Clearly no-one heads to a date hoping that it will go badly. It's also very unlikely that in the moment tumble weed is spiraling past you, you're thinking to yourself, "what a blessing this moment is!" But hang in there. With a little space for reflection, often these dire, awkward moments can teach us something.
Rarely in life do we grow or evolve from perfection. It's the tougher moments that give us the best opportunities to grow, and dating scenarios are no different.
So, steal yourself a bit of time, sit back and open that lid on the toe curling box of bad date memories and see what you can learn from them. If you feel pretty comfy with reflecting, then feel free to leave this blog post right here and take the moment whilst it grabs you. But if you would like some guidance on how you can learn from those bad dates, then grab yourself a pen and some paper (or your phone/device if you aren't still in love with old-fashioned pen and paper like me) and read on....
Are you new to the experience of a bad date or is this a well-trodden path?
If it's the latter then ask yourself what exactly it is that's going wrong and make a list. Is it always the same sort of thing that goes wrong, or a mixture? Do you never have anything in common with the other person? Do you never know what to say and get so nervous that you just end up mute throughout the whole thing? Are they always just interested in getting you into bed rather than actually getting to know you? Whatever the answer, let this be a chance for you to take ownership of the problem, re-evaluate your dating choices and make some changes. Could it be time to try something new? If it's the former, then maybe it's just a one off... only time will tell. But for now, it's given you a good story to tell.
Do you leave the 'bad dates' feeling disappointed or frustrated because they were railroaded by your date?
If so, think about whether you put your wants and needs forward enough on a date. This doesn't have to be in an aggressive or even overtly obvious way, just use a little confident assertion. Take the example of the other person railroading the conversation. Do you have a tendency to just go along with it getting more and more wound up and then leave the date feeling totally frustrated and annoyed that they didn't let you get a word in edgeways? Does that date then become another entry on your list of bad dates? If so, maybe it's time that you didn't just sit there smiling whilst inside feeling the burn of the red hot embers of irritation inside you! Instead, change the subject and bring it back round to you so that you get the chance to share in the airtime. Confidence (but not arrogance) is attractive and there is nothing wrong with showing it.
You never know, your date may have only been talking so much because they were nervous, not because they weren't interested in what you have to say.
Another thing to consider....responsibility.
When you go on a date, how much responsibility for 'success' do you place with you, and how much with the other person? Although not always deliberate, we have a bit of a tendency to place responsibility at the feet of the other person. But let's not forget, dating is a two person game and we are as much responsible for whether it goes well as they are. Be open minded, be empathic, be curious.
These can also have a huge impact on the way we evaluate how well our date went. If you enter the date with the expectation that this person is going to be your dream then the odds probably aren't stacked in your favour. Try not to frame the date as good or bad, or you trying to find mr/mrs right. Instead, try to frame it as an opportunity...for many things. An opportunity to have an interesting, if not fun time. To learn something about yourself, about other people and the things you do and don't like. Plus, each date is a chance to practice your skills of communicating and flirting. In those few hours, you're given the chance to learn something from a stranger, as they are from you...that's pretty cool.
Dates (good or bad) are a great way to get to know yourself better. Whether they're a dream or a disaster, you've still gained.... Happy dating!