First Date

‘It’s Kinder To Say No To A Second Date’. Here’s Why

Early Dating

After going on a date, there is often the situation where one person is waiting to hear back and wanting a second date, while the other person doesn’t want to take it any further. Sadly, most people just ‘ghost ‘ and never reply. They may believe this is kinder than saying ‘I don’t like you’, but ignoring people is never kind. We need to get better at gently letting them know how we feel.  

Most of us have probably heard of the term ‘ghosting’, which is when someone we went on a date/ a few dates with, or were messaging and getting on with, suddenly ends all contact without giving a reason. 

This is often attributed to the fact that people are quite selfish, and don’t really care about the other person’s feelings. They’re happy just thinking about themselves and ending contact because that’s easiest for them, which sadly I think is true in a lot of cases. 

However, another reason behind this has been highlighted to me in a few different ways recently too, especially when we’re talking about Christian dating cultures. 

Ghosting Is Kinder, Right?

A friend of mine was telling me about her friend. She’s a Christian and is dating and hoping to find someone. She is only dating Christian men as she believes this should be an important part of the relationship. (Read Why does everyone tell me not to date a non-Christian?) 

Unfortunately, a few dates have ended with the guys not contacting her and/or not texting back. She would message them a few times, and eventually, some of them would reply but make up really bad excuses. 

They were bad excuses that just made her feel worse

‘I do like you, but I need to do XYZ, so we can’t date’. Or ‘I need to sort out my finances/relationship with God/things in my life’. Or ‘I shouldn’t really date right now’. She would wonder why they are on dating apps in the first place!

In other words, they were bad excuses that just made her feel worse.  

On the other hand, many of them just wouldn’t take responsibility for the situation, and just ignored it and didn’t acknowledge it. AKA ‘ghosting’.

Other friends have shared similar stories, which is upsetting. You would hope that Christians would be prepared to do it differently, yet it’s not always the case. 

It Causes More Hurt 

Dating is full of confusion, guesswork, and wondering ‘what if’, which it causes a lot of hurt. Dating well, dating differently, involves trying to reduce these feelings, not only ourselves but for the people we date. 

Sometimes, we can convince ourselves that saying to someone ‘I don’t want a second date with you’ seems harsh, so we make up bad excuses, or just ignore the problem. All of these things can actually leave people feeling hurt. 

Many people say to me things like ‘It would actually be better if they just let me know where they stood, rather than ignoring me or giving some rubbish reason. It’s so disrespectful.’ 

If we aren’t saying anything because it will be ‘awkward for me’, then that’s quite a selfish attitude. We’re not being kind, or loving our neighbour in a dating context, if we are just thinking about ‘my needs’. 

The kinder thing to do is to just say you don’t want to go on a second date. 

What To Say

Getting in touch to tell them that you don’t want a second date may indeed be a bit awkward for you. But it’s kinder to put their feelings first and push through the awkwardness, to let them know where you stand, so they avoid feeling confused and unsure.

We need to get better at just saying, ‘I don’t want a second date because I don’t think we’re a good match’.

Do not make it about them, or about you, just say that you don’t think you are suited

You don’t need to make up a bad excuse, you don’t need to go into detail (even if they ask why), you don’t need to point out their flaws, you just need to say you don’t think you are suited long-term. 

Do not make it about them, or about you, just say that you don’t think you’re suited. 

Easier Said Than Done 

I’m fully aware this is easier to say than do, because it’s counter-cultural, and it’s easier to ignore a problem than face it. But I think Christian dating should be different. (Read Can We Really Trust What Our Culture Says About Relationships?) 

We should be selfless, avoid hurting each other, and realise if we were in their position then we would want to know and be told. It is kinder and more respectful. 

Imagine If…

At least they were treated well and not just ignored

Imagine if we decided to date differently. If we remembered that the search for love is hard enough, without us making it harder for each other. (Read What Does Christian Dating Look Like?)

Imagine if we remembered that it’s better to let people know where we stand and got better at saying ‘I don’t want another date because we are not a match’. Even if they are disappointed, even if they have some unanswered questions, at least they were treated well and not just ignored. Everyone knows where they stand, and it will let us move on better and quicker.

Why are we so bad at letting people know where we stand? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 10/6/2019

I’m Single And Hate Dating, What Can I Do?

Finding A Date, Singleness

Many of us are single but want to find someone and build a relationship, but we don’t like looking for dates. We dislike sifting through loads of profiles online, the awkward first few minutes of small talk on a date, and the confusion of deciding if there is or isn’t a spark. It’s important to know 4 ways to avoid it feeling like a chore, and get the excitement back.

I think there’s so much focus on dating being fun and great that we can find it difficult to admit it can also be hard work and exhausting. Finding someone to potentially commit to and being intentional about it isn’t a simple process.

Dating in a way which is just about living for the moment and only thinking about yourself is easy, but purposely looking for someone to build a deep relationship with isn’t. Going out on yet another date, checking the online profile, again, trying to decide if someone is really trustworthy, can seem like it just isn’t getting us where we want to be.

As someone who thinks dating should be enjoyed, and it should lead to the mutually fulfilling relationships we all want, I realise we need to talk about the times when it doesn’t live up to expectation.

First Dates

So how do you find someone? How do you make it seem like less of a chore? How do you begin to look forward to dating again?

Well lining up more and more dates and creating more and more online profiles would make anyone feel overwhelmed. I think there are 4 things we can do instead, so that we  re-discover the excitement of dating again:

  • More Dates Isn’t Always Better
  • Need To Create Anticipation
  • Strip Back The Mask
  • It’s Not A Step To Something Else

More Dates Isn’t Always Better

So often we can fall into the trap of thinking, if I just go on as many dates as possible I will find someone eventually. However, I don’t think it should be about meeting up with just anyone. So taking the time to stop and think about the kind of person we want to connect with is important.

Being active and thinking intentionally about who we say yes to can make dating feel like we’re connecting with people we really want to connect with, rather than just anyone and seeing if we stumble across something.

Thinking about what we want to try and build, who we want to do that with, and saying yes to the right dates, can help us get excited about meeting better-suited people. (Read Lots Of Dates Vs. Selective Dates: Which Is Really Better?)

Need To Create Anticipation

I’m a big believer in meeting up as soon as possible so you don’t just text or email for ages and create a ‘romantic bubble’. We only really get to know people when we hang out with them in person and talk face to face.

However, not talking properly beforehand at all can end in disaster too. Only emailing after reading a profile or sending a text after a mutual friend set you up, can end with us getting dressed up, getting ready, going to meet someone and realising you just aren’t suited after a lot of time and energy has been invested. Phoning each other first and chatting for a bit means you can begin to know each other before you invest too much of yourself.

The date won’t be something you dread, but it’ll be something you look forward to

There is no need to arrange a meeting with someone if you both realise that it’s obviously not going to work beforehand.

Moreover, if you chat a bit and get on, it means you will be excited to meet each other in person. The date won’t be something you dread, but it’ll be something you look forward to because you have had a positive experience already. (Read What should we do on a first date? Part 1)

So arrange one or two phone calls or Skype chats, see if you are excited to meet up and get to know each other more.

Strip Back The Mask

On dates we want to present the best version of ourselves and make the best first impression, that’s natural and understandable. But when people lie or exaggerate too much, it becomes confusing. We don’t get to see the real them or vice versa.

Focusing on real compatibility can make dating less daunting

When we see dating as a chance to meet someone and be authentic, rather than worry about everything we say and do, it will seem less terrifying and more exciting. Focusing on real compatibility can make dating great (Read Are You Thinking About Compatibility In The Right Way?)

It’s Not A Step To Something Else

Dating can be enjoyable. Dating in and of itself can honour God. It’s not just a step to marriage.

Seeing it as something that needs to be rushed through will not help us to see it as exciting. But seeing it as something we are meant to enjoy and learn more about ourselves and others in, will help us to see it as exciting. (Read Who Else Wants Great Relationships? Why Dating Well Still Matters)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remembered: More Dates Isn’t Always Better, Need To Create Anticipation, Strip Back The Mask, It’s Not A Step To Something Else. We could go from dreading dating, to doing it intentionally with the best chance of making it work, and with lots of excitement.

What else do you think could help build more excitement? Comments Welcomed Below

Originally posted 18/6/2018

The 3 Best Ways To Prepare For A Date

Early Dating, Finding A Date

The media and TV shows sometimes make us think that single people are dating all the time. The truth is, most single people don’t go on dates often, and it can be scary and worrying when they do. So the best thing we can do to prepare for a date is: Plan For The Next Day, Focus On What’s Right, Stop Shopping Around.

So maybe we have been set up by a friend, maybe we met someone online, or maybe we met someone briefly somewhere and this is now the official first date.

So what do you do now? How do you prepare?

The obvious answer is to iron your best clothes, put on makeup or trim the beard, and make sure you look nice. But how do you give the date the best chance of success?

Dating Fail

Back when I was dating, I was set up a couple of times with friends of friends. Neither of them went well. I would meet them, think they were great and start texting the next day. I later found out that they thought this was a bit intense. In hindsight, it was too much.

I’ve also had other friends who got excited about their next date, got carried away imagining what he or she will be like and how they would act. Then afterwards, my friends would come away feeling disappointed and upset because their date didn’t perfectly fit the ‘list’ in their head.

Knowing what to do on a date and what to avoid is very important. (Read What Should We Do On A First Date? Part 1) However, there are things we can do before and afterwards which will not only help us avoid the disasters we just read about, but actually increase the chance of success.

3 Dating Tips

The 3 things we can do is:

  • Plan For The Next Day
  • Focus On What’s Right
  • Stop Shopping Around

Plan For The Next Day

This sounds odd, right? I mean, naturally an important event in the week, like a first date, will take our attention and focus. But I think it’s just as important to plan something for the next day too.

This day should involve something you love doing. Playing a sport, going to a museum, meeting up with good friends, watching a film, whatever it is. I say this because it will help us and give us a good perspective, no matter how the date goes.

For example, if it goes badly, doing something we love the next day will not allow it to affect our self-confidence too much. It will allow us to keep a good perspective and realise it’s not the end of the world. It will also allow us to fill up with something good after something bad happened.

Plan something for the next day, it will help protect us and give us time to reflect

Alternatively, if the date went well, it will allow us to create some space. Instead of getting carried away, texting them and jumping in too quickly without knowing how the other person really feels, we will have a distraction that allows us to not rush in and get too intense too quickly.

Plan something for the next day, it will help protect us and give us time to reflect.

Focus On What’s Right

Before we go on a date, we can naturally start to imagine what they will be like, how they will act, their sense of humour, what they like doing. We can easily end up arriving with a mental checklist in our head.

We then make a decision based on how many boxes they tick.

Now I always say we need to think about our values and what is really important to us. And think about the kind of person we want to invest in and grow with. But I also say no-one is perfect. No-one will tick off every single criterion. (Read How Dating Is Like Painting A Room.)

Instead of focusing on what is wrong, on where they ‘fail’, focus on what’s right. Focus on where you connect.

You can allow a romantic spark to grow, instead of trying to force it

Naturally, there will people we date where we realise there isn’t enough in common, or they could say something and a massive alarm bell goes off. That can happen, that’s understandable. But by focusing on what’s really important to us, and focusing on where you connect, you can allow a romantic spark to grow instead of trying to force it via a list.

Stop Shopping Around 

If you have arranged a date with someone, then stop shopping around. Stop arranging dates with other people and commit to what is in front of you.

I have spoken before in more depth about why I think this is a good idea; I believe committing to the relationship in front of us means it has more chance of working, and fosters better relationship principles whether this specific date works out or not (Read What Does Faithfulness Look Like When I’m Dating?).

Give the relationship the best chance of success

It’s best to go into the date looking for ways we connect, and stopping ourselves thinking about other people we may like and arranging other dates. This can give the person in front of us our respect and attention, and give the relationship the best chance of success.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we stopped treating dating like something to fear, and instead focused on the best ways to prepare for it. Imagine going on a date where you both focused on each other, gave yourself the best chance to connect, and were able to keep a healthy perspective no matter how it goes.

The best way to try and do this is to remember: Plan For The Next Day, Focus On What’s Right, Stop Shopping Around.

Is it easy to focus on who’s in front of you when technology now means we can meet more people than ever? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 25/9/2017

What Should We Do On A First Date? Part 2

Early Dating

Many singles who are wanting to date, or have arranged to meet someone soon, always ask me what they should do on a first date. In this second of my two-part article, I will explore some of the best ways to make a first date thrive. This mainly comes down to activity, an additional date, and a connection.  

(Sign up for our free digital download: Date, Marry, Avoid? 5 Things You Should Know

In my last post, I looked at some types of first dates which can hinder us. No cinema, no coffee, and no cutlery were the big don’ts I suggested. It’s worth remembering because these dates can create pressure and unhelpful environments. (Click here to read Part 1).

If the aim of dating is to get to know someone and begin to see if you enjoy each others company, then we want to create dates that allow us to do that.

In this post, we can look at the more exciting dos. Some of this advice is from personal experience, some comes from chatting to others, and some is from researchers and psychologists who have analysed the ‘art’ of first dates. So if you’re preparing for a first date, this will help you thrive and not just survive it.

It’s About Activity, An Additional Date, and A Connection

In most situations, it’s best to try and date in a way that involves:

  • An Activity
  • An Additional Date
  • A Connection

Activity is Better

This is the best bit of advice I can give anyone who wants a successful first date because doing an activity together makes it less awkward, and you’re more likely to be yourself and see the real them.

You will both naturally be more relaxed and authentic.

The activity could be going to a dance lesson together, a cocktail making class, bowling, or a fun high ropes course. It could be something less expensive like looking around an interactive science museum, an ancient castle or going to a funfair.  (Other suggestions are welcomed in the comments below in the comments).

The reason for doing an activity is three-fold. Firstly, if you’re looking around a museum or doing a high ropes course, there is no need to constantly talk. You’re allowed to focus on other things and not have the pressure to keep talking and keep impressing each other all the time. You will both naturally be more relaxed and authentic.

Sitting down and chatting over a meal results in less chance of an attraction or relationship forming.

Secondly, when someone isn’t sitting down over a romantic candle-lit dinner, but instead remembering the dance teacher’s instructions, or learning about an ancient building, it’s harder to put on a front. When people aren’t just talking but being active, the real personality comes out. So you’re more likely to see the real them, and them the real you.

Thirdly statistical analysis of first dates shows that people are more likely to create an emotional bond, and therefore like each other if they do something together. Sitting down and chatting over a meal results in less chance of an attraction and a relationship forming.

All this means if your first date is an activity, you’re more likely to be relaxed and feel less pressure. You’ll probably both enjoy it more see what they’re really like, and vice versa.

Do an activity so that:

  • You can be more relaxed and not feel the need to constantly talk
  • It’s harder to put on a front, so your real personalities come out
  • You’re statistically more likely to create a relationship

Go On Two Dates

So are we talking about the first date or the second one? Well, actually, it’s kind of one date really.

People frequently say to me something along the lines of ‘The date was okay, but there was no spark’. Well on average, it takes people about six hours to really know if they’re attracted to someone romantically. Love at first sight is very rare (and probably a myth).

If you go out on a first date with someone, and it was awful and you know for sure you’re not suited, that’s fair enough.

However, if you go out on a date and think, they’re nice, the date was quite good, but there was no ‘spark’, go out on another one. A date usually lasts about two or three hours, so two dates are needed to know for sure if there really is a ‘spark’ or not.

A Connection Is More Important Than a Checklist

I believe dating should be enjoyable. I don’t believe this means we can use people, lead people on, or just think about ‘my selfish needs’. But dating is meant to be enjoyable.

No one knows the future, but you can know if you are growing closer or not.

Often people are constantly thinking on a first date about the ‘long term’ or ‘marriage’ criteria. A mental check of the checklist happens in their head. This creates pressure, judgment and ultimately can stop you getting to know someone for who they are.

On a first date, and the next few dates, the aim is about getting to know someone. Do you like each others company? As you get to know them more, is there a connection which means you could build a relationship worth having together? No one knows the future, but you can know if you are growing closer or not.

So many potential relationships end because of the mental checklist. It’s right to think about the kind of person we want to date and the kind of person we want to marry. But we can’t know everything about someone after one or two dates.

The First Date

Do remember to enjoy getting to know the person in front of you. Do enjoy trying to see if you connect and want to move forward together. (Read I Wasn’t Sure When We Were An ‘Official Couple’). Don’t add unnecessary pressure too early on.

Do an activity, do an additional date, and do remember to enjoy getting to know the person in front of you. This advice probably has exceptions and isn’t fool-proof, but it will help you to relax and enjoy rather than dread the first date.

If you have ever followed this or similar advice for a first date, did you find it useful?

Originally posted 2/11/2016

What Should We Do On A First Date? Part 1

Early Dating

Many singles who are wanting to date, or have arranged to meet someone soon, always ask me what they should do on a first date. In this two-part article, I will unpack the main dos and don’ts for first dates. These don’ts remind us to avoid the cinema, coffee and cutlery.

(Sign up for our free digital download: Date, Marry, Avoid? 5 Things You Should Know

I constantly hear stories about people’s first dates. I remember a guy telling me that they went to watch a film, then afterwards just got up and went home. Yes, that’s right, they forgot they were on a date and left her in the cinema! And yes, that’s right, there wasn’t a second date.

One of my first dates involved meeting up with a group of friends who were playing matchmakers. We were all just hanging out at one of their houses and I thought this would be great, but we very quickly became the couple ‘on show’. Our friends staring and listening in to see if we would hit it off, and yes, it was very awkward and no second date materialised. Surprise Surprise.

There is so much pressure in our dating culture to make a quick decisions about liking someone. Especially in church

But lots of people who are dating ask me what they should actually do on a first date, and how should they actually get to know someone despite the pressure and nervousness.

This is a very important and relevant question. There is so much pressure in our dating culture to make a quick decision about liking someone. Especially in church, where a second date probably signals marriage to every onlooker, who shouldn’t be adding that pressure anyway! (Read I Wasn’t Sure When We Were An ‘Official Couple’)

I believe learning to enjoy the first date as much as possible, and creating a situation where they can see the real you and vice versa, is key

I believe learning to enjoy the first date as much as possible, and creating a situation where they can see the real you and vice versa, is key. So here are the three main don’ts I have picked up along the way to help you get there. The dos are in Part 2.

No Cinema, No Coffee, No Cutlery 

In most situations, I would say it’s best to avoid:

  • Cinema dates
  • Coffee dates
  • Cutlery dates (going out for a meal only)

The Cinema is a No-Go

Advising not to go to the cinema probably goes against one of the traditional dating ‘safe’ options. I mean, most people like films and we all know what to expect, so it should be easy and safe. However, online movies have changed our love of going to the cinema, and more importantly, staring at a screen for two hours isn’t the best way to get to know someone.

Most people’s analysis of a film lasts for five minutes at best

I often hear people say that seeing a film will give you something to talk about. Well, unless you’re both film geeks (and not many of us are) most people’s analysis of a film lasts for five minutes at best. They say if they liked it or not, pick out a favourite scene, and that’s it. You can’t even spend hours explaining the plot line either because you’ve both just been watching it.

Once you get to know each other, and know what films you both like and get excited by, then cinema dates are fine. But as a first date, watching something for two hours that gives a few minutes worth of conversation, is not time well spent. You haven’t talked, and you will still need to do something else to really get to know each other.

Coffee Dates Aren’t Great

Grabbing a coffee seems natural in our ‘coffee connoisseur’ culture. From the outside, a coffee date looks like it would take the pressure off too. We do it a lot anyway, it’s simple, and it’s not expensive or a big deal. But it more often creates a very pressured and unhelpful environment.

Coffee shops are full of people coming and going and busy staff. Which makes the atmosphere seem agitated. Moreover, you may have someone sitting on their own next to you in hearing distance, meaning you will be wondering if they’re listening to your conversation and are they judging it? These things add to the pressure.

Coffee dates are too short and open-ended

Above all, you will probably finish your drinks in 20 minutes, and then what? You need to decide if you get another one, or leave and do something else, or end it there. What if you both decide something different? Another decision that adds pressure and can create an unhelpful atmosphere.

Coffee dates are too short and open-ended. This often means more decisions, more confusion, more pressure and less chance of getting to know someone.

No Meals (On Their Own) Either 

Now, this is the most controversial point I fear. Some may read this bit of advice and be angry and baffled by it. Having a meal on the first date is the oldest and safest dating rule surely? Well, not if your aim is to get to know someone.

Let me clarify, I think getting food and/after doing something else could be fine (Read Part 2 for more clarification on this). I also think that a meal can be good if you hit it off, but often meal dates lead to two unhelpful realities:

One, there is pressure to talk constantly and generate conversation. This can be awkward and make you feel like you need to force the conversation at points, which creates nervousness. This also leads to the second reality:

The need to impress often hinders the date.

People end up trying to impress too much. Sitting down, looking at each other with the pressure to talk, be funny, be interesting, and the rest, often means projecting a personality we think they would like. Not because we’re dishonest people, but the pressure to talk and be engaging can lead to falseness.

If the aim of dating is to get to know someone, to see if you enjoy each other’s company, and see if you want to keep getting to know them more (we can’t learn everything on a first date), then sitting down, looking at each other and chatting for hours creates pressure. The need to impress often hinders the date.

There are obviously exceptions to these bits of advice, but as a general rule, if you want your first date to thrive and be enjoyable, then no cinema, no coffee and no cutlery.

Now that we have the don’ts out of the way, we can look at the more fun bits and what we should do in the next post.

Have you ever followed or not followed this advice, what happened? 

Originally posted 31/10/2016