Experts know that online dating can be a numbers game. You need to always put your best foot forward when you find a profile that’s intriguing and are interested in pursuing someone. But what many singles fail to realize is that your number-one pick may also be many other people’s favorite, too!
I sometimes compare Internet dating to an online auction: there might be multiple bidders at any time, and may the best man or woman win. Do I think that online singles are nothing more than objects of affection? Not at all. Online dating is simply the first step in building a relationship between two people that you need to successfully move offline. But remember, there could be heavy competition for dates — and you can’t afford to blow your first impression, either online or off-line.
Here are some first-date mistakes that you absolutely can’t afford to make if you want to put a second date on your planning calendar:
1. Avoid the ex-factor.
I’ve seen too many dinner dates that start out great only to end up being over before the main course has arrived. Why? Because too many people bring their exes to the table with them. This includes not only former spouses and lovers, but jobs, too. No one wants to hear about your sad past on a first date. Instead, always try to keep it light and fun. Talk about your favorite film, play, vacation spot, book, or what you enjoy doing on the weekends.
2. Flirting with disaster.
My dad likes to flirt with waitresses. It’s fine for my parents, as they have been married for over 50 years. Too often, though, I hear about men staring at their cute waitress or having a roving eye while on their first date with someone. So, men: focus on the woman you are meeting. Be captivated by your first-date conversation. Engage with the person sitting across the table from you.
3. Don’t dress for the bedroom.
Men are visual creatures and they can imagine undressing women with their eyes the moment they meet. This doesn’t mean that women should wear a sexy low-cut outfit showing off lots of cleavage. Men like to slowly unwrap a package, so to speak. Unless you’re just looking for a hook-up, women should leave the sexy clothes for when they really are ready for a more intimate relationship.
4. Obey the food and beverage rule.
While dating can be expensive if it includes multiple restaurants or drink tabs every week, if a man asks a woman out for coffee on a first date, he should offer to order her a beverage. If you think this is ridiculous, you’d be surprised. Often, I hear about coffee dates where a gentleman will either bring his own water or just refuse to order a cup of tea for the woman he is meeting. If he is truly interested in getting to a second date, a coffee date means exactly that: it involves a beverage. Offer to order a coffee. A lunch or dinner date means ordering something to eat.
5. Hide the iPhone and BlackBerry
Sure, you connect with others online. You can even use MatchMobile™ while you’re on the go. But when you get to your date, put your smartphone in your pocket or purse and leave it there. It shouldn’t be a visible accessory on your date. Otherwise, it will give the impression that you are waiting for a better invitation to come in. Avoid the urge to check your messages and text a friend while you’re on a date.
6. Do your homework.
Just as you should be prepared for a job interview by researching your prospective employer to make a good impression, you should remember important details about the date you’re meeting. If your calendar is filled with dates, it can be confusing. Nothing is more of a turn-off than a man asking a woman why she never got married when she’s actually been married twice before. A man won’t feel good about his date when she asks why he decided to go into real estate when he’s really a doctor. Print out your date’s profile. Make notes on the page outlining the conversations you have together. Mention something that you liked about his or her profile. Don’t act like this person’s just another number in a series and that you’re too busy dating around to remember individual details.
7. It’s a first date, not an instant relationship.
Dating and courting is a process. Even if you connect on a deeper level and think he or she could be The One, don’t start talking about your future together right now. It’s just a first date. Enjoy the fact that it’s going well. Be excited that you both want to put a second date on the calendar, but don’t start filling up someone’s life as the instant girlfriend or instant boyfriend. It can come across as needy and you might get a voicemail message later on canceling date number two. Show your date that you have a full and happy life. Having someone special in it will just make it that much better. And remember that courtship should be enjoyable!
Even if there is no chemistry on your date, don’t be rude and walk out. What if your date happens to have a friend he or she’d be happy to introduce to you that would be a better fit? What if your date invites you to a business-networking event? Look at every date as a possibility for expanding your social network or meeting a new friend. If it turns into a romantic relationship, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Julie Spira is a worldwide authority in online dating who posted her first online dating profile in 1994 and author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. Spira’s dating advice has been featured in such publications as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, Men’s Health, Woman’s Day, and more. Visit her at CyberDatingExpert.com.
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