Archive for the ‘The first date’ category

Good first-date advice from a gay man

November 7, 2007

The following was written by Brian Rzepczynski, “The Gay Love Coach” but the concepts apply to heterosexual relationships as well. I thought his concepts were so good, I wanted to share them with you (with his permission). Change the gender references to what fits for you.

“The First Date: Assessing His Boyfriend Potential”

You sit on the lumpy lounge chair at the local coffee shop, sipping your cappuccino while trying to look occupied reading today’s local newspaper, your eyes periodically shifting to the front door of the shop, hoping to catch a quick glance of the man you’ll be meeting for the first time. You’ve had a million first dates, it seems, but the nervous anticipation and excitement always seems to show itself through your sweaty palms and rapid heartbeat. What will this meeting be like? Could he be “The One?”

Even though your blood’s pumping at the prospect of meeting someone new, you feel confident and relaxed within yourself as you approach this situation. You’ve worked hard to be a good, upstanding man and you recognize that you’re a “good catch.” You’re comfortable with who you are and you have a solid vision for what you’re looking for in a potential mate, having taken the time to craft a dating plan that emphasizes your personal needs, wants, values, and requirements in a relationship and partner. Your first date here is an opportunity to meet and get to know a new person with no expectations of outcome. You are going to be yourself, knowing that this isn’t about performance, and you’ll have a chance to briefly gauge whether this man possesses some of the traits and qualities that you seek in a Mr. Right. Your thoughts are interrupted by the presence of the handsome creature that now stands before you. You both shake hands as you greet, smiles beaming, and he proceeds to sit down to begin the get-to-know-you dialogues.

Who is this man sitting across from you? Is he boyfriend potential? While compatibility largely rests on the goodness-of-fit between the two of you with your relationship visions and attraction/chemistry, this article will pose some provoking questions for you to track the answers for when you begin your dating quests with new people and learn about whether they’re your “type” or not. These questions can act as guideposts through your dating journey. And remember, the answers you obtain do not reflect upon this person as being “good” or “bad.” The answers are simply used as a way to help you quickly determine if this individual matches with your personal requirements so that you can make informed choices that will promote your achieving a successful and lasting relationship with your Mr. Right.

The First Date Evaluation

Generally speaking, first dates are usually better structured when they’re short, focused, and allow for lots of dialogue. Learn as much as you can about this person so you can begin the process of “sizing up” his compatibility with your vision and needs. According to David Steele, founder of the Relationship Coaching Institute, there are four critical skills that singles must possess during their life-partner quest. Two of those skills are relevant to our discussion here. “Sorting is the process of quickly determining if someone you meet has future potential. A successful single is able to initiate contact with people and in conversation get enough information within 5 minutes to know whether they want to get to know them better or move on. Think of “working the room” at a party. Screening is the process of getting enough information to determine if a prospective partner meets your requirements or not. Since requirements are relationship breakers, all of them must be met. Getting this information can occur over the telephone, by email, over coffee, or taking a walk. If you are looking for your life partner, you can’t afford to explore dead ends; and it is important to get this information BEFORE you date them and get involved.” (Steele, 2002)

While it’s impossible to get the full scope of a person on a first date, you should be on the lookout for any possible “red flags” that would halt the possibility of a second date. Or perhaps he will have inspired some intrigue in you to invest further in getting more acquainted with him. So when conversing with the man sitting across from you, think about some of the following points to help you ponder how you’d like to proceed with this particular gentleman:

  1. What is your immediate reaction upon seeing your date? How do you feel? Do you find him physically attractive and inviting? Does he appear to take care of himself and have good grooming and hygiene?
  2. Does he maintain eye contact with you as he speaks or is he looking around the room at the other guys (very disrespectful!)?
  3. Does he appear attentive and genuinely interested in what you have to say? Notice his body posture and whether it’s open or closed.
  4. Does he display a good sense of humor and is he able to laugh, relax, and have fun with your interaction? Does he exhibit good verbal and social skills or seem stiff and have difficulty maintaining and initiating conversations?
  5. Is there a good balance between his talking about himself vs. his asking you questions about yourself? Or does he monopolize the time talking only about his life? Or does he not engage in any self-disclosure at all?
  6. How are his manners? Is he polite, thoughtful, and considerate? Based on your first impression of his manners, would Mom approve of his behavior? Do you feel comfortable being with him or do you experience embarrassment by his behavior?
  7. What does he talk about? Notice any themes? Does he seem positive and upbeat or negative and pessimistic? When he talks, does he seem judgmental, petty, and put down other people or himself?
  8. Does he seem to have goals, aspirations, and ambitions? Does he exude excitement about life and possibilities? Is he passionate? How well-rounded does he seem? Does he have varied interests and hobbies, have an active lifestyle and seem reasonably intelligent and able to converse about a variety of topics and current events?
  9. Does he place a lot of emphasis on sex during your time together? If so, this may be a priority for him and it’ll be important to ensure what type of relationship he’s seeking (casual sex or dating) so you can decide if this fits with your needs.
  10. At the end of the date, how would you rate the experience and your interest on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest? Is there chemistry? Do you feel drawn to him on multiple levels?

Food For Thought

There are, of course, many other questions and criteria you may have, but these points may be a good starting point to launch from on a first date. There tend to be three types of personality styles that men can bring to a first date situation. One are those men who are on their best behavior to try to impress you, gain your approval, or please you to compensate for perceived weaknesses they have so they can “snag” another date from you. Another type are those men who struggle with shyness, anxiety, and insecurity, so the behavior they display during the date may not actually be reflective of who they really are until they feel more comfortable. And then there are those who present their “real self,” an accurate portrayal of who they really are. It may be helpful to keep this in mind when deciding about whether to transition into an exit or for an invitation for another date.

Conclusion

Knowing who you are and being clear on what you want is critical during your time in the dating pool. This knowledge will take you far in weeding out those men who may not be particularly good matches for you and will save you a lot of time, energy, and frustration. You may need several dates with someone to assess their potential and you may find during the process that some of these men may be more suitable as friends —- another addition to your support network!

Thinking too much about these questions can be distracting, so try to avoid being too much in your head during the date. Analyzing and being too cognitive will take away from your date, causing you to miss certain cues during the interaction that would be important and lead you to not focus on being a good listener. Be fully present with your date and enjoy the experience, no matter how it turns out because you will have still learned something. Additionally, try to turn the above questions back on yourself and assess how these factors apply to your style. These questions may provide clues about the areas of your life and personality that are strengths and weaknesses and can be a tool to help you develop goals for self-improvement to make yourself even more “dateable!”

*References: Steele, David (2002). Relationship Coaching Institute.

© 2005 Brian L. Rzepczynski

The zest test

October 26, 2007

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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The faux vacation fling

October 17, 2007

You had an instant, magical, mutual connection. On the first date you both expressed how attracted you were to the other, and how much you enjoyed your time together. He kissed you on the cheek during dinner, showing that he was a gentleman — not assuming privileges too soon.

After dinner, neither of you wanted the date to end, but the restaurant was closing. You didn’t want to say goodnight just yet. The waitress suggested a bar for “mature people” which you interpreted as anyone over 30. You struck out in pursuit of a place to linger with some unobtrusive dance music. The suggested tavern had morphed into a hard-rock, under-30 place. You found a nearby lounge at a chain restaurant, so cozied up in a booth for more time together until it, too, closed.

You couldn’t wait for the first kiss. It was as yummy as you’d hoped. You said goodbye for the evening. He promised to call the next day. He did. He called every day for the next four days, when you saw each other again. The hours passed quickly as you hung out, enjoying holding hands, talking, and sweet kisses. No pressure to go beyond simple affection — he wasn’t pressing for sex. More expression of your both feeling close to each other. At the end of the evening, you felt you’d found someone with whom you could spend the rest of your life. Yes, you realize this was happening quickly and knew your friends would tell you to slow down, but you hadn’t felt like this in years.

He called the next day and the next and the next. But there was no definite time set to get together. You called him and asked about lunch or dinner, but there was always some reason he couldn’t set a day and time — meetings, business dinners, evening classes, short business travel. Was he in a relationship and just trying you out to be his spare? Had he changed his mind about how he felt? Had he been feeding you lines? Was he a player? If so, he would have pressed more for sex.

You toy with getting angry and telling him off. But you don’t really know what’s going on. He does call, so you think he’s still interested. You struggle to not take it personally. He never really said he’s finished; he’s just not making an effort to get together again. But he does still stay in touch. You’re tempted to cut the cord, but decide there’s no loss with staying the course.

This has happened before, where things began swimmingly, deliciously, fabulously, only to have the connection dissipate. You can blame him for whatever (being a coward, leading you on, apparently lying, being uncommunicative), but that doesn’t really get you anywhere. You could blame yourself (easily wooed, heart on your sleeve, needy, see things as you’d like them not as they really are, you get your hopes up too quickly), but that doesn’t get you anywhere either.

vacationI’ve decided that when I have these fizzled encounters — which luckily are rare — I will reframe them as vacation flings. So what if I wasn’t really on vacation, or if these assignations happened within 25 miles of my house. A vacation fling is full of juicy romance, yet you know it is unlikely to continue when you return home. The difference between a real vacation fling and a faux, close-to-home one is with the former you know going in that it isn’t going to last. With the latter you have to reframe it in retrospect — rewriting a bit of emotional history. Delusional? Perhaps. But it’s harmless.

Does it still sting? It can. Or, just like with a vacation dalliance, you can look back with a smile, enjoy the connection and affection, and be happy you experienced it. After all, he wasn’t abusive or mean, he was just not there for the long term — that being more than two weeks.

Have you experienced reframing a short, strong connection in a way that leaves you happy, not angry or hurt? If so, how did you recategorize the “relationship”?

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Avoid frivolous talk on a date

September 27, 2007

Frivolous: unworthy of serious attention; trivial; of little value.

One of the consistent complaints men make about women is their incessant talking. And it’s just not that there is no silence. But women more than men talk and talk and talk about things of no consequence to the men. In fact, she will go into great detail about people he doesn’t know and will never meet. And the stories have no point that is relevant to him or her.

Women bond through talking. A woman talks to share part of her life with her man, which is why so much discussion is about people in her life — or even people she’s never met but are in her friends’ lives! Women also talk to sort out their opinions and feelings. “Talking it out” is a common habit among many women, and can provide release of tension.

The problem is women don’t know with whom this is acceptable behavior and with whom it is an irritant. On a date — especially on early dates with a guy — it can be deadly. He wants to listen to you (if he’s at all conscious), but if you babble on and on, he’ll turn off quicker than a triggered safety valve. And if they end up in a relationship, she’ll complain that he doesn’t listen. Could it be that she rarely says anything relevant to him? Or things important to her are hidden in with so much noise he doesn’t know to listen up?

blah blah blah“And then he said…then she said…and then…and then…” and on and on. The man is thinking, “Get to the point!” Or she says, “Gina’s boyfriend’s cousin was so upset because….” He doesn’t know Gina, her boyfriend or his cousin, so couldn’t care less. Or she keeps talking and talking, saying little of consequence, perhaps even repeating herself.

I’ve noticed this in a lot of women, and fight hard to not fall into this behavior, although I’m sure I do sometimes. But twelve years ago, I had an experience that made me realize how much frivolous talk I contributed. It cured me of much of it.

I attended a 9-day residential personal growth workshop. We’d been told that this workshop could be life-changing if we followed the guidance of our facilitators while we were there. I decided to participate full out —- no holding back or deciding which processes I’d participate in and which ones I wouldn’t. I trusted these leaders so I did the exercises fully.

The first day we were told there was to be no frivolous talk for the next 3 days. In fact, there was to be no talk at all outside of our workshop room, other than to discuss logistics issues (e.g., car pooling). We were to be silent.

I was struck by how many times I’d think of chatting with my classmates about unimportant things —- the weather, her pretty jacket, could he pass the salt. I saw how much “noise” I contributed. These things weren’t really important, or I didn’t need to speak to communicate them.

By forcing us into silence, we saw how little of our usual babble really needed to be said. When the silence was lifted, we were much quieter than we’d been before. When we did speak, it was to ask a deeper question, or to share a meaningful insight.

Although I’ve drifted back into some chatter, I talk less now than before. If someone asks me to repeat something that I then realize was unimportant, I say, “I’m just talking here —- not saying anything.”

Why don’t you try observing and curbing your frivolous talk? You don’t have to be silent, but think about what you say before you say it. Ask yourself “Does this really need to be said? Will it make a difference to my listener?” If not, then button it up!

Men appreciate silence — especially if he’s driving in heavy traffic or bad weather, or when first sitting down at a restaurant. Your smile will tell him you aren’t giving him the “silent treatment,” but just enjoying his company.

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Are you “skin hungry”?

September 13, 2007

touchA friend used this term to describe when someone longs for touch. She said it means someone hasn’t been touched in a while, or perhaps as much as they like. Maybe their friends or family aren’t the touching type. They crave human contact — literally. But especially opposite-sex contact, even if it’s just holding hands or hugging.

Although I like physical contact, I’ve had dates get too touchy too soon. I’ve tended to think they were just horny, even if they didn’t try to read my body using the Braille method.

Have you ever found yourself being a bit physically clingy, especially on the first or second dates, before you really know the guy? I’ve found myself slipping my hand in his on the second date, before I really felt a lot of connection, just because it seemed like that’s what should happen at that point.

So I empathize with someone’s wanting physical touch. I’ve learned to be a tad cautious, however, as we know touch sends signals that you are feeling connected and fond of the person. Sometimes this gets interpreted as feeling more attracted to the person than you are.

What to do when you find yourself being skin hungry? See if you can be around family members who enjoy your touch. Young nieces, nephews or grandkids who like to hold hands or sit in your lap while you read to them are great ways to get your skin hunger satisfied. Or plan an outing with a friend who likes to hug hello or link arms when walking. I have a male friend who loves to snuggle, so going to the movies with him is a treat when I have a touching deficit.

But with your dates, be conscious if your itch to be touched is appropriate to be scratched by him. Be sensitive to the message that it sends. And if the touching goes beyond what you are comfortable with, then gently say something. Don’t punish him for a yearning you have that may send him an unintentional green light.

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Flower power

August 29, 2007

If you’ve read Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 for long, you will know I am an incurable romantic. In fact, my YahooPersonals “love profile” assessment labeled me as “Romantic,” which it describes as:

You want and expect it all —- a lasting connection with someone on every level —- mental, emotional, sexual, and spiritual.

You also know I’ve mentioned in several postings (Tips for men, What’s your definition of romance?) how much mileage a man could get by bringing a single rose to the first date. Some readers thought this was corny or clichéd. I don’t, but it hadn’t happened to me — before last night.

red roseMr. New Guy did so much of what I’ve been preaching I would swear he’s read this blog! He not only kept in contact by email and phone since he first emailed me last week, but he texted me yesterday afternoon saying he was looking forward to our meeting. When he got lost on his way to our rendezvous, he called to explain why he’d be late. He showed up with the aforementioned red rose, nicely wrapped in cellophane with baby’s breath, greenery and a red ribbon.

He dressed in a nice “babe magnet” suede sports jacket (buttery to touch). We had an enjoyable give and take over wine, where he said nice things (he loved my profile photos but they didn’t do me justice, and I looked 10 years younger). (While I know this is classic wooing behavior, he didn’t say these like a player would — accompanied by a smile and a leer.) He asked if I wanted to have dinner, and walked on the outside and opened doors as we strolled to the restaurant. At the end of the evening, he asked if he could walk me to my car, where we parted in a hug and both said “I had a great time.”

Now if he’d only brought the rose independent of these other behaviors would he have stood out? Some. But all of these things together showed me he knew how to date. He understood that the first date was really an audition. He knew how important first impressions are. He got it. He did what he knew to do to get the second date — assuming he wants one. (It might have helped that last month he took a new job, which required a dozen interviews over six months. Perhaps it was fresh in his mind what it took to win someone over.)

Will I see him again? In my follow up thank-you email I said I’d be happy if he wanted to do something again. So far, nothing back from him.

By the way, his YahooPersonals “love profile” assessment is also Romantic. And, according to YP we’re the same personality type too. We’ll see if any of this matters in whether or not he asks me out again.

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How do you know he’s interested in you?

August 24, 2007

According to my blog reports, this is a phrase many people search when finding this blog.

I only wish I had the answer.

It is much easier to identify how he shows he’s not interested, as I detailed in “Signs that he won’t be asking for a second date.”

But knowing he is interested? That’s a whole different story. And one I don’t feel particularly adept at deciphering.

For example, last week I had a first date with a guy. We’d had a few email exchanges and a nice phone conversation. He seemed engaged during dinner, asking me questions, keeping eye contact and sharing his stories and feelings. We occasionally touched the other’s hands when we talked. We strolled around the shopping area after dinner, but didn’t hold hands.

At my car he hugged me goodbye and planted a kiss on my lips. There was no talk of a second date, we just said we enjoyed ourselves and went our separate ways. I was ambiguous about seeing him again, but decided to try some recently read advice and try a second date, if he wanted. I wrote him a nice thank you email and suggested we might do another outing.

He wrote back a nice email telling me he enjoyed meeting me but there was no spark for him and asked if we could be pals.

So while there were no flashing green lights that he was interested in me, there were no red lights saying he wanted out of there during dinner. And why would you kiss someone on the lips if you had no interest in them? Was it a test to see if I’d play tonsil hockey with him? It was just a quick smack.

Before I’ve experienced conflicting signals like this, I’d say “Duh. He emails you regularly. He calls you every few days. He says nice things about you. He asks you to do things with him. He talks about doing future things with you. He touches you respectfully. Maybe he kisses you and/or brings you flowers or small gifts.”

But we know that someone could do all of these things and not want a relationship with you, just a booty call. So how is a gal to know how to interpret these things?

I wish I knew.

Any hints you’ve picked up during a first date that are reliable signs a guy is interested?

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