For many years I worked in consultation and engagement services across a number of organisations. My role was to go out into the community and find out what they thought of something – a policy, a publication, an issue, a community, a development – and distill that down to report it back to decision makers. It was a type of research really, and made me appreciate the importance of accurate and honest feedback.
I was thinking about this recently whilst talking with a date about why previous relationships hadn’t progressed beyond dating into “boyfriend and girlfriend” territory (surely there must be a way of describing that that doesn’t sound like it’s from the playground?!). Turns out she had no idea, and was pretty curious to find out herself. e agreed that some way of getting feedback on dates would be invaluable, especially if you are committed to getting better at the whole thing.
There are obviously plenty of ways not to do this. For example, trying to organise a focus group of ex’s would probably end in disaster, as would conducting exit interviews the next day. And I’m not even sure an online survey with the option of entering a prize draw to win a bottle of champagne would work either.
I don’t know what I’d ask previous dates, nor whether they’d be honest. People have a propensity not to want to hurt other people’s feelings so will often come up with bland, generic statements instead of saying “I hated the way you picked your teeth” or “I prefer talking about ideas rather than reality tv” (for the record, neither of those are things I do!). Specific feedback would be useful but unlikely.
And then what would I do with it? Some things I could control, but others are just who I am. If I mention politics or science fiction and they hate either of those things then we’re never going to be a compatible match. If my failed marriage has taught me anything, it’s to find someone who shares at least some of your crazy rather than tolerating its existence. And after all, it’s horses for courses; what one person likes another will hate. All opinions of this type are entirely subjective.
I would, however, be interested in knowing of some of the things I’m doing right. Am I getting the blend of honesty and confidence right? Do they still like having doors held open for them or is that deeply condescending? Am I listening enough or perhaps too much? If someone doesn’t tell me what they like then there’s a chance I won’t guess it and won’t offer enough of that.
Perhaps there is space in the market for a rate-my-date app. Nothing could go wrong with that, surely?!