Bowling. Food. Drinks. Dancing. Those four things are the makings of a potentially great date, in my opinion. A few months ago I had made plans with a guy to go out to eat at Cadillac Jack’s and then to hit the lanes—and I was excited. I knew he was a good guy, I’d known him for a long time, and my family loved him. I was expecting this date to go really, really well and I could possibly see a future forming. I wanted to like this guy.
But it turns out that I was getting ahead of myself. This became clear when I was actually on the date, because we had nothing to talk about. I tried to think of conversation starters but nothing seemed to be working, so I started watching a football game that was on the flat screen behind my date—and I don’t even like football. And to top it off my chicken wrap tasted like sawdust. After dinner we went bowling. I love to bowl and am a competitive person, but my date struggled to get even a score of 50. After beating him three or four games I again was bored and still there was nothing to talk about.
By this point I realized that I had set myself up to be disappointed, because I had put a lot of pressure on this date by having such high expectations. I wasn’t able to focus on trying to get to know my date because I was so distracted by the disappointment that things weren’t going as well as I’d hoped. After bowling we went out for drinks and dancing, which should have been fun, but again the same feelings of disappointment were sabotaging the date.
A few months later I went on a similar date again, but this time I had more realistic expectations. I was still positive, but I tried not to go overboard in expecting the date to be like something out of a movie. I wasn’t even sure if I’d have a good time, but my date proved me wrong! We ate at the Rusty Bucket which had amazingly good food. He asked me get-to-know-you questions and made me laugh a few times. When we went bowling we had a blast trying to one up each other. We had a good conversation over drinks and ended the night by dancing like goofballs.
So why was one date great and the other one a bust? Part of it was the guy. But I think my expectations going into the date also played a part.
A lot of people, myself included, have unrealistic expectations about dating, especially on first dates. On the one hand, there is the danger of setting your expectations too high—expecting perfection might mean you never find love, because after all no one is perfect. On the other hand, setting your expectations too low might lead to someone lowering their standards, straying into an abusive relationship, or falling into a relationship without really making a choice to get into it in the first place, which is something I’ve done before.
I know now that it’s important to find a happy middle, that way I’m not disappointed or miserable the entire time. Everyone deserves a chance, so on a first date I want to have the kind of expectations that will actually allow me to have a clear mind and give the person I’m with a real chance.