I’ve smothered feelings of ambivalence in favor of a light-hearted, laissez-faire, let’s-see-how-it-goes attitude.
Now I know: time spent with someone else who isn’t right for you is time spent away from the person that is.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but my system works for me. And so I implore my single readers: Check your system. Are you spending time with someone because it’s fun, or convenient, or because you’re just takin’ it easy? Or are you with him or her because you can imagine… nay, foresee!… a beautiful future with them?
If not… you’re wasting your time.