Is it worth a second date?
Have you ever let a good guy or girl go because you were hanging out for someone with a smidge more sparkle? Dumped someone despite loving them deeply? Crossed someone off your ‘potentials’ list because they messaged you 15 minutes after the first date rather than waiting the customary playing-it-cool period?
Relationships are complex, illogical, and consequently fascinating. Partly because everyone plays by their own unwritten rules. But mainly because most of us don’t stop to consider what our rules are actually for.
As humans, loads of laws govern our day-to-day existences. Stop at stop signs (or you may get inconveniently T-boned by a truck). Don’t eat food that’s growing furry white stuff (or you may become intimately and forcibly acquainted with your bathroom porcelain). Don’t rape / pillage / plunder (it’s just not very nice, ok?).
These rules seem fair enough.
But what about the ones that seem genuinely pointless? Like how it’s illegal to cross the road at traffic lights if the little green man is not illuminated… even if you’re on a quiet country road at 2:00am with no other conscious people within a 15km radius.
Clearly, some rules serve only to render life restrictive and frustrating. And relationships are no different. Unless we know exactly why we live our love lives by certain rules, they may present a potentially pointless barrier in our search for that special someone, without paying any real dividends.
So we need to nut out what our rules are for. Which means identifying what it is that we ultimately want out of a life partner.
Tricky question? Not really.
At the end of the day, everyone wants the exact same things in their long-term lover. And those things fit into one or both of the following categories: someone with whom to (a) procreate and/or b) enhance our enjoyment of life.
Let’s break it down.
Criterion #1: Good genetics for potential offspring / excellent parent
A vast majority of us humans possess an inbuilt desire to spread our seed and populate the planet with miniature versions of ourselves. And fair enough. I mean, we can pretty much thank this primitive preoccupation with procreation for our survival to date.
As a (predominantly) monogamous species, our romantic other is typically the supplier of our future mini-me’s DNA. So it makes sense that we seek a superior gene provider with whom to settle down.
It’s kind of like the first investment we ever make in our kids’ future. A seriously long-term investment.
Long before we’re even partnered, we (wittingly or unwittingly) seek someone who will donate genetic material that will make our not-yet-conceived offspring attractive mates when they’re our age. In turn, this allows our kiddies to partner and create yet more (slightly diluted) miniature versions of ourselves.
Like I said; seriously long-term planning.
This whole process may be completely subconscious. We may not realise why we’re attracted to some and not others. But the pursuit of quality genes is biologically ingrained. Think male attraction to big hips and jugs (fertility). Think female attraction to muscle mass and self sufficiency (capacity to protect and provide).
Attraction exists for a reason… At the end of the day, we want our offspring to survive so they may play their part in perpetuating the reproductive cycle.
So if you’re prone to writing off life partner applicants after date #1 because they arrived 10 minutes late for the date or wore an atrociously loud shirt… Never fear! That stuff isn’t genetic. It’s potentially trainable. Or maybe you can even learn to take a deep breath, accept that no one is perfect, and move on to date #2.
Unless, of course, the hot date in question violates the next criterion…
Criterion #2: Enhanced enjoyment of experiences
Most people don’t fly solo through life by choice. And as practical as we may think we are, partnership is not purely for reproduction purposes.
We humans seek out other humans because having someone else around generally makes stuff better.
Consider swooshing a basketball through the net from the 3-point line. Spontaneously concocting a hilarious pun. Watching a movie. Doing the supermarket shopping.
Every one of these scenarios is immediately and infinitely improved when shared with another person. Think about it. You can’t push yourself up the confectionery aisle in a trolley at high speed.
Of course, the positive effect of human companionship only occurs if the other chick/chap does in fact enhance our experience of life rather than the converse. If your companion constantly whinges, insults people with disabilities and steals candy from babies, you’d be well within your rights to wonder if perhaps you’d be better off alone.
On the more moderate end of the spectrum, if your conversations topics consistently drift back to the weather for lack of further fuel; if your fellow human fails to acknowledge any of your attempts at humour; talks incessantly about themselves; and/or expresses aversion to all activities you personally derive enjoyment from… well, things are also unlikely to end in rapturous romance.
But if you get home from each date having enjoyed yourself — tick. If you derived greater pleasure from doing things with person X than you would have done alone — tick. If this happens with relative consistency — tick.
If you’re having second thoughts despite the above, consider. If the dude you’re dating neglects to use apostrophes in text messages or your potential lady friend is a tad shorter than you would have liked, will this negatively affect the quality of your interactions?
If the answer is no, stop second guessing. Forget your lists. Scrap your rules.
You’ve got what you need.