Feedback

Recently I went on a slightly unusual date. I won’t go into details, but at the end of it I had the opportunity for something pretty unusual (at least in my own experience). No, not that, you filthy-minded reader; I got feedback from my date.

After the bill had been paid we got the chance to sit down and talk to each other about how the meal had gone, how we felt and whether we would be interested in seeing each other again. The fact that I then went home and drank wine whilst swiping into the early hours tells you how successful it was from my perspective, but the chance to sit down and talk through a few things gave me more valuable thinking points than I’ve had in a long time.

We talked about how we both had a nice time, how we were well suited on paper and how it was good to speak with someone in a similar position to each other (she had a kid too). We also spoke about time pressures – that was the main reason she gave for not wanting to go out on a second date in fact. She had her son 90% of the time, and so in hindsight didn’t see how we would find time to make it work.

It was interesting to hear her talk about what she thought she had picked up about my relationship with my ex-wife. Despite me saying in clear, unequivocal words that we were through and I was looking to move forward, she still thought there were some things which I still needed to work through. She spoke from a position of authority here, having been single for three whole months more than I had been. Basically a veteran.

I, of course, don’t agree with her, but the fact that she had got that impression has given me pause to think about how much I should be honest and open about on a first date. My policy has always been to try to be open and to talk through anything my date wants to talk through.

The circumstances in which I became single are absurdly shocking but are also pretty interesting from an objective point of view, and I’ve always treated them somewhat morbidly as in interesting talking point. The pain has worn off, perhaps as a result of me talking about it, and I no longer get upset at it all. If anything, people’s reactions when I tell them what happened are amusing, and can teach me a lot about them in a small amount of time.

That being said, perhaps it is something that I shouldn’t share. Perhaps there are some things that should stay locked away, at least until a slightly more solid relationship is built over time. I’ve never subscribed to that theory before, but knowing that a date has been given a wrong impression due to my openness is giving me the chance to review my style and to adjust accordingly.

I’ve had the piss taken out of me for my belief that I am an iterative learner, which is no different when it comes to dating. The only trouble is that without feedback I’m left guessing as to what worked and what didn’t. Whether a date went well or not, unless I know why then I’ve little idea what to replicate, what to evolve and what to never do again.

But no-one likes giving feedback, especially if it’s negative. I’ve had some beautiful feedback from people about things that I did well on early dates, but not until long after the fact. It felt amazing to be told that things I thought I did well are things that others thought I did well too; perhaps if there was a way to get some honest feedback from dates either in person or some other way afterwards would make my dating skills even better.

There is very little that someone could say which would change who I was or how I approached dates significantly overnight, but lots that could be said that would help me improve the impression I give. That’s not me saying I give a bad impression (I think?!), but if you don’t think you can improve on yourself in any way then you are a fool. I like the idea of getting better at this, which is why I’ve been tweaking my profiles, my photos and more, and learning what I do well and how I can improve whilst on a date falls right into that category.

I may not get it perfect for every single date, but as long as I’m moving in that direction I’m happy.

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