Are you addicted to first dates?


Your heart is beating fast, your breathing is shallow, your palms sweaty and it feels like butterflies are filling your stomach. You can’t tell whether it is fear or excitement that is overwhelming you but it’s all-consuming, obliterating all concerns about your ordinary life. You stand at the threshold of possibility, a new future – love, romance, bliss – it could all be yours. First dates can be a heady experience but if you never get to a second or third date it could be that you are becoming addicted to that initial rush, read on to discover more.

What creates that heady combination?
Whenever we go into any new situation our body prepares us by releasing a number of chemicals into our bloodstream. Adrenaline is a hormone which creates the ‘fight or flight’ response, it increases our heart rate, constricts blood vessels and dilates our air passages. Fight or flight might not seem like the most natural responses to a date but it describes well that feeling of being fully alert and on guard to respond to an unknown situation.

Combined with this is the release of endorphins into the brain. They are produced by the pituitary gland during periods of excitement or stress and resemble opiates in their ability to produce a natural pain relief and feelings of well being. They can also make us feel powerful, confident and filled with optimism.

Like an actor about to go on stage for the first performance a first date is a complete unknown so this is when we get the biggest rush of all of these chemicals. Actors often say that the first night is by far the best in terms of performance because they are in that heightened state, after that they will still have some rush but not to the same level as its no longer an unknown entity.

What is addiction?
We usually say someone is addicted to something when their behaviour is detrimental to their well-being. It is obvious to see why this is the case when someone is taking drugs or drinking too much because the consequences are so dire for themselves and those around them but there are other addictions which can go undetected for a long time because they are more socially acceptable. If someone works long hours or goes to the gym a lot we tend to see these as positive life choices, it slips into an addiction when the behaviour becomes compulsive and stops the person from living their life fully and developing in areas that are important to them.

Which first dater are you?
There are people who go on lots of first dates because they have a really fixed idea of what they are looking for and simply haven’t found it yet. In this case our advice would be, as far as possible, to give it at least two or three dates before you make your mind up, some people are so nervous on a first date that it’s difficult to see what they are really like.

Then there are people who really don’t want anything more than a superficial relationship. They love to dress up, go out and meet new people but have no real interest in taking it any further. If this is you that is fine but please make sure you are honest right from the beginning, your date might have different hopes and expectations and it is unfair to lead them down the garden path if you know from the offset it’s just a one-off date for you.

If you are genuinely looking for a deeper relationship but find yourself wanting to arrange first dates much more than risking going deeper by arranging to meet someone you have already dated, it may be that you are crossing the line into addiction and it is stopping you from getting what you really want. If this is the case our advice would be to understand why you feel compelled to keep repeating the same behaviour and maybe develop a hobby that will give you that same chemical rush e.g. amateur dramatics or running.

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