As a dating coach and matchmaker, I’ve spent the past ten years conducting some very unconventional dating research using a business concept called “exit interviews.” Yup, that’s right: I called up your former dates and asked them what really happened when things didn’t work out. I want you to use this information as power, enabling you to have better success when the right person comes along next time.
While earning my MBA degree at Harvard Business School, I learned that “exit interviews” were a smart business tactic. When an employee is leaving his job, a manager asks him for candid feedback about the company. This process reveals crucial insights to empower managers to get better results next time. I thought: why not try this tactic in the dating world? So I interviewed over 1,000 single men and women to ask why they had initial interest in your online profile but then suddenly vanished, or why first dates didn’t lead to second dates.
Okay, I know what you’re going to say—it’s what everyone says initially: “I’d rather die than have you interview my ex-dates!” But let’s face it: we live in a feedback culture today. From Amazon.com customer reviews, to eBay and Trip Advisor ratings, to viewer voting on “American Idol,” to automated telephone recordings that warn “This call may be recorded for training purposes,” feedback is normal in every other part of our lives. Dating is perhaps the most important arena where feedback can literally change your life, but no one is brave enough to ask!
So I asked for you. Uncovering the gap between your perceptions and his or her reality enables you to find your mate quickly and efficiently. The proof? I had nine reports of marriage last month alone (and hundreds over the years) from my former clients who found their mate soon after I conducted exit interviews for them. They used my candid feedback to tweak their early stage dating behavior. Of course, they didn’t change who they were or pretend to be someone they weren’t, but they simply minimized certain comments or behaviors which I discovered were turn-offs by dates who didn’t call or email them back.
According to my research, 90% of the time you will be wrong when trying to predict why someone loses interest in you. You may have a recurring pattern of which you are completely unaware that is sabotaging your budding relationships. Consider one example from several years ago with my client Sophie in New York City who committed “The Never Ever Mistake.” Sophie met James on eHarmony and had a great date with him, but two weeks passed without a word from him. So I called James myself and just asked him for the truth, and he was surprisingly willing to talk. Sure, I had to use my charm to get past his initial “there was just no chemistry” answer, but he opened up after a few gentle, probing questions.
I learned that while James thought Sophie was attractive and the date was fun, she had made several references to being deeply rooted in New York. This had concerned him. According to James, one of the things she said was: “I love New York– I’d never leave the city. My job and my whole family are here.” James was originally from the west coast and hoped to move back there after working a few years on Wall Street. He concluded that Sophie was geographically inflexible and didn’t think it was worth pursuing a relationship with her. He admitted shyly that he used to enjoy dating a cute girl without thinking about the future, but he was ready to settle down soon and only wanted to date women with long-term potential.
When I relayed this feedback to Sophie, at first she was surprised—then even a little angry at the wasted opportunity. She remarked, “Well, I do love New York, but for the right guy, and especially if we were married, I might be willing to move.” But of course that’s not what she had conveyed to him. While Sophie had made The Never-Ever Mistake with James, she “never ever” made that mistake again. In fact, she eliminated “never” from her date vocabulary altogether—not just in reference to geography, but to other topics where emphatic, absolute statements of any kind might accidentally give someone an overly rigid view of herself.
The update? Sophie met a warm, kind, intelligent man a few months later. They were married within two years. They lived in New York for the first year of marriage, but (you guessed it) ended up moving, and now happily call St. Louis their home. And the surprise? It was Sophie’s career that led them to St. Louis, not her husband’s!
After ten years of research, please believe me when I tell you that dating “exit interviews” are more empowering than embarrassing. It’s proactive, not desperate, to ask a friend or dating coach to call a few of your former dates. You will get answers to help you make improvements in your love life going forward—a process you probably embrace everyday in your job. Beyond The Never Ever Mistake, you’ll find all the other popular reasons men and women don’t call back (and what you can do about them) in my new book: Why He Didn’t Call You Back: 1,000 Guys Reveal What They Really Thought About You After Your Date.
Rachel Greenwald is the author of the new book: Why He Didn’t Call You Back: 1,000 Guys Reveal What They Really Thought About You After Your Date. She is also the New York Times Bestselling author of Find a Husband After 35 (Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School). Rachel is a frequent relationship guest on The Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, National Public Radio, The Dennis Prager Show, and has been featured in Oprah Magazine, Fortune Magazine, The New Yorker, People, USA Today, and many others. She is a professional dating coach and matchmaker. Visit her website and ask Rachel a question at www.whyhedidntcallyouback.com