EXPECTATIONS – Walking into Lampposts, and other Great Dating Advice! (TOWTS)

In all honesty, dates – particularly first dates – used to worry me.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact I literally walked into a lamppost on my very first “official” date as a fifteen year old, who knows?

Anyway, I used to build dates up in my mind to such an extent that I became quite anxious about making a good impression. A few years ago, you’d never have caught me standing in one of the busiest spots in London holding a sign waiting to meet a totally blind date, or agreeing to go “silent dating”.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from taking part in these Experiments is that dating can be a lot of fun, as long as you actually allow yourself to have fun. Dates can either be quite awkward, tense affairs or they can be light-hearted and enjoyable.

I think it all depends on how you frame them in your mind.

A big part of this is Expectations. We’ve all had those dates which, frankly, we expected very little from and thought about cancelling. You’ve had a long day at the office, you’d rather go to the gym or see your friends. You might even just want to sit on the sofa and have a night in. The “old” me would invariably have cancelled those dates, but I’ve learnt that you can end up having a good time on a date from which you expected very little.

In fact, there have been a few of those dates that have ended up going surprisingly well. Looking back on the various dates I’ve had, the ones that went well are those where I put least pressure on myself and was most relaxed. I just turned up with very few expectations or no expectations at all – not in a negative way, just in an open-minded way – and was able to embrace those dates for what they were.

We all go through some “box-ticking” when it comes to dating. It might be before the date, during the date or after it, but we all do it one way or another.

Does she like sport? Can she laugh at herself? Is she really passionate about something?

The more of these mental boxes we’re able to tick, the more pressure we put on the date to go a certain way because we think there’s potential there. I’m as guilty of this as anyone.

Except this is where I think we all go wrong every now and again.

Turning up to a date with a clear idea of how you expect the date to go based on your box ticking will only serve to raise your expectations, potentially making you more uptight. Realistically, you don’t really know the other person and you certainly don’t know how the date will go or whether you’d make a good couple, so there’s not much point in trying to guess any of this.

Let me explain myself – The more realistic your expectations are, the more relaxed you’re likely to be. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you’ll be yourself and therefore possibly make a connection with someone. So, by all means carry on ticking those boxes if you need to, but don’t take the exercise too seriously, as it could raise your expectations too much and potentially make for a slightly awkward date if things don’t go exactly according to plan.

Because the truth is you can’t know someone very well at all when you start dating them – particularly before a first date – and to project your expectations onto them and onto the date is not only unfair on both of you, but also counter-productive.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that in my mind the best approach to dating – as Miss Twenty-Nine has pointed out to me a few times since I’ve known her – is just to relax and be open minded. In other words, to forget whatever expectations you might have for your date because chances are, they’re way off.

To be honest, I never expected to actually walk into a lamppost on a first date. But I did, which really just goes to show that anything can happen on a date and your best bet is just to embrace that.

The One with The Sign



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