24 August 2012
What do you do if a date makes a shocking revelation?
by Fran Creffield
You are having a fantastic date, getting along brilliantly and all seems to be going well, when suddenly your date drops something shocking into the conversation like he has been married many times or she has mountains of debt. What do you do?
We come to expect a few uncomfortable moments even when a date is going really well, someone spills the wine or neither of you knows what to say for a moment or two, it is natural and happens to everyone. The problem can arise when right in the middle of a perfect evening your date reveals something about themselves that you find difficult to digest. Do you run screaming from the restaurant or sit it out even though you have immediately closed your mind to the possibility of seeing them again? There is a middle way, here is how to find it.
Keep it light
When you are first dating someone it is all about getting to know each other and having a lot of fun together – a couple who can laugh together will stay together as the saying goes. This will not necessarily stop dates from revealing significant things about their past usually because they want to start a relationship with nothing to hide – this is a good thing. How you handle it, as much as the revelation itself, will determine whether the relationship, and date, continues.
Often the best response is to smile, keep the mood light and let it pass without too much comment. It isn’t a good idea to start probing and asking lots of questions about it at this stage because it is likely to monopolise the whole date. There will be time to find out more once you have decided whether you want to continue seeing the person.
Think it over
When someone reveals something that is quite shocking to us most people assume that it is evidence of the type of person they are. They might think that someone who has had lots of past relationships has issues with commitment or if a person has children who they don’t see that they are a bad parent. We all make these snap judgements but they are not necessarily fair or right.
Rather than decide on the spot whether you want to see your date again take a few days to think over what they have told you. How does it fit in with everything else that you know about them? Talking to friends can help you get a different perspective. You probably won’t know the whole story and that will take time. You need to decide if that is time you are willing to invest.
Unless the revelation is something that you are sure you will never accept no matter what the circumstances are then try, as far as possible, to put it to the back of your mind and continue dating and getting to know the whole person.
What are they like today?
As the author L.P.Hartley said in his book The Go-Between, ‘The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there’ and it is worth remembering this if your date’s revelation is something happened in their past as opposed to things that are current today.
Everyone has made mistakes and will have things in their past which they are ashamed of. Most of these things we learn from and move on with our lives but some of those mistakes can continue affecting our lives for years to come such as marrying young and having a child. These are the kind of things that a date might reveal but it is important to remember that even though they may still be affected by their mistakes they probably wouldn’t behave in the same way now as they did back then – if they had known better, they would have done better.
If a date reveals something about their past it is because they want to start the relationship in an open and honest way without any secrets. Keeping secrets in a relationship is a bad strategy even if you think the information will stop your date in its tracks – secrets have a way of coming out and if you aren’t open from the beginning any relationship you do succeed in developing will be built without firm foundations.
Trust your instincts
There is no need to accept unacceptable behaviour on a date. Sometimes the shocking revelation isn’t something you are told but something you witness like a date getting blind drunk or being aggressive with people. In these circumstances you need to do nothing more than get out of there as quickly as possible. The normal social niceties can be forgotten and it is perfectly OK to block communication with them, even report them to eHarmony if you feel their behaviour was threatening. Trying to make socially unacceptable behaviour socially acceptable because you think you could change them is a recipe for disaster.
Riding the waves
The more dates you go on the more comfortable you will become at riding those emotional waves when they arise. When it comes to human beings it is always best to expect the unexpected. Everyone has a unique experience of life and are often made richer and more rounded by all of the things they have been through, both good and bad.