When you think about questions to ask surrounding the first date, the thoughts that probably comes to mind are things like, “What’s your favorite movie?” or “How many siblings do you have?”
Those aren’t the type of questions we’re talking about today.
Personally, I’m not great at being in touch with my emotions, and they wind up globbing together until I’m more confused and frustrated.
After I started seeing a therapist regularly, I noticed that when I responded to her questions, I took a minute to think about an answer. I realized that I almost never did this with myself. For some reason, I expected myself to know immediately how I felt about a situation, without giving it any thought.
A lot of us might feel a pressure to have all the answers right away. After all, who should know us better than . . . well, us? But the truth is, we need to learn our emotions the same way we learn everything else. So I started doing what I call a “feelings inventory” on myself.
After any big occasion, like a first date, or a workplace argument (or sometimes even just a particularly grueling Tuesday), I’ll sit and ask myself questions to determine how I’m feeling. Then, I make a plan to move forward.
Acting in emotion can lead you down some confusing paths—especially when it comes to dating. Because what your heart might be feeling could actually be blinding your mind to what you know is right for you. Or vice versa.
So here are five questions to run your own feelings inventory after a first date. Yes, these are date-specific.
1. What made me laugh or smile during that date?
I love starting with this question, because it gives you a positive start to frame your inventory. Thinking about how frequently you felt joy with another person is a good place to begin understanding your connection.
These questions seem so simple but once you really start to delve deep, you’ll realize there’s a lot to unpack in dating and self awareness.
2. Is there anything I can’t stop thinking about? Why?
Positive or negative, is there a moment or conversation you can’t stop thinking about?
When something strikes us and gets stuck in our head, it’s usually our subconscious telling us that it’s important. Usually, you can get a pretty good indicator right off the bat if it’s a good or bad thing. Remember take a minute to sit with the information first.
For instance, my fiance mentioned that he was direct in his conflict resolution, and passive aggressive comments were not his way of expressing frustration. That stuck with me. When I sat with it, I realized that many of my relationships had been built on passive aggressive communication—and it didn’t work for me.
Before my heart knew what was happening, my brain was calculating qualities that made him a good match for me.
3. Is there anything making me squirm?
My dad always says, “Your gut is never wrong.” I have absolutely found that to be true.
Even if it was a joke or off-handed comment, if something on your date made you uncomfortable, unpack that feeling. See if it sheds light on who that person is, or what you need in a partner.
4. How does my heart respond to the idea of seeing this person again?
This is where knowing yourself comes in handy. I have a friend who is so stressed by dating in general that she always cries at the thought of a second date. It’s not that she is nervous about the person in general, or apprehensive about dating. She just gets overwhelmed by new opportunities, so she cries.
For her, crying isn’t an indicator that she shouldn’t go on a second date. Those feelings aren’t connected in her inventory. However, if she were to feel sick or jittery, those out-of-the-norm feelings would indicate that something wasn’t right.
Whether you have the second date locked in or not, take a minute to imagine this person saying the words, “I want to see you again” to you and pay attention to your physiological response.
Are you short of breath and excited?
Or did your chest tighten as you gulped in recourse?
Often, our bodies will tell us how we feel before our heart knows.
5. Do my head and my heart agree about this?
Speaking of paying attention to physiology, there’s a reason we were created with multiple sources of responses to our world. If we approached everything with solely the heart or solely the head, we’d never find true satisfaction. They have to be in accordance with one another to give you a full picture.
Let’s say you met someone wonderful. He or she is so kind and very easy on the eyes. You both have lots in common and easy to talk to.
Your heart will say “Yes!” to this person, reasonably! They sounds great!
But let’s imagine that if on the date, he mentioned that he loves to stay in on the weekends and is happy at home. Meanwhile, you know that you’re in love with travel and rarely stay home except for a place to brush your teeth and lay your head—well, that’s not a foundation.
They say opposites attract.
While that’s sometimes true, the reality is that you want to find a mate who likes the same things you do because even though it may be fun to get out of your comfort zone now, you’re still (hopefully) planning to grow old with this person, and you need to be compatible long term.
That’s why it helps to have head and heart on the same page. If you have a nagging feeling that they aren’t, you’re probably right.
Let your heart lead you.
If in the midst of your questions or feelings inventory, something else comes up, go with it. Take it to prayer and let God be in charge of your dating life—as much as it might hurt to render control. You got this!