Have you ever spent hours on a first or second date, only to end up disappointed because you realize you’re not a match or he ghosts on you? Either way, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve wasted your time. It can weigh on your morale, start to make you feel jaded or tempted to give up.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The first three dates can often be the most challenging for singles because the decision you make about whether to continue dating a new person is often based on initial reactions or unsubstantiated feelings.
How do you know if you have given your date a fair chance to demonstrate their “mate” potential?
Or, how do you whether you’re so infatuated that you avoid seeing the obvious red flags that make this date a poor partnership choice?
This article will reveal how to maneuver through those challenging first three dates to find the partner you really want.
We’re also going to talk about the purpose of first dates and why you need to have as many of them as possible.
I’ll also go over the best structure for the first three dates, including lengths of the date and the best dating venues.
But before I talk about the purpose of the first three dates, I want to set the groundwork for dating in general.
Dating is any social activity performed as a pair or even as a group with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a potential partnership in an intimate relationship.
And the word refers to the act of agreeing on a time and a date when the pair can meet and engage in social activity. And this creates the opportunity to assess that suitability.
So, understanding this concept is really important because inherently it implies that there are no obligations or expectations by the other party.
Dating is simply an exploratory experience with no further action or commitment being required unless — and here’s the key — both parties choose to continue the assessment process.
A good analogy for dating is picking the best fruit in the supermarket.
Just because you handle a melon and sniff it doesn’t mean you’re obliged to buy it and take it home.
It’s important to realize that in dating, you’re simply checking this person out. You’re checking this melon out, in this example, to determine its suitability for your consumption.
So this means that you really should in fact need to handle several melons before you select the one that you like the best.
So, when either party lacks this basic understanding of the purpose of dating, there will be some problems and misunderstandings.
And what I find with people who’ve been through the Conscious Dating program and who understand this concept, you really do have a distinct advantage because you’ve got so much more awareness about the process than the average person.
And with knowledge comes responsibility.
So when you encounter behavior that has a genesis in the lack of understanding, it’s really important that you share your viewpoint with your date because they’ll either be receptive to this new concept of Conscious Dating and all that it means — or they won’t be.
And their reaction alone will be very revealing to you.
Going back to the purpose of dating, don’t look at dating as a series of dates, but view each date as a single, isolated occurrence.
And then based on the outcome of each date, both parties will decide whether there will be another date.
And based on the outcome of that next date, you’ll both determine whether there will be another date and so on and so on.
As you embark on your Conscious Dating journey, remember this foundation of one date at a time and then if you get lost, just take a deep breath.
How to Overcome Fear of Rejection
Many singles, when they’re dating, lack confidence and fear rejection. This is normal to a degree. We all want to feel like we belong to the tribe.
However, the main reason that singles feel this way is because they have unrealistic expectations about the outcome of their dates.
However, if you keep in mind that you’re just assessing somebody’s suitability one date at a time, you’ll be less likely to be concerned about rejection.
When you keep that in mind, you’re aware that you’re being the chooser.
You need to be the chooser (know you’re the choice in your life and relationships, and not be in the energy of “waiting to be picked”); that’s one of the most important principles of Conscious Dating.
And you will not have invested any emotion or expectation in the outcome one way or another if you’re not being attached.
Being unattached to outcomes will make it easier to date.
Think about it. How many people do you need to scout, sort, screen, and test in order to find Mr. Right? Do you really think that the first time will work? How about the second time? How about the third person you date? How about 30, 40, 50 people, 100?
I’ve talked to people who’ve met and dated hundreds of people, literally, before they found their Mr. Right. Being unattached to outcomes will make it easier to date and to practice scouting, sorting, screening, and testing.
The more you practice or experience something, the more confident you become and able to repeat the process.
So, if you approach the journey as if “I might have to meet 100 or more people in order to find my Mr. Right,” then this person is just one out of 100. It’s not like you have to make this person be the one.
But because you’ll be meeting lots of men and dating a lot to find the partner you really want, you do want to make the best use of your time. You don’t just want to date more; you need to date smarter: date consciously.
How to Date Smarter and Avoid Wasting Your Time: The True Purpose of the First Three Dates
So, the purpose of the first three dates, in addition to assessing whether you want to move on to the next date with this person, is to
1. Gain confidence about being authentically you in a dating situation and to practice being in the energy of “being the chooser.”
A lot of people are very confident and very authentic in their workplace and when they’re with friends, but when they get in a dating situation all of a sudden they’re very unsure. They’re very self-conscious.
You know you can say you’re confident in other areas, but in the dating situation that’s really where a lot of people need to gain the practice.
So, the second purpose of the first three dates is to simply
2. Practice dating and social skills.
When you think about it, finding your life partner is a relationship goal.
Any relationship experiences you have are going to help you along the way toward that goal.
So it is absolutely not wasting your time.
Meeting and dating 100 possible candidates is absolutely not wasting your time because number one, you might need to go through all those people in order to find your Mr. Right. It might not happen the first time.
And number two, you’re getting lots and lots of practice. And life is teaching you lessons. (Notice how life tends to work that way?) It brings the lessons to you until you’ve got them and you’ve learned them and you’re ready for the next step.
So, relationship skills and dating skills involve what?
1. Initiating contact with people.
For example, if you’re painfully shy and have trouble initiating contact with people and you wait for people to contact you, you’re not being the chooser.
It will greatly benefit your dating journey to be the chooser, to be able to initiate contact with people that you want to meet by introducing yourself, making conversation, and being aware of the opportunities that come into your life.
Maybe Mr. Right is this person in line at the grocery store that drops their keys and you pick up their keys and you hand it to them and you smile and life just gave you an opportunity.
It just dropped Mr. Right into your lap. Right in front of you in the grocery store. But you need to recognize those opportunities and this is what this skill is about: being able to seize that moment and be present.
2. Be present
If you’re thinking about the future, or you’re thinking about the past, or you’re in your head about something or, even worse, you have your phone earbuds in and you’re just tuning out the rest of the world, then you’re going to hand this wonderful person back their keys and you would have missed that opportunity.
3. Keep boundaries and forgive yourself
So mastering skills like keeping your boundaries, especially your sexual boundaries, flirting, being the chooser, patience, delaying gratification, it’s probably not going to happen all at once. It’s not going to happen in a day.
Chances are, you’ll miss an opportunity. You’ll say something you regret, You’ll let your boundaries slip.
But the powerful thing is: You’ll learn.
It’s all a learning experience.
Be good to yourself.
No one is perfect.
4. Be patient and delay gratification
People don’t like to be pushed, they don’t like to be expected to be ahead of where they are, so practicing being present, being patient, delaying gratification and letting things evolve, is an important skill.
It’s also an opportunity to be the chooser and to practice non-attachment.
Being attached to an outcome takes away from being able to lean back and keenly observe your date’s interest level and attitudes.
5. Be authentic
Being who you are on your dates (versus denying parts of yourself to try and “market” yourself or fit in) is really important so you can get the best sense of whether you’re a good fit together.
If you’re not showing up as who you’re, he doesn’t get to experience the real you and, in turn, you don’t get accurate information on whether he’s a good match for you.
So those are examples of skills that you can practice when you’re dating that will certainly support you when you’re in a relationship.
The third purpose of the first three dates is to
3. Make you more proficient at sorting and screening and testing, based on your vision, your values, and your requirements.
In my Conscious Dating program, I help women get powerfully clear on who they are and what they want. When you’re Conscious Dater, you’re very clear about your vision, needs and requirements so that when you date, you’re sorting, screening and testing for those things.
And dating is where you get practice in doing that. You translate the knowledge into action.
And the final purpose, of the first three dates is to
4. Help you become attuned to your inner voice.
Part of being authentic is to be authentic with yourself.
Be honest with yourself.
Be aware of what your truth is, so that you can speak it and stand up for it.
So pay attention to your own inner voice, your intuition, whatever you want to call it, your truth, and to act on it, which is an important relationship skill as well.
The Best Structure and Venues for the First Three Dates
The first three dates really need to be short, focused and fun.
Why short and focused? Since the foundational purpose of dating is to assess a date’s compatibility to move onto the next date, you really don’t need a lot of time to make that decision.
You can decide within 30 to 45 minutes whether you want to arrange the next date.
And remember, it doesn’t mean you’re not deciding whether this is your future life partner. All you’re deciding is, “Do I want a next date with this person?” Yes or no.
But you also have to be aware that the person you’re dating also has the same choice.
So you may want to continue, but he may not want to.
And it’s OK because it just means that you’re not a match. So don’t worry about it.
As I said earlier, don’t be attached to the outcome; you’re both assessing. You’re the chooser, just as he is.
And it’s just a date. It serves a lot of purposes.
Keeping it short on the first three dates is also really important because just imagine spending three or four hours on a dinner date with a guy who’s obviously not a match for you.
It’s so uncomfortable!
It’s so difficult to try and make conversation with someone and you’re stuck at dinner.
You can’t just be rude and get up in the middle of dinner, especially if they’re a very polite person, and their behavior is very acceptable.
At this early stage of dating, you just want to be on purpose.
You just want to be practicing your social and dating skills, gathering and gaining confidence, sorting, screening and testing, and listening to your inner voice, without spending a lot of time on these dates.
And as you start to get to know someone and are interested in continuing getting to know them, you can spend increasingly longer amounts of time on these dates.
It’s a process. It takes time. You really don’t need to spend large chunks of time in a short period of time in getting to know someone.
And remember this, you’re still in the melon patch. And there are lots of melons to squeeze, so you don’t have to pick the first one.
And why should it be fun? Because life should be enjoyable!
And finding a life partner is really an exciting experience.
If a date isn’t fun, ask yourself, “Why not? What’s going on?”
Really tune into your experience. Are you having fun with this person? Are you having an enjoyable experience? Are you HAPPY?
You’re a Conscious Dater and you need to be aware of any limiting thoughts or reasons why this particular date is not fun.
Maybe you’re two incompatible people. Who knows?
Recommended Structure of a First Date
1.I recommend that it’s no longer than 45 minutes.
This is like getting together for coffee. Most people can stand 45 minutes, even with somebody who is not compatible with them.
If you meet somebody that is so totally obnoxious or disturbing or unsettling, you can simply get up and go.
You can say something like, “Well, it was nice meeting you. I don’t think this is a match. And so I’m going to get going. Thank you. Goodbye.”
And don’t be afraid to do that. It’s not rude.
If you’re in the middle of dinner, that might be hard to do.
But if you’re in the middle of coffee, it’s not a big deal to say, “Well, gotta get back to work. Thank you.”
You’re under no obligation to stay and it is not rude to get up and say, “Well, you know, I realize this is not a match.”
It’s nothing personal. And you don’t have to necessarily put it that way. There are always ways to communicate it very graciously.
2. Have an exit strategy.
Be really clear going in, if you’re wanting to leave to break it off, know how you’re going to do that.
Having a plan always makes it easier for you to execute the plan.
Because if you have to make it up without having it pre-planned, then it’s a lot more awkward and difficult because you have to think about it, and how can you think when you’re engaging this person and all you can think of is how you want to leave?
So have an exit strategy and plan what you want to say and it can be as simple as, “You know what? As we’re talking, I realize that this is just not a match. But I enjoyed meeting you and I wish you well. So, thank you.” Handshake and “Goodbye.”
Whatever it is, just plan it out.
Have your exit strategy planned: what you’re going to say and what you’re going to do.
And give yourself permission to do that.
You’re going to check this person out.
3. You want to screen him OUT, rather than screen him IN.
I know “screening out” can be really challenging to do especially if your default is to “be nice” and “always give the benefit of the doubt” and “always give people chances” because you worry that you’re being mean or judgmental by “screening out.”
I totally get it. That’s my tendency, too. I don’t like to disappoint. I like to give people chances and the benefit of the doubt. I’m forgiving — sometimes too forgiving.
But it doesn’t serve you in dating.
You end up spending time with people who ultimately aren’t a match, which slows down your journey to finding Mr. Right.
However, the “screening out” skill can be learned!
And it benefits your dating journey by helping you maximize your time with men who are a better match and avoid “wasting time” with men who aren’t a match.
So, screening somebody out is finding a reason to say “No.”
As you’re meeting men, and as you’re talking, is this chemistry there?
Does it look like your requirements would be met?
Does this feel good to you?
Does it feel right to you?
And if it doesn’t, then find a reason to say “No.” Any reason.
You’re looking for any reason to say “No” to screen them out.
Because you want to date efficiently so you can meet more men and find your Mr. Right.
Because (remember, hypothetically) you have a hundred men to meet before you find your Mr. Right.
Now, “screening in” is the opposite.
That’s where you want to give him a second chance.
You want to give him every chance, and the benefit of the doubt. “Well, maybe he’s just having a bad day.” Or, “I’ll give him a chance and I’ll see him again.”
Maybe you find yourself having a hard time saying “No” and you don’t want to say no because it doesn’t feel good to you and you worry you’ll hurt his feelings or whatever it might be.
However, I recommend that you go to this first date with the goal of screening out.
You want to, as quickly as you can, find reasons why it’s not going to work.
And it’s an absolute win if you do. It’s not a waste of time.
Sometimes you can’t recognize that you’re incompatible but sometimes it’s like having an elephant in the room with you; you can’t ignore the obvious.
And so when you’re a Conscious Dater and have a deep awareness of your vision, needs, and requirements, you know exactly what you’re looking for.
For example, if two of your requirements are generosity of spirit and a financial soundness in the relationship, and you’re clear on what those mean to you, you’ll know it when you see it or don’t see it.
For example, I know of someone who was single and dating and she met a guy at a coffee shop.
She arrived a couple minutes late and he was sitting there and he pulled out a bottled water that he had obviously brought with him from his knapsack. And then he said to her, “If you’d like something, go ahead and get it, I’ll wait here.”
She just looked at him and in that instant she realized that she didn’t like the feeling of this.
She didn’t feel he was a guy who was very generous of spirit. She felt it a bit stingy.
In other words, it was not what she was looking for.
So, within literally five minutes, she just said to him, “Thank you so much. I appreciate you coming down here to meet me, but I don’t feel we are a match. And I wish you luck.” And she left.
I know that approach might strike some readers a rude or short-sighted.
But another perspective is: She had the courage to listen to her inner voice and be really clear on what was important to her, what her requirements were.
So if she were practicing “screening in,” she would give him a second chance and then figure, “Oh, well. Maybe he just has special water that he has to have,” and she would likely just have more experiences that reinforce how she felt about that moment (how she felt it was stingy).
But because she was screening out, within five minutes she figured out, “Hey, this is not what I’m looking for.” That’s an absolute win.
It’s important to note that when you’re screening, there’s a fine line you have to walk.
A lot of it is intuition, listening to your inner voice, paying attention, understanding what you want, and looking for clues.
All of that comes to bear, so there’s no real hard and fast rules around this. Just trust yourself. Say “No” when you feel like saying no. Don’t feel coerced or obligated to say “yes” if that’s not what you want.
Venues for the First Date
Think about what you can do within a 45-minute time frame. There’s not a lot.
But you can grab a cup of coffee, you can take a stroll in a public park.
So my recommendations are, for the first date, is to meet in a coffee shop or a public park and just take a walk.
And the rationale for this is, you’re assessing and you’re practicing.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. So if this is the man for you, time will reveal that he is.
So there’s no need to force it or rush the process.
Keep in mind that you’re the chooser. And if the two of you like each other, defining the parameters of the date in advance will keep you both wanting. And anticipation is a very good thing!
It’s great to say, “You know what, I really enjoyed talking with you, meeting you. I have another commitment, as I mentioned before we met. And I’d love to see you again.”
Note, this is not the same as saying “You know what, I really enjoyed talking with you, meeting you. I have another commitment, as I mentioned before we met. But I’d love to see you again. How about lunch next Saturday? Are you free?”
Remember: Be patient. Mirror. Don’t push an agenda. Lean back. Some call it “be in your feminine energy.”
Simply express how you’re feeling. Example: “I’d love to see you again.”
Now, it’s up to the other person to say “yes” or “no.”
And then you set the time for the next date. So, it’s really simple.
Strategies for the Second Date
Your second date should be no more than 90 minutes. And shorter is even better.
On this date, the second date, you’re focusing more on your date’s interests and some of the values if you can pull those out.
But you have to do it briefly and not spend a lot of time or get into an interview process.
You know, I often joke to my clients that wouldn’t it be great if you could just take out your list of requirements and say, “OK. Now, do you want children?” Yes or No. Check. “Are you financially sound?” Yes or No. Check.
You can’t do that, unfortunately, (because that’s ultimately not fun for you or him!) so you’ve got to have a really light touch just introducing these topics naturally in conversation if it’s appropriate.
You can talk about some of your requirements, for example, children. There are ways to weave that into the conversation.
There are lots of ways to talk about what really matters to you. I help my clients with scripting all that and communicating that if they feel they need it to feel prepared, less anxious and more confident.
So, this also means that you need a venue that’s conducive to talking.
So a movie or a theatrical event is not a good place for an early date for that reason alone. Because you can’t talk.
You’re sitting there and you’re watching something and at the end of it, you have a conversation about what? About the movie. Or about the event. And that’s really not why you’re having these early dates.
So, again, in terms of venues, think about what you can do in less than 90 minutes that permits conversation.
It could be a walk in the park, it could be bicycling, it could be skating. It could be a trip to an aquarium. That type of thing that also pulls out some interests in your date.
Also, the rationale for this is by including an activity, it will make the time go by faster because now this is the second time that you’ve really met this person, and you’re spending maybe up to 90 minutes with them, so you’ve got a whole lot more material for conversation if there happen to be lags in the discussion because you’re at the aquarium. “Oh, my gosh. Look at that octopus!”
There’s a lot more to talk about and you won’t feel as uncomfortable as you might if you were sitting across a table in a coffee shop.
Plus it’s also another way to gauge a person’s interests by collaborating on where you can meet for a second date!
It’s also really important to define the time parameters in advance, so you can say, “Yeah, I’d love to meet you. How about we meet for an hour and a half. After that, I have a commitment or I have to do this or do that.” So he knows that there’s a finite end to this date, and it takes the pressure off both you and him!
Strategies for the Third Date
The third date should be no longer than two hours.
And it should focus on interests and values. You can also do some more probing around your requirements and you can allow more time to chat.
Some of the venues that might facilitate that might be a trip to the museum, maybe wine tasting, or you could go to the zoo.
You could even go for lunch! Because a luncheon time frame is much shorter than dinner. So that would really work well for a third date.
And the rationale for the structure of the third date is that by now you’ve decided you want to get to know this person a bit more and, in order to do that, you need to allocate some time to do it.
Plus, by this time, you should feel a bit more at ease with each other so that spending two hours is one another’s company is not going to be too difficult to manage.
The key to avoiding “wasting” your time on these first dates and effectively screening for compatibility is to go in already having deep awareness of who you are and what you want.
That clarity and awareness of your vision, needs and requirements — combined with the mindset of being the chooser — is a powerful approach to finding and attracting the love life you really want.
Some argue that applying so much forethought and strategy to dating robs the journey of any romance and excitement.
But I argue that the opposite is true.
When you’re truly ready and available for the kind of relationship that you want, and you show up on the journey with intention, openness and an unshakeable belief that you will succeed — that the life you want is available to you, that man you’re looking for is looking for you, too — you actually invite MORE of what you’re seeking into your life.
If that’s romance, excitement, adventure, LOVE…then so be it.
But that doesn’t just happen.
It begins with intention.
Mental and emotional preparation.
And, of course, action.
If a deeply fulfilling, committed, loving, secure relationship is what you really want, you owe it to yourself to CONSCIOUSLY CREATE the conditions to make that possible.
Make it easy for him to find you.
You’re in charge.
You’re the chooser.
You’re the powerful creator of your own experience.