Before you go on this date, make sure you agree with yourself. You don’t want to be caught fighting with yourself over a decision when you need to make one. Decide in advance which behaviors and situations will be acceptable to you and which will not. As long as you feel comfortable and feel that these boundaries have not been overstepped, you can relax and flow with what is happening. But, once a line is crossed, you must be willing to take control of yourself and not accept something that is uncomfortable, unacceptable or dangerous.
You’re likely to be nervous when you’ve just dated someone, and knowing what your boundaries are can help you stay confident and get this relationship off to a good start. If you’ve decided on your boundaries in advance and thought about how you would handle it if a boundary is crossed, it means you’ll already know what to do and won’t have to think of your responses on the spot. This is very helpful when you may be nervous, excited, or not thinking clearly. Typically, I recommend talking face-to-face as soon as possible, because you get so many clues, including pheromones, that you don’t get over the phone, text, email, or video. However, these are not normal times, and we are sheltering in place, so face-to-face is out, unless you want to risk being within six feet of each other. Keep in mind that people can be infected and not know it, so be very careful. Online dating is the best option, because you can connect via video, phone, text, and email. The face-to-face meeting should be postponed until after isolation has been completed. Keep in mind that while most people will be genuine, some bad actors may fake things and mislead you.
I. Some examples of setting clear and healthy boundaries for yourself in a new relationship are:
• Decide to stay safe by social distancing and wearing a mask. In case wearing a mask is uncomfortable for you, deciding beforehand that you’ll wear one (you can choose one that matches your outfit, is artistic, or makes a statement) means you’ll stay safe and shows your date you care about their health. both of them. If you are going to have a drink or eat something, take off your mask for that and then put it back on. Most places you’ll be going require a mask anyway.
• Decide how much and what you will eat or drink. This avoids drinking too much or eating things that may be bad for you because you feel caught off guard on the date. For example, if your date suggests a restaurant you’re not used to, you’ll feel more comfortable if you know what their food and drink preferences are ahead of time.
• Decide not to get in a car with someone you just met and don’t know well. This means that you will not be subject to driving while intoxicated, misbehaving, or simply driving poorly with a stranger.
• Decide to meet only in public places until you have a chance to meet the person you are meeting with. This keeps you safe and helps you keep things within limits. This will also help you social distance until you know more about how well this person is protecting themselves and therefore you.
• Decide when it’s okay to have sex. If you know ahead of time that you won’t have sex for several dates, you won’t be as likely to make poor decisions when you’re emotionally charged.
• Decide to set a spending limit. You should know how much you are willing to spend before dating someone. If your date has more money and spends it lavishly on you, you’ll need to let her know that you won’t reciprocate, or that the reciprocity will be a home-cooked meal for a fancy restaurant. How you and your date handle money and can talk about money is a critical component of whether you will be successful in a relationship. After a few dates, you can talk about finances (for example, you have a good job, but want to pay off student loans or save for a house. Or, you’re having financial trouble because you just got out of school or some other circumstance.)
II. A Guide to Safe Dating (Physically and Emotionally) in the Time of COVID-19
• Be skeptical, not gullible. When you meet men online, you have no way of knowing who they are. There are documented cases of prisoners tricking gullible people into sending them money, marrying them off, etc. online. Don’t be afraid to ask for details, Google any dates you care enough about, ask to speak to friends and family. Don’t keep secrets about your potential date.
• Be realistic, not romantic. Don’t develop a date fantasy until you know the facts. It can be a tough world out there, and being realistic helps you achieve real goals, like a love relationship.
• Focus on the friendship. Focus on developing the friendship. The romance continues later, after you’ve seen your date and met in person.
• Don’t tell your date too much: Don’t give out your address or place of work until you know who it is. If you have children, protect them by being discreet and careful.
• Pay attention to how your date acts, what they say; seeks to discover the character, do not be fooled by appearance and charm.
• Don’t assume it’s exclusive if you haven’t discussed it.
• Don’t be too shy. The media’s focus on youth and fitness can make you feel insecure and unattractive. When you’re in a video, look your best (appropriate) and then forget about it. Instead of worrying about what your date thinks of you, focus on what you think of your date.
• Be your own date: Sheltering in place is a perfect time to get to know yourself better. Consider your own personality, character and qualities: How do you feel about yourself? Learning to enjoy your own company means you’ll be more confident and relaxed around other people, including potential dates. Use this extra time to develop your style, consider what you want a date to know about you and what you want to know about a date. That will be the foundation of your eventual dating success.
third Limits for after the first date(s):
• Don’t expect a text or call after a date. You can’t control when someone will text you, but you can decide not to send it until you get a reply. This prevents you from stalking your date over text and gives you a chance to gauge how responsive this date is. You need to know what your date’s response time is, and that also gives you a clue about your date’s feelings towards you.
• Decide how often you want to see each other. You should have an idea of how often you want to see a new date, but you’ll also need to consider things like your date’s hours and availability. But if you have an idea of how often you’d like to date, at least initially, you’ll have something to go by if your date asks you.
• Decide whether or not to invite them to things with your friends. Like I said, in normal times, I recommend getting a new date with friends ASAP, because your friends can give you valuable feedback. Decide to get together for something safe and limited, maybe a video meeting or a socially distanced meeting, to see how your friends and your date treat each other. How your date handles getting together with their friends can tell you a lot about your date.
• Decide to clarify your communication style. If you prefer not to text and want to have conversations over the phone or in person, it’s important to let your date know if you think future dates are a good idea. It’s good to know if you or your date are willing or able to talk at work. Also clarify how often you would like to check in with each other and if you want to be warned before you are asked out. For example, a few days before instead of the day your date wants to go out, unless there is a special reason.
• Be clear about the commitment you are looking for. This is a discussion you have with yourself first. If you want a casual, no-strings-attached dating relationship, you need to let your date know and probably also why you want that. If you finally want to get married and have kids, you don’t need to mention it until you’ve had a few dates and see if you have the makings to last. Bringing it up too soon is presumptuous and can be offensive to your date. It’s okay to say “I’m looking for something serious and lasting” without going into detail. If you have young children from a previous relationship, you should also disclose this well in advance. You don’t want to get stuck in a relationship with someone who won’t like your kids.
IV. How to stick to your decisions:
• The limits change as you learn more. At first, though, set the line pretty high. If your new date shows signs of anger, drunkenness, hysteria, rudeness, disrespect (such as leaving you alone and flirting with others), recklessness, or other embarrassing or dangerous behavior, do not be courteous or tolerant. Remember, your date is supposed to be on their best behavior and if you tolerate it, it will only get worse. Many people do this the other way around, excusing behavior they shouldn’t, and then getting hurt or upset.
• Don’t hesitate to leave if necessary. If you’re driving for the two of you, tell your date you’ll drive them home right away. If you’re not the one driving, tell your date you want a ride home (unless the driver has been drinking too much), and if that doesn’t work, go home by taxi, friend or family, private shuttle . , or public transport. You need to set things up so that you always have the ability to leave.
• Drop off your date, male or female, at a restaurant, club, party, or movie if their behavior is seriously out of character. This is the precise reason why you should be prepared in advance. If the date is your gift, leave enough money to pay the bill or see the waiter before you leave.
• If you stick to your boundaries on the first date, you’ll find that your date will get the message and move on to someone else (bon voyage!) or apologize and correct the unacceptable behavior.
© 2020 Tina B. Tessina Adapted from: Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today https://tinyurl.com/jwjnk666