The zest test

An attractive, successful, intelligent, sexy 48-year-old man told me on our first date that he’d only had two other dates in the last 3.5 years. I asked why.

“I’m not attracted to most women.”

This was unusual, as I’d heard that many men are attracted to a lot of women who meet their physical criteria. So I probed.

“What are most women lacking that make you not attracted to them?”

zestHe thought for a moment. “A zest for life. Gusto. Joie de vivre. Most of the women I talk to are complaining about something — exes, bosses, money, their bodies, men, life. It sucks the wind out of me. A beautiful woman complaining is suddenly unattractive. But an attractive woman who is upbeat, positive and fun becomes stunningly beautiful. It’s very much part of your allure to me.”

I was flattered. I hadn’t really thought about my attitude and how it compared to other women. Since I hang out with positive, upbeat people, when I encounter negative complainers I high-tail it out of the situation as quickly as possible. So I understood what he was talking about. But I found it interesting that he found so many women were down about life.

It reminded me how important those first encounters are with a new person. Not that you should be obsessively guarded about what you say, but I think we should be conscious of the impression we’re giving. If you have challenges, it’s OK to share them, but not on the first date or two. Save them for a little later, if you have any interest in seeing the guy again.

Early on in my post-divorce dating life I hadn’t quite figured this out. I remember scratching my head after several first dates I thought went well, then I got the “we’re not a match” email afterward. Looking back on the conversations, I noticed a trend. We would swap stories about our exes, both of us complaining about how or why the ex left. I thought we were bonding through commiseration. I think part of why there wasn’t an attraction is that complaining is rarely attractive — even if you both seem to be doing an equal amount of it. You’d think complainers would band together — and sometimes they do. But I don’t think it’s good date behavior.

So before a first date, think about the things in life for which you have passion. If need be, make a list. When it’s your turn to share, talk about what excites you. Even if it something that holds no interest for him, it’s hard to be bored when someone is expressing their passion. If he shows some interest in your topic, great. Ask what he’s passionate about, as well. Very few people are asked that question and it will show you’re focused on positives.

Do you feel you have zest? If so, how do you express it?

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