On some dates, you know right away that there’s not going to be a another one. Physical unattraction, lack of compatible sense of humors, weird behavior, and having nothing to talk about are all factors that prompt the cricket on your shoulder to say, politely but firmly, “No thank you.”
Those dates suck. But the aftermath, at least, is easy.
Then there are the dates where everything is fine – there’s, if not palpable chemistry, at least a lack of repulsion, the conversation is perfectly pleasant, there’s no alarming behavior, and the cricket on your shoulder falls mysteriously, frustratingly silent.
So you say yes to a second date, because you didn’t find a compelling enough reason to say no. And then, after the second, maybe you say yes to a third. But as the dates continue, things don’t get clearer for you. You find yourself searching desperately for a red flag – anything to let you call things off, definitively – but there aren’t any. So then you search desperately in your gut for some hint of excitement or spark, but the electricity you seem to feel so easily with the Starbucks barista or cute stranger on Twitter, is missing. You’re not sure if it’s the date, that’s the problem, or if it’s you.
You don’t not like the person….you think…I mean there wasn’t necessarily a spark…but not not a spark?…maybe a spark would develop next time?…and god, you should like this person, there was nothing wrong with this person, this person is, on paper, the definition of everything you claim to want….so maybe another chance? Maybe? Another dinner, another movie, another perfectly acceptable make-out session where you can’t tell if it’s the person you’re turned on by, or merely the act of kissing.
Seriously, though. How do you know when you should stop seeing someone, and when you should give it just a little bit more of a chance?
1. When the thought of seeing them again stresses you out, STOP.
How you develop chemistry with another person is a mystery, but it certainly doesn’t happen when you’re dreading the thought of another date. It’s not going to happen with this person, so save yourself the stress (and save them the trouble) now. But! Dread is for bad dates, not for fine ones. If you find that you frequently react to the idea of dating with stress or anxiety, it’s probably something you want to get to the bottom of, sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you’re just getting in your own way.
2. If you’re having a good enough time, and things aren’t progressing too quickly, KEEP GOING!
What you don’t want to do is lead anyone on, or continue to date someone you feel uncertain about if you think they might be developing stronger feelings for you. But if that’s not the case, then there’s no reason not to continue to date someone casually, so long as you’re having a nice enough time. If you enjoy the other person’s company, what’s wrong with having someone to go out to dinner with, someone to see on the weekends? Just be honest about your feelings (aka don’t act as if this is going to turn into a relationship if you’re sure it’s not.).
3. If you find yourself faking it, STOP.
If being out with this person calls for a lot of fake laughter, fake interest in conversations, and fake emoting, then don’t put yourself through the trouble. Fake laughter rarely turns into the real thing.
4. If you find yourself thinking of things to tell him/her the next time you see them, KEEP GOING!
That’s a sign that, even if you might not feel the heat yet, your date is growing on you, quietly becoming part of your subconscious. It’s a sign that you’re, at least in some way, looking forward to seeing them, that your association with him or her is positive. A sign that he or she is worth at least a few more dates!
5. If you find yourself thinking about it constantly, asking friends, asking strangers, and agonizing over whether you should continue, STOP.
You either have to be positive that you like someone, or at least fine enough with the idea of continuing to not agonize over it. “Do I? Don’t I? Do I? Don’t I?” doesn’t lead to true love.