Monday, January 31, 2011

3 Things NOT TO DO on a First Date (and 1 Good Conversational Tip)

As much as I have my victories in the dating arena, I don’t want to paint the picture that I’m suave 100% of the time. It’s actually more like 90% of the time, and here is a moment from the other 10%...

At 8:00 p.m. I sat at the bar of Café Ugo, a place I’ve always recommended for an interesting, low-key first date to meet up with an attractive woman named “Maria.” We had met two weeks before at a friend’s birthday party and rather than ask for her number in front of her family, I went a more indirect route and asked for her email address. After going back and forth over a few messages, we decided to meet for a date, starting off with some coffee and dessert, and if the night was going well, we would check out a few other hot spots in downtown Culver City.

While waiting for my date to arrive, I passed the time talking with Ugo himself, a bald, energetic Italian. Always friendly, Ugo wanted my opinion on a new flavor he had created, raspberry cheesecake, which was very tasty. As I enjoyed each spoonful, I hoped my date would arrive, catching me at a nice moment with the restaurant’s owner. Alas, life is not a perfectly timed romantic-comedy, and she called me to signal her arrival as Ugo left his restaurant to check on another one in Santa Monica.

Wrapped in a black winter coat, leggings and boots, Maria looked stylish and pretty. As you might remember, I get excited when a girl I haven’t seen in a while wows me once again with how attractive she is. Next it was time to see if there was chemistry.

Sweets and Coffee

As we sat down for some dessert, we lightly chatted about cooking, family and the like, nibbling at a piece of cake during the idle moments. As I sipped my cappuccino, I could feel the caffeine energizing my body. Maria was a bit reserved and while I’m a talkative guy, I made sure to do the following:

The Conversational Tip: Embrace the Pause

On a date, people feel uncomfortable when there’s a silence and they often try to fill up every spare moment with conversation. That extra chit chat is unnecessary, and if you keep talking, you will probably exhaust yourself. Instead, if you and your date have just finished a topic, let a pause sink in. See how your date reacts as you take a moment to sip your beverage. This gives them a chance to bring up a topic that interests them, rather than you hogging the conversation.

Pauses don’t have to be awkward, and they’re actually nice moments to relax, take in your environment and enjoy a lull.

After an hour or so of having coffee and dessert, the night was going well and I suggested we grab a drink at the Culver Hotel. Nodding her head, we strolled into the night.


Inside the Culver Hotel’s lounge, I was hoping Maria and I could sit on a couch because it feels more intimate to chat sitting next to one another. Instead, we were placed at two chairs 90 degrees from each other, which seemed more fitting for two guys smoking cigars and talking about business and fantasy sports teams than for a man and a woman on a first date. A glass of chardonnay in her hand and a dirty martini in mine, we relaxed and let the conversation wander, as alcohol liberated our tongues.

It was at this point, I made one big mistake, that put a strain on an evening that was going well.

Mistake 1) Do not be too physically flirty

I “slyly” moved my chair so I would be closer to Maria and able to flirt with my hands, as I lightly touched her shoulder during the conversation. Generally, it’s good to initiate some physical flirtation to convey a little fun, romantic interest. After all, if you just sit and talk for two hours, that is something that friends do, and once you’re in the friends zone, it is very hard to be cross over to the I’m-romantically-attracted-to-this-guy zone.

However, my mistake was that I flirted too much, which is a turnoff. It’s better to flirt a little and then see if she flirts back. That’s what chemistry is all about.

We ordered another round of drinks and were having a good time. It had come up that we both like hip hop music and dancing, so I suggested we go to Rush Street, a hip lounge with a dance floor on the second story. I waived down the waiter for the check.

After what seemed like 20 minutes later, I received the bill. In the most relaxed way I could manage, I signed away $50 for FOUR DRINKS. I had broken my own rule of keeping first dates economical, simply because it’s not practical to spend a lot of cash on a first date with a girl that I might not even be compatible with.

Mistake 2) Plan a first date that is economical You should have a game plan on what you will do on a first date that doesn’t require spending a lot of cash. I blew a decent amount of cash on coffee and drinks, which could have spent doing any number of other amazing activities that are more fun and engaging, like seeing the Griffith Observatory or the Getty Villa. Many a men have spent too much money on dinners only to find out by the third date that the girl is not interested. Be creative and practical. Otherwise you’ll spend $70 in one night, which for a 20-something on a budget, is a good junk of change.

At Rush Street, we headed to the top dance floor. I like to dance, and thought it’d be fun to get our groove on. To my delight, it was fun after the first song, then the second…but less so by the third. By the fourth song, we had danced and grinded, but I didn’t feel much physical chemistry. I was dancing with a girl who just liked dance, independent of whether I was there or not. It was nearly midnight, and we had been going out for 4 hours, which brings me to my last point:

Mistake 3) Keep a first date short and sweet. Two hours is a perfect length of time for a first date, and three is ok if there is a lot to do (like going out to a café and later a nearby museum). You can damage a girl’s interest in you by dragging out a first date. A speaker or good comedian always leaves with the crowd wanting more, and you should do the same for your date, so she’s excited to go out again.

Instead, Maria and I danced, even after I was tired, until the lights came on at 1:30 a.m. I walked her back to the car, and headed home beat after a five-and-half hour date. When you’re with a big group of friends, there is so much energy and activity that it’s easy to lose track of time…but it’s a lot harder to spend sooooo much time with one person that you barely know!

Needless to say, the date did not lead to a second. Overall, I had a good time, despite the mistakes I made.

So remember on the first date: Don’t be too physically flirty, be creative to maximize your budget and keep the night short and sweet.

Readers, what mistakes have you made on a first date?


Pariya said...

Well I went on this date on Thursday and one mistake the guy did was that, his mind would travel. Apparently he loves photography and he even told me he looks for pictures all the time (moments when he can take pictures). While I was talking I could see on his face and eyes that he was looking around for an interesting thing to take a picture of. I was making a comment and he told me : "o.. what. I'm sorry can you repeat what you said? for a moment I paid attention to that dog" . So it's not MY mistake, but a personal experience I thought I share . When you love something, make sure you put that aside for a little during your date! it won't hurt! whether it's photography, writing, texting, checking your phone or e-mail... try to be in the moment and appreciate the other person's time :)

Eric Horwitz said...

Thanks for sharing Pariya, I couldn't agree more how important it is to be in the moment. Cellphones off and focus for one hour on the person in front of you.

Was that a deal breaker? Do you plan on seeing him again?

Pariya said...

oh yes that was a big deal breaker! :) no I am not going to see him again. he was a little too distracted. hehehehe ;)

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