Tuesday, 19 June 2012 14:15
We’ve all been there — the first date. You’re sitting across from someone you barely know sharing so-what-line-of-work-are-you-in conversation, secretly sizing each other up. What, exactly, convinces someone to sign up for date #2? Sure, feeling sparks must count for something, but after talking to some men and women about it, we learned that’s hardly the whole story. In fact, some of the men and women we interviewed below had one foot out the door their entire first date until — wham! — something small and seemingly insignificant happened that suddenly made them most interested in seeing that person again. Read their stories and who knows? Maybe one of these tricks will come in handy on your next date.
“We were both beer snobs”
“I was set up with a guy named Rob; we met at a local pub. I ordered a Yuengling lager. Rather than just saying ‘Make that two,’ he complimented me on my taste — then picked something different and let me sample it. As we continued ordering new options off the menu and trading sips, it became obvious that we shared a higher-than-average passion for brewskies. Pretty much all men like beer, but someone who truly appreciates it as much as I do immediately rises in my eyes. Four years later, we live together... and by the way, he proposed to me in that very pub!”
— Jessica Waters, 26, Philadelphia
Lesson learned: A shared passion is extremely powerful
Finding common ground of the “He likes golf, she likes golf” variety is pretty much par for the course on a first date. But there’s something different about Jessica and Rob: They didn’t both just like beer, they loved it. Never underestimate the pull between two people who are really gung-ho about the same activity. Even if there aren’t oodles of sparks, many people will automatically sign up for date #2 since they’re smitten with a future where they can, say, get in a round of tennis and see their sweetie all at once. In today’s multi-tasking society, that’s a definite plus. “A common like also sets up an atmosphere of acceptance,” says Dr. Gilda Carle, author of Don’t Bet On The Prince! Face it, it’s a little annoying when you have to convince someone how passionate you are about a particular something. So when the other person just understands, it’s easy to stick around. So whether you’ve noticed you’re both raging Gleeks or adore Scrabble, don’t be afraid to say so and dig into a deep conversation about it. That’s gold!
“We had nothing in common — but wow, was he attentive”
“My blind date was going nowhere fast: I didn’t feel much chemistry when I met him for dinner, and it was obvious after the movie we saw ended that we didn’t even have the same taste in film. Next, he invited me to his place for coffee. Normally, I’d pull the plug, but he seemed really into me, so I went. Once we were inside, he went right to the fridge and pulled out a carton of strawberries, blueberries and a bag of grapes. I smirked and said, ‘What’s with all the fruit?’ His answer floored me: ‘Well, on the phone you mentioned how much you love fruit.’ His attentiveness made up for everything else and at that moment, I knew date number two would happen.”
— Pat Baronowski, 38, New York City
Lesson learned: Put some advanced listening skills into practice
Anyone with half a brain knows that listening to one’s date is important, and many of us do so (at least most of the time) by nodding and asking follow-up questions to what the person has just said. But if you want to really show the object of your affection how much you’re smitten, refer back to something he or she has mentioned hours — or even days — earlier (even if this is your first date, you’ve probably exchanged email messages or had a phone conversation you could comb for ideas). If your date talked about loving spicy food, for example, suggest that you dine at a Thai place that’ll fire up her taste buds. Or, if he mentioned an important office meeting earlier that week, be sure to ask him during your date: “So, how’d that big meeting at your office go?” As Pat’s story proves, this level of thoughtfulness will keep even wary dates so flattered they’ll stick around, thereby almost guaranteeing you’ll get yet another chance to wow this person during date #2.
“Dive bars beat fancy martini lounges any day”
“I’d been hemming and hawing over where to take this woman and had come up with this swanky martini place that I figured would impress her. But after a little while, she suggested we head somewhere else. Next thing I know, we’ve gone from sipping martinis and struggling to make small talk to chugging beer and playing darts at a dive together. That’s when we started having fun, and I immediately knew I’d be asking her out again.”
— Bryan Abrams, 28, San Francisco
Lesson learned: Comfortable atmosphere = comfortable with each other
Fancy five-star dinners are nice and all, but they can definitely put a crimp in your comfort level (“Am I using the right fork for this appetizer?”). And that can easily make you feel a little awkward with each other, too. So consider something more laid-back, like a date at your local diner, bowling alley, or anywhere you’re guaranteed to feel relaxed. “This is like watching reality TV: no costumes, no masks, no subterfuge,” explains Dr. Carle. In short, you can act like yourself and instinctively put each other at ease and feel instantly like you’ve known each other for ages (and who knows, maybe you will!).
“It’s so hard to find someone with manners these days”
“I knew I was attracted to this woman, but what really impressed me — and this may sound silly — were her manners during our dinner date. She said things like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ whenever our waiters came by to refill our water glasses or take our plates. And after I paid for dinner, she thanked me in a genuine way. I’ve been on dates where women have been a lot less than charm-school perfect and haven’t treated the wait staff nicely at all. What a relief it was to date someone so pleasant.”
— Tom Foley, 29, New York City
Lesson learned: Being courteous is key
In these modern (and casual) times, manners often get overlooked... even on dates. And that’s a big mistake. “Small courtesies like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ let your date know you’re not expecting anything and that you’re not demanding of what you're given,” explains Dr. Carle. Also, being polite to those serving you shows that you tend to make a positive human connection with people as you go through life. So make a point of playing the politeness card, and suddenly you’ll seem like a genuine, kind and enthusiastic person — the sort most people want to see again and again.
by: Christine M. Coppa is a New York City-based freelance writer.
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