(First in a six-part series.)
MANHATTAN, Kan. – People who say they want a relationship may be hard-pressed to know how to meet someone new. In fact, meeting someone new and going on a first date can be two nerve-racking experiences.
“Dating is a natural stage in human development where a person is ready to move beyond their family and seek other relationships,” said Charlotte Shoup Olsen, a family systems specialist with Kansas State University Research and Extension.
Meeting someone is the first step. How and where depends on the individual. Social skills are likely to play a role in how two people meet. The values of the individual also may influence where people meet – a dance club versus religious organization.
Age also plays a role in who a person chooses to meet, but maturity level and interests may matter more than age, Olsen said.
“The belief that opposites attract really is not accurate,” Olsen said. “Research shows that people will usually have a relationship with similar people.”
Shy people may have more difficulty meeting someone new. Reaching out to new people may depend on comfort levels, Olsen said.
“If you are a shy person, you may feel more at ease if in a setting where you are comfortable,” Olsen said. “Get involved in activities where your interests are.”
The next step is going out on a date, said Olsen, who offered these dating tips:
* A good first date provides an opportunity for both people to have fun and come home with a feeling of self worth. It is important that both people feel respected and honored.
* If the first date does not go well, look for respectful ways to terminate the event, and try not to hurt the other person’s feelings.
* A second date depends on the wishes of and communication between both persons if they felt a connectedness; if they communicated well; and if they had fun.
* If a second date is not desired and one person must refuse a date, turn down the date respectfully. Don’t lie. Try to understand how the other person might feel – doing so may give clues on how to politely refuse the date.
On a date, if either person begins to feel concern for their physical safety, it is important to end the date. Do not allow yourself to be isolated in such a situation. Ask to be taken home or arrange for other transportation.
Remember also that not everyone wants to date. But what about those people who feel society and friends pressuring them to?
Decline blind dates respectfully, and try to not reinforce people who try to set up blind dates or dates with friends, Olsen said.