Here’s a fun fact that we enjoy sharing. Most dating sites see their greatest spike in traffic and activity between December 26th and Valentine’s Day. That’s not surprising because many people make a New Year’s resolution to date or be more social or even find love (that last one is a bold one!). And that means in the month of February there will be many first dates going on in the world. In an ideal world, many of those dates will actually be second, third or even fourth dates because everybody is meeting people with whom they truly click! The “clicking with” part is important, obviously. In fact, it’s probably the most important. Which is why, if you’re on a postconsumer journey, it’s a topic you’ll want to bring up on the first few dates. But because we live in a world of addictive consumerism, you may feel like a fish out of water for even talking about it. We can’t believe we’re giving out dating tips, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some nuggets for talking about postconsumerism on a date.
The Most Important Thing: Judge Not Lest You Be Judged
The first thing to consider is that you don’t want to be judged based on your consumer behavior, so also be wary of judging your date based on his or hers. Postconsumerism is a journey, and what you want to figure out on your date is if your potential partner is going to respect your journey, not whether they have begun their own yet. It may be possible that you are in a place where you truly can’t date anybody who still “buys in” (pun intended) to consumer society. That’s also fine. We’d encourage you to give people a shot at showing you more than their “stuff” though. You never know, the perfect partner may be hidden under mounds of shopping bags. But even if you find that your consumer beliefs are entirely divergent, don’t be judgmental of the other person.
Broaching the Topic: Framing Postconsumerism as Something Understandable
Chances are that if you tell your date that you are a postconsumer, he or she will think that you are made from recycled goods. If you tell him or her that you are an anti-consumer (which you may or may not be), you will be labeled an extremist or purist, which often isn’t an accurate or even flattering label. Postconsumerism is a growing concept and one that not everybody understands: Each person falls in love with their own idea of how much is enough (and maybe falls in love with their date)! Our recommendation is to broach the topic by talking about where you are in your life, what your goals are and then how postconsumerism fits into that. After all, what’s the purpose of a first date if not to talk about where you are in your life and what your goals are? Obviously you don’t want to read from a script on a first date, but we could imagine it sounding something like this: “I’m at a place in my life where I’m carving out my place of happiness and contentment. Honestly, in the last year or so, I’ve started making a point to do more things and be more active and get less wrapped up in possessions or ‘stuff.’ I guess you’d label me a postconsumer. I’m embracing a life after consumerism. And you know what? I’m finding that it’s better. “
You’re Not a Minimalist (Unless You Are)!
We’ll be one hundred percent honest here, postconsumerism is often confused with minimalism and minimalism can seem like something that is too dire to many potential suitors. We can actually understand that because minimalism is a lifestyle that can be very barren and, in fact, have the feeling of “least.” It’s definitely the right choice for some people, but it is a lifestyle that’s at the more extreme end of the scale. Because postconsumerism isn’t as defined as minimalism, your date may jump to the conclusion that you’re a minimalist and make assessments about your potential future based on that. Obviously, that’s not what you want! Again, don’t take a script to a first date, but we could imagine the next part of the conversation sounding something humorous like this: “By no means do I live in a tree house without any possessions! In fact, sometimes I like to treat myself to some shopping. But I try to do things more thoughtfully than I used to, and I go into it understanding that it’s just ‘stuff’ and it won’t fix my problems or make me happy in the long run. But sometimes some new shoes are a short term pick-me-up! I’m a work in progress, just like everybody.”
Focus on the Positives
We have to admit that we think this is great advice for any topic that you’re talking about in an early stage date. But we also think that it’s particularly true when you’re talking about postconsumerism. Because so much of the world is still stuck in a way of thinking that defines success and happiness as “stuff,” postconsumerism can be seen as freedom and “less.” And we don’t mean in a “less is more” way. Instead of talking about your postconsumer journey in terms of what you’re giving up, talk about it in terms of what you’re gaining. Talk about your activity level, your experiences, your lack of stress and your level of satisfaction. Not only will you be painting a more positive (and more true) story of postconsumerism, but you’ll also be making your date want to be around you. After all, who doesn’t want to be around a happy person?
Don’t Preach. Don’t Convert.
Remember, you’re on this date to let your potential partner see the best and most authentic sides of you. You are not on a date to convert somebody to your way of thinking. If your partner loves buying “stuff” don’t try to talk them out of it. Focus on finding other things that you have in common. Believe it or not, you can have different views on consumerism – and be in different places on your journey – and still be a right match for each other. You’re not trying to add a member to the Postconsumer Army (although we wouldn’t mind it!). You’re trying to get to know somebody. And you of all people should know, an individual is more than his or her “stuff.”
Go into any date ready to show the most authentic sides of yourself and be open to finding love in the most unexpected people and places. That’s the recipe for success. You want your date to know that you’re much more than the stuff you own. It’s important to bring up. But like anything else it’s just a part of fabulous you.
Have a different idea on how to incorporate talking about your postconsumer beliefs on a date? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: Guian Bolisay via Flickr