6 misunderstood first-date signs
By Julie Taylor
You’re on a first date, and it’s going horribly. Or is it? It turns out that it’s all a matter of perspective. The elements that are making your date a disaster could actually signal something much sweeter. Read on for the six signs that your doomed date is anything but.
1. Your date is not your type
Sure, you’ve seen your date’s photo on his or her profile — but when you meet face to face, you realize the person is so not your type. “Next!,” you say? Not so fast. “Remember that there are thousands of happy couples out there who are not each other’s type,” says Janice MacLeod, coauthor of The Dating Repair Kit. By ruling out someone just because he or she does not meet your romance requisites, you are cutting yourself off from a world of possibilities.
When Jenna, 32, of Key West, FL, met Jeremy, she thought it would never work. After all, he was three inches shorter than she was and was a bit scruffy for her taste. “I wanted to leave instantly, but I had agreed to dinner and didn’t want to be rude,” she says. “Once I got past the superficial stuff, I realized what a gem of a guy he was, and to my surprise, our souls totally clicked. I never thought my soul mate would come in a package like his, but it happened. The lesson? Never say never, no matter what your ‘type’ may be.”
If your date isn’t your type, try redefining your “type” in terms of how a person treats you and makes you feel. This will instantly broaden your dating horizons. “Then vow to finish out the date, come what may,” MacLeod concludes. “Just be in the moment, and give chemistry a chance to grow and prosper.”
2. Your date is super-nervous
When Jennifer, 38, of Las Vegas, NV, was on her first date with Bob, she couldn’t help but notice that his voice was shaking. And his hands were trembling. And he was sweating buckets, right through his shirt. “I thought something was seriously wrong with this guy,” she recalls. “I had no intentions of dating him again.” But luckily for Jennifer (and Bob), she changed her mind and decided to give him a second chance. “The next date, he was much more chilled out and relaxed,” she continues. “He later told me he was nervous because I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. That was a good enough reason for me!”
Extreme nervousness on a first date could be a good sign, says MacLeod. “It probably means this person likes you a whole lot,” she says, “and might need a few dates to get past the initial set of jitters.”
When your date is super-nervous, put him or her at ease by being deliberate and calm yourself. Take a few deep breaths, smile, and make eye contact. “It helps to be compassionate and understanding about what the other person is going through,” MacLeod advises. “A first date isn’t necessarily easy, especially if you’re super-nervous to begin with, so try to cut your date some slack.”
3. Your date tells you there are other people in the picture
It’s your first dinner date. Between the hot wings and the halibut, she drops it on you: she’s just out of a major breakup and is seeing a few other men at the moment. Instant date-killer, right? Wrong, says MacLeod: “This full disclosure means your date is very honest,” she says. “She’s laying all her cards on the table and not pretending to be someone she’s not.”
Over appetizers, Bob, 29, of Colorado Springs, CO, learned more than he ever wanted to know about his date, Jill. “She told me she was dating another guy, but they weren’t totally serious — they were more like friends with benefits,” he recalls. His response to her confession? “I paid the tab and told her to call me if she ever dumped her so-called ‘friend,’” he recalls. Four weeks later, she did — and Bob and Jill began dating in earnest. “She later explained that she liked me so much, she didn’t want to lead me on during that first date,” he says. “In retrospect, I guess I can respect that.”
If your date tells you he or she is dating other people, just be happy no secrets are being kept from you. (After all, it’s better to know now than later.) However, if the bombshell your date drops is more of the “I’ve cheated on every person I’ve ever been with” variety, this is a major red flag, according to MacLeod... beware!
4. You argue
You’re having a nice, normal, getting-to-know-you conversation when suddenly you have a difference of opinion. What begins as a friendly disagreement quickly escalates into an all-out fight. Whether you’re arguing over politics, religion, or even the merits of VH1’s current reality show lineup, an argument on a first date never feels like a good sign. But a fight can actually be a very good thing. If you’re arguing, it can mean there’s passion between you. Sparks are flying — sure, maybe not in the way you’d hoped, but they’re still there. “Arguing can lead into interesting conversation, which is part of what keeps a relationship alive,” says MacLeod.
When 28-year-old Noah, of Burbank, CA, met Lillian, they instantly clashed. “It felt like we couldn’t see eye-to-eye on anything that first date,” he recalls. “She was a vegetarian, and I ordered a rib-eye steak. An hour-long debate on animal rights ensued.” Despite the meat melee, their connection was still meaty enough to merit a second date. “She was my opposite, sure, but being with her was never boring,” he says.
The next time you find yourself in a heated argument with a new date, try embracing your differences. After all, who’d want to date a clone of him- or herself? Agree to disagree, then search for common ground.
5. The date feels more like an interview
The entire time Mark, 41, of Plano, TX, was out with Jackie, he felt like he was in the hot seat. “She just kept asking me question after question — where I was from, what my favorite ice cream flavor was, where I wanted to be in five years,” he says. “It was really uncomfortable, and it was hard to feel a vibe or any sparks over all the interview-speak.”
If your date spends the whole time you’re together shooting questions at you in rapid-fire succession and giving you the hard sell, it could just mean that he or she is impressed by you and is simply trying too hard, says MacLeod. That was the case for Mark and Jackie: “Once I ‘passed’ her pre-screening interview, she let her true self come out — and that’s when we actually started to have some fun,” he recalls.
When your date is grilling you, attempt to turn it around and ask some questions of your own. That way, it won’t feel so one-sided. If you have a second date, MacLeod suggests catching a movie. “That way, you won’t have to talk the whole time,” she says. After your first-date chatfest, it will be a nice break.
6. There’s no goodnight kiss
If your date isn’t sealed with a kiss, it doesn’t always mean you’re getting the kiss-off. In fact, a sans-smooch soiree could even be a good thing, according to MacLeod. “Not kissing you on a first date very often means he’s being respectful,” she says. “He’s waiting for the perfect moment to have that great first kiss, like people have in movies. Plus, this means he’s probably not kissing all his other first dates, either. He’s too selective to just give his kisses away.”
Judy, 32, of Baltimore, says her current boyfriend waited four whole dates to kiss her. “I was wondering if he just wanted to be pals or what,” she recalls. “It turns out that he’s really old-fashioned. He just wanted us to build a friendship before we took things to the next level. The wait made our first kiss even that much more spectacular. I think we both saw fireworks!”
In the absence of a smooch, look for other signs of attraction. Does your date make eye contact, give you undivided attention, and make you feel like you’re the only person in the room? In this case, actions speak louder than… no action. Hang in there, and you may well be smooching in no time.
Julie Taylor has written for Cosmopolitan and Redbook and is the coauthor of How to Be a Dominant Diva. She and her now-husband’s first date was less than perfect — but she’s eternally grateful she gave him a second chance!