King of First Date

by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, Clinical Psychologist and eHarmony Founder

King of First Date

Question
Dear Dr. Warren, I go on lots of first dates and I usually have a good time. Sometimes there’s a kiss at the end. Sometimes there isn’t. But the women almost always tell me they had a great time. They seem to be having fun, but when I call for a second date . . . they seem to disappear. What is going on?

Sincerely,

Mike in Long Island

Answer
Dear Mike,

Thank you for your very good question. I know that you are not alone in this experience and I do have some thoughts on the matter. There are two axioms that come to mind. One is, "If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again." Another is, "Don’t try the exact same thing over and over again, hoping for a new result." I would advise you to keep in mind a combination of the two: "If at first you don’t succeed, try something new again and again."

The Three "A’s"—Appearance, Attitude and Aptitude If you find that women do seem to have a good time with you on a first date but decline to take it any further, begin to think about how you present yourself to another person sitting across from you. Try to step outside of yourself for a moment, and look at the basics about yourself: your appearance, your attitude and your communication style.

  1. Appearance is a touchy subject, but it’s important to remember that everyone has their best features as well as some other features that could be improved upon. First and foremost, focus on your best features. If you’ve been told you’ve got great blue eyes, wear a shirt or sweater that complements them. Update your style a bit—try something new with your hair or buy a few new items of clothing that you look and feel great wearing. Next, check your hygiene. Do the breath test and check your nails. Do you wear too much aftershave?
  2. How about your attitude—do you come across as overconfident or not confident enough? Do you come across as disinterested or overeager? Do you seem aloof or personable? Are you overly nervous to a fault? These are some of the important questions that you want to ask yourself to get a better sense of seeing how you might best come across. Making improvements to your appearance and behavior is not about being someone else; it’s about putting the very best version of you out there. And while there is no one-size-fits-all combination for everybody, a little practice and a whole lot of observation will help you shape your first dates into the second and third dates that you’re seeking.
  3. Next, take a look at your communication skills. Are you an effective communicator? Communication aptitude is a 2-way street: you have to be a good listener and a good speaker. A great communicator knows the right time to listen and the right time to speak, and also knows the difference between speaking about oneself too much and expressing genuine interest by asking questions and really listening to what the other person is saying. There’s nothing worse than being on a date with someone who talks about themselves incessantly—it comes across more like a monologue than a dialogue. Above all, the best conversations between two people happen when both people are interested in getting to know more about the other. So the next time you’re on a date, watch your conversation style. Are you an effective communicator?

Refresh Your Scene
Take a look at the setting of your dates. Do you always go to one of your favorite places? Do your dates always take place at a coffeehouse? A bar? A dance club? What day and time do you usually meet someone? Try mixing it up—instead of a Saturday night dinner and dancing, try a Sunday afternoon in the park. A great rule of thumb is to find out as much about what interests your date before you choose the place to go. For instance, if you know that one of her biggest interests is art, how about taking her to a museum? Or if she is interested in live music, take her to a live show. If she loves flowers, take her to a public garden.

Another great rule of thumb is to listen to any ideas she might have about where she would like to go. If she keeps speaking about a great new place she’d like to try, take the hint—take her there. If you make an effort to try new things, each date you go on will teach you something new that you can apply toward your next date—whether it’s with someone new or a second or third date with the same person. The experience of dating will get easier and better.

Get a Second (and Maybe Third) Opinion
Another great idea is to consult a member of the opposite sex that you trust. Do you have a sister or a good friend? How about a coworker with whom you have a great friendship? Sometimes girlfriends or wives of friends can be great sources of information, too. Not only can they give you a better idea of what women appreciate, but if asked, many times they’ll tell you the straight story on aspects of yourself that could be fixed up a bit.

While the truth is sometimes uncomfortable to hear, there’s nothing better than getting multiple perspectives about you and your situation from the people whose opinions you value. That’s what advice is—gathering information from multiple sources in order for you to make the best decisions about a particular situation in your life. So take advantage of the wealth of knowledge around you.

Keep it All in Perspective—Enjoy Yourself!
Finally, it is important to remember that the journey of dating and getting to know great women is an exploration meant to be enjoyed. It may feel at this moment that you’re standing at the bottom of a mountain and looking up to its peak of your goal thinking, "I need to be there." And that mountaintop might appear so far away right now. But rather than looking at how far away you might feel from where you want to be, enjoy the steps beneath your feet. Enjoy getting to share yourself with others, and in turn, learning about them.

One day you will find you are spending time with the one you have been looking for all along and you’ll realize that you are at the top of the mountain. So take the first step and get a better look at where you are and who you are, and then try something new again and again. Our success couples who write in to us tell us that getting to know the person they’re with has been one of the greatest experiences of their lives. I am convinced that the more comfortable you are with the experience of trying new things, the more you will enjoy yourself in the process, and that will open the door to more second and third dates. Let us know how you do.

Sincerely, Dr. Neil Clark Warren

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