Dating is vulnerable. The whole process of it. From the first date to the break up to the marriage you hope for. There is a 100 percent chance your heart is going to be broken, which also includes a very real chance that your heart could be smashed. There is no way around this vulnerability.
This vulnerability is why so many singles don’t try dating—and use many other excuses as to why not. Too often attaching a bad God-reason to those excuses while secretly being angry at God for not bringing their love for a lifetime.
To brave date well you just have to do it. You need to share some of your vulnerable self. Emphasis on some.
I have a very clear rule about what is too much to share on those dates, particularly the early ones. That rule is:
“When what you are sharing has no impact on your identity that you are growing.” Read more.
This other person wants to know who you are. Not the safe shallow version of you, but you. This person wants to communicate with you. Hence why you are on a date.
Communication builds trust and that is the foundation of a good match.
Let me spin this a bit more directly to women. Your date doesn’t want to wonder about the stuff your girlfriends know but you are keeping from him. Your date wants to get to know you—he’s vulnerably trying too—and wonders why you tell your girlfriends so much and not him. He wants to be your friend too.
I feel the resistance as I write that. You’ve had your heart smashed and just can’t trust your stuff to someone who has the ability to smash your heart. Your girlfriends at least will be there for you.
Here’s the truth about your girlfriends though. Your expectations of those girlfriends is a lot less. They have their place in your life and you love them for that place in your life. You trust them for that place in your life. When it comes to who you are dating, you have an expectation that this could be a love for a lifetime so this person has a many more expectations to meet. This is true and this is good.
There is no way around it. You need to vulnerably trust your date with some of your story. Be your true you, not a contorted version so you can get a second date.
For example say I’m on a date (I dated for 18 years!) and I was asked the safe and curious question of what TV shows I watch. I would answer a lot of sports and the Hallmark channel. Because of the Hallmark channel having a strong stereotype, I might want to try to look “cooler” and tell you something else. Stop. Don’t do that. Be awkwardly vulnerable here.
What is safe to communicate about you on those early dates? Nothing that will impact the identity you are growing. This leaves plenty of other information that makes you uniquely you.
Here are some safe topics you can go vulnerable with:
- How do you like to spend your weekends? Generally this is a safe topic but you can also learn so much about a person. Do they actually attend church? Do they volunteer anywhere? Do they spend all weekend playing Call of Duty? There is not much vulnerability in any of those answers but you also can learn so much. Another teaching moment: Is what you are doing now on your weekends the answer you want to give to that match you are looking for?
- What’s on your bucket list? What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? These questions lead into interesting conversations! As you can also see can be pretty revealing about who the other person is. You have a choice to be your true self or present the faux image you think your date is going to like. You know the right answer to that one.
- Who are the most important people in your life? Whom you love tells your story. Go ahead and tell your story. This is vulnerable and enough. These stories define you. A bad date can’t take this story away from you.
- Is there anything about your work that you are passionate about? What are you passionate about? You want to know what the other does for a living but you also want to know about his/her passions that makes him/her interesting. Talking about passions can be vulnerable but if you are already passionate about something you want to talk about it. A bad date can’t take your passions away from you either.
- Questions about family and family story are appropriate but don’t make it feel like your date is on the therapist couch and you are diagnosing her. Nor should you be made to feel that way.
As you are sharing yourself on this date, remember remember remember that a failed date doesn’t define you. You gave a good character person a chance. Brave you. That brave decision defines you more than this bad date.
Also remember that oversharing is a numbing behavior. It may feel good to have someone’s rapt attention as you dump out story after story but the next morning you are going to have the regrets of a vulnerability hangover.
Your brave self desires to grow to love someone. Love is vulnerable. Love is simple. Love is complicated.
Kindness is also vulnerable and you want that in your match. Be kind to your date and share the real you. Hopefully you will get the same kindness in return.
Whether the date turns into a second date or hundredth date, you will have met a good character friend who was vulnerably kind to you to learn more about you. Realizing that takes some of the fear out of dating.