I was talking with some single girlfriends about the dating world recently. There were some horror stories, like that guy who was at least twenty years older than his profile picture, or the time one of my mates broke down in tears in the first five minutes of meeting someone after a tough day at work.
Horror stories we all collect along the way.
But, do you know what most of the stories consisted of? Nice dates that didn’t go anywhere. Boring, right?
As we were discussing this, a friend and I came to a stark realisation. We finally figured out why we were having these lovely dates that didn’t go anywhere. We finally solved the mystery of why the men I was dating always seemed to think the date went so much better than I thought it did.
I’m a great date.
Wait don’t stop reading. This isn’t coming from an ego filled narcissist I promise. I’m serious. I am a great date and it is destroying my dating life.
Do you want to know why?
I’m an empath.
Being an empath doesn’t mean I’m some sort of hippy type who wears crystals around their neck and believes they feel a deeper connection to the spiritual world in some way (not that there is anything wrong with that, it just isn’t me).
What I mean by being an empath is that I feel how you’re feeling even if you don’t tell me how you’re feeling. Ok, so that still sounds a little trippy. But what it means is that in work or social situations, I’m usually aware before others when someone isn’t comfortable or isn’t being heard.
What is an empath? Being an empath is when you are affected by other people's energies, and have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive others. ... You are always open, so to speak, to process other people's feelings and energy, which means that you really feel, and in many cases, take on the emotions of others.
Now, being an empath is helpful in my work life. I work in communications and stakeholder engagement. Throughout my career, I have worked in environments where I need to move people along the project or organisation change curve.
LISTEN: Love guru Osher Gunsberg shares his best advice for any first date. Post continues after audio.
I do this by listening to people and figuring out what will motivate them to change or contribute. A big part of this is sensing when things are not quite right, well before it becomes a problem. Helpful, right?
But, in my personal life, it has quite different connotations. It means that in a one on one or group settings, I am painfully aware of other people’s awkwardness. When this happens, I swing into my default empath mode of making it ok for them.
Most of the time it simply means asking a few questions and gauging which subject area makes their energy feel more relaxed and natural. Sometimes it means engaging them in what’s around them to take the spotlight directly off them personally.
It usually doesn’t take very long for the conversation to start to flow and for them to feel comfortable.
However, herein lies the problem in the dating world.
In making them feel ok, I’ve switched into empath mode. While it’s always an authentic interaction, I’ve effectively just put their social and emotional needs 100% ahead of mine.
We come to the end of our date, a couple of wines in, lovely conversation and we part ways.
As we walk away from each other, you can be guaranteed we are often leaving having had two very different experiences on the one date.
They think I’m really easy to get along with and are probably thinking about potential for a second date.
Meanwhile, I probably think they’re lovely, but I go home feeling a bit drained having spent all my time showing interest in them.
To complicate matters, I must think hard about whether I actually had a good time or if I just facilitated a good time.
I told you. I’m a great date!
Being an empath isn’t all that bad though.
It does mean I have a natural knack of being able to talk with people about what makes them tick and draw out what they are passionate about. I love seeing people’s eyes light up and their smiles widen when they are really engaged in a subject. I love feeling that moment when our positive energy matches in conversation.
I’m trying really hard to realise that not every man I date needs me to save him from that social awkwardness. Sometimes it’s ok to have that nervous energy. In fact, don’t we all secretly love that sweet torture of butterflies in your stomach when you see each other?
So, to the next guy I date. Sorry if I’m a little awkward. It’s just that I’m trying really hard not to be a great date, so we can both just be ourselves.
Kim Borrowdale is a communications specialist and storyteller by day and dater by night. She tells us that she did not write this article as a ruse to get more dates but is open to invitations. </stron