One of the biggest differences between any first date and second date is expectation. Be very careful here. You don't want your expectations to be sky-high any more than you want them to be so low you're grateful for the slightest crumb your date flicks across the table. I know it's hard trying to enter a date with a blank slate, but you really owe it to yourself and your date to try to enter with your eyes, heart, and mind open.
Expectation is no simple matter. The dictionary defines expectation as looking for what's "due, proper, or necessary." Interestingly, the word comes from the same root as "spectacle," the Latin spectare, meaning "to gaze at." What this all means is that you form your expectation of any event by instantaneously "gazing at" your past experiences, stuff that's happened to your friends or your parents or your family, what the media has convinced you is proper, and what your peers have convinced you you're due. So you walk into any situation with at least some expectation as to how it would, could, or — worse — should turn out.
Trouble is, your date doesn't have your same history. Your date isn't carrying the same baggage. He has a whole different set of luggage. That's when expectations can get a bit dicey. You expect your date to think and feel as you do. When it doesn't happen as you anticipated, feelings get hurt and tempers flare and the whole experience takes a kamikaze nosedive.
Don't fall into this trap. You can't erase expectation completely — it's okay to expect to have a good time with someone you already like — but try to identify what your expectations are before your second date begins. That way, you'll recognize immediately when (or if) your expectations are dashed, and you can put the whole thing in perspective. You may want to refer to Chapter 17 to understand your dating expectations.
Mind over what's-the-matter
Getting all stressed-out is easy if your second date doesn't measure up to the notion you had of the way things should go or if you put so much pressure on yourself that nothing you do or say is going to be good enough. Don't go there. You won't have any fun. Your date won't have any fun. Everybody loses. Instead, if you start to feel tense, take a breather (literally) and do a quick reality check. Ask yourself the following:
^ What's really bothering me here? Am I blaming my date for my expectations? Am I bringing up past history? Have I jammed a couple of unrelated memories and fears together to make a stress sandwich? If so, pull yourself back into the moment and deal with the here and now.
^ Am I trying to make sure my date doesn't get too close? Intimacy is a scary thing, particularly in a second date where, presumably, you two are revealing more about yourselves. If you find yourself mentally running for the dugout before the seventh-inning stretch, get back in the game and see how it ends up.
^ Is this just old news? If you notice that you seem to be falling back on tired old patterns to make yourself feel comfortable, knock it off. Tell yourself you're safe, that it's okay to feel a little afraid, and not to worry — you'll hold your hand every step of the way.
Old patterns, new people
Behavior patterns — acting in a characteristic way — begin to take hold on the second date. If you tend to be a relationship sprinter rather than a longdistance runner, you'll continue to quickly fall in and out of love with each new person unless you do something to change it. If you typically scare the dickens out of your dates by confessing true love on the way to the car, you'll probably act it out again unless you do something to change the pattern. Or if you're so scared of intimacy that it takes you ten years to trust someone, you probably won't change unless you make a conscious effort to do so.
If you don't already know your dating patterns (everybody has patterns of behavior), I want you to pay attention on the second date so you can uncover your tendencies and know what to watch for in yourself. If you're already aware of patterns and like what you see in yourself, don't change a thing. But if you've noticed a destructive dating style in the past and want to change it, follow these steps:
1. Identify the behavior.
As soon as you experience one of those there-I-go-again moments, pretend you're a school kid at a crosswalk: Stop, look, and listen to yourself.
Mentally describe your behavior in a specific sentence like, "Whenever I'm nervous, I tend to be sarcastic" or "As soon as it seems like someone really likes me, I get turned off."
3. Place it in the moment.
Try to pinpoint what set you off this time. Was it her arm brushing up against yours? Was it something he said?
Patterns don't change overnight. They especially don't change smack in the middle of a date. What you want to do, once you've nailed down a behavior pattern, is to relax, file it away in your brain, and look at it later on when you're alone.
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Keep in mind that the first date is usually the discovery period. In other words, it is the time when you learn more things about the other person. Aside from that, you should also open up abo ut yourself, so that your date would also know more about you. This is the time to see if you would really be good together or not.