It’s great to have a toolkit for getting through a first date with a veneer of healthy self-esteem, but what happens after that? If you’re lucky, a first date leads to a second. And a second leads to a third. But if you aren’t feeling good about yourself, you probably won’t make it very far beyond a couple of dates. That’s fine if you never really had an initial spark, or it’s becoming clear that that two of you are very different people who might not easily connect, but it’s not so fine if the fire fizzles simply because you’re too trapped in your own head to focus on the person right in front of you.
In order to capitalize on early chemistry and attraction, it’s important that you a) actually believe that you deserve to be dating this particular person, and b) let your date see and appreciate that. Try to remember that in order for any healthy relationship to survive, both parties have to be invested, and both of you actually have to think that it’s a good idea. So let’s assume you really did feel sparks, and that the early interest in mutual… if you aren’t the world’s most confident person, what can you do to bolster your ego just a little bit? After all, there has to be more to successful dating than just asking a waiter for suggestions and walking a woman to her car, right?
Here are a few ways you can develop some dating confidence. And if you don’t think you need additional confidence when it comes to dating, try to keep in mind that having added confidence can be useful in almost every aspect of our lives.
Make a list, and check it twice…
I recently spoke with a client who was nervous about an upcoming first date. She was concerned that her date might not like her for a dozen different reasons, and had already started rationalizing a case for rejection from a man she hadn’t even met. While it’s healthy to be prepared for any possible outcome, she was really only focused on one. If you find yourself doing this – particularly when it comes to anticipating rejection, you need to slow down, and make a list of all of your positive qualities and attributes. Yes, all of them. Go ahead and start now; it might take awhile. Be as detailed as possible. Oh, you like your earlobes and pinky toes? Turns out you’re one of those rare people who never has morning breath? You rarely move while sleeping? You can make a gourmet meal out of almost anything? You’re incredibly good at your job, and your patients/clients/colleagues love you? You never forget a birthday? You actually have the time and desire to invest in a relationship? Your most recent ex said that you had “incredibly good hands”?
Take some time to really study this list. These are all of the things about you that are great. These are all of the reasons someone should want to date you. These are all of the reasons that would make someone LUCKY to be your significant other. Some of it, of course, is going to seem very silly. But the rest of this should feel very true and very real. Don’t focus on the possible perceived negatives. Don’t highlight your weaknesses; showcase your strengths. You may still not end up on a second date, but it will be because your date doesn’t appreciate your positive qualities, which is his or her loss. If you go into an evening expecting that your date is going to reject you based on your own insecurities, you’re creating a situation in which one of the worst possible outcomes simply lives up to your expectations. No one wants to experience that.
Dress the part…
I’m sure you’re getting tired of hearing that you need to dress up for a date, but I really can’t stress this enough. What you wear and how you present yourself really does matter. After all, you wouldn’t wear a bathrobe to a job interview, and yet you’re probably not hoping that you and your next job are going to have a relationship that involves the phrase “’til death do us part.” We get confidence from our clothing choices; color tends to make us feel more youthful and alive, flattering cuts make us feel better about our bodies, and high quality garments are often an indicator that we see value in investing in ourselves.
You want to signal that you believe yourself to be desirable, attractive, and worthy of investment. And you want your date to agree. When you really dress for a date, you’re telling the man or woman across the table that he or she matters, that you respect their time and value their attention, and that you value yourself. Highly. If you’ve ever had the experience of overdressing on a day that you feel awful in the hope that you’ll get some sort of compliment, you already understand the role that attire can play in dictating your mood. Putting some effort into your wardrobe pays dividends at all times. It also gives you practice being comfortable attracting attention and accepting compliments. If you have one of “those jobs” where you’ll actually be frowned upon for wearing anything more than a t-shirt and jeans, start making an effort on just one day of every weekend. Your friends will tell you that you look great, and you’ll start to feel even better.
Talk to Strangers…
One of the hardest things about building dating confidence can be overcoming stranger anxiety… you know, the stuff that sets in when we’re about 18 months old, and (for most of us) never really goes away? There is a lot of inherent risk in approaching someone you don’t know, and we spend the first part of our lives being told to never do it. As we age, involvements with strangers tend to be managed through classroom, professional, or social environments where an instructor/boss/friend provides a framework and context for initial interactions. Relationships of all forms tend to blossom from these meetings, but early expectations (and hopes) are typically low. This, of course, doesn’t provide much of a foundation for creating a relationship with someone you meet online or through Linx; we might say that the two of you should meet each other, but it’s still up to you to do the heavy lifting.
There is a way to get better at managing stranger anxiety, and that’s to actually approach strangers. Yes, do exactly what your parents told you to never do. Your goal should only be to have small, simple interactions… asking for the time, making chitchat while waiting in a grocery store line, etc. Do this initially with people you simply don’t find attractive. Start with people of the same sex, or with men and women who are significantly older or younger. Once you get comfortable striking up conversations with strangers you don’t find attractive, then start doing it with people you DO find attractive, but who aren’t available. In other words, look for wedding rings. This allows you to get over the anxiety of approaching someone you find desirable while keeping the stakes very low. And finally, when that becomes easy, you can start talking to strangers who appear to be attractive AND available. It will give you the confidence you need to approach people when dating in the wild. It will also provide a nice boast to your self-esteem when you meet someone exceptional through Linx.
Find a Coach…
Increasingly, people are more and more willing to turn to coaches to help them gain or develop missing and weak skills; we do it with fitness and nutrition, with sports, with job interviews, with grad school applications, and even with childbirth. So it shouldn’t seem odd to think that when it comes to dating and confidence, it might be a good idea to have a coach. Much like you might with a gym routine, see if one of your close friends can help you develop some skills and confidence. Give each other positive feedback, encourage more outgoing behavior, and remind each other of your positive qualities. Sharing your goals with other people in your life is usually a great first step to making them happen.
If you’re doing this on your own, consider using a book like Ten Days to Self-Esteem by David Burns. The noted Stanford psychiatrist walks you through several steps that help in gaining confidence, improving your sense of self-worth, and developing a positive outlook. The skills are applied broadly, but can definitely have romantic benefits. If your goal is really to just focus on skills that are dating specific, however, and to do so in person, you may want to consider working with Linx. We provide private, customized coaching sessions for clients on a regular basis, and would be happy to work with you in whatever way you might need.
Regardless of how you choose to do it, your entire life can benefit when you decide to work on your confidence and self-esteem. Even if you think you’re “doing fine” on issues of self worth, there isn’t much of a downside to developing more confidence, and learning that it’s ok to feel truly good about yourself. We all have things about our bodies, our lives, and our personalities that we’d probably like to change, but we want the people in our lives to accept us for the qualities and attributes that won’t. You can’t have what you don’t ask for, and you’ll never convincingly ask for a great relationship if it’s not something you believe you deserve. So learn to like yourself just as you are; learning to appreciate all that you have to offer is a key first step in finding a relationship that is real, deep, and everlasting.
When I first rejoined the dating scene several years ago I followed the well-worn path of many other people my age and joined a handful of online dating sites. After a few false starts, a friend explained to me that I was completely doing online dating the wrong way. She said that it was a “numbers game”, and that I should try to go on multiple first dates a week, week after week, until I find “The One.” I didn’t realize at the time that this was how many people treated online dating in the Bay Area. I said, what the heck, and gave it a shot.
At the beginning I found it to be fun. I realized I was meeting people that I would have never met before, and this gave me a huge amount of confidence that I would run into the woman of my dreams. I also made two very good friends and met one woman with whom I had a multi-year relationship. Even though it didn’t work out, I am still grateful that she was in my life.
After some time of playing the numbers game, I became frustrated and disenchanted with the entire process. I started to realize I was going out on dates where nothing progressed beyond small talk and running through lists of shared hobbies and travel destinations. Even if we both felt there was the potential for something more, follow-on dates started becoming fewer and fewer, mostly due to scheduling conflicts, and that quickly became a lack of interest.
Worse, I realized that the disappearance of my date didn’t bother me, as I knew that there would be someone else who was, well, let’s just say a “swipe right” away. While intellectually I knew that this was the same thought process my date was going through, I still felt a bit icky about the whole experience. As a family-oriented guy that has been in long term relationships for the majority of my life, I felt that this isn’t the behavior of the man that I thought I was or wanted to be.
I could not understand how, with all of the opportunities to meet someone that were available to me, that it was so incredibly hard actually to meet someone. Recently an article appeared in the New York Times that spoke to how I felt. The author reaches the conclusion that all of the online dating technologies have caused us to think in terms of the “numbers game”, and that there was an infinite number of possible partners, and we should toss each aside until we find the perfect mate. If this is our dating mentality, why should we ever bother committing to a person, as a better option could be right around the corner?
I knew the numbers game didn’t work for me, and stopped playing some time ago. I started to pick up on when I was a participant in someone else’s rapid fire dating game, and was able to understand how it felt. When you are playing the numbers game, every person you date becomes a number and not a human being.
Whenever you go out on a date, you have to remember that the person sitting across from you is a person, like yourself, with their own hopes and dreams, anxieties and fears. They have felt both joy and hurt in relationships, and are very possibly hoping that the first date they are on, with you, right now, will be their last first date ever. I can’t think of a more disrespectful action than what most serial daters do, namely walk into the date with the intention of making a judgment in the first five minutes, then hopping back onto Tinder.
The numbers game causes you to focus on quickly observed superficial qualities, such as hobbies, material possessions, and clothing, rather than what really determines the suitability of a partner. The important stuff, like ability to communicate, shared values, empathy, and capacity to provide support in stressful situations, can’t be determined from only one date.
The numbers game relies upon the idea that not only there are an infinite number of partners, but also that you have an infinite amount of time. We don’t. As a guy in my mid 30’s, I for one don’t want to be an “old dad”, and want to be in good enough physical shape that, if I get to have children, I would not only play with my kids on the floor but also be able to walk any future daughters down the aisle when I am twice my current age.
Women, well, they have much more defined biological clocks, with 35 being the medically recognized fertility cliff. While the numbers game can go on forever, our bodies can’t.
There are some things I miss about rapid fire dating. I miss finding instant chemistry. I miss learning about someone’s way of viewing the world. I don’t think it works, however, and would much rather spend time getting to know a small number of quality people than get three cocktails a week with complete strangers.
The timing of when a man calls to ask you out can indicate so much about how he feels about seeing you, and where he thinks the two of you are potentially headed. I am a big believer that carefully managing the early stages of dating is critical in establishing a pathway towards the relationship you have dreamt of.
I recall having many highs and lows during my single years while looking for my match; in my constant struggle to understand “boy world,” I noticed a familiar pattern surface around when guys I was dating would call me. This new awareness led to great clarity and insight that really helped me figure out my confusing dating life.
Every woman – regardless of age – should strive to be part of a man’s coveted A List… aka his “Dream Team” bucket. Being on this “it” list means a man is in hot pursuit of you, and it can be incredibly empowering and reassuring to know he’s so interested. A guy this engaged might actually call you on Monday to ask you out for a proper Saturday date. In doing so he is making the effort to plan, to think ahead, to get on your calendar, and to recognize that you have a busy life and are a girl in demand! Saturday dates signal something more serious- especially those that are reserved in advance! Ask yourself, are you on his dream team?
Another scenario is when a man calls (or texts…let’s hope he is not texting to ask you out) on a Thursday for a Friday or Saturday date. This guy has most likely a) been clocking long hours at work and is living in a state of delirium so it is unclear if he has legitimate time for a relationship, or b) is dating multiple girls and his A-Lister just cancelled on him, so you are simply on his back-up B, C, or D-List. We all know B-list, C-list, and D-list actors…those who have never made it to the top of the heap. If you were an actor in Hollywood, would you be ok being placed on the same level as “that guy” or “that girl” whose name you can’t really place but know you’ve seen in some film? Wouldn’t you want to aim to do what it takes to be a bankable star? The same principle applies to dating.
Ladies, wake up and check yourself. I want you to put yourself on the A-List today and believe that you should and can be on any man’s dream team and hot list.
If a man calls you on a Thurs for a Friday or Saturday date, remember my advice and make a hard decision about whether or not you want to go out. You can take a bold stand and turn him down and politely share that you’d prefer the following Saturday. If he is serious about you, he will listen and comply. If he is wading around in the kiddie pool and is not serious with his intentions, move on. Remember to not reprimand him for not calling sooner or being so unavailable; that always turns a man off. Follow your intuition, but be courteous and lady-like when you do.
Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that at some point we have all agreed to the offer above, and have compounded that mistake by clearing our schedules way too soon in the hope that this guy could be Mr. Right. No no no! Stop in your tracks. Do not go there! Most men (especially Linx guys) find it incredibly desirable to find a woman who has an active and busy schedule filled with many activities, hobbies, friends, travel, and fun. This signals she has a great, happy life… the sort of life that he might eventually like to share one day!
One final scenario to which I don’t want you to fall victim is (I admit I might have given in one or two times to this “play” bucket) the “booty call.” You know what this is like… you know all about the sneaky guys who text you after you’ve come home for the night with some cute little emoticon and a “hey girl… watcha up to?” Or maybe “would heart to see you.” You and I both know nothing good comes from this other than some fun play and romping around in the sheets. I suppose… if you’re needing a little something-something… then go ahead. But just know that chances are very slim that he’s ever going to be kneeling down in the future and asking for your hand in marriage. Instead, you might be doing the solo walk-o-shame down Chestnut Street in smeared make-up and his baggy sweatshirt (if you’re lucky). We’ve all seen that person. Do you want to be that person? Do you want to be the C- or D-list actress who probably isn’t going to get the starring role? NO! You do NOT!
So ladies, I implore you to start tuning in to when a man calls, and become extra aware of the motivations for this. And for any men who are reading, we do appreciate when you call! And ultimately (despite some of the mixed signals you’ve probably gotten from us girls) we love it when you court us and behave like gentlemen. We applaud and value that sort of courtesy and chivalry… and we look forward to your next call.
While we always have a lot of great guys working with Linx, this summer we have a really standout crew of super smart, single, successful men who are serious about changing their relationship status. Ranging in age from 26 to 42, these eight (yes, 8) really exceptional bachelors have always been at the top of the class, and between them have multiple degrees from Stanford, Oxford, Princeton, Harvard, and MIT. This is a good looking and good-natured group of guys, and while they vary in a lot of ways (careers range from tech to VC to asset management; ethnic heritages include Asian, Indian, Caucasian, and Middle Eastern; body types vary from average to lanky to jacked; heights range from 5’8” to 6’1”; faiths range from Jewish to Hindu to Methodist to agnostic) they all have a few things in common:
-None of them has children
-None of them has ever been married
-They all see marriage, kids, and the Bay Area as part of their futures
-They all want to find a spouse who values education and achievement just as much as they do
The right women for these guys should be as sexy as they are smart (and they should be very, very smart) with the career, passions, and academic pedigrees to prove it.
To match these men, we are actively looking for feminine, beautiful, athletic, and well educated women between the ages of 23 and 35 whose academic backgrounds are truly among the best of the best. If you’ve ever pretended to be a nurse instead of a doctor in order to get a date, suffered through (or participated in) a capella concerts in a dining hall, lived in the same building as a future Rhodes Scholar, co-authored a paper with a Nobel laureate, or participated in an eating club or secret society, one of these guys might be just right for you.
Because there is so much overlap in the backgrounds and interests of our bachelors, we’re conducting a blanket search for women who fit broad general criteria. If you turn out to be just what one (or more) of our guys is looking for, we’ll contact you to discuss meeting in person. Please note, if you’re a client of Linx and in reading this you think you make a great fit, email Amy (versus completing the survey).
If you are a sexy, single, exceptional woman who is:
-of ANY ethnic background
-between the ages of 23 and 35
-active, athletic, and hot (No, really. Strangers should think you’re very attractive.)
-a graduate of a TOP American (or foreign) college or university (i.e. Stanford, MIT, an Ivy, the Seven Sisters, Georgetown, NYU, the Claremont Colleges, Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore, Oxford, Cambridge, the Sorbonne, et al.)
-passionate about her life and career
-looking for a great relationship with an even better man
-interested in finding a mate who truly thinks that smart IS sexy
You should fill out the form included here and get in touch with us today. We look forward to getting to know you better, and with a little luck we may help you (and our clients) find the love of your life!
These are all high-end TV related projects and documentaries about the Silicon Valley ecosystem and what makes this a mecca for some of the sharpest minds in the world, a breeding ground for multi-billion dollar ideas, and a hot spot for dating!
I am looking for a handful of professional men and women who are somehow involved with Linx (i.e., a client, a prospect, attends Link & Drink events, general fan, etc). and who would be willing to share their story about navigating the dating scene in the Silicon Valley and beyond. Your input would be extremely valuable and help make a very compelling story.
One of these is a local story on how toxic and unhealthy loneliness can be, the other is a national story (extremely high-end) on the SV ecosystem, and the other is an international news piece on the valley and the movers/shakers that make up this vibrant community.
For entrepreneurs, business owners, etc this could be incredible exposure for you on a professional level! On a personal level, you never know “who” will watch and email us at Linx wanting to meet YOU! Everyone has something to share on some level. In fact, pretty much everyone I have ever sat down with has joked “Amy I could write a book at this point about dating!” So please don’t be shy, email me to inquire more…
Please send me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Linx readers! XO
I often get asked about what women should wear on first dates, and I really have just two words to say about that:
That’s it. Be Sexy. Despite blog posts and magazine articles to the contrary, there is no uniform for first dates. In fact, sexiness is different for every woman based on her age, her confidence, and her body type. But at any number – whether you’re counting years, reporting your dress size, or looking down at a scale – your first (and really, only goal) when dressing for a date should be achieving some degree of sexiness.
I know some of you are clenching your jaws (and possibly your pearls) when you read this. I can actually hear more than a few silent diatribes about objectification, being liked for who you are, the appeal of intelligence, self-respect, dignity, modesty, propriety, being true to yourself, and leaving something to the imagination. Those points can all be valid depending on the day, but note that I didn’t ask you to wear Lucite heels and a bandage dress borrowed from a Vegas cocktail waitress; I simply asked you to be sexy.
I know it can be harder for some of us than it is for others, so let’s examine some of the feedback clients often give me when they bristle at this suggestion. If you don’t think sexiness is appropriate for a first date, there’s a chance that one or more of these points might apply to you:
I don’t like being objectified. This isn’t about sex.
Hold up. This isn’t about sex? Are you kidding me? So you just want to make a new friend, is that it? Is that what we should tell your date? That you’re just looking for something platonic? Is that why he called you, asked you out, made dinner plans, and is going to pick up the check? Just to make a new friend? You’re right that a first date isn’t about sex, but it is about sexual attraction; that’s really the point of differentiation between a date and every other interaction in your life. If you don’t invite your date to be attracted to you, he won’t be. But hey, maybe you two can just be friends!
I don’t like dressing “that way.” I like to leave something to the imagination.
Again, I’m not telling you how to dress, but I am telling you how to feel. And so much of your mood – in all aspects of your life – can be dictated by clothing choices. Would you wear yoga pants to an important business meeting? Are you going to wear a skirt to SoulCycle? A bathing suit to a doctor’s appointment? (Actually, I did see a woman do that once. Please don’t.) If you want to be kissed, wooed, desired, wanted, you have to dress the part. Even the most conservative among you can spice things up a bit by undoing a button, letting your hair down, or adjusting a hem length. Invite the attention you want; if you don’t want a man to think about you sexually, I’m not sure why you’re going on dates in the first place.
I don’t like my body. You’re asking too much of me.
It can sometimes seem hard to accept, but we all have issues with our bodies. (Personally, I have about 56 inches of scars from 20 different surgeries, so I know of what I speak.) But if you don’t let yourself like your own body, how can you expect someone else to love it? Whether you realize it or not, you do love some parts of your physical self. If you have trouble starting at the top with a list of parts you like, go ahead and start at the bottom. List the things you dislike most and work in reverse. When you get to the top, you’ll know exactly where to focus with your clothing choices; draw attention to the parts of you that you like most (or dislike least), but always be sure to draw attention to yourself. If you don’t, you’re signaling to your date that some other woman in the room is more worthy of his gaze than you are.
I’m only interested in a guy who’s into more than just the superficial.
Yeah. We all are. Note the “more” in that statement. I get that you want him to be into your brain, but you also want him to be into your body. At least, I hope you do. It’s really enlightening to know that our clients who most often stress the importance of a physical connection are among the eldest. People who’ve had forty or fifty years of relationship experience know a lot more than the rest of us do. One of my favorite clients has often said, “There’s absolutely nothing more important than the way a man looks at me.” She’s right. So learn from your elders. (She, by the way, could teach all of us many, many things about the benefits of great tailoring and wearing slightly tight sweaters that have the perfect neckline. She’s also a successful retired attorney who can talk about almost any subject with a twinkle in her eye, a light laugh, and a smile.)
It’s 2014. The idea that guys are visual creatures seems really unevolved to me.
You’re right. It is unevolved. Because men are not particularly evolved when it comes to matter of the, uh, heart. How many generations do you think it takes to change the hardwiring of attraction? And what, exactly, would be the impetus? If anything, the practices of society – and the human body itself – adapt to feed our visually stimulated sexual appetites. You do, realize, right, that makeup is just a way to mimic the physiological signs of arousal? That every time you put on lipstick or blush or eyeliner you’re telling the men around you that you’re… interested? And your body… if you don’t want to attract the male gaze, your body is the biggest traitor of them all. More than one school of evolutionary thought proposes that enlarged female breasts (practically unheard of elsewhere in the animal kingdom) developed as a response to learning to walk upright; apparently human males need some form of cleavage to be not too far from eye level, and we don’t really care if it’s on the back or the front.
So let yourself be sexy. Admit that you’re looking for a connection that’s both physical and cerebral. Embrace the opportunity to advertise your interests. (Please, please don’t wear something that your friends called “cute.”) Learn to love the parts of your body that you already like, and to like the parts of your physique that you think you’ll never love. It’s ok to show some skin, to wear bright colors, to make choices that make it hard for a man to not look at you. It’s ok to want to be the center of attention on your date. In fact, it’s human nature. 😉