Ottawa Citizen - - YOU - ELLIE TESHER Read Ellie Mon­day to Satur­day

Q I’ve been sin­gle for about a year now and am dat­ing quite reg­u­larly.

Some­times I will meet some­one who ticks off all the boxes (sta­ble, em­ployed, emo­tion­ally avail­able, etc.), but I just don’t feel that first-date spark that I’ve felt in the past when I first met pre­vi­ous long-term part­ners. I’m gen­er­ally quick to let the per­son know I’m not feel­ing it, so as to save them time and en­ergy.

But I’m start­ing to ques­tion whether I’m tak­ing leave too quickly, per­haps miss­ing out on some­thing good. How much weight should my gut feel­ings hold when it comes to agree­ing to two or three dates?

I’d be happy to get to know some­one a bit bet­ter, but I feel pres­sure to make a de­ci­sion about it sooner rather than later, to not lead any­one on. Ship Jumper

A Your sign-off “Ship Jumper” re­veals some­thing you don’t ac­tu­ally say: Dat­ing fright­ens you. It’s more a race to the fin­ish line, than a jour­ney for you. And less about con­cern for lead­ing some­one on than about get­ting hopes up your­self. You don’t like mak­ing a mis­take, so won’t give any­one a sec­ond chance if those bells and whis­tles don’t go off at first meet­ing.

Yes, gut feel­ings mat­ter, but you’re lis­ten­ing to a ner­vous gut rather than let­ting it re­lax.

Of course, if a date is to­tally off-putting — some­one who talks only of him­self or her­self, asks no ques­tions about you, is rude to you or oth­ers, has ob­nox­ious habits — that per­son’s a write­off.

(Note that you’re the one who’s made gen­der ir­rel­e­vant in your ques­tion by not be­ing spe­cific. That’s fine with me, but it’s an­other clue: You’re not forth­com­ing with de­tails about your­self, which may also be why you’re a one-date sam­pler.)

My ad­vice is to re­lax. A first date is only an in­tro­duc­tion, with both sides likely to be some­what ner­vous. Hu­mour and per­sonal his­tory are more likely to start to be re­vealed when you meet some­one a sec­ond and third time.

Be­sides, even if not a match, the per­son may have a friend for you who is.

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