As a middle aged, unmarried man it shouldn’t be very surprising that most of my friends and acquaintances are also middle aged and unmarried. That means I have a lot of friends doing the dating thing: online dating, singles bars, singles mixers, etc. One thing I notice quite often is how many of them abide by the “one strike and you’re out” rule. No second chances. I’m not convinced this is in their best interest when it comes to finding a good companion.
Not long ago a friend posted about this wonderful man she had just met at an event. They chatted for some time and really got along well – he was handsome, charming, witty, and intelligent. About an hour into their conversation, however, he made a mistake. Now, he didn’t assault her or anything sinister like that. He asked her back to his place. Well, in so many words, at least. Shocked, my friend said no and ended the entire interaction. “What a pig,” she exclaimed! “All he wanted was sex!”
Now, it’s great that she has boundaries; everyone has the right to say no and have it respected. It concerns me, though, that 60 minutes of good chemistry was dismissed so quickly. Was the man only interested in sex or was he guilty of just misreading the situation? Was he bad at reading her body language or was he getting mixed messages? Could she have read his intentions more clearly so that she could set expectations before it got to that? Was this one issue really serious enough to kill the whole budding relationship? Was it, perhaps, an opportunity for them to have a conversation about a serious topic and learn a bit more about each other?
Instead, the possibility of a relationship was cast aside quickly and completely. No chance to reach a mutual understanding of expectations. No chance of establishing ground rules for a respectful relationship going forward. One and done.
Why do we cast aside opportunities so easily? Why do we get so set in our ways that anything that threatens our well-structured way of doing things is immediately discarded. Do we dismiss challenges because of complacency?
It isn’t just about sex, either. I’ve seen this same scenario play out over all sorts of different things: she was late for the first date, he told an off-color joke. It’s like we’re looking for any excuse for something to not work out then we can stay exactly how we are and maybe get a little sympathy along the way. We don’t have to do any actual work to establish a new relationship and, let’s be honest, new relationships do take work, just like starting a garden. You plant the seeds, you water, you fertilize, you weed and, eventually, you get to reap the fruits of your labors.
The next time you’re tempted to slam the brakes on a new relationship when the first problem arises, I suggest taking a step back. Take a breath. Have a conversation. If you disagree with something that was said, if you were offended by something that was done, discuss it. In the case of my friend, it’s perfectly acceptable that she doesn’t want to sleep with someone on their first meeting. After declining the offer, however, and stating what her standards are, why not try to move forward now that the expectations are made clear? If the gentleman is only interested in sex, guess what? He’ll move on. If not he’ll adapt and maybe something very nice will develop. Let’s do away with the one strike and you’re out rule
Remember: once is an incident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. If we cut each other some slack I think we can achieve a lot.
Steve is the founder of Straight Talk Entertainment and currently produces and writes for the audio drama Aural Traditions, recently voted Charleston City Paper’s Best Local Podcast. He’s also an Information Security professional and avid shark tooth hunter.