How would you imagine a perfect first date?
Let me paint a picture for you: a fancy restaurant, candles, romantic music, and maybe even some roses. How can your date go wrong with this scenario? It turns out it can.
You’re missing one key ingredient. You need a nice partner.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Everybody knows that what makes or breaks relationships are the people (you can find one million reasons, but it’s always the people).
Even the perfect date can become a nightmare with the wrong partner.
First dates can make or break your relationship. You only get one shot at making it to the second date. You want to make a remarkable impression on your first date.
The dating app Hinge found out how. Their research found what traits people truly want in a partner (and one dangerous habit that destroys your first date).
Emotional intelligence is sexy.
You may think you need looks, money, or an interesting personality to stand out in the dating minefield. But Hinge found a surprising statistic:
“86% of Hinge users want to date people who go to therapy.”
Emotional intelligence is one of the top priorities when it comes to dating. It looks like people got tired of the world of Instagram and social media, where your looks matter more than your thoughts (even if you used one million filters and you barely look like yourself anymore).
The research still says 61% of Hinge users think emotional vulnerability is more important than height, attractiveness, or income.
Emotional intelligence is the new trend.
It makes sense when you think about it. The goal of a date is to get to know the other person. Don’t get me wrong: you don’t have to share your childhood traumas. But how will you know each other if you only talk about the weather?
But there is one small (and dangerous) catch.
Men don’t know how to be vulnerable.
So the secret to a mind-blowing first date is to connect with your partner. And guess what helps you connect? Your vulnerabilities. That’s not very surprising, right?
But the study also found another alarming statistic:
75% of men never show emotional vulnerability on dates.
What comes to your mind when you think of a masculine man? Let me guess: beard, muscles, and maybe even beer. Emotions are so far you can barely see them on the horizon, right? The idea of the masculine man is so powerful that it stops you from showing your vulnerability.
Well, that’s a big mistake.
Your emotions aren’t a turn-off; they’re what makes you stand out in a world of superficial relationships.
What’s worse: you can lose the love of your life because you were too busy maintaining your masculine persona and hiding your emotions. You don’t do it on purpose. Nobody wakes up and thinks, “I’ll hide my emotions today.”
But that’s still a dangerous habit that can cost you too much.
Vulnerability is a superpower.
This research reminds me of a powerful lesson from Brené Brown. She explains how people build connections through their vulnerabilities.
“They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.”
Let’s be honest: nobody enjoys sharing struggles. It makes you feel weak. Your vulnerabilities make you uncomfortable.
Except you need vulnerability to find love.
When you think about it, love makes you insanely vulnerable. You give your heart to someone else, and they’re free to leave without warning (unless you kidnap them, and I hope you don’t). You risk a crushing heartbreak. But you get a lot in return: you feel loved.
Can you imagine a life without love? I know I can’t.
Hinge’s research reinforces how people want this connection. And, although it’s uncomfortable, it’s worth it.
But it has its limits.
You know that vulnerability makes you stand out on dates. But the researchers leave you with one final piece of advice: don’t overshare.
Logan Ury, Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science, explains:
“While there aren’t hard and fast rules, understand that some more personal things about yourself should only be shared when someone has earned your trust.”
Imagine you go on a first date, and in the first fifteen minutes, they tell you everything there’s to know about them: their dreams, traumas, and insecurities. How do you feel about this person? If you’re smart, you’ll run as fast as you can.
When you overshare, you come across as desperate.
Before you tell them your security number, take a step back. Relationships take time to grow, so it’s best to share slowly.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Watch how they react when you speak.
- Share one personal thing at a time (not all at once).
- Notice what they share about themselves so you match their intimacy.
You need to find the right balance between sharing who you are and desperation. When it doubt, take it slow.
What you can do about it.
Hinge’s research tells us how emotional intelligence is sexy.
But there’s one catch: that’s not easy to change. You can’t change your emotional intelligence the way you change your clothes. It takes way more time and effort.
So here are a few things you can do to become emotionally intelligent:
- Go to therapy. Therapy isn’t for crazy people; it’s for people who want to improve. Your therapist can help you learn things about yourself you can’t even imagine.
- Write a journal. When you write a journal, it’s like you have a conversation with yourself. It helps you organize your thoughts. And, when you go back to read it a few years later, you’ll be surprised by how much you have grown.
- Take a step back. Most cases of emotional immaturity happen when you make impulsive choices. You say something you don’t mean or buy a purse you don’t need. Your emotions can cloud your judgment. So take a step back and make a decision after a good night of sleep.
These are only a few examples of how to increase your emotional intelligence. They’re not easy, but they’re extremely rewarding.
Emotional intelligence is sexy. It’s refreshing to see how people value deep connections instead of shallow relationships. But the research shows an interesting paradox (although it wasn’t their goal).
Deeper relationships take more effort.
It’s safe to say meaningful relationships are better than shallow ones. But what do you think takes more effort: to have a one-night stand or to build a meaningful connection with your date?
It takes effort to become vulnerable, support your date, and go through tough times. And that’s precisely why it leads to a better relationship. There are no shortcuts.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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