I'm an late-20s-guy finally starting to date for the first time. Overall, I'm finding the process fun, but as someone completely new to relationships and how they form - and someone who's self-analytical to the point of over-analyzing - I feel a little uncertain as to what's expected of me, and how I should behave on the first few dates. I've found a few useful resources on the Internet, but there's a lot of creepy advice out there, and I'd like to get some feedback from real people. So: when should I expect to feel a "spark"? Do you start touching your date in small ways before you feel a connection, or do you really only do that if you feel something? And what
In some ways, this is a followup to this question from about a year ago
. In summary: after going through a bit of a quarter-life-crisis, I've finally started making some needed self-improvements - lost a bunch of weight, got a better job, moved out. And, at long last, actually trying to meet people and start figuring out what I want out of a relationship. My self-confidence is generally pretty good, and I'm rather happy with where my life is right now and the direction I'm headed.
But because I've literally never dated before or had any sort of relationship, I'm flying pretty blind on how things work. I understand that nothing happens overnight, things are just going to feel awkward, and I just need to have fun, keep at it, gain experience and learn - and I'm fully committed to that. But I'm still a bit uncertain on a few specifics, and could use a bit of advice.
My main source of advice on all this has been Nick Notas' The Dating Specialist
. He generally has a strong emphasis on self-confidence, making connections, respecting women, and having fun, which means most of his stuff comes off as way less PUA-ish than a lot of advice you find. Still, some of it reads as a bit pushy to me - lots of "touch her early on if she's comfortable", "try and kiss on the first date", "don't be afraid to be sexually flirty"... but I can't tell if that's just how it is if you want to build that connection, or if that's just his style of being a bit of a player, and it's OK to take things slower.
Right now I've been doing OKCupid dates, with not too much more of an expectation beyond having a good time, meeting people, gaining confidence, and seeing where things go. And that's been going well thus far, with a handful of OK first-and-second dates, and one good first date with a commitment for a second.
But really, we've just talked. The farthest I've gone physically has been a hug with a kiss on the cheek as a goodbye. I've enjoyed myself, but I wouldn't say I've felt a strong spark or connection with anybody just yet. And having not really ever had that happen, I'm not sure what to be looking for.
So, of course realizing that every man and woman and relationship and date is different - what is
acceptable, and generally expected of me? Obviously I should not
be trying to stick my hand down my date's pants the first time we meet - but should I be making more of an effort towards small touches? I feel a bit afraid and intimidated - like I'm invading someone's personal space with attention I'm not sure someone wants - but is this actually socially acceptable, and should I just be pushing through that fear a bit until I get more comfortable with it?
Or, am I way overthinking this? Is this something that will just feel way more natural when I feel a connection, and I just need to keep meeting different people - and people I like enough multiple times - until something happens... and the "touch early" crowd is really just rushing through things? I really can't tell if I'm just scared to show my intentions, or if I just haven't found the right person.
Put more simply - does the connection/spark come first and/or naturally over a few dates, or do you have to work towards it?
The same thing goes for that first kiss - at no point yet have I personally
felt comfortable enough or like I've been at a good kissing point, but I can't tell if I'm just too oblivious to know those moments, if I'm not doing a good enough job leading us to that point - and if I'll be too afraid to go through with it when the moment comes - or, if that's something that will come up naturally, and I just need to be patient until the right person and moment comes along.
Finally, I hear mixed things about this - but if I do feel like I like somebody, is it OK to just say "hey, I'm kind of inexperienced in dating - don't mind me if I'm a bit slow to warm up?" Or is that kind of thing too much of a turn-off too often?
Overall, I realize there's no one right answer to any of these questions, and more will become clear as I get more experience. And I want to make it clear that I am *not* interested in going full-on pick-up-artist here. I'm just trying to figure out what's realistically expected of me on the first few dates, and what I should be looking for as I move forward.
(As an aside - words cannot describe how amazing the response to my last question was. Even though I decided to hold off for a while, it was a really remarkable and affirming response, and it gave me a ton of confidence going forward.)
Finally, If there's any followup, I have a throwaway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance, guys.