Before The First Date, You Better Read This

Full Disclosure

I am terrible at dating.  I’ve probably been on 10-15 first dates, and only about 5-second dates.  So what qualifies me to talk about dating and that first date if I haven’t really “dated”?  Simply put: I only needed that many second dates to get the relationship I want.  And now I want to help you do the same!

Know what you want

My fiancée and I met on Tinder.  What drew us together was our shared interest in spirituality, her taste in movies, and my #humblebrag about being a marriage counselor.  On our first date, the chemistry was undeniable.  Conversation flowed, jokes were easy, and she wasn’t even a little bit concerned that she would end up in a dumpster at the end of the night.

During our first date, after we got comfortable with one another we started talking about what we wanted in a relationship.  Whether it’s a one night stand or a life-long partnership, it is important to know what you’re looking for before you set up the date.

first date

It can be difficult because sometimes you don’t know what you want until you know what you want; and also because it’s much easier to think in terms of what you don’t want.  It’s easy to say that you want a girl who doesn’t nag; it’s another to say that you want a relationship where you can feel secure enough to express yourself without feeling judged.

Know Your Baggage

There is not a person alive who doesn’t have some sort of emotional baggage.  Family issues, past hurts, trauma, and all sorts of other stuff can come up and interfere with a new relationship.  The more opportunities you take to process your emotional baggage for yourself, the more power you will have over it.

first date

A message to the men in the audience: this is especially important for you.  Often, western society teaches us that we need to just grit our teeth and move to the next thing.  This mindset leads to a reduction in self-awareness, which leads to increased defensiveness, anger, and in extreme cases even abuse and violence.  Take time to process the things that have happened to you, your future partners will thank you for it!

Dating Strategy #2 – Take it Slow

Just because you and your date have chemistry does not mean that they are trustworthy.  Trust is built slowly and can be destroyed quickly.  So in the beginning stages of a relationship, it is important to focus on building trust.  Do not assume that just because someone put in their Tinder profile that they’re good at keeping secrets that they will keep yours well.

Before You Even Go Out On That First DateClick To Tweet

On my first date with my now fiancee, I told her only the things about me that I believe that she needed to know to get an honest picture of my general character: I work in mental health with a focus on relationships, I’ve been divorced, and I enjoy playing video games as a hobby.  And she did the same.  All things that are important on a first date, but she didn’t need to know the nitty-gritty details of all of those things.  As our relationship has progressed, both of us have slowly but surely begun to reveal more intimate secrets that required a certain level of trust; but that trust was earned in the small moments.

How do you build trust?  Remember small details, keep their secrets safe, and keep their needs at the top of your list.  Simple enough, right?  But as I often say: simple and easy are not the same thing.

Be Honest About Your Intentions

Before I started dating my fiancée, I was not prepared for a committed relationship. I accepted that about myself and dated accordingly. I was honest about my intention to not commit, and while I did not actually have a lot of success in dating around, I never got stuck in a relationship in which I didn’t want to be involved.

There are as many different relationship styles as there are relationships.  Do you want to have an open relationship?  Be honest about that up front.  Need soothing music to fall asleep? Then you’d better make sure your partner knows that before you spend the night together.  If you want to be abstinent before marriage, be on the same page.  And above all, don’t lead your partner on.  If your vision for a good relationship is vastly different from theirs, talk about it before it turns into resentment.

first date

Dating is Not an Exact Science

It would be great if there was a definitive guide to dating and that awkward first date; but if such a thing existed, dating wouldn’t be any fun.  At the end of the day, just remember that you and the person you’re going out with are both humans.  You both (hopefully) showered before a meeting, you’ve both been hurt, and you’ve both lived every moment of our lives up until now.  Embrace the unknown, because that’s where the excitement is, and above all else, have fun!


Joey Mowery nerds out about relationships and mental health at The Couch Co-Op Relationship Blog.  You can follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @joeymowery1988, and you can read more of his work at  This article was adapted from the post “Dating on Expert Mode”, which can be found here.


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