7 Things You Should Know Before the First Date

7 Things You Should Know Before the First DateHave you ever been on a blind date? They’re nerve-racking. Even if you trust the person setting you up, it feels like such a gamble.

What if the guy is a jerk? Or an idiot? Or just a really, really bad fit?

Blind date horror stories range from the uncomfortable to the truly bizarre. For example, there’s the girl who was unknowingly set up with her cousin. Awkward. But that’s not nearly as weird as the guy who kept his dead father’s “lucky dentures” in his pocket and proudly showed them off to his blind date.

That’s the end of that date. Turn and run.

You likely have dating horror stories of your own—blind and otherwise. That’s because all too often, we don’t know enough about the other person before the first date.

I’m not suggesting you request their college transcript, or do a full background check, or ask them to take a personality test. (Even though all three of those would be interesting.)

But it is wise to do a little homework first, even if you’re just meeting for coffee.

If it’s a blind date, you can get the scoop from your would-be matchmaker. If he’s someone you know from work or the gym, you can ask a few simple, non-threatening questions. If you met through an online dating site, check out his profile or just ask him to friend you on Facebook so you can see how he interacts with other people.

Just don’t go into that first date without some idea of who he is. Which opens a whole new can set of questions. What do you need to know before the first date?!

I’m so glad you asked.

There are 7 basic things you should know before you meet him for dinner, drinks or coffee. The goal is to know who he is enough to decide if you really want to invest the time to get to know him better.

This isn’t a definitive checklist. It’s more of a guide. In other words, as long as you know some of this stuff you’re far more likely to have a good first date.

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How to Spot a Guy’s Underlying Character

How to Spot a Guy’s Underlying CharacterDo you know how to spot a guy’s underlying character? If you don’t, it’s all too easy to end up with a guy who’s not worth your time.

Here’s what I mean.

Jenn and Lisa are best friends. Both recently started dating someone new. Like most friends, they compare notes.

The other day they were having coffee, and Jenn described how her guy was in a foul mood on their last date. He wasn’t rude toward her. But he was short with the waiter at the restaurant and the usher who took their tickets at the theater. He even snapped at the guy who parked the car.

Lisa had a similar experience with her new beau. A work meeting went poorly and it showed throughout their entire date. But at the end of the night, he addressed it. He explained why he was in a bad mood, took responsibility for letting it affect his behavior, and apologized.

“I’m sure your guy apologized to you, too,” Lisa said to Jenn.

Jenn shook her head. “Nope. That’s how he usually is. I mean, he’s always sweet to me, but he knows how to get his way. People learn not to cross him the hard way.”

Right about now, you’re probably thinking the same thing Lisa thought. Lisa’s guy was having a bad day, but that’s not the norm. Jenn’s guy just sounds like a jerk.

The difference is a state versus a trait.

States and traits look similar, but they’re totally different. States are temporary. Traits are—well, not necessary permanent, but certainly more well-established.

A state is a one-off situation, like being short because you’re having a bad day. A trait represents a pattern of behavior. Happily-ever-after hinges on learning to spot the difference between the two.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to tell states and traits apart —when you know what to look for. I can help you there.

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Why He Loves It When You’re Selfish

Why He Loves It When You’re SelfishRelationships thrive on selflessness.

They require sacrifice, compromise, and putting each other first.

We know this deep in our bones, and yet…

Have you ever noticed lopsided relationships, where it seems like one person is doing all the giving and the other person is doing all the taking? One’s a saint; the other is selfish.

It seems like the answer would be to have a stern talk with the person who’s being selfish.

He needs to think of others besides himself for once. He needs to see how much his partner is doing for him. He needs to start pitching in.

But I have an unusual suggestion:

Maybe the person who’s always selfless should start being selfish once in a while.

As she learns to be more selfish, their relationship ends up balancing itself out and becomes better than ever.

How in the world does that work?

Let me guess. You want to know because you’ve been the one doing all the giving. You know what it’s like to feel taken advantage of. You don’t want a repeat.

You might think the solution is to pick a less selfish man in the first place. If you could find a man who was giving like you, you’d be set. You’d both serve each other, and your relationship would be paradise.

That’s one option, certainly.

But another option—the better one—is to prevent your relationship from getting imbalanced in the first place.

Where Imbalance Starts

Relationships tend to get polarized.

He’s tidy, she’s messy. She’s the organizer, he forgets everything. He’s on time, she’s late. She’s the strict parent, he’s the permissive one.

This polarization happens even if couples start off fairly well balanced.

Let’s say that, in your relationship, you’re the tidy one and he’s the messy one.

Before getting together with him, though, you didn’t see yourself as a particular tidy person. You’re just tidy compared to him. He keeps things clean enough to suit him, but he’s no Mr. Martha Stewart.

Over time, that small difference grows. You clean the house; he messes it up again. He doesn’t see why he should do any cleaning when you do such a good job of it. He notices that it seems to give you pleasure to keep things tidy, so why should he deny you the fun?

You end up frustrated and feeling used. You don’t like feeling like his maid! He couldn’t survive without you making sure he has clean underwear. He doesn’t think of anyone but himself.

What’s the answer to this problem? Handing him a mop?

To answer that question, let me tell you about something called The Shadow Effect.

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How to Stop Your Past from Poisoning Your Future

How to Stop Your Past from Poisoning Your FutureYour exes.

What comes to mind when you think of them?

If you’re like most women, the first word that comes to mind is “heartbreak.”

Pain. Mistakes. Scars.

You have to carry that baggage for the rest of your life.

Common wisdom says you should forgive.

You can’t let go of the past until you’re completely at peace with what happened and hold no anger.

That’s a wonderful goal to aim for.

Forgiving your exes lightens your heart, helps you heal, and restores joy to your love life.

But it’s not easy. Not in the slightest.

Surely, if you could forgive, you’d have done it already, right? Because it feels so much better when you let stuff go.

You don’t want to carry that stuff around with you. You, more than anyone, know how much better life would be if you didn’t feel pain every time you thought about that part of your past.

That’s why I sometimes suggest a different goal:

Compassion with boundaries.

It accomplishes many of the same benefits as forgiveness, but it’s much more attainable. It helps you reap the lessons and discard the chaff, so that your future looks a whole lot brighter.

Let’s start by looking at boundaries.

How to Keep Bad Things from Happening Again

The reason so many of us hang onto unforgivingness is because we think it protects us. We don’t want to get hurt again.

So we remind ourselves periodically, “Look at what happened last time I trusted someone! Remember how that turned out?”

But what happened to you last time doesn’t predict what’s going to happen to you this time.

You’re smarter now. You’re stronger. You don’t need to hold onto those old memories in order to make wiser choices this time around.

Letting the past hang around just casts a pall over your future. There’s a better way to keep yourself safe.

And that’s by setting boundaries.

Boundaries are your limits. They define exactly how you’ll allow yourself to be treated. Some boundaries go without saying—no abuse, no violence, no cheating. But other boundaries are fuzzier. Let’s discuss a few of those.

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