Reader Snowdrop left a comment on my last post that, in my mind, brought up how there are limitations to using the NVC process on initial dates. Here is part of his comment, followed by my response.
For me, when someone is late, I spiral through all sorts of feelings and thoughts, from "I've been stood up" to "something terrible has happened to her!" It's quite hard for me to hold onto any particular emotion (such as, anger at being stood up/kept waiting) when I have so many theories. But it does add up very much to "turbulent emotions".
The "dealing with a pattern" example, I feel a little conflicted by. While being non-confrontational is important, to me it feels like your example doesn't actually set out what's needed to fix the issue.
The statement part seems to allow the response, "Well, there's no need to worry, so just relax about it." That answer doesn't have to be disrespectful or dismissive in intent or attitude, it is just that that person's character says that relaxing and going with the flow is the obvious answer to them. But to a worrier (like me!) it's no help at all. (I think a worrier and a relaxer can get on well together without having to stop being themselves, but by making room for the other - maybe the rest of the evening can be "relaxer-friendly" as long as the time for meeting is fixed, for example.)
Well, in terms of dating, I think the NVC process is a lot more applicable when there's already a relationship established. The "can we talk about it" sentiment then has behind it pattern considerations, as well as some minimum requirements (or requests) that have developed as a consequence of being in a relationship with each other.
With a first or second date, you don't know if something like being late is a pattern or not, so what do you do?
I guess after all these years of going on dates, one thing I have learned is to practice dropping whatever stories are coming up in my mind about what's happening. If she's late, I practice letting go of "being stood up" or "she's been in an accident" or "she isn't really interested," because I have no idea at that point. And the same goes for anything else that happens during those early dates.
At the same time, I take note if she's late. Or if she says something that really runs counter to my values. Or if she does something - like bitch about the waitstaff at a busy restaurant - I take notice. So that, if this kind of stuff continues, I can have more clarity and know how to respond later. Or, of course, if there is a lot of that kind of stuff, I can decide not to see her again.
In other words, I'm not in a rush to "hold someone accountable" on early dates, unless they do something that really crosses my boundaries or is highly disrespectful. Like making racist comments, to give an example.
One of the reasons I chose the "late" example is that it's an old trigger for me, having had a girlfriend in the past who was frequently late. And I have found that if a date is late, it can bring up memories from that past relationship, which have nothing to do with the date. Her being 15 minutes late could be a one time thing due to traffic, but if I'm raising an issue with her lateness right away - coming from that old relationship baggage - it's likely to come off poorly.
A lot this really keeps coming back to timing to me. Even if something causes me worry (I'm definitely not immune from worrying) on a first or second date, like tardiness, I err on the side of dealing with it internally as best as possible. Sometimes, I do choose to say something like you said above in relation to lateness, for example, but not at the beginning of a date. Especially the first date.
What do you all think?