woman looking at man over a cup of coffee

When you first sit down on a date — hoping your shirt isn’t wrinkled and that tonight is one of those nights when you’re actually funny — the last thing you really want to be doing is seeking out flaws. But it’s what we all do. Our critical guns are loaded and we’re ready to fire. Maybe it’s ultimately an act of self-preservation, but it can lead to some preemptive conclusions and can hinder open minds when executed without some planning. So, in an effort to not be reckless, here are some things to consider while awash in the sparks-flying, adrenaline-pumping, anxiety-inducing first-date jitters. These aren’t sure-fire signs of trouble — only some road signs on the path to perhaps-unnecessary detours.

Family
The rapport we foster with our parents and siblings is important because they are some of the initial social interactions we experience, and so they set the precedent for what’s to come. If your girlfriend yells at her parents and is constantly disrespectful, odds are, eventually she’ll treat her spouse the same way. Oh, maybe not during those honeymoon years, and maybe not years after that, but inevitably the decorum falls away and we are met with the unwavering reality. Her interactions with her family are very much a crystal ball in this department.

Two Ears, One Mouth
Regardless of what we encounter in life, we are exploring it through own very specific lenses made up of our accrued experiences and tastes. This can make it hard to attempt to see other individuals’ perspectives, but it’s vital to build anything meaningful with anyone. For instance, if, let’s say, you tell your girlfriend about a particularly annoying traffic jam. If her first response is something like, “I’d hate that,” it’s worth noting. Why? Because her first reaction was how she would emotionally process your irritating problem. Is this a disastrous sign? Of course not, but it speaks volumes of a person’s ability to empathize. A good and empathetic listener is an invaluable companion on the road of life.

Picky Eating
First and foremost, there is no such thing as a picky eater. There are only individuals who were forced to try new things while growing up and those who weren’t. For that first group, some things they learned to like and some they still hate, but the process taught them the power of an open mind. Those picky eaters of the world were allowed to dictate the terms of their meals in those formative years and that stubbornness doesn’t just apply to food, it is pervasive. Oh, and it doesn’t soften with age. Like, at all.

Plans
Hey, let’s admit it, lots of us don’t have plans. At least, nothing set in stone. But some of us have rough ideas. Broad, fuzzy sketches of how we’d like this big ball of wax to shape up. Okay…there are some things that pretty much need to happen. In the first stages of a relationship, ignoring a person’s plan or lack thereof isn’t a good plan. Why? Because there needs to be the raw semblance of coherence between you two; some common ground on the road ahead. It’s easy to say, “Oh but we just met. Let’s just see how it goes.” But it is an act of self-delusion, an attempt to prolong a seemingly-uncomplicated thing. But things were complicated before you even met and that’s okay.

Stages
Life can easily be broken up by landmark moments: high school graduation, first love, first job, etc. Similarly, life can be broken up into stages. Now these stages can pertain to certain age groups but there are absolutely exceptions. When you’ve met somebody, gotten excited and decided to learn everything about them, the stage they are wading through becomes kinda important. Recent college graduates are adjusting to post-graduate life. Some are looking for lasting, meaningful relationships and some aren’t, but it’s a definable stage. Wherever you find yourself, consider the stage. It’s a jumping-off point for any number of priorities and preoccupations. Now, ending up with someone at a different point in their life, regardless of age, doesn’t mean it’ll never last. It simply means their goals and priorities might vary, sometimes drastically from yours, which makes that whole empathy thing difficult again.