Whether it’s a trip with a friend meant to discover a mutual spark of attraction, a blind date set up by mutual friends, or a meeting arranged online, date planning will enable you to maximize the experience. Who knows? Maybe it could lead to a great friendship or turn into a long-term romantic relationship. But where you meet or date for the first time can play a big part in how your date will interact with one another. The atmosphere is key. The venue may even reflect your potential mate’s values.
Venue selection in dating
If you want to avoid committing to a narcissist or other toxic personalities, for instance, you may be observing red flags during the early part of the relationship when you are still less invested and most objective. Wendy L. Patrick, JD, Ph.D., author of the book Red Flags and is a trial attorney who focuses on domestic violence and hate crimes, shared that your date’s choice of culture, entertainment, and dining may say something about their suitability as a potential mate or their personality too. However, before judging the relationship by restaurant selection alone, it is also best to consider the evolving character, such as those with a narcissistic personality.
Signs you’re dating a narcissist
Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and expert on relationships and codependency, said narcissists are skilled at making people like them. They can be very charming, alluring, and exciting to date. A study even shows that it took seven meetings for people to see through their veneer. Sadly, some are won over by a narcissist not just in dates but all the way to the altar.
Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) follow familiar patterns. They may be identifiable by their lack of empathy for others, a deep need for excessive admiration and attention, inflated sense of importance, and perpetually troubled relationships.
A recent study published by the American Psychological Association titled "How Insecure Narcissists Become Cultural Omnivores", authors examined how personality traits of psychological insecurity and narcissism affect cultural consumption. The researchers mentioned traditional elites or individuals who possess a high amount of cultural capital by their education or social class. They distinguish themselves by participating in high culture and they are often referred to as “snobs.” This is their way of showcasing their superiority. However, this sophisticated class does not just enjoy the highbrow culture (involving artistic or complicated and serious ideas) but also the lowbrow culture (less sophisticated culture or not demanding much intelligence to be understood).
Highbrow and lowbrow culture: mix and match
The authors of the said study wrote that narcissists who are experiencing a decreased sense of psychological security seek distinction by consuming both lowbrow and highbrow culture. The highbrow culture lessens their insecurity by satisfying their need for status and the lowbrow culture will help them express self-integrity.
This is why Patrick said that self-centered suitors may take their dates to an event or venue that represents a combination of high and lowbrow culture. If it’s dance music, it’s like a combination of jazz and classical. If it’s a dinner, it’s a mixture of a high-end dish and the personalized version of popular dishes, like waffles and wings. If it’s a visit to the art galleries, it’s like watching classical paintings and graffiti.
However, people need to broaden their perspective if they are attempting to avoid becoming involved with such a toxic personality. “Venue selection cannot be reliably detected through venue selection” Patrick added. This is most especially because even the most generous and the kindest people in the world could just as likely consume the same types of highbrow and lowbrow culture as those with toxic personalities that we are trying to avoid.
Nevertheless, first dates are only the first step in forming impressions. Relationship building that takes time will still reveal the person. Patrick said if you want to cultivate chemistry, choose a venue that is more relaxed than formal and avoid sending the wrong signal to your date. Choose a light dinner or a coffee at a brightly lit, upbeat restaurant and not a candlelit or secluded table. Venue selection matters this way. The ideal first dates happen in settings that are designed to facilitate conversation and comfort, not inappropriate and awkward intimacy.
Let there be light
If you are in doubt, visit the restaurant first to know the ambiance. An environment that is classy and casual at the same time offers a non-threatening place for the two of you to have a focused conversation. Choose an atmosphere that is well-lit because eye contact plays an important part in your date chemistry. Sure, novelty can be attractive but such a trendy dining-in-the-dark restaurant may only allow you to see what you are eating instead of who you are with.
Online dating or finding a partner
Last February, Pew Research Center also published a survey conducted among 4,860 US adults. They found that three in ten US adults have used a dating app or site but this varies by sexual orientation and age. For instance, 48% of 18 to 29 years old used a dating app or site while it is only 38% among 30 to 49 and 19% among 50 to 64 years old.
Among online daters, women are more likely than men to categorize information as essential to see in other users’ profiles. Some 72% of women said it was very important that the profile included the type of relationship they’re looking for if they have children (48%), their hobbies and interests (40), and their religious beliefs (32%).
The common places for singles looking for romance include parks, health and fitness clubs, sporting events, social sports clubs, parties, festivals, volunteer activities, classrooms, libraries, and long-distance transports. Tech company ReportLinker, which specializes in data, also found how people in relationships coupled up. The old-fashioned way of meeting ranks the list with 39% of those in a relationship meets through friends. Some 15% said they met their significant other through work, 12% in bars or public areas, 9% through sports, religion, or hobbies, 8% on a dating app, 7% said they met their partner through their family, 6% said in school, and 1% through speed dating.
First dates are important in determining the trajectory of a potential romance. It is much more than just getting to know the basic facts about the person, but also to look for signals and in case it doesn’t end in fireworks, perhaps it could lead to friendship.