The ice has been broken with the surface-level, small talk. You’ve touched upon light topics and established some sort of common ground. An internal sigh of relief is secretly exhaled as you’re not eyeing the door or your phone for an escape plan.
Now… where do you go from here?
You two are complete strangers trying to get to know each other beyond the initial physical attraction. The person sitting in front of you is like a blank paint-by-numbers canvas. You mentally have a numbered list in your mind as to what’s important to you in a relationship. And as you engage in more conversation, you’re slowly filling in the numbered spots, correlating to what’s important to you in a relationship and what you have in common with each other.
So what can you do to get a more effective picture to evaluate whether this person has long term potential?
1 – Know what you want and need in a relationship
Before you can even determine whether this person has long term potential or not, you need to have a clear picture of who and what you want in a relationship first. This clarity allows you to create a more effective and accurate picture to compare your date to.
Oftentimes, people have a fuzzy, general idea in their head, then they’re figuring it out as they go. Red flags could be unconsciously or carelessly dismissed. They can get so caught up in certain qualities that aren’t even conducive to a quality, long term relationship. They might stay in relationships longer than they should’ve. When they look back, they realized this person wasn’t a good fit from the beginning.
Another possibility is that they have this list of high bar qualities that no one seems to match up to. When you ask them why this is important to them, they cannot determine the deeply rooted reasons besides it being a preference. Then they’re weeding out people without truly giving them a chance. Instead of having a more in-depth conversation, they eject themselves from the opportunity based on quick judgments and assumptions. Deep down, they’re just scared of getting hurt again and hiding behind a gated wall of qualities.
Take the time to bring this vision of your ideal partner to the forefront of your conscious mind. This not only allows you to recognize what you personally want and need in a relationship but also understand yourself at a deeper level to see and address what relationship baggage you’re still dragging along with you.
You will take more empowered, aligned action with all this knowledge conscious.
2 – Stop tip toeing around and just ask what you truly want to know
Have the courage to dive into the deeper questions early on within the first few dates.
Dating takes time, energy, and effort. No one wants to waste their time. So don’t spend the entire date on meaningless small talk because you’re scared to ask what you truly want to know. Make sure you check off your non-negotiables, then you can take the time to dive deeper into the nitty gritty of alignments and differences.
Through your conversations, you’re both consciously and unconsciously deciphering each other’s mindset, values, habits, strategies, lifestyle, and personality. A quality partner is evaluating all of that to formulate the answer to this question: what value would you bring into my life?
Share what matters to you. Avoid holding back. Putting up a facade or only keeping things light doesn't help you connect with each other at a deeper level. Depth builds connection. Reveal who you are at your core. Ask those hard questions, even those that have been deemed as taboo topics. It's best to have all of that laid out on the table sooner than hidden to be uncovered later.
Plus, when you go for the depth of conversation, you want to stand out amongst all the others who are also competing for their time and attention.
Remember, what they say and what they don’t say are just as important.
If they have no idea, take that as feedback and a possible red flag. You want someone who knows what they want in life, who they are, and where they want to go. Time is valuable, so the “wait and see” strategy could waste months (or worse, years) of your life with this person to discover that they weren’t a good fit from the beginning.
3 – Ask behavioral-related questions to get a better understanding of how they think and approach things
Hobbies and interests don’t make or break a relationship. Mindset and behaviors do.
Assumptions and unsaid expectations are saboteurs of great relationships. The only way you’ll be able to overcome these preconceived notions is to actually ASK! Find out exactly how they actually see, think, and feel about the topic at hand.
Hearing about their past behavior is helpful, but more importantly, determining how that has shaped who they are and whether they’ve learned something from that experience. We’re all in a constant state of change. Who they are in the past can give a glimpse into their future, but that is not a guaranteed prediction. Dive deeper into who they are now and who they want to become. Discover your alignments and discuss the differences to determine whether your life and relationship visions are complementary.
Remember this isn’t a job interview or a criminal interrogation. Ask insightful questions and voluntarily offer up information about yourself as well. Avoid dominating or deflecting the conversation. An engaging conversation naturally ebbs and flows between you two.
By the end of the date, if the overall picture you’ve filled in is to your liking, congrats! Your date now has the ability to advance to the next stage. It takes both sides to determine whether or not there is a next date, so be direct, open, and curious.
Enjoy the process of getting to know someone new.
Psst, the featured photo is by Taryn Elliott via pexels