Erika Ettin: Every Relationship Must Start With A First Date

By Erika Ettin
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Dating expert Erika Ettin says that many people put too much pressure on themselves to have the perfect first date. Instead, she encourages everyone to simply think of dating as having a conversation and nothing more.

Tribune News Service

“I hate dating! I just want to be in a relationship.” I hear this from clients, friends, and strangers all too often. So many people want to skip all of the initial stages and fast forward to the comfortable place a few months in.

That’s just not possible. You can’t have bread without waiting for it to rise. You can’t become a doctor without enduring many years of med school. And, you can’t be in a relationship without going through the early stages of dating. Can it get tiring sometimes? Sure. But it’s also a necessary (and, dare I say, exciting) part of the process.

I had phone calls recently with two very different clients, a 64-year-old woman in Washington, DC and a 32-year-old man in San Diego, CA, and both said variations of the same thing: “I don’t want this first date to be a waste of my time.” Talk about a negative outlook!

I responded with the same question to each: What are you ultimately looking for in this process/working with me?

The response from both, not surprisingly, was “a long-term, committed relationship.”

I reminded them both that every relationship must start with a first date.

It’s interesting to me that, in so many aspects of life, people throw themselves into getting what they want, a new job, a vacation, a place to live, yet when it comes to meeting the person to potentially spend the rest of their lives with, people think that it shouldn’t take any work or that it should “just happen organically.” Let me know the last time getting a new job just happened organically. I’m waiting…

I’d argue that this may be one of the most important decision you’ll ever make. Why shouldn’t it take a good amount of time and energy?

Many people want to jump from point A (the first date) to point Z (a long-term relationship) in the blink of an eye.

I argue that the whole point of dating is to get to know people to see if you want to start a relationship with them. And, this process of seeing if someone is the right fit may take more than one date.

In fact, it probably will. And it will also take meeting a lot of different people. Of course, it’s sometimes clear that you have an initial spark, or alternatively, that you really dislike the other person, but it’s often too hard after just one date (which likely lasts only an hour or so) to decide if this person having a glass of wine next to you will ultimately be your “one and only.”

To compound matters, many people put so much pressure on themselves to have the perfect first date, whatever that means.

I encourage everyone to simply think of dating as having a conversation… and nothing more. Notice I didn’t say that dating is an assessment of whether someone is your soulmate. I also didn’t say that dating is a necessary evil or a means to an end. It’s simply part of the process. If you think of dating with such dread, like the “I hate dating” people above, then it won’t be a surprise if your dates end up, well, dreadful. Even if you think you’re not showing your pessimism, it’s there, and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Only in the initial stages of dating, too, do people usually get the butterflies and the anxiety and the genuine excitement to see that person again. By fast forwarding to the relationship part, you miss out on that drug we call love. As I’ve said to several clients in the past, if this is going to be the person you spend the rest of your life with, there’s no need to speed things up now. You have the rest of your life to enjoy each other.
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(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter, eepurl.com/dpHcH for updates and tips.)
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(c)2018 Erika Ettin
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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PHOTO of Erika Ettin is available from the Columnist Mugs section of www.tribunenewsservice.com.

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