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First Dates

First Dates

Suitability

Compatibility

Post First Date

The Traffic Lights

Relationship

Speed Bumps

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First Dates

Really? The focus is more about leaving a positive impression on your date, rather than doing some circus act or impressing your date with your acrobatic skills.

Preparation for the date starts way before and includes a few things:

  • Where’s suitable or where would your date like to go?
  • How is your date going to and from the venue?
  • What is your date likely to wear?
  • What are you going to wear?
  • Are you bringing an appropriate gift?
  • Are you arriving ahead of your date?
  • What’s your conversation plan?
  • Are you prepared to go dutch/give a treat?

Leaving a positive first impression begins from the time you enter the venue, right up till when you leave the venue. None of these require anything more than common sense, empathy, common decency and being considerate.

You’d be surprised how often we get asked this question. But we’re more disturbed by those who don’t ask this question, present doubtful behaviour, and then ask us why the date didn’t work out. So keep a positive mindset heading into the date, no matter how it turns out. Both of you have set aside time for this, and regardless, it’s a chance for romance and if anything at all, to better yourself.

Other than common sense, empathy and a natural sense of curiosity, here are a few pointers:

  • Put your phone to silent and don’t fiddle with it
  • Get your date’s name right, right from the start
  • Watch your body language, don’t slouch, cross your arms, pout or let your eyes wander too much
  • Don’t berate servers and don’t complain unless it’s something funny to laugh about
  • Be polite when going dutch, be even more polite if your date is giving you a treat
  • Don’t fight over the bill, and don’t go through the bill like an investigator.

At the end of the date, always be thankful for your date’s time. And avoid being creepy or clingy if it’s time to head home.

Mindset! The date is not your scoreboard, so don’t be compelled to ace it so you can ride the moral high ground. Nor is the first date your one and only chance to bare your life’s tribulations and aspirations all at one sitting. It’s all about finding common ground, so have some questions ready at the back of your mind.

We advocate the crossword puzzle approach during conversations, but do remember to actively listen and register what your date is talking about. Don’t be too caught up in trying to think of the next thing to say. You can banter about:

  • Travelling experiences
  • Funny situations you were caught in but found insightful
  • Interests and hobbies

Please don’t talk about:

  • Your childhood abuse or trauma
  • Money and its overwhelming power
  • Your bosses or colleagues who treat you/you treat like dirt
  • Your shared future together, how many kids, whether to live with parents, etc

Most feel compelled to bare all on the first date so that “everyone knows what they're getting into” – it’s a good thought to have, just keep it to yourself. Not everyone likes to go full monty on the first date.

Lastly, it’s good to be inquisitive about a person’s history, but don’t make it a Spanish Inquisition. Rather, just go with the flow and keep the conversation light and humourous.

Suitability-icon

Compatibility

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The concept of love or being in love is usually strengthened when we receive our preferred love language from our partners or partners-to-be.

 

So the question you need to ask yourself, is why do you think he/she is the one?  If your answer to that is a row of ticks next to that checklist of items/characteristics you’ve carried in your mind palace for years, it’s probably time to do a serious stock take of your life.  Listen more to your heart than the years of indoctrination (nagging) by family, friends and wider society.  It’s more of how and what do you feel when you’re with him or her in the present moment, rather than imagining how you would feel in a theoretical life together in the future.

 

Secondly, are you sure you’re the one for your partner? Do the both of you think about each other during the day? Are you genuinely concerned about the person’s well being?  We all need to move beyond ourselves, whether it’s for selfish or lustful reasons. 

 

It’s normal to have feelings of compulsion or worry over a need for reciprocity as you ponder these questions.  After all, reciprocity and empathy are key to any relationship.  And well, if you’ve managed this far, you’re pretty much on the right track – there’s no magic formula as usual, and sometimes you just need to roll the dice.

Post first-icon

Traffic Lights / Relationship Indicators

Pluck up your courage and ask. A decade is a long time, don’t wait anymore. You don’t want to whittle another precious decade, no one lives forever.

This isn’t a rehabilitation programme.  There isn’t a 7 step program or formula to follow to ensure success in all your relationships.

Having said that, our decisions should be guided by a series of indicators.  The time intervals for the appearance of such indicators differs for each couple, so don’t be dogmatic about your own timelines in life.  It’s great that if it’s worked this way for your career, but don’t treat your loved one or family as milestones on your own achievement timeline – that’s downright selfish behaviour. 

So here are the indicators we spoke about:

  • Who’s been asking who out on the dates? Is it just you, or has it been roughly evened out?
  • Have your dates ever been spontaneous? i.e. it’s not “let’s meet every Friday since it’s the end of the week and the financial markets are not open tomorrow.”
  • Are both of you happy on your dates? You don’t need to be feeling ecstatic, but some measure of happiness would be good.
  • How much do you know about each other? We’re not talking about the cliché things like favourite colour or favourite movie.  We’re talking about the important things in life like “I lost my thumb to rabies, so no I don’t like dogs.” or “I lost my job, I’m down and I need help. Stop asking me when I’m going to get a real job.”

So what’s next?  Find a casual occasion, a date and make your move according to the other person’s love language.  Some respond physically, some by just asking, some by symbolic gifts, and some by big gestures.  Take your pick, wisely.

If you’re the recipient and your partner has picked a wrong time, gently let them down but be appreciative of the effort, and send positive signals if you’re sure.  But if it’s completely out of the blue, it just means someone has jumped the gun or it was just never meant to be.  Shrug it off and move on, wiser and more experienced.

If feelings were reciprocal, they’ve likely developed over time.  If you get turned down outright, it’s not a timing issue, nor was it a gesture issue – it just wasn’t meant to be and you should move on. 

* Unless of course, both of you have a penchant for mind games, in which case, we can only say you are destined for each other and no amount of advice will help you.  You’re on your own.

My friend, I think it’s time to move on. You can’t risk your marriage moving into “friendzone” even if this turns out well.

This phenomenon is commonly described as ghosting. I’m sorry to break this to you, but it’s time to do some self reflection on what were the words or actions that have brought you to this stage.

While we view ghosting as an inappropriate form of behaviour which leads to a lack of closure, it is often found to be the easy way out for many couples today. The only option left for you is to ask for honest feedback, and give the other party the space they had intended for themselves but never bothered asking you for.

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Speed Bumps / Relationship management

Intervals.  The guys will relate to this better, albeit in less pleasant circumstances – in the army, which is often described as Time and Space.

There is a time and place for everything, and it applies to texting or video calls as well.  The first consideration, would be understanding your partner’s job nature and requirements.  For instance, shift work, whether in a hospital or in IT implies irregular sleeping schedules and work timings.  The frequency and content of texting needs to emphathise with this.  As such, managing expectations on the timeliness of replies alleviates anxiety and stress levels in a relationship.

Secondly, while there is a tendency for most of our lives to be conducted online, we should not ignore the need for physical intimacy.  This needs to be managed intermittently with the frequency of texting as well.  Matters pertaining to a relationship such as our anxieties, insecurities or words of encouragement are better done in person than texting.  Simple mundane matters on the other hand, which can be dealt with using texting should not be otherwise demanded with physical presence.

If either of you feel stifled, it’s best to clear the air in person.  It could be a miscommunication of love languages, or it could simply be your partner wanting some form of assurance from you in person.  Don’t text such issues, a lot of things get lost in translation.

Come have a cuppa on us, I think this is best taken offline.

Without getting all Dr Phil on you, we would like to say, take some comfort that all relationships are different.  The need for open communication even on the issue of physical intimacy is paramount. 

Relax, sometimes 平安是福, peacefulness is more than either one can wish for in a relationship.  Not every relationship needs to be a roller coaster ride, nor is there any relationship that has never had a down or quiet moment.  BUT, you’d better be clear on both your love languages i.e. what your partner perceives or needs.  Because romance, can mean completely different things to different people – it’s give and take, not just what you’re willing to do.

It’s virtually impossible to have something to talk about every minute you’re together or not together.  Unless of course you’re a war journalist, corporate raider, medical doctor, philanthropist, environmental activist and 100 other roles all rolled into one.

If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, take the time out to think beyond the box in terms of your next activity or date.  Roll the dice, go with your gut feel in terms of what you understand about your partner and plan a surprise (a surprise overseas trip on a shoestring budget, an entire restaurant booked out for both of you, a kayaking/island expedition, etc)!  It doesn’t need to be arranged around a special occasion, just break the routine for either of you. 

Don’t forget to manage your expectations though, if you plan falls flat and creates an inconvenience for your partner, just give a sheepish grin and explain your heartfelt intentions – that almost never fails to get anyone out of a rut!

Family relationships are often complex with a myriad of considerations.

Practically speaking, unless we’re separated by oceans and continents from our parents, most of us live within a car ride of our parents.  For those who don’t, life may seem simpler and more peaceful, but only until the next family visit.  It’s an inevitable question.

And realistically speaking, while blood is thicker than water, our spouses are the ones we hope to spend the rest of our lives with.  Therefore, the balance between filial piety and matrimonial bliss is a delicate one.  No one likes getting caught in the middle, nor do they want to answer questions about falling into the water and who saving whom.

This issue of “priority” that you speak of, in most instances, is a temporary situation and often quite specific in context.  We find this tends to crop up most often in financial discussions, time management for dates and last but not the least – wedding preparations. 

Each requires specific advice, but the general principle is this:  You need to be sure that your partner’s “priority” does not arise from a lack of assertiveness or decisiveness (i.e. daddy’s girl or mummy’s boy), but rather it arises from his or her attempt to strike that delicate balance between filial piety and (pre-)matrimonial bliss.  With this in perspective, you need to change gears first allay your suspicions in order to best to support him or her, rather than force a choice out of them that isn’t really a choice at all.

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