Numerous articles have amassed on the do’s and don’ts of dating. Do be on time. Don’t talk too much. Most people are acquainted with these humdrum nuggets of advice. But when you ask a matchmaker who has been on the front line of the dating field for over twenty years, you get a different response.
Leslie Wardman is the Matchmaker of Ambiance Matchmaking, which she founded over two decades ago. She talks to an innumerable amount of clients on a daily basis, whether it be evaluating their dates, arranging their dates, or prepping them for a date.
Naturally, I was thrilled to have one full hour to pick Leslie’s brain on what men and women find captivating, and what they find unnerving. She reveals the secret to effective dating, and the most common reasons first dates fizzle.
Alas, my interview with Leslie Wardman –
What should singles do on a first date?
Be present in the moment, and appreciate the person you are with. Humans have a natural tendency toward negativity while allowing positive moments to fly over their heads. For example, it’s more likely that at any given moment, someone is fretting over things unaccomplished, rather than appreciating his or her achievements. This scenario occurs in dating as well. When we sit down with our date, we start picking them apart in our heads – clothes, voice, facial expressions, mannerisms – rather than appreciating the opportunity to share time with someone new.
Find the balance between listening and sharing. Talking too much on a first date is the most common complaint I hear. It’s normally due to nervous chatter, or because they want to overshare in an effort to impress their date. However, for a first date to succeed, there exists a triad of ingredients: talking, asking questions, and listening.
Pick up the bill. When I send clients out for lunch, dinner, or a drink, I inform them that checks are brought separately. However, I urge men to pick up the tab if they enjoyed their date. It shows they are interested, and it also shows they are a gentleman.
Walk your date to her car. Speaking of being a gentleman, it’s always polite to walk your date to her car.
Send a message that same night. The three-day rule is passé. If you had a good time, text her that night and let her know. A simple, “So nice meeting you. I had a great time tonight!” can go a long way, and women love it. I lost track of the number of times women were excited because they received a message that same night.
Make plans to see her again. If you want to see her again, don’t wait an eternity to ask her out. Women like to feel pursued, and waiting too long can deflate the momentum built up from the first date. You should ask her out again within three to four days, even if you’re not available until a week or two later ––it will give you both something to look forward to.
Be genuine. Stay true to yourself, and never try to be someone you’re not. You are trying to decipher whether your match is a good fit for your personality and lifestyle, and the only way to do that is to show your true personality and lifestyle!
Make eye contact. Make sure to give your date your full attention by making eye contact. It shows you are actively listening and engaged in the conversation. There is nothing more disrespectful than looking around the room while your date is trying to talk with you.
Find common interests. Navigate your conversation until you find a common ground. You don’t want to force-feed your date on a topic you’re passionate about if they lack interest in it. Finding commonalities will put both parties at ease, and allow the conversation to flow more naturally.
Be positive when speaking of formers. Normally, I tell clients to steer clear of talking about exes, religion, and politics on first-date talk. However, if the two of you have found common ground through one of these topics, it’s fine as long as the conversation is kept positive. For example, always remain respectful when speaking of exes, as it is a huge reflection on yourself.
What should singles avoid on a first date?
Don’t google your date! I had a client who went through the trouble of pre-date googling, then boasting about all of her self-informed knowledge to her date. Not only did it knock her into stalker status, but she also appeared foolishly proud for bragging about something so simple as a quick Google search. Besides, isn’t it better to discover who your date is firsthand?
Don’t stage a run-in. Don’t “coincidentally” bump into a friend so your pal can scope out your date. This tactic is transparent, and your date shouldn’t have to undergo that type of scrutiny.
Don’t abandon your date to say hi to friends. If you do coincidentally see some of your friends, don’t leave your date to go chat it up for twenty minutes. It’s fine to say hi, and introduce your date, but then return to your one-on-one.
Don’t dial mid-date. Taking too long in the restroom, for example, can be a red flag that you are calling a friend to scoop out the details of your date. Save the phone call until you get home.
Don’t have your cell phone in sight. Unless you’re expecting an emergency, you should never have your cell phone out on the table, and under no circumstance should you be checking your phone constantly, or texting, or picking up phone calls. Again, give your date your undivided attention and respect.
Don’t drink too much. Becoming intoxicated on a date can lead to numerous negative outcomes. You want to have a clear head to decipher your feelings, and you want to be able to remember your conversation. Furthermore, getting sloppy on a date is never attractive. Limit one glass per hour, and drink lots of water.
Don’t go over the top. I had a client show up on a first date with a bouquet of flowers before he had even met her. Being overly ostentatious can intimidate, and leave your date feeling uneasy. Save the gift showering for down the road.
Don’t be negative. The first-date conversation should never take a negative turn. Remember, this is your chance to connect, and connection takes place more freely when the exchange is positive, light, and open. There is nothing that shuts down a connection faster than bashing an ex-boyfriend or talking about how frustrating your dating life has been.
Don’t brag. Of course, you want your date to know all of the ways you’re great, but these things should be unveiled slowly, with time, and naturally within the conversation.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations. There are people who expect perfection in others. Then there are people who expect others to acknowledge the perfection in themselves. Both scenarios are unrealistic.
Is there a secret to effective dating?
Yes! To lead a successful dating life, one in which you are constantly learning and improving, and thriving, you must embody the following five qualities:
- Patience: Learn to be patient in your dating life.
- Appreciation: Appreciate people for who they are, including all of their wonderful imperfections. Also, learn to appreciate and improve your own imperfections.
- Love: Consistently practice focusing your energy on love, never on negativity.
- Health: Take your health more seriously, as it impacts all other areas of your life.
- Respect: The respect you receive from yourself is proportional to the respect and admiration you receive from others.
What are the most common reasons first dates don't lead anywhere?
There are actually three common reasons:
- Lack Of Chemistry: One reason is that in-person chemistry is not present. Two people can look great together, and be compatible on multiple levels, but if the romantic chemistry is missing, then it’s unlikely going to lead anywhere.
- Baggage: Another reason is baggage. One person will have a foot in the past, and won’t be willing to cut ties and move forward. It’s almost impossible to be open to a new relationship when your heart and mind are someplace else.
- Unrealistic Expectations: The final reason is unrealistic expectations. There are people who expect relationships to be all smiles and rainbows and run for the hills at the first sign of any discord. Then there are people who demand unfaltering attention and become vicious when it’s not received. Finally, there are people who think a daily phone call is in order just because you held hands while watching Game of Thrones. Each expectation is unrealistic – relationships will be rocky at times, and perhaps slow to develop – be patient and allow love to unravel in its own terms.
Any final words of wisdom?
Romantic relationships are objectified in today’s culture. Dates are treated as job interviews – an exchange of time and information. However, true intimacy reveals itself through a more organic process involving the mutual sharing of thoughts, feelings, and values. And one cannot generate that deep intimacy if one is not open to those inner thoughts, feelings, and values within oneself.