While I was going through my divorce, I repeatedly watched the film “Bye Bye Love,” a comedy about three divorced men. In one of the funniest scenes, we see one of the men named Vic on a blind date with a beautiful but neurotic partner named “Lucille,” who takes offense to everything he says, takes hours to order a meal, and gets offended when he asks her if he can order for both of them—but later insists on switching him meals when his looks better than hers. She also dumps her divorce story on him the first date. Of course, Vic starts the whole date off on the wrong foot when he started the dinner conversation by asking, “Sooo, what do you weigh?” Adding insult to injury, he then overestimates her weight by 17 pounds.
This little caricature is funny but hits the mark in how awkward it feels to get out there dating during the middle years when you haven’t dated anyone but a spouse in decades. We have a whole chapter on this subject in our book Intentional Courtship. However, here are a few tips I think will help:
1. Safety First. Whether you are male or female, if you don’t know your partner well, we now almost always suggest meeting in a public place that is well lit. When I was dating my first wife, it was customary to pick up your date at the doorstep of her home. Internet dating has changed all of that. We are often on first dates with people we don’t know very well, if at all. A first date is often the first meeting in person. It is now very well accepted safety practice to meet in a neutral, public, and well-lit location and to leave that location separately.
There are occasional exceptions. On a couple of occasions, I had dates with women who did not own cars, who asked me to pick them up at their homes. If you are specifically asked to pick someone up, it is okay to do so. Otherwise, it is safe to assume that your partner expects to meet you wherever you are going on the date. Men, at the conclusion of your evening together, be sure to walk your partner to her car and make sure it starts before you leave. Putting a premium on her safety is an important gesture of respect. Whether you are male or female, follow your gut about any exceptions and put safety first.
2. A hug is just a hug. Nowadays, a hug on meeting and saying goodbye is customary (pre-Covid anyway). I think it is a nice way to express a little affection and acceptance. But don’t read too much into it. It is a custom. It does not imply serious interest or a willingness for more affection. Also, be mindful of the fact that each person has a different comfort level with physical affection. I generally recommend that you are conservative about physical affection on the first date and focus on the conversation.
3. The asker pays. Nowadays, it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to ask a man on a date. However, when she asks him and makes the plan, she controls the cost. The person who controls the cost pays the bill. If the partner offers to pay the bill or the tip or to split the bill, it is acceptable to graciously accept the offer.
4. Stay off your phone. If you have minor children at home, it is understood that you do not stop being a parent when you are on a date. However, instruct them not to call you unless there is an emergency. (A disagreement about whose turn it is to pick the TV show is not an emergency.) Other than your children or your employment (and only in an emergency or if you are on call) you shouldn’t allow anyone else to interrupt your date. That is fundamental to having respect for each other.
I have had a few experiences where my date was constantly checking social media and laughing at things that I was not in on. That’s bad form folks. On one occasion, a date called me out for texting another girl while I was with her at an outdoor concert. I was actually communicating with a client; but I could understand her frustration. It would have been best if I had texted the client that I was on a date and would call him the next day. Cathy reminds people that having your phone out on the table in front of you is distracting, even if you are not actively on it, and it indicates in a subtle way that your partner is not as important as your phone.
5. Avoid discussing prior relationships. Keep the discussion of former spouses and dating partners to a minimum. You are here to explore a potential relationship with THIS partner, not to rehash the details that broke your heart. This can be a serious temptation if the date is between two divorcees. If a relationship develops, there will be opportunities to share your divorce story and it will be important to do so. On a first date, take the opportunity to get to know your partner by asking thoughtful questions about other subjects and how that person sees life going forward. If you turn it into a therapy session, it might feel good at the time, but the atmosphere will not lend itself to a positive connection. If anything, it is a connection of the walking wounded and you don’t want to build a relationship on that.
About the Author
Jeff Teichert and his wife Cathy Butler Teichert are the founders of “Love in Later Years,” which ministers to Latter-day Saint mid-singles seeking peace, healing, and more joyful relationships; and the authors of the Amazon bestseller Intentional Courtship: A Mid-Singles Guide to Peace, Progress and Pairing Up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff and Cathy each spent nearly a decade in the mid-singles community and draw on this experience to provide counsel and hope to mid-singles and later married couples. Jeff and Cathy are both certified life coaches and have university degrees in Family Science. They are the parents of a blended family that includes four handsome sons and one lovely daughter-in-law.
Purchase Jeff & Cathy’s book at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KMXXJN7?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420