Sometimes you're just disappointed in a date. You've showed up, made an effort to look your best, thought of good conversation topics, but the night just won't flow. Nothing happens. You’ve felt it from the start maybe. She didn’t look the way you expected her to look, he wasn’t as open as you’d hoped he’d be, she wasn’t quick with a joke or a quipe. You just didn’t feel ‘it’. But you try to make the most of it anyhow, and it is what it is and you leave and say goodnight, that was fun, thank you, I’ll call you (whether or not you intend to), and you go home feeling… Empty. A bit numb. Like it wasn’t what it should have been.
The next day you go to your office, sit down with your coffee, try to shake of this feeling as you start to work but it’s still there, in your throat. The thought creeps up on you, however hard you try to ignore it, ‘is this ALL?’ Is this all there is to life. Isn’t there more? Shouldn’t there be more? What if this is, dare I say it, as good as it gets?
And you know what, it might well be. There will be dates like this when you are married, dates like this with the one you’ve chosen to spend your life with. There will be mornings like this when it just isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Yes, a disappointing date may indicate there will be no match between you and this person. But it might just have been one disapponting date, followed by a great date with good conversations and loads of fun. With that same person. Or you may just have found yourself a good friend to get to know better.
There are lots of reasons why dates can be disappointing without being bad news.
Just as marriage can be from time to time disappointing, without that being a reason to divorce. Life is disappointing, but we seem to have lost the capacity to deal with that. Life isn’t always instagram or pinterest or Facebook-pretty. And sometimes (or oftentimes) you don’t have fun.
Being connected to someone goes much deeper than feeling a ‘spark’, or a ‘match’. It means being able to open up and to be freely yourself with someone. To connect, even when you feel down or low or tired. To see someone how they really are, even when their hair needs a cut or they haven’t slept in three days, to still say: you are beautiful because I like you.
There will be days like that when you are married, especially if you have (little) children. There will be nights with little sleep, days with lots of not-so-fun or glamourous things to do. Date nights that you’d rather spend sleeping or binge-watching Netflix. But it is in those nights that the real connecting happens. Connecting is easy when you are both bright and shiny and happy and well-rested. Connecting is much harder but much more real when you are not.
The other day I’ve read a column about a woman questioning her motivation to get married (she wasn’t Christian). She and her husband decided they were better off divorcing and continuing to cohabitate, ‘because their relationship was a daily choice’. As if marriage is not a daily choice. Yes you say ‘I do’ once, and, hopefully, for all, but to ‘do’ love, to do the I do part, is a daily affair. It means choosing to love someone, even when they are not so loveable.
It means rekindling the spark when it’s gone for the moment (as sparks tend to do). It means to make a date fun, even when your partner doesn’t seem to cooperate really well.
Disappointment after a date is therefore something to be taken serious, but lightly. Yes, it can indicate that there was no match. But by all means, if you are in doubt, give it a second chance, because it also may have been just a bad night for the person you are dating.
Meanwhile, learn to deal with the disappointments life inevitably brings, because it will make you a more mature and flexible person in the long run, better equipped for the ups and downs marriage brings!
Aukelien Van Abbema is a singles and couples counsellor, public speaker, and successful author, including the title Dare to Date.
Helping people with Christian dating, relationships, singleness in church, dating in church, loneliness, connectedness, christian connection, healthy relationships.