I know that you probably don’t want to hear this because you are already feeling like you are under a lot of pressure but healthy relationships start on the first date.
I know that this might seem contrary to what you might have heard – that first dates aren’t a big deal, to just roll with it. And this is, to some extent, true – first dates ARE meant to be fun.
That being said, a lot can be revealed on a first date, things that are markers for whether your relationship, if one happens, will be healthy one.
What kind of things, you ask?
Here are 5 ways healthy relationships start on the first date.
#1 – Honesty.
The number one most important part of any healthy relationship is honesty. Knowing that you can tell you partner anything, and they the same with you, because honesty is how you work things out in relationships. Even if it leads to an argument, honesty is still important because it gets things out on the table, good or bad, to be addressed.
If you go into a date thinking that there are some things that you aren’t going to be honest about because they are things that might embarrass you or that you feel ashamed of, you are going to doom your relationship from the start.
I have a client whose boyfriend told her, on the first date, that he worked for himself, doing consultant work. She entered into the relationship with someone she thought was her financial equal. As the relationship grew and they spent more time together, she realized that he did in fact do a little consultant work but, really, he wasn’t working more than a few hours a week.
Because she was already attached to this man, finding out about this was devastating. She loved him but she just couldn’t be in a relationship with a man who she had to buy dinner for every time. Furthermore, he didn’t even have the ambition to start working more which she found incredibly unattractive. She has said to me many times – ‘If I had known this from the start I never would have gotten involved with him.’
So, be honest on your first date. If you aren’t it might doom your relationship before it even starts.
#2 – Transparency.
For many reasons, we sometimes don’t bring our true selves in to a first date.
Whether it is because we are shy or cocky or insecure or we are trying to hide something, we go into a first date being something that we are not.
How many times have you had a first date with someone who seemed so laid back that you found her compelling, only to learn down the line that she was as wound up as they come and exhausting to be with. Or how about that time when you meet someone who says they aren’t intimidated by your success but then turn out to be exactly that.
How can you start a relationship with someone who isn’t who they present themselves to be? You can’t! And this is one way that healthy relationships start on the first date – if you can’t be yourself, the person you are sitting across from will fall for someone who isn’t real.
How long do you think that will last?
#3 – Chemistry.
You know when you meet someone online and you are really excited to meet them and then, when you finally do, there is no chemistry. And then everyone tells you to go on another date, just to see if things are better the second time. And sometimes they are. But more often than not, they aren’t.
Attraction is a very important part of a first date. We don’t know exactly why chemistry exists between people but it does and it’s an essential part of keeping a relationship healthy. And if you find it doesn’t exist on the first date, you might find that your healthy relationship might not ever get beyond the starting gate.
I remember when I met my boyfriend. A friend had shared his picture with me but I wasn’t interested because he had a mustache. When I did meet this guy, the chemistry between us was huge – in spite of the mustache.
We were only friends for a while before we dated but the chemistry was there for us from the start.
So, if the chemistry isn’t there for you at all on the first date, consider a second date but don’t take it any further than that if that attraction doesn’t ignite.
#4 – Connection.
Yes, chemistry is an amazing thing and it feels good, but it’s not the only thing that is important to have on a first date. It is also important to have a connection.
I remember a date I had with a guy. We met for ice cream at Riverside Park in NYC. I was immediately attracted to him and he to me. We spent a few hours together, talking and walking. At the end of the walk he pointed out to me that we had agreed on absolutely nothing that we had talked about. I felt more like we were sparring over issues in a good-natured way but the truth was that we didn’t agree on anything.
After he said that he asked me if I would have sex with him anyway. I politely declined. I knew that just having chemistry wasn’t going to get us any more than a one-night stand, something I wasn’t interested in.
So, pay attention on your first date. Even if the attraction is there do your personalities, interests and beliefs match? Could you see yourself bringing this person home to your family? To meet your friends?
Connection is a huge reason why healthy relationships start on the first date – without it, you will struggle to be happy right from the beginning.
#5 – Red flags.
Ah yes. Red flags. Somethings that are almost always there and somethings that we usually ignore, in spite of our instincts.
You know what I mean – the things that you see in someone pretty darn quickly, things that give you pause and you wonder what that says about this person. But usually you just gloss over that moment, thinking that it’s not a big deal and that even if it is you can probably change them anyway.
On another first date, with a guy who I connected with in a big way and with whom the chemistry was huge, he told me a few things right away that I should have paid attention to. He had taken his wife to court to not have to pay child support and he was estranged from his brother. Both of those things made me pause but I chose to ignore them because things were going so well.
In the end, however, it was his personality traits that led to those two things broke us up. I learned that he was very difficult around money, sometimes manically, and that his relationship with his brother had broken down over his mismanagement of a business they shared. I had a hard time trusting him because I felt like he didn’t step up to the plate and take care of his family. And I had to leave him, which was heartbreaking.
So, if you see any red flags on your first date, make note of them. Don’t ignore them. You can proceed with a second date, should you choose, but keep those flags front and center in your mind as you move forward.
It’s funny to think that healthy relationships start on the first date.
We usually consider first dates to just be an easy fun thing, and they should be, but they are also great indicators of what a healthy relationship might look like going forward.
On your next first date, make sure that you are being honest and being yourself. Make sure that you feel like there is an honest attraction and connection and don’t ignore any red flags that might pop up along the way!
First dates are fun but wouldn’t it be nice to have your next first date be your last? It might be if you bring your authentic self to the table and are, in turn, met in kind.
You can do it!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.