“Rita, there is no need to rush. Slow and steady with your movements.” I focused on my instructor, Ken. I centered my energy, took a deep breath and extended my gloved hand, making solid, hard, contact with the mitt. I felt the power radiate through my body! “There you go! The key is to just take your time. If you do that, you’ll make the contact you are looking for,” Ken said. I was at a boxing class at Results Gym (Farragut North location) with date 31, Rich. That name may be familiar, because date 31 was also date 21.
I sense the raised eyebrows and slight confusion happening on the other side of the monitor, so let me depart from my regularly scheduled blog post format to give you the information I assume you are craving. Rich’s invitation for a 2nd date happened to fall before the end of the 35/35 Project. It was going to be an “off the record” second date. But my regularly scheduled date cancelled. (I checked my own rules and they say 35 dates in a row…not 35 first dates.) And I feel that what happened on date #31 is of enough interest, and use, for you, my readers. So that is how I ended up on a second date with Rich, as date 31.
After our class, we cleaned ourselves up and headed out to brunch. The weather was extremely beautiful so we took our time walking through Dupont in search of the perfect brunch spot and decided on Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe. As we waited for a table, we browsed the books and talked about…everything. The conversation didn’t miss a beat throughout brunch. The timing was perfect. We got each other’s jokes. After brunch we walked through Dupont Circle and sat together on a bench where the conversation continued.
The conversation became deeper, focused on our goals and aspirations. Our families. Our childhoods. Our pasts. The timing was still amazing. The words flowing between us with ease. The body language was right. But, as great as things seemed, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t repeating mistakes from my past. So I focused the conversation on the “right questions.” I internally analyzed the answers. I searched for the “authentic Rich.” At all times, purposefully holding back. Not wanting to rush anything. I looked at my watch and realized that 6 hours had passed since the time we met for the boxing class! The day had flown by!
Rich walked me to my car. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something in our goodbye was different from on our first date. On my way home, I started replaying in my mind the questions I had asked Rich and his answers. Although our conversation had flowed, I had a few concerns. By the time I pulled into my parking space at home, I had decided that it would be best to not pursue things with Rich further.
It’s like the “Ten Point Must,” the method of scoring in boxing. The winning score for each round is 10. The winner must have 10 points to win the round. Anything less is losing. Many of us use a similar “scoring” system in dating. Even if we don’t mean to. Each time we meet a “contender” we start to compare them, trait by trait, to our “list.” Our list of qualifications. I don’t mean superficial qualifications (although some do use those). I mean those qualifications usually derived from our past experiences and past relationships. If someone doesn’t meet a trait on that list, we eliminate them. In her book, “You Lost Him at Hello,” Jess McCann says “In this [dating] game, it takes just one strike and you’re out.” She goes on to say, “I’m sure you can think of tons of examples where [someone] did or said something that completely turned you off. It only took one thing, one word, one look, and you were done.”
I sat there, thinking. “What are you doing, Rita?!” On a Ten Point Must system, Rich had scored at least a 7, probably an 8. But not a perfect 10. And I was about to eliminate him. I was about to eliminate him even though we had two dates, that were highly enjoyed. Where the conversation flowed. Where the interaction had a genuine give and take. Where we were able to pass hours without noticing the time. Eliminate him over things that were really assumptions I was making about him based on certain answers he gave. Assuming that there was a pattern he had when, after only 2 dates, I had no way of knowing if that was true. I was making assumptions based on past experiences with others. Not with him.
Later, Rich called. He is very open and wanted to discuss his take on our date. It turns out, on the Ten Point Must system, I had scored about the same. And he was almost ready to eliminate me too. I laughed and told him that I had a similar thought. As we talked, we both came to the same conclusion. In the world of “dating,” everyone is careful to not rush into anything – and they should be. Yet, no one seems equally concerned with slowing down the process of elimination. We’ll analyze, interpret and rule people out for all kinds of reasons, almost immediately. Without even knowing that person. Without knowing if the reason for elimination is “real.” The reason usually based on assumptions. “Taking it slow” should truly work in both directions. You shouldn’t rush into a relationship nor should you be so quick to dismiss someone.
When someone hasn’t scored a “perfect 10” you should take a step back and really look. Look to see what the person does have and build your friendship from there and see what results. You should do this before ruling them out for something they don’t have. As the boxing instructor, Ken, told me earlier that morning, “The key is to just take your time. If you do that, you’ll make the contact you are looking for.” And that’s what Rich and I are doing. We aren’t rushing – in either direction. There is no need. Especially after only a second date.
“Sometimes, people can be too clever by half. When it comes to knowledge of understanding other people, everybody thinks they are an expert. They think they can understand the motivations of others based on one or two interactions when, in fact, they are drawing upon stereotypes and are making wrongful assumptions. People who are quick to form impressions of others set themselves up for failure, especially those who are disposed to mistrust of others.”