Whether you lean more on the traditional side or you have taken a more modern approach in dating, there is one thing all singles can agree on; it can be intimidating to suggest or plan dates with someone you have just met and only know small details about. It is a delicate balancing act planning how to make a great impression while also keeping someone’s interest. It is also a source of anxiety many singles experience.

As a coach, what I often see is dater’s will focus on one aspect of the dating process, magnify it, and overlook all the other things that contribute to making good dating choices. This happens because there is a lack of strategic planning when it comes to picking dating locations and activities that work best for gathering the information they are trying to gain. Asking questions is one way to get information but when you connect conversation with physical interaction you get a more complete picture.

Dater’s focus on one aspect of dating and magnify it causing them to overlook red flags.

There are four levels within the dating process you can explore with a potential mate. These levels help guide you in creative ways to enjoy the dating experience but more importantly, it will help you see if pursuing a relationship will be of benefit to you. Using these levels gives you a clear blueprint that lessens anxiety while presenting outings that are appropriate for the stage of dating you are at.

Level 1


On this level your objective is to be aware of likes and dislikes about a person or their situation. Pay attention to any possible deal breakers that will be a problem later causing the relationship to end. Slow down and really listen to what a person thinks, feels, and their motives for wanting to engage with you. This is your time to ask probing questions. You can use my book The 7 Key Questions to Ask on a First Date for reference. Pick date spots where you can focus on conversation such as coffee shops, parks, or a dessert c. You are probably thinking, “I want to win my date over so they can see me as the right choice for them.” That is a normal response. Everyone wants to be chosen. For this level of dating, you want to be in the position of chooser. You are not trying to gain your dates approval or see how compatible you are with them; you are trying to see how compatible they are with you. That switch in mindset puts you in the driver’s seat instead of being brought along for the ride. You can still make a great impression while also being practical with your time and money. It may take a few dates to gain the information you are seeking. Take your time. Pay attention to anyone who is rushing you to take bigger steps before you are ready. That is a red flag.

Coffee shops and dessert cafés are good meeting places to focus on conversation.

Level 2


On this level your objective is to go deeper to learn what appeals to a potential mate. You want to examine what hobbies or activities they engage in. It is here where you will see if their actions line up with what they have told you about themselves in previous conversations. Through their hobbies or activities, you are looking for the opportunity to see if you have shared experiences to learn what you have in common that you both can enjoy. This will add context to your compatibility. Volunteering, classes, meeting friends and family are all good ways to participate in their world. This is where you will learn about their beliefs, talents, and their background. This helps you understand why they have taken this path in life, what their beliefs are founded on and why they do what they do. This is the level that brings out emotional triggers. Some people are open with their past traumas and some are not ready to share them. If you are authentic and open with them from the beginning when you reach this level of dating, any feelings of fear they may have about opening up can be somewhat eased by your example of being consistently open about your feelings and experiences.

Participating in specific interest of your date will help you get to know them in a deeper way.

Level 3


Knowing how your date performs under pressure or when things do not go as planned determines how you will communicate in situations and resolve them. Their strengths and weaknesses will let you know what position you will play on the team. Murphy’s law states, “If it can go wrong it will go wrong and at the worst possible moment.” It is not a question of if something big will come up in the relationship only when. Places like Escape rooms, paddle boat rides, game nights, are all dates you can participate in that are more on the fun side but also serves the purpose of seeing actions and reactions when final outcomes are expected but unknown. You and your date will work together toward the same goal. Of course, there will be obstacles to the goal. It is within the obstacles that you will see the maturity and the willingness for personal growth. Keep in mind that for these dates, it matters more how you resolve the issue rather than resolving the actual issue. For instance, you may not solve the escape room riddle but how did your date react to the scenario and how did they deal with it after.

Working to solve a problem will help you understand how well you will communicate.

Level 4


If you were making a cake, at this point in the recipe you would be adding the icing, candy sprinkles, fruit, or any other delectable that would complete your masterpiece. Level four is the bonding and intimacy stage. Most daters want to start here because it satisfies their craving for instant physical gratification, but sex is not the only way two people can bond. Adding sex to dating at the wrong time can do the opposite, pushing a potential mate away instead of drawing them closer. It is like constructing a cake starting with the icing. You would never do that because it sounds, well, absurd. Yet, daters are constantly left with just a bowl of icing because they did not take the time to create the foundation the icing would go on. You cannot live on icing alone. Flirtatious texts, dinner by candlelight, long hugs, acts of kindness that are helpful is the goal of this level. Here is where the chemistry is the strongest and the anticipation for a sexual relationship grows.

When baking a cake you put the icing on last. Intimacy is the icing to dating.

Each level serves a purpose and when done in order creates a great foundation for a compatible relationship. You may have questions on how to navigate the road of dating. I would be happy to help you date with success and prioritize your relationship goals. Take the assessment.

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