Analysing The One Date Rule

You’ve given them at least one chance… now what? Here’s an analytical look at The One Date Rule.

The One Date Rule
Source: The Bachelor

Also known as The One Coffee Rule.

If you know me, you’ll know I’m quite the logical processor of life. I really like thinking things through. Heck, my last post was exactly about this phenomenon – you can give that one a read here. And so today’s big life topic that’s going under the microscope – The One Date Rule. Thanks to a bunch of people I was talking to about this one recently, as well as those I’ve talked with about this in the past. This one is for you.

The One Date Rule is the notion that every person deserves at least one shot. No matter what he looks like, no matter how confronting she may have been when she brought it up, no matter whether or not you think they’re your type, hey, let’s give it a shot. They get at least One Date, One Coffee, One Breakfast, One Hour Long Conversation – whatever package you want to present as an opportunity – they get a go at it with you. Or you with them, depending on your perspective.

This one gets quite a lot of use in a whole bunch of different circles, whether you’re younger, older, religious, secular, a people person or someone who feels a bit more obscure, I have heard this one get a whole bunch of use. The original idea of this is that you should give someone at least one chance. If they were brave enough, or you were brave enough, to put it forward, there’s going to be at least one period of time allocated to seeing if there’s anything more here. It’s to help us avoid us saying no to what could be potentially the very best thing that could ever happen to us.

So is this a good thing? A bad thing? Let’s have a look.

Keeping your options open

I think whoever made this a thing initially was on to something here, and it’s this: we don’t always know what we want. We pre-judge people and box people quite emphatically over sometimes very little information. Look at Tinder or eHarmony. Based on a short blurb and a picture, we instantly put someone in an eligible or AH RUN AWAY! category. People we have grown familiar with over time, perhaps long time friends, or people we’ve known for a few weeks or months in a non-romantic context, have already been placed in a certain type of relationship with us.

I think the point of this rule is, hey, you have to give it a chance.

The next question would be how much of a chance someone should get.

Not wanting to waste time

I think another dimension that this rule was born out of was not wanting to waste your time, or someone else’s time. After all, relationships are huge time investments… and that’s if they even work out. Let’s have a look at a really basic timeframe for how people might see things going:

  • Feeling out, or will we/won’t we process – 1-3 months (longer or shorter, just a ballpark figure here)
  • Focused dating period – 6-36 months
  • Engagement – 6-24 months

Add to that a 3-6 month mourning/moving on period if this one doesn’t work out (sometimes less, sometimes longer for some people) and we’re already looking in the order of years to determine whether or not we want to make a lifelong commitment to someone. This is why I always laugh when people say they’re still young. You might be now, but at the end of the process with this person, you might not be as young. You could start dating at 20 and be 26 by the time it all goes through. although it’s funny how those timeframes shrink as we get older. Have one or two not go the way you planned and you might be a bit older than you thought later on. It’s an expensive amount of time to spend with someone. If people are given at least the one shot, you can quickly work out whether or not they’re worth any more time.

…Or can you?

A lot of pressure

So you’ve had the one date. You took her out for a nice dinner, he agreed to see you at your favourite coffee place. You spend a good 2-3 hours talking or doing some activity. Maybe you’ve known them for ages, or maybe you met at the date. What happens next?

Well, it depends on how you feel the first meeting went, doesn’t it? If you don’t think you gelled very well, or if you’re not feeling it, then you might write it off. If you were ecstatic and elated the whole time, you’ll be waiting for the next phone call.

But is one date really enough information to go off of?

One thing us guys are advised fairly strongly on is ensuring you don’t go too extravagant on the first date, because you might scare her off. Don’t bring a massive wedding bouquet of flowers, don’t buy her that 18 carat necklace, don’t rent out the entire Cocklebay Wharf on Darling Harbour cause she’s your Darling, all the rest of it. However, if there is all this decision pressure riding on your first date to make or break the direction of the relationship and you will literally judge its entire direction off this one moment, well, maybe he should be more extravagant. Or vice versa. If she had known you were going to base your entire relationship direction on how emotional you were after your first liason, maybe she would’ve worn her best elongated Bond-lady esque dress. 

Expecting too much from a first date?

Over the course of time, some male and female friends of mine have started to refer to The One Date Rule as The Only One Date Rule. It’s because usually the surrounding stigma is that people don’t get at least one shot – they only get one shot – to win your heart over completely, or it’s game over.

And don’t get me wrong – I’ve had plenty of friends who’ve gone on a first blind date with a stranger, or a more romantic talk with a long-time friend, and gotten a sense immediately that this was the person they were going to marry.

But it’s definitely not the majority. 

I think we play a dangerous game in our dating where we put so much pressure on that first date. We barely give the other person enough opportunity to breathe because we turn it into a job interview for the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Even those companies will afford their candidates multiple opportunities and give them a chance to prove themselves, and yet here we are oftentimes ready to shut someone down based on one conversation.

For some people, love is an immediate lightning strike, but for most people, love takes time. It comes softly. It’s built on repeatedly shared experiences with someone who has been seen to have qualities you might be interested in. Heck, even the people who’ve had the lightning strike need to build the shared experiences or they ain’t going nowhere, Jack.

How available are we really?

I think the dating experience is as much an experience in discovering and confronting yourself as it is discovering the life of another. I had a friend who recently got married who quoted in his speech a conversation we had a while ago, in that relationships are like mirrors. They’re reflecting what’s going on inside of us more often than they are about another person.

Many of the decisions we make on our emotions and friendships are really ruled by other things. Things like insecurities. Things like desperate frustrations with ourselves. Things like uncertainty and instability. Or things like a heart that is completely jammed up. Blocked off to the outside world. Hesitant or scared to trust or to let anyone else in.

And here comes this poor person who saw the For Sale sign on your front door and made an offer, and now has to sit confronted with the reality that there are still tenants in that house, and it isn’t really as available as it was made out to be.

The process of love

I guess all this to say that I think we need to be careful how much pressure we put on people to perform to a standard of changing our heart when we are actually the ones in control of our own hearts. Even God doesn’t force a change in decisions or emotions in people – it’s a process of renewing our mind.

And so it is a process of two lives coming together. And it’s a messy one. Because you’re changing, and I’m changing, and I feel a certain way now, and now I feel a different way, and today I’m certain, and tomorrow I’m not, and today I’m up, but tomorrow I’m down, and today I’m with you, but tomorrow I’m lonely.

And in the midst of all the change in us individually is the hope that we can find someone to change with together. But if my heart is only kind of open to opportunity, then I may miss what really needs to happen to bring two people together.

The truth is we could fall in love with just about anybody. People love all sorts of things vehemently – Pokemon Go, The Bachelor, the Brisbane Broncos. All of us have loved or have known those who have loved “the wrong person”. We’re certainly capable of doing it. And yet when it comes to the right kind of people, the same activities we would do to foster an interest on any of the above categories, we hesitant and dance around when it’s another human being.

We just need to allow it to grow with the right person.

And what makes them the right person? I don’t know. You might. Maybe you really did have it all locked down in your first meeting with the last few girls. Maybe you really did know that it “would never work” with that guy when you thought about it.

Or maybe it’s another thing that’s driving our decisions. Something less endearing. Or maybe it is that we really aren’t giving things enough of a chance. Maybe that One Date Rule really needs to increase in numbers, or we need to get rid of it turning into the Only One Date Rule.

Take a chance. Let love take flight.

How about you? Do you think One Date is enough to know that you know that you know? Would you base a relationship off just your first meeting?

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