When I met Andrew (not his real name) for the first time I had a feeling it likely wasn’t going to work out.
We had met online, so our first date was also our first meeting. For this reason, I wouldn’t have wanted him to pick me up—it’s not very romantic I guess, but safety is important! That being the case, he selected a spot for us to meet.
Normally I would give the man who takes the initiative to pick the date spot major props. But, unfortunately this gesture fell short, mainly because it was conveniently located right across the street from his apartment. I had to drive and find parking in a typically busy city neighborhood. Not a great start to a first date.
The second bad omen was his attire. We met on a workday, so I came in a casual maxi skirt and a blouse that was appropriate for summer. He showed up in ripped shorts and a faded graphic tee. At best, our “styles” didn’t match. Which is a nice way of saying I felt like I was putting more effort into this date than he had, and it hadn’t even begun.
I was already there so, despite the first impression, I decided to give it my best go. We ordered dinner, and he certainly was a gentleman in some ways—like giving me his favorite suggestions and letting me order first. But once we had ordered and we really were able to get into conversation, it quickly became clear we definitely weren’t a match.
Honestly, it was the way he conducted himself toward me in conversation that put the final nail in the coffin. When I asked him about himself, he rambled on about his lofty education, his views about the school system, and his start up company (whose purpose I’m still not quite sure of). He was a talker alright, and the worst part was he clearly was not very interested in asking me about myself. His focus on himself made him painfully unaware that I was bored and at points zoning out. In short, the conversation wasn’t engaging, and that was a sign to me that this likely wasn’t going to work out.
What was the best part of the date? The best part of the date happened about 30 minutes in, when I noticed that the woman whose table was practically on top of ours had finished eating and had paid, yet she was still hanging out by herself. I quickly glanced over and realized she was surfing the weather on the phone—aka, she was sticking around to watch my disaster of a date!
No more than 5 minutes later, I looked at her table again, after noticing she was writing something. She had written on her napkin, in all caps, and positioned it so only I could see. The message read:
“RUN, DON’T WALK”
She got up to leave a few minutes later, and as she walked behind my date, she looked at me with a knowing look, as if to say, “am I right?” I smiled and spoke with my eyes, “you are absolutely right, and thank you.”
To be sure, my date was a nice man, who just needs a little help in the conversation department. And he is not alone; we all have our encounters with other people where we aren’t in our “best form.” So I’m not telling this story to criticize him or lament a failed date. I’m telling this story because my encounter with the woman sitting next to me—apart from being funny—reminded me of two very important dating lessons.
1. Outsiders often see things more clearly and it’s important to take their thoughts into consideration.
It’s true that you are the only one who knows how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing. But friends and family, or even perfect strangers, can often pick up on things you’re not seeing or paying attention too. Ask your friends and family what they think of your romantic partner. Really listen to what they have to say and compare it to your own feelings and experience in the relationship. Sometimes, that nagging voice in our head that tells us that something is not right in the relationship needs to be listened too. But sometimes it takes an outsider to give us the confidence to follow that voice.
2. “Run, don’t walk” if the relationship isn’t right.
Break-ups are hard, even if you know the relationship isn’t right. And it’s tempting to keep trying to make the relationship work. But when you know it isn’t right, it isn’t right. There is no sense wasting your time with someone who you’re not ultimately compatible with. So, make firm commitments to yourself and hold to them. Don’t engage in a lot of unnecessary conversation with a man or woman with whom you’ve ended things. Block their Facebook feed from showing up in your newsfeed, so you’re not as easily reminded of them or tempted to check in on them. Spend time with your friends, pick up neglected hobbies, and when you’re ready, get back out there.
Life is short. Time flies by. Don’t waste your time with someone who isn’t getting you to your goal of lasting love. Run, don’t walk away from anything that distracts you from that goal.