Before I met my wife, I went on lots of first dates. In fact, a friend and I once dared each other to go on at least on date a month until we found the woman we wanted to marry.
First dates can be a fun way to get to know someone, but they can also be awkward social disasters that spark renewed interest in the monastic life. I’ve had my share of both, and while my tolerance for awkward is higher than most, it’s never fun to go from excited optimism before a date to discouraged disappointment just a few hours later.
When someone you don’t know very well asks you out (or you doing the asking), here are a few questions you should answer first. You might save yourself some awkwardness or a potentially unsafe situation.
1. What Will We Be Doing?
The first thing to know is where the date will take place and how you will get there. Many people prefer to meet at a public place like a coffee shop for a first date. That way, there are easy exits if things don’t go well.
If you don’t know each other very well, it is wise to think about the safety questions. If you don’t feel safe around this person, it’s a no. Don’t put yourself in a situation that makes you uneasy. It’s just not worth the risk.
Before you agree to the date, make sure you feel good about the plan. If you don’t, maybe suggest something that does make you feel comfortable.
2. Do We Have Any Mutual Friends?
Many people joke about the temptation to Facebook stalk the people we might potentially date. We meet someone at a social gathering and later that evening scroll through hundreds, even thousands, of their pictures on social media. It all feels pretty creepy.
But when you’ve never met in person before, sometimes a little social media cognizance can be helpful. Do you have any mutual friends you might be able to reach out to for a second opinion? I’ve had mutual friends give me perspective that has saved me from bad situations.
Like it or not, our social media profiles paint a picture of us to the people we don’t yet know. It’s smart to pay attention to the way people represent themselves online.
3. Do I Have Any Reason To Distrust This Person?
A big question you should honestly answer is if there is anything that makes you distrust this person. If you’ve caught them lying to someone or noticed they don’t have a good reputation, that is a good reason to walk away.
Trust is really important in relationships, especially early on in the relationship. One of our biggest early dating objectives should be to learn as quickly as possible if this is a person we can trust. As you observe the way they treat the people in their lives, do you trust them more or less?
Pay attention to trust. If you can’t trust them, this relationship is going nowhere fast.
4. Are There Any Good Reasons For Me To Say No?
Lastly, is there anything that makes you want to turn down the date? There are a lot of people who give blanket encouragement to single people to get out there and start dating, but I think this advice should be balanced with a healthy caution when you don’t know much about each other.
Make sure to get feedback from people who care about you. Sometimes our friends will notice things or have cautions we don’t initially see. When it comes to a potential date, give more weight to the opinions of others. Sometimes the excitement of a new possibility has a blinding effect. We don’t see the situation clearly and need to wisely listen to the concerns of our closest friends.
I know this post reads like a cautionary tale, but I am writing to those who are considering a date with someone they don’t know very well. Be safe and use these questions to avoid a potentially negative experience.
You may also be interested in 5 First Date Tips To Use When Meeting Offline For The First Time