June 13

5 principles on how to date without expectations


It was the first blind date I had arranged with Kopi Date.

I sat at the table, frantically writing. I was trying to get rid of my nerves and not be too scared.

Then she turned up.

And immediately, I felt a deep drop in my excitement level. It wasn’t that she wasn’t attractive. Nor was it that she wasn’t funny.

Rather, it was me.

Looking back, I had too high expectations for what was supposed to happen.

There’s nothing wrong with expectations

Are expectations wrong? And should you date without expectations?

The answer is no, no.

Expectations are healthy. Knowing what your expectations are of a date helps you to know whether it’s something worth carrying on.

If you’ve gone on dates for a while, you would realise that there are three kinds of dates.

The three kinds of dates you will experience
The three kinds of dates you will experience
  1. The date who blows you away, and who leaves you desperately wanting to chat again
  2. The date whom you’re a little confused about; because you’re not sure if its something you’re really interested in, or whom you’re just holding on as a potential option
  3. The date who just doesn’t turn you on, and here I don’t mean sexually, but that she doesn’t leave you wanting to meet her again

So if you’re looking at dating without expectations as the potential answer to why you’re struggling with dates, I would urge you to think again.

It may be that the reason your dates are not progressing is due to the lack of clarity you have about what you want.

I confess.

I was the one who, as an experiment with the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, started matching with everyone. I didn’t bother reading much into what they said. I thought that as long as I was willing to try, it would work out.

You might have tried texting your date like crazy, only to realise that she’s just not that interested
You might have tried texting your date like crazy, only to realise that she’s just not that interested

I ended up meeting with dates that had warning signs. One date was having 4 other dates per week. You didn’t read that wrong. Week, not month, or year.

And with the dating agency Kopi Date, I entrusted dates into the hands of an agency, who had little idea of what I wanted. They paired me with dates that weren’t necessarily ‘my type’.

As much as I would have liked to think that I didn’t care that much about a person’s looks, it turned out that looks did matter.

Please don’t get me wrong.

It’s not about saying that I’m extremely handsome and therefore deserve a good-looking person.

But it’s just recognising that in a relationship, there are different elements of the equation towards deciding that someone is a worthwhile partner.

For some, the element of physical attraction might matter more. For others, one’s qualities might be more important. But either way, it’s still important to recognise it as a factor, rather than desperately trying to say,

Looks don’t matter to me.

If looks do matter, acknowledging and accepting that it does, can be the first step towards finding a better match. Because it’s about saying that

Hey, I’m worth something too.

But after saying that, you then realise how to go into dates with a more open mind.

Expectations do matter
Expectations do matter

Why not having expectations matters

This is vital.

Not having expectations of what the date will be, who the date will become in life, (whether partner or not), can help you to be a lot more willing to walk away from bad dates.

As I look back, the reason why I held on to that date who was going for 4 other dates per week was because I wanted her to be the one. I wanted her to become the partner of my dreams.

Those walks that we would enjoy along East Coast Park, holding each other’s hands, and being able to share about moments that we wouldn’t share with others. Like how the colleague at work was someone we didn’t really like speaking to.

Or how that ‘friend’ was actually someone we hated.

Not having expectations of who the date will become, helps you to be willing to walk away, when somehow or rather, the date just doesn’t work out.

You don’t force it to work out.

First know your expectations

This isn’t just about coming up with a laundry list about what you want with a partner. We all know that already.

But rather, it’s about being willing to know when you should walk away, and not try to force something to happen.

Write down a list of red flags you have. The non-negotiables.

Then be willing to try dates, over and over again

You will learn more about yourself over the course of going for dates, more than anything else. Whilst you can Google ‘how to impress on a first date’, it’s not until you go to your first date that you realise just what that means.

You might feel like you’re led on long conversations to nowhere, but hey, at least you tried.
You might feel like you’re led on long conversations to nowhere, but hey, at least you tried.

Keep having hope

If you remember the first ever time you fell in love with someone, try remembering what exactly she did to make you feel that way.

Sure, she might not have fallen in love with you. But she did make you feel a certain way.

Oh don’t lose hope. At least, not yet.
Oh don’t lose hope. At least, not yet.

Love isn’t just about the initial feeling, but it’s about the long-term commitment. But without the first attraction you feel towards the person, which makes you keep wanting to see her, you might struggle to go on future dates.

When dates become too much effort, when you feel that you have to constantly think of fun things to do, questions to ask, without much part on the other party’s end to try and smoothen things out and make things easier, things are going to be a lot more difficult.

And you forcing it is not going to make things easier.

It’s not about dating without expectations, but rather dating whilst knowing your expectations

Don’t date without expectations.

That’s not the way to succeed. Rather, date whilst knowing your expectations, and knowing your breakpoints. The points where you would walk away.

I remember the first time in university when I fell in love with someone else. We would spend days laughing together, and doing the most mundane things. Like shopping for groceries. Or going for trips around England.

Eventually I confessed to this lady I loved.

She refused to become my girlfriend.

That’s not the bad part.

The worst part was not knowing my expectations of her, and realising that I was expecting her to step into the shoes that my family had not filled.

I was asking for her to move 5000 miles into a country she did not know. I was asking her to give up her dreams of becoming a scholar. I was asking her to make the commitment level of a wife, even though we had only known each other for a year.

I was setting her up for failure.

As you look back at your own history you will realise that there are certain points where you may have lacked the love that you wanted.

You end up foisting those expectations onto your date , when frankly all you do have from each other is a little mutual attraction.

Date, knowing that it’s not the be all and end all. Go in knowing that it can be a friend, and sometimes, that a friend can be enough.



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