8 dates to true love, or how to avoid
wasting time on the wrong relationship
by Janet Jacobsen
At coffee after one of my singles classes, someone asked me to recommend
some test dates. (A test date is any date that
in some way forces you to get to know each other, as opposed to just killing
time.) We got started on which ones made good first dates, which were
better as second dates, etc. and before you know it we had collectively
come up with a set of dates that we believed absolutely positively would
guarantee you true love forever if you could just get through all eight
dates with one person
Now that Ive had a chance to consider the list by the light of day,
I think we were wrong. This list will not guarantee true love.
What I think it will do, however, is weed out the wrong ones real quick.
Follow this set of carefully and strategically planned dates, and the
odds are very good that long before Date #8 you will have eliminated all
the insinceres, totally incompatibles, only-interested-in-one-things (whatever
that might be), and major game players.
You could, however, get through all eight dates and later discover that
you are each wildly intolerant of your religious differences, or that
one of you wants kids and the other doesnt, or some other totally
irreconcilable difference. But properly handled, these eight dates will
get you way more information about the other person than any other eight
dates you ever had (not counting the time you were stranded together at
the lake for three days because the road washed out).
Keep in mind that for maximum effectiveness, dates should not be skipped
or moved up in order. You may repeat lower order dates as often as you
wish, however. Also, this is based on you inviting them on each of these
dates. (Yes, ladies, you too.) If you get through Date Eight and they
havent invited you out even once (and preferably more than that),
If they invite you on a date that doesnt fit the order, its
ok, provided its not too far out of order. But you still have to
invite them, per plan.
Also, a word about timing. Packing all eight dates into eight days or
less is probably cheating and lowers the test effectiveness
of these dates. On the other hand, spreading them out over several years
may be a bit much (but maybe not).
The Coffee Date.
This is the best first date, even if youve worked across the hall
from each other for years. The coffee date (which could also be tea, soda,
or ice cream, but absolutely not alcohol) must be at a public location,
NOT either persons home, and you should arrive separately - and
leave separately. The date can last 20 minutes or several hours (depending
on the patience of the restaurant staff).
The Cultural Event.
Go somewhere you like to go that has no built-in time frame, total opportunity
for conversation, and plenty of things to talk about. Possibilities include
the zoo, museums, the botanical garden. Do not pick a place that you arent
particularly interested in but think they would like. Being in familiar
territory will put you at ease and help keep the conversation going.
Ok, now you can go on the traditional dinner date, but nothing too elaborate
(meaning expensive), please. Again, go some place you like to go, or have
been wanting to try. The only requirement is that the place be quiet enough
that its easy to talk.
The required conversational topic for Date Three: You tell me your life
story and Ill tell you mine. Keep repeating dates one through three
until you have this conversation. Its essential.
Introduce them to something important to you. If you live to golf, take
them golfing. If opera is your passion, nows the time. Whatever.
The test is not whether they emerge from the experience as an opera lover
too, but how they handle giving it a try, how supportive they are of your
interest (even if they really would prefer NOT to go to a tractor pull
ever again), and whether they are a good sport about it all.
Give a Party.
Next you need to give a party and invite them. Load this party with your
friends and family, the more the better. This can be fancy or informal,
a Halloween bash, a sit-down dinner, a picnic, whatever suits you best.
For maximum test date effectiveness, include some kind of competitive
team event: charades, volleyball, team Trivial Pursuit, whatever. It doesnt
matter whether you are on the same or competing teams.
Even if the party was a formal dinner, Date Six is still a home-cooked
meal with just the two of you. Do not prompt them in any way to help with
this meal, before, during, or after. Part of the test is to see how what
they naturally volunteer fits with your expectations.
Cook things you like to cook; if you absolutely do not cook, its
acceptable to have pizza, take-out chicken or Chinese, or something from
Rent a canoe at a lake. Do not attempt this date on moving water if neither
of you knows how to canoe, but park lakes are just fine. Actually, the
less either of you knows about canoeing, the better. And you must both
paddle; if only one of you paddles, it drastically reduces the test-effectiveness
of this date, in which you can learn more about your compatibility in
stress management, blaming, and sense of humor than is possible by any
other method in as short a period of time (except maybe with small children
and a car-sick dog on an afternoon drive).
In the best possible case, this would be a camping trip, because it requires
the maximum mutual dependence and cooperation. A weekend in Las Vegas
absolutely will NOT do, nor will any overnight in which room
service is available, even if not used. Meal preparation, advance planning
and provision of supplies (what do you mean, you forgot towels?) should
be included. You can borrow a friends summer cottage, rent a cabin
in the woods, or a houseboat, if camping is just not your thing. But remember,
the more work it is, the better the test.
And thats it.
I have lost relationships at every one of these stages. Thank
God. I also have relationships that have settled in at a stage and never
moved on, which is also fine, because neither of us has any illusions
that the other is the one. The goal is to date with the maximum
effectiveness, and a weeding out at any point is great because it saves
both of you weeks of wasted movie dates, for instance.
(Nope, no movie dates on this list, unless thats what you want as
your Date Four. In general, movie dates have minimal test effectiveness
unless you are a movie fiend; then definitely go to the movies for Date
It is not necessary that either of you go to the others house until
Date Five, you will notice. You can meet at Dates One through
Four, quite easily. If this has started as a blind date, you probably
ought to meet out through Date Two at a minimum.
Also note that there is no presumption of sex anywhere in the list, not
even Date Eight, which may afford the maximum opportunity but certainly
allows for separate tents. If you have had a tendency to let your hormones
be your guide in past relationships, then no sex until Date Three at least.
If you get through all eight dates together, youre now either great
friends, seriously interested in each other, or never speaking to each
other again (which is much better to know after Date Eight than after
two years of marriage).