I’ve Gone On 29 First Dates So Far This Year—Here’s What I’ve Learned

In the last nine months or so, I’ve gone on 29 first dates. While there have been more disasters than great nights out, I can definitely say that I’ve learned a lot, both about myself and others.

  1. If my gut says no, it’s a no. My intuition knows when something (or someone) isn’t right for me. It’ll tell me in the form of making me feel sick or my chest feel heavy. It’s a very obvious feeling when someone isn’t right for me, so it’s difficult to not listen to it. I’ve tried ignoring it before and it’s never worked out well, so I’ve learned that it’s good to just obey that signal from my intuition.
  2. A great first date doesn’t always equal a great second date. Oh man, I’ve been on killer first dates that were awful or just mediocre on the second date. It’s really weird, but having an excellent first date doesn’t always translate over to the second being good. That’s why I try to do my best not to get my hopes up. This is easier said than done, of course, because my mind goes wild about all the hopeful possibilities after a good first date.
  3. My emotional energy varies from date to date. Sometimes I’m willing to give people a chance that I’m unsure about on dating apps. Other times, I just don’t have the energy to gamble like that. I’d rather go out with people I’m feeling more excited and sure about. My energy to be expressive and talkative also varies from date to date. This is all OK—I just roll with it.
  4. I can often tell in the first minute if I’m not attracted to someone. It’s not always so easy to tell if I’m definitely attracted to someone, but it’s pretty easy to tell if I’m not. I can tell almost immediately if it’s going to be a giant no for me. Maybe it’s how the person looks or the sound of their voice—whatever it is, there’s something I just don’t like and I can’t help it. I’m then stuck on the date with this person because I’m too damn polite to end it early.
  5. Don’t make excuses for dealbreakers, ever. In the past, I used to hear someone say a dealbreaker and I’d try to brush it under the rug. I’d say, “Oh, maybe it’s not a big deal that he smokes pot” even though I actually hate it. No more of this. Now when I hear a dealbreaker, that’s the end. I finish the interaction whether it’s online or in person. I’m done making excuses for things that I don’t want in my life.
  6. It’s OK, even good, to be excited. This is one huge rule for myself: don’t play it cool! If I’m excited about someone then I’m most definitely going to tell them all about it. I’m not going to act like I’m not interested or I’m busy in some vain attempt to try to draw them in. This is bologna. I’d much rather come right out and be excited so that they know that it’s going well on my end. No games.
  7. I actually prefer not to be kissed on the first date. I’ve learned this about myself—I actually respect the crap out of guys who don’t try to kiss me on the first date (and I’m super attracted to them). What I’m looking for is someone who wants to be in it for the long haul, not someone who wants to get physical with me super quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I love kissing and more, but I’d just like it to be reserved for later dates.
  8. I shouldn’t be afraid to say what I want and need. If there are things that are super important to me, like my partner being a feminist, then I should be able to say this without fear. I shouldn’t have to worry about what the other person is thinking. My needs and wants are just as valuable as anything else. Anyone that reacts negatively to something that’s important to me is most certainly not worth my time.
  9. Chemistry online doesn’t always translate to chemistry IRL. Oh man, I’ve experienced texting with someone for days, having a grand old time, really enjoying getting to know them. Things seem to be going so smoothly! Then we meet in person in and whomp whomp, there’s no spark. This is tremendously disappointing when I have high expectations, so I’ve learned to lower those expectations so that I don’t get so upset if it doesn’t work out.
  10. Who pays for what doesn’t always say anything about the person. I know that many women have rules about the guy having to pay. I don’t even necessarily think that whoever asks should pay. Still, I let go of all of this stuff because there really are no hard and fast rules. A guy paying doesn’t necessarily say anything about him just as me paying or us splitting doesn’t mean anything in particular. I’m learning not to put so much stock in this.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.