Dating Tip: Mix It Up
I’ve heard so many people complain about the awkwardness of sitting across a table in a dimly lit restaurant from someone you barely know, struggling to make conversation, that I feel the need to tackle this seemingly traumatic experience. My initial reaction is that the problem is not really the setting, it’s the interaction. I’m sure you’d love to be sitting in that same seat, gazing into the eyes of your fantasy date. How romantic!
Back to reality. Your sitting across a blind date, or someone you’ve just met once or twice but haven’t connected with yet. Now what? Well, who told you to suggest, or agree to, going to a romantic dinner for a first date?
There are always exceptions, but as a general rule, unless you have a really good sense that there is a connection between you and your date, you should not suggest, or agree to, a romantic (usually expensive) restaurant for a first date. The odds are heavily stacked against your success. Even if you do like each other, it’s simply too early to be romantic. Wait until the second date! We’ve all seen those shidduch dates, where the couple is all dressed up, sitting stiffly across from each other, the gal barely touching her food, too nervous to function. What a shame. Both of them are wishing they could just have grabbed a slice of pizza and sat on a park bench and casually talked.
Guys, it’s up to you to think of a comfortable and respectable venue or environment that is conducive to getting to know your date. You don’t have to be super creative and reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Paris or a ride in a hot air balloon, although the balloon idea will probably impress even the coldest heart. It just has to be nice, relaxed, and safe. If it’s all that and fun, you’ve hit the jackpot. It’s really not about the money you spend. If it is, then you’re probably with the wrong gal. It is about the atmosphere and ambiance. A walk in the park on a beautiful day eating ice cream can be much more enjoyable and meaningful than an awkward restaurant. The goal of dating is to get to know the other person, not to impress them, although if you show some creativity, you can accomplish both. Even going out for coffee can be made into something special. Going to the nearest Starbucks is obviously convenient and easy, but finding a coffee house that’s a little different and classy, like Edgar’s or Lalos (cafe’s on the UWS), or going to a hip hotel lounge like the Hudson Hotel (there are hundreds of cool places in NYC), can make an ordinary evening special.
Gals, you’re not off the hook here. True, it’s traditionally the guy’s responsibility to plan the date, but you have at least as much at stake in the outcome, so you need to make sure it goes as well as possible. If your date suggests something that you just know will be lame, it’s totally fine for you to suggest an alternative. Most guys will gladly welcome the help, especially if you explain your reasoning in a positive and enthusiastic way.
The venue and atmosphere is only half the battle. The harder part is making sure that the conversation is engaging, interesting, and thoughtful. Ask questions to get to know your date. Besides getting to know them, you will also be following one of the primary rules of successful social interaction. As Dale Carnegie, the master of conversation, points out in his classic “How to Make Friends and Influence People”, people love to hear the sound of their own voice. If someone ends up speaking for most of a conversation, they will leave feeling like they had an incredible experience. If your date ends up doing most of the talking, as a result of your questions, he or she will go to sleep that night thinking how wonderfully the conversation went and how great you are. Of course, the ideal is for both people on the date to get to know each other through an equal give and take. If you find that you’re just asking and listening, take the initiative and offer your date some insight into yourself.
Make the conversation flow. Yes, you can do that, but you need to be prepared. Make sure you have things to talk about, interesting stuff. Your date might not be a soulmate connection, but at least the date will be pleasant and upbeat. You always want to make sure that your dates are as engaging and interesting as possible, because that guy or gal sitting across from you will tell their friends all about it, and you. You’re reputation and future dating prospects are on the line, so be your best.
Be creative, mix it up, put the effort in, and you will have interesting and engaging dates that might turn into love connections, but at the very least, will turn into dating referrals.
What do you usually do on first dates? Second and third? What are your thoughts on the subject?
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