The worst part of dating is often at the very beginning.
First dates can be a big frustration for a lot of people. Personally, I’ve never really liked first dates, especially if it was a blind date. I feel a lot of pressure, and sometimes it’s just plain awkward. First dates seem to fall somewhere between the excitement of a new possibility and the terror of a new possibility. So where’s the middle ground?
One of the things that has helped me redeem these early dates is a little perspective.
First dates are not the time to be thinking about the genetic advantages our future children might enjoy, but – let’s be honest – our minds can easily drift that direction. We put pressure on ourselves and on our dates to have a vision for our future together as soon as possible. Overthinking the long-term possibilities can cool things off before they even have a chance to get started.
Instead, we do better to shift our first date focus to two things:
- Learning about our date.
- Finding reasons to celebrate our date.
Both are important, regardless of the prospects of a future together. We should be on a mission to discover new things about them and celebrate what we are learning. Let yourself show a little excitement about the specific things you are getting to know about each other.
How To Learn More About Your Date
I’ve found that having a few thoughtful questions ready can be a great help here. You might not be a naturally curious person, or maybe you don’t like to ask questions. But most people are naturally drawn to individuals who genuinely take interest in them, especially if we show enthusiasm about what we are learning.
Here are a few questions you can ask the man or woman you’re meeting up with to spark great first date conversations:
- Tell me about a time when you were really happy and excited?
- What is the greatest surprise you’ve ever experienced?
- Who has been one of your favorite teachers or coaches?
- What was one of your favorite meals growing up?
- What’s something you want to be remembered for?
- What is one of the best gifts you’ve ever been given?
- Tell me about the coolest place you’ve ever visited?
- If you were given an all-expense-paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- What’s your favorite book/movie/television show?
- What’s one of your favorite restaurants/coffee shops/hangout spots?
Again, the goal is not to power through these questions as fast as possible. The goal is to find things about them that you can celebrate. If you discover a great story or something they seem excited to share, camp there for a while and ask some follow-up questions.
Celebrating Your Date
After the date, take a few minutes to write down everything you can remember about what they shared. Pay close attention to their favorites. Favorite places, meals, flowers, etc. may come in very handy down the road! Every dating couple should keep a record of each other’s favorites.
As we learn to celebrate each other for who we are – an individual created in the image of God – we will bring the fun back into dating. This is true whether that first date leads to marriage or not. As we learn to ask good questions and celebrate the lives of the people we are spending time with, we will find dating can be a great way to bless and encourage others.