Date coaching

101 Women Answer What a Man Should Wear On a First Date

This guest post is written by Peter Nguyen, a private personal stylist for successful men and founder of The Essential Man

On our first date, my girlfriend and I went to PDT (above), a really cool speakeasy bar here in NYC hidden behind a phone booth in a hot dog shop. They’re known for their amazing cocktails, which we gladly put to the test.

If you asked my girlfriend about our first date, she couldn’t tell you much, except for one thing — the shirt I was wearing. A striped tabbed collar dress shirt from Robert Geller.

“It’s my favorite shirt on you.” She says.

It made such an impression on her that it has survived a good 5 closet purges.

You’ve probably heard the saying “It only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression”.

What if I told you you actually had less time than that?

According to a study done by Princeton, it actually only takes the brain 1/10th of a second to make a snap judgment of someone.

So what does this mean for you my single, dating friend?

It means that before you’ve even opened your mouth, she’s already sized you up. So it’s in your best interest to use the only tool you got in that brief, 1/10th of a second: your style.

BUT WAIT, THAT’S SUPERFICIAL! LOOKS SHOULDN’T MATTER! SHE SHOULD LIKE ME FOR WHO I AM!

Whenever I’m at a party and I tell people that I’m a personal stylist for men, I get one of three reactions:

1. “THANK YOU!”
(This is the #1 response from women.)

2. “Oh man. How’s my outfit?”
(This is where I try to decide whether to give the polite answer or the real answer.)

3. “Cool man. I don’t focus so much on superficial stuff like that.”

Yes, someone said this to me at a party recently.

Here’s how it went down:

“Interesting. What do you mean by that?” I asked him.

“Oh, no offense,” he said.

(I love when people say “no offense”, or “not to sound racist”. It’s usually followed up by something offensive or racist.)

“I want people to like me for who I am, not whether I’m wearing a nice suit or whatever.”

“Totally. Hey, it was great to meet you.”

And then I walked away to pour myself a much-needed drink.

(Conversation tip: Sticking out your hand and saying “Hey, it was great to meet you.” is the best way to leave a conversation you don’t want to be in.)

You’d be surprised how often I get this kind of reaction, especially when I bring up that one of the best “dating hacks” is to improve your style.

“She should like me for who I am!” Guys say in response.

“Ok.” I’d say. “Describe to me your perfect girl.”

What do you think their answer always is?

Their perfect girl is always HOT.

“She should like me for who I am! Meanwhile, I want to date girls that look like this!”

Yeah, shocker, right?

This is what I call “The Perfect Girl Hypocrisy”. People think they’re exceptions. They want everyone else to change their standards instead of raising theirs for themselves.

Obese people want to change health and beauty standards instead of shedding the excess weight. Unqualified job hunters want companies to lower their requirements instead of getting more experience. Guys want hot girls but don’t want to work on and be judged by their looks.

Sorry, my friends, it isn’t happening. That’s not how the world works.

THE UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH ABOUT OUR LOOKS

Here’s the uncomfortable truth about humans: We judge each other by how we look.

Yes, it’s superficial. Is it bad? Maybe.

The thing is, we’re superficial about almost everything.

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You’re less likely to eat sad looking food in disposable tins because we associate sad looking food with unhealthy. Judging by its looks, It’s probably not as nutritious and is most likely going to make us sick. (Even though this might not be true.)

Vibrant, colorful food on clean white plates symbolize to us freshness, cleanliness, and that it’s healthy to eat.

This is called Thin slicing — it’s making snap judgments on something based on the information you have at hand. When you don’t know a lot about someone, all you can judge them on is what you see. Presentation matters, whether it’s a plate of pasta, or what you wear on a date.

It’s the reason why when surveyed, 76% of patients found doctors who wore white lab coats more trustworthy.

If your doctor came in wearing an oversized shirt, messy hair, sweatpants and dirty shoes, would you want him looking at your kid? NOPE.

GOOD NEWS: IMPROVING YOUR STYLE IS EASY

Before you curse the world, let’s take something else into account. Your style is one of the easiest things you can improve when it comes to dating.

If you’re an introvert, it’s going to take a lot of practice to improve your conversation skills.

Unsure of your career and life path? Good luck changing that in a week.

Bad style? No problem. You can head to a menswear shop and do a complete 180 in 15 minutes.

Of course, you’ll need to know what to get. Luckily, I got your back.

I spent the last 5 months asking women around the world a question: What should a guy wear on the first date?

In total, I gathered 101 responses from women of all backgrounds, jobs, ages, and locations. Women from as close as New York City, to as far away as Tokyo, Sydney, and Tehran.

Here’s a brief overview of the women I spoke with:

Average Age: 28
Single: 42%
Relationship (Less than 3 years) 29%
Married: 29%

And here’s what they said:

#1. EFFORT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING

Does it matter if you’re wearing expensive designer clothes on a first date? No. In fact, of the 101 women surveyed, not one mentioned designer clothes.

However, the most common theme in the written portion of the survey? Above all else, effort (e.g. trying to look nice) was the most important quality of a man’s style on a first date.

Our style is a symbol of who and what we are. It represents choices that we’ve made in life.

Getting dressed is an action. And, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Does it matter what kind of car a father drives to pick up his kids? Of course not. What’s more important is that he shows up. It symbolizes that he’s responsible and cares for his kids.

“As a woman, I will make an effort to look nice and pretty for my date because I want to respect his company and effort for asking me out — and I would like the person to feel proud to be with me. When a guy dresses like a teenage boy and it looks like he didn’t care at all, it is distracting and really kills the first impression.” – Morganna, 27

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY: If you’re new to improving your style, check out my post “A Beginner’s Guide: 16 Essential Style Tips For Guys Who Want to Dress Better”

#2. THE RIGHT FIT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EXPENSIVE CLOTHES

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Any clothing that doesn’t fit well is an instant put off. – Jennifer, 27

I’ve preached many times that getting clothes that fit will solve 90% of your style problems.

In my experience, men often wear clothes that are too big for them because:

  1. They grew up (like me) in a time where wearing baggy clothes was cool and never learned any better.
  2. They feel that it’s more comfortable.

Ill-fitting clothes wrecks havoc on your attractiveness. It makes you look fatter, shorter, and sloppy. Wearing clothes that fit properly not only makes you look better, it allows you to look good even when you’re dressed in something as simple as a t-shirt and jeans. (See: Ryan Gosling, above left)

If that doesn’t persuade you to wear clothes that fit properly, maybe this will:

Loose fitting [pants] remind me of my dad. – R, 24

There’s nothing that’s going to kill sexual attraction faster than that.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY: Download my free “Style Starter Triple Pack”. It’s a combination of my 3 best guides, including my “How clothes should fit” cheat sheets that’ll help you master fit in 10 minutes.

#3. STYLE HACK: SWAP IN A BUTTON-UP SHIRT IN PLACE OF A T-SHIRT

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60.2% of the women surveyed loved to see their date show up in a button-up collared shirt, while just 14.8% of women said they wouldn’t mind seeing their date in a t-shirt.

T-shirts are often associated with “casual” dressing. Swapping in a collared shirt signals that you’re putting an effort to go beyond “casual”.

Instant upgrade.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY: Not sure what kind of button-up shirt to get? Read my post on my favorite button-up shirt of all time “Essentails: The Chambray Shirt

#4. SHOES? NOT AS IMPORTANT AS YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT

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This part of the survey surprised me the most, as I’ve heard time and time again that women will judge you based on your shoes.

Yet, when I asked women what kind of shoes they loved to see their date wear, the results were all pretty even.

A nice pair of boots won overall, but just barely, gaining 34% of the votes. The rest was split evenly between clean white sneakers, dress shoes, and “Other”, with the write-in answers consisting mostly of “it doesn’t matter”.

My recommendation? It’s hard to beat a solid pair of boots, as they can work with jeans or dress pants. My current favorite boots are from Thursday Boot Company, shown above.

And whatever you do, just don’t show up to your date wearing Vibram five finger shoes.

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On behalf of all men, I apologize to these poor women.

#5. WOMEN LOVE A MAN IN A NICE LEATHER JACKET

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When asked what single piece of clothing would a woman love seeing her date wear, the clear winner was a perfectly fitted leather jacket.

A perfectly fitted leather jacket (50% of votes) beat a tailored suit (24.3%) by a little more than double, and completely crushed hoodies (2.8% of the votes, sorry readers in Silicon Valley).

If this doesn’t convince you to get yourself that perfect leather jacket, I don’t know what will.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY: For those looking to add this essential into their wardrobe, check out my Ultimate Guide to Buying A Leather Jacket here.

#6. WHEREVER YOU GO, MAKE SURE THERE’S SOME ALCOHOL

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While many women agreed that you don’t need alcohol to have a great first date (a few even said bar dates were uncreative and cliché) the data still showed they all wanted the option to drink. (Relax the first date nerves, perhaps?)

When asked what was their favorite place for a first date was, 65.8% of the votes went to places that had alcohol.

A nice cocktail bar received 27.8% of votes, a great dinner captured 25% of the votes, and a fun dive bar got 13% of the votes.

The remaining votes were split between coffee (19.4%), and “Other” (14.8%), which included write-in answers ranging from “it depends on the guy”, “a nice walk in the park”, and “a museum”.

OK, NOW WHAT?

Not sure what to do with this advice yet? Not to worry.

To help you out, I’m sharing with you some date and outfit idea combos based on this data to get your first date off to a great start.

THE MUSEUM DATE

Museum Date Look for Men

Eyeglasses: Watts Eyeglasses by Warby Parker – $95, Wool Scarf: Acne Studios – $180, Blue Suede Bomber Jacket: Valstar – $1,135, Mandarin Collared Strip Shirt: FOLK – $185, Slim Fit Stretch Chinos: NN07 – $160, Socks: The Workers Club – $40, Boots: Thursday Boot Co. – $199

The Date: Museum dates are a great way to break up the monotony of meeting up a bar, but it requires a bit of strategy.

The biggest mistake you can make on a museum date? Spending a lot of time looking at the art and reading the text! I know, it doesn’t make sense, but hear me out. First dates are all about getting to know each other. When you’re examining the art and reading at a museum, you have a tendency to be quiet. The real focus of your date isn’t the art, it’s your company. Think of the museum like a beautiful backdrop, just the same as if you were strolling through a park.

Here’s a better strategy, thanks to my friend Nick Gray, founder and CEO of Museum Hack:

  1. Grab a map for you and your date.
  2. Next, walk and talk, glance at the art, but don’t stop, especially to read the text. That takes away from precious time to get to know each other.
  3. After the initial walk through, take a break at the museum café, order some food, talk some more, then pick parts of the museum you want to have a second look at together on the map.
  4. Go back to the spots you chose and enjoy the art.
  5. Don’t forget to stop at the gift shop and pick up something nice. (Like the wallet from the MoMA above.)

The Outfit: The key items in this look are the collared shirt and boots. Wearing a suit on a first date, especially something like a museum, can feel like overkill. You want to communicate that you’re putting a little effort into it, and this is why instead of a t-shirt and sneakers we swap in a button-up shirt and boots. Blues and browns are a great color combination that help you stand out, especially if you’re visiting a museum in NYC where everyone loves to wear black. Give it a pop of color with a bordeaux colored scarf.

THE NON-CLICHÉ COCKTAIL BAR

Cocktail Bar Date Look for Men

Leather Jacket: Hugo Boss – $745, Grosgrain-trim collared polo: Lanvin – $375, Wool dress pants: Suit Supply – $189, Socks: FALKE – $28, Suede slip-on sneakers: Common Projects – $420

The Date: I love a date at a cool speakeasy, but securing a spot at one can be stressful, especially on a first date. There are plenty of cocktail places with great stories that don’t require you to search for a hidden, unmarked door – like Bar Goto, a Japanese bar opened by ex-Pegu club alum Kenta Goto. Order his signature Sakura martini – a blend of gin, sake, maraschino liqueur finished with a beautiful sakura blossom. (Photo above)

The Outfit: The polo is the happy medium between a t-shirt and button-up shirt. The key to not looking like your dad is picking one that’s slimmer cut in a non-traditional color, like this sleek Lanvin number. Slip on sneakers can sound like an odd choice at first, but like the polo, we’ve elevated it. This suede model from Common Projects isn’t your 16-year-old brother’s Vans, and gives a nice casual contrast to the formal dress pants. Bordeaux and charcoal gray is my all time favorite color combination. It’s warm and romantic, paired with a sleek black leather racer jacket, you’ll be hard to forget.

THE LOW-KEY DINNER DATE

Dinner date look for men

Cashmere Coat: Suit Supply – $699, Brushed twill shirt: J.crew – $39, Watch: IWC – $3,950, Wool Drawstring Pants: Acne Studios – $350, Embroidered wool scarf: Paul Smith – $225, Socks: FALKE – $28, Derbys: A.P.C. – $455

The Date: Dinner on a first date can sometimes feel like a trap. What if you realize you two aren’t really into each other and your entrees just came? Instead of a proper dinner for a first date, I recommend getting some wine and tapas.

Tapas are small plates of appetizers and snacks that you share over drinks. I love it because the tapas themselves become a conversation point. Decide on ordering things you’d never normally try, get adventurous. Start with a few plates and see how things go. If it’s going well, you two can order more and keep the date going. Not feeling it? No worries, you share a few bites and don’t have to commit to a conversation over an entire entree. Grab the check and part ways.

Some recommendations for you first-time tapas eaters: Dátiles con beicon (dates stuffed with almonds and cheese, wrapped in bacon) and patatas bravas (crispy potatoes with an aioli) are easy crowd pleasers. My all time favorite: Jamon Iberico, slices of ham from pigs fed acorns then aged for 36 months. Fatty, nutty, and worth the (very expensive) price.

The Outfit: Suits on first dates is a little too much. Subtle style substitute – wear a tailored topcoat. It gives the same feeling that you “dressed up” without going full blown suit.

When I think tapas, I think sharing food, drinking wine, having an amazing conversation. So take off your coat and relax a little bit. You’re going to be moving plates around and passing food to her, so don’t be afraid to unbutton and partially roll up your sleeves. This is a great opportunity to show off a nice watch. My pick: IWC’s refined entry Mark XVIII. It’s a watch that says “I have really good taste and I don’t need to be flashy”.

GET THAT SECOND DATE

First dates are like movie trailers, a preview to get her interested and excited and make her want to see more.

While I’ve armed you with some style tips to make sure you look your best, remember that clothes don’t make the man, they just enhance him.

To make sure you kill it on your first date and get her asking when can she see you again, I’ve put together a free bonus guide for Linx with some of the best first date tips.

8 Things Gentlemen Do on First Dates

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The point of the first date is to discover if there’s real compatibility beyond initial interest. If she’s already said yes, consider yourself off to a good start. If you want to give yourself the best chances of romantic connection—or even a second date—consider the chivalrous route. Here are 8 things gentleman do on first dates that prove chivalry is not dead.

Suggest a first date in a place convenient for her.

Instead of suggesting the restaurant or bar closest to you, you ask what is most convenient for her. Your asking demonstrates consideration and shows that you are willing and able to make her life easier—a feeling that will ultimately make her feel more relaxed during the first date. Same logic applies when you ask about any food allergies or preferences she has. Any research you do before the date will benefit you exponentially.

Observe the 4 p.m. deadline.

If you have plans tonight, text or call to confirm your date by 4 p.m. Many women start wondering if the date is still on, especially if a few days pass between the ask and the event. A short text to the effect of, “Looking forward to seeing you tonight. Let me know if we need to adjust the timing” will keep everyone on the same page.

Mind your (table) manners.

Follow behind as you make your way to the table; she should not be walking in your wake. When you get to the table, ask if you can help her check her coat. At the table, let her order first. Letting her take the lead shows that you are want to make sure her needs are met before yours. This simple gesture is another way you can ensure she is comfortable. Lastly, always encourage a glance at the dessert menu. There’s nothing more sexy than indulging in the senses and enjoying the rich decadence of chocolate.  Even if you’re not a dessert guy, order one to share.

Introduce her.

Should you run into friends on your date, be sure to introduce your date without saying “my friend”. There is no need for an extensive introduction, but you must acknowledge your date if a friend says hello. You could say, “I’d like you to meet [date’s name]. We were both excited to try this place.”

Mind the Drinking.

Pay attention to what she orders and offer a refill when the glass is empty- same principal goes for her water glass. Even though your nerves may want to order a third drink, stick to a two-drink maximum. Slurring your words is not classy.

Pay the bill.

That’s right. Let’s keep this equation simple. Be prepared to foot the bill and keep any conversation surrounding this transaction to a minimum. If she offers to pay, politely decline and change the subject. Paying for her is a sign of interest and shows that you are happily willing to invest when you have feelings. If you both continue to date, it’s very appropriate for her to reciprocate at some point but definitely not on date one.

Offer to get an Uber for her.

When a simple gesture that takes 2 minutes can make all the difference, you should do it. Let her know that you’re interested in getting her home safely, whether that means you ping Uber or offer to drive her yourself.

Close out the evening with a text.

There is nothing gentlemanly about leaving a lady to wonder if she’ll hear from you again. Thank her for her time and company and, if you want to see her again, let her know. Be confident in your actions and consistent with your communications to the woman you’re interested in.

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What is Cuffing Season and Why Does It Matter?

With holidays approaching, you may find yourself wanting a relationship more than usual. As the days get shorter and the weather cools down, singles are looking for a relationship that will tie them over the next few months, but perhaps not endure into the spring. This heightened desire for a semi permanent relationship occurs during “Cuffing Season”.

Cuffing season begins during that stretch of fall when the weather begins to cool off and everyone you know starts coupling up. It specifically describes the desire to couple up or “cuff” ourselves to a partner during the chilly months—and stay together until spring. The trend is undeniable, but what causes it? Is this preference to cozy up just a preference or are we biologically engineered to get monogamous during the cooler months?

Is “Cuffing Season” actually real?

Short answer is yes—winters yield a higher rate of conception; spring yields changes to Facebook relationship statuses. When Hinge, a popular dating app, polled users, they discovered that men were 15% more likely to look for a relationship in the winter than any other season. Women were 5% more interested in a monogamous relationship, too.

Is “Cuffing Season” the result of biological impulses?

Experts agree that although people tend to pair up during winter months, the urge to couple up is not substantiated by any biological impulse. In fact, humans have evolved to a point beyond mating seasons. Scientists note that humans associate cold temperatures with loneliness, which could prompt the urge to get monogamous, but ultimately, the need to “cuff” ourselves to each other isn’t a biological or evolutionary response.

So, how do I handle the “Cuffing Season” urge?

Those urges to couple up aren’t easy to avoid. Between plus-one invites and fears of experiencing the holidays alone, you might find yourself approaching relationships from a place of neediness instead of real affection. Make sure the chemistry is real by taking any relationship you start this winter on the slow side. Gift giving, family travel, and plus one invites might add a little more complication to your dating life than usual. Don’t let the stress of the holidays rush your love life. Remember, spring is right around the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Divorced? Here are the Top 5 Questions She Needs Answered

 

Dating after divorce isn’t easy but, with nearly half of all marriages ending in separation, it’s not unusual. However, for some women who haven’t been married before, your divorce can pose some challenges. Many daters associate divorced people with excess baggage. Being upfront and willing to talk openly about your past can clear up these misconceptions and help your date clear up any doubts that are getting in the way of a potential relationship.

Knowing what to reveal about your divorce is half the battle; you also need to know how to talk about your experience.

Here are the top 5 questions women ask themselves when dating a divorced man and tips on how to answer them effectively:

  1. Does he have a crazy ex wife?

 Your date is trying to figure out how your ex wife will affect the relationship you share. She might wonder, “Will his ex be a source of perpetual drama?” or “Is the ex wife vindictive?” Whether or not your ex has handled the divorce maturely is irrelevant; your date just needs to know that you are able to handle any backlash from your past. Although tempting, you should never throw your ex wife under the bus. Not only is it unattractive, it reveals underlying anger on your part that can be perceived as a red flag.

How to discuss: “We were both ready for those divorce papers and once everything was finalized, we both moved on to better things.”

  1. Is he in a rush to get married right away?

To make up for a failed marriage, some men are overly eager to get it right the second time. This question has a way of answering itself, but it’s best to avoid talk of marriage early in the courtship.

How to discuss: “After being married X years, I know myself better and have a clear picture of the kind of woman I’d like to share my life with. I also know that being in a rush to make that happen would ruin the fun.”

  1. Is he afraid of getting married again?

A painful divorce could deter anyone from round two, so it’s important to convey that you are open—but not rushing—to marriage. She wants to know that you won’t let a bad experience get in the way of a future with her.

How to discuss: “Marriage didn’t work out the first time around, but I’m excited to figure it out again and share my life with the right person.”

  1. Why did they get divorced?

In the early stages of dating, you can answer this question sufficiently without going into much detail. Even if you made some serious mistakes during your marriage, you can address them later once the relationship has progressed. In the meantime, stick to a message that reveals how much you learned and evolved from your first marriage.

How to discuss: “Marriage for us wasn’t right in so many ways—it’s hard to pick just one reason why it fell apart. I’m glad I went through it because I’ll make a better partner next time around.”

  1. If kids are in the picture, what does that picture look like?

If you have children, absolutely mention them early in the relationship; they should never come as a surprise to your date. She will want to know about the relationship you have with your kids and the role they will play in your courtship.

How to discuss: “I have two kids from my first marriage, and I share custody with my ex wife. I’ve got the kids on weekends, and I love being involved in their lives. I try to give them as much stability as possible, so I generally keep my relationships and kids separate in the beginning. Would love for you to meet them one day when the time is right for both of us.”

Remember, your divorce is not a deal breaker, it’s just a part of your story. Being open about your failed relationship and framing it the right way will help your partner realize that although your first marriage was broken, it gave you an opportunity to be a better partner in your next relationship.

 

The best first dates, start with you being you. Read tips on being the best version of yourself on a date here

 

 

How to be yourself on a first date

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There’s a common misconception that dating is like interviewing. While both dating and interviewing tend to make people nervous, most people don’t enjoy being interrogated or talking exclusively about work on a first date. How do successful daters transition from formal work mode into a more relaxed dating mode? Here are some tips on how to be yourself on a first date.

Before the date

Research your date spot – If you have time, check out the date location a day or two before to get a feel for the setup, ambiance and menu. Identify the best tables in the bar or restaurant, determine which of your outfits would make you feel most comfortable in this location, and scan the menu ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about what you’ll want to order. If you are planning the date, pick a place you’ve been to many times before where you feel comfortable and confident. Your date will likely be impressed if you are on a first-name basis with the waiters.

Brush up on your date’s interests – If you have met your date through a matchmaker, friend or online dating service, you probably know a few of their interests. Do a quick Google search on their favorite sports team, the place where they volunteer or the location where they just went on a long trip. Having a few talking points on your date’s interests in your back pocket will ease your first date jitters and show them that you’re interested in getting to know them better.

Exercise – It’s hard not to be in a great mood after completing a solid workout while listening to your favorite energizing playlist. Make time to go for a run, pump iron or do a spin class before a first date to help you feel confident and refreshed. With endorphins flowing and a post-workout glow on your face, you will feel more relaxed after having burned off your nervous energy before the date. Let your date know that you just came from a workout, and they will probably appreciate your commitment to health and physical fitness. In addition to working out, or instead of it if working out isn’t your thing…

Do something you love – Do something that is SO YOU, whether that is getting fresh air at a farmer’s market, cooking something to feel accomplished, talking to a friend or relative, meditating and relaxing with a bath or book or watching your favorite movie. The possibilities are endless, but do something that makes you smile so you’re grounded in who you are before heading out. This will help the real you come out when you are face-to-face with your date.

 During the date

Be an engaged listener – Ask open-ended questions about travel, passions, family and what they did last weekend. “Tell me about yourself” is a great opener because it gives your date the opportunity to let you know what is most important to them. “Teach me something I don’t already know” is also a great way to learn about your date’s hidden talents. Ask questions about things you are genuinely interested in learning. And make sure that the conversation is not one-sided – if you have been asking your date a bunch of questions about their woodworking hobby, sit back and wait for him or her to ask you about yourself.

Give physical clues if you are interested – If you’re having a great time, make eye contact and consider innocently touching your date to let them know that you are attracted to them. Grazing your hand along your date’s lower back as you walk to your table or briefly touching their or arm after they make a funny joke will make your date feel comfortable and admired. Making great eye and physical contact during a first date lets your date know that you are interested in them and will help secure Date #2.

Be Vulnerable – Just because you don’t know a person well doesn’t mean that you should just nod and smile all night regardless of what’s going on in your head. Feeling anxious? Had a terrible day at work? Feeling butterflies? Worried about jumping into a new relationship so quickly after your last? Talk to your date about it. It’s more fulfilling to go on a first date with a real person than someone who doesn’t speak their mind. Vulnerability is sexy.

Be Flexible – Make a plan before your date, but be ready to throw it out the window depending on how things are going. If the date is going well, consider grabbing dinner even though you planned on drinks, or propose going on a long walk even if you planned on seeing a movie. Whether or not you planned the date, the proposed itinerary is merely a suggestion, and you should do what feels right in the moment. Dating is not a math problem to be solved – you need to feel your way through it stay true to yourself.

Most importantly, remember to to enjoy yourself and keep in mind how lucky your date is to be spending time with you. If you have a great time on the date, let your date know in person or in a text or call after you get home. Before, during and after a first date, be honest, be real, be yourself.

 

This Week at Linx

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As Memorial Day quickly becomes a distant memory, I hope you all had a tremendously relaxing and special holiday weekend. Perhaps some of you headed for the beach for days filled with BBQs, cold beer, sandy toes, and sun-kissed noses, while others of you hopped on a plane to see family or to hit some exotic destination. Or maybe it was good down time just chilling, while others packed in socializing, shopping, and fun brunches out with friends.

Every time I started to write a new blog entry over the weekend, I somehow get completely sidetracked by an urgent client email that required an immediate response, or a new match that I needed to make. Such are the realities of running a small niche business.

It’s been a whirlwind last few weeks at Linx as we have onboarded some truly exceptional new clients – interestingly, a heavier concentration of 45 + individuals in the last few weeks – all extremely successful in their own right, refreshingly down-to-earth, candid about what they seek in a match, and ready for love now! I look forward to doing some new blog entries in the coming weeks to announce a few of these key searches.

I have also been squeezing in some date coaching and even a wardrobe consultation, and I believe there are lessons for everyone in these sessions.

During this particular stretch, though I worked with my clients on a variety of techniques, we focused primarily on early stage dating. For one young woman in technology, I discussed the art of “Flirting 101.” My main lesson was that being too eager or overly sexy can lead a man to discount you as a potential mate and love interest, but not enough flirting can leave even the most intuitive guy confused and unclear about how to proceed. I find it very surprising that so many people see this as a black and white thing. It’s actually very gray. As a woman, you don’t have only two choices.   It’s all about subtlety – each individual has to build an awareness and confidence that allows her to almost unconsciously calibrate a situation and then react naturally in a way that smoothly and metaphorically telegraphs what she is feeling. I’m not saying this is easy. In fact, it is hardest for my clients that come from very analytical backgrounds. Tapping this art means being in touch with your softer, more emotional side and also getting experience across a wide range of interpersonal situations (whether it is at work, with friends, family, or ideally dating.)

For another client, I helped strategize about how to combat shyness. 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?  The ultimate goal is to build enough confidence to approach strangers you find attractive AND to carry that undeniable confidence over into real life dating. I gave this client homework where her goal was to have small, simple interactions each day with people she does not find attractive, for example asking for the time, making chitchat while waiting in a grocery store line, etc. Seem counter-intuitive? Well, the stakes are low and it is a lot less pressure especially for an exercise like this that can be pretty nerve-wracking regardless of how “hot” or “not” someone is.   Start on the easier end of the spectrum, build up, and don’t immediately try to boil the ocean.

So I can sit here and preach all of this advice and speak in generalities… but I can just hear a reader saying, “that’s great but how do I actually DO this stuff and improve?”

Well, one option is to let me date coach you. LOL. And then you get a ton of individualized attention and narrowly tailored practice. Another client who is doing coaching work just sent in this feedback this morning, “all these efforts have been wonderful in putting my focus on the future, and rediscovering the happy person I am naturally. The coaching process has been very helpful to dig into what is real and make sure that my best self is visible.  It feels good to make an investment in myself.  I appreciate all your help.” It is always nice to receive emails like this where the effort and hard work clients are putting into this process are not only rewarding but they feel as if they are entering a new chapter in their lives with the gusto and confidence required.

A cheaper option to Linx coaching, and I know this may sound corny, is to watch emotional movies (they could, but need not be, romantic comedies) or to read a classic romantic novel, even if you aren’t getting a lot of practice in the real world. My husband uses, to great effect, literature and movies in his Stanford courses on entrepreneurship and leadership because those topics have so much to do with people and even fictional material like movies or books allow a whole class to experience the same people and situations with their diverse real life lenses and to have a productive discussion about all of it. I believe the same thing applies in improving in your artistic dating skills.

On a lighter note, I also did a quick wardrobe consult for one client this week. This 30-year old entrepreneur needed some nice dress shirts, a sport coat, and some pants that were alternatives to jeans. He mentioned that he had a gift certificate to Nordstrom so I headed over there and spent a hour pulling a few select items for him with the help of one of their personal shoppers. I think my client will be pleased with my picks – classic yet with a youthful modern twist- Hugo Boss, AG pants, J Brand pants, and a few dress shirts too.

Beyond all of the coaching this week, we also have screenings for new prospective clients, a couple of new client interviews, and… drumroll… a Dutch media company visiting Linx this week, flying out from the Netherlands to meet with me. Germany has always had a love affair with Linx and Silicon Valley but perhaps the Dutch are catching the virus as well. They will first interview me, and then (this is the best part) set up one of my young male clients with the host of the show – a gorgeous 24-year old who apparently is edgy, vocal, and hip! This will all air in August in a short documentary.

Have a spectacular weekend ahead!

When Harry Met Sally

Couple cuddling affectionate on the beach in winter with the sea in the background

As a professional matchmaker, I experience more than my fair share of moments of serendipity, coincidence, and bizarre irony. If only I could share the details of all the crazy stories and situations from the last 12 years of running Linx Dating…

Today, I watched a very interesting situation unfold from within my network, and see a great opportunity to illustrate two very important points about dating.

The story goes like this. A former female client of mine (let’s call her “Sally”) moved last year from the Bay Area to Boston for grad school. I had worked closely with her when she lived here and had actually matched to her someone with whom she had had a significant relationship. She arrived in Boston, single, and has been dating there with mixed success. Though I am not regularly in touch with clients who have moved, I do keep them on my radar, in my database, and in my mind, should a tailor-made opportunity arise.

Separately, my husband has a friend who recently referred a prospective male client to me who is based in Boston (let’s call him “Harry”). After corresponding with the candidate, we both realized quickly that I am probably not the best day-to-day matchmaker for him, given his plan to stay in Boston. However, I offered to do whatever I could for him with my limited Boston network, including introducing him to friends who might have tips about being single in Boston.

It then occurred to me that “Harry” and “Sally” could be a great match and beyond this should no romantic connection transpire, “Sally” could help strategize about ways to date intelligently in Boston.

I immediately reached out to “Sally” to see if she was still single – delighted to hear from me, she said that she, in fact, was still single and would be open to an introduction. I provided a very high-level overview of the potential match – basic biographical information, age, etc. She almost immediately interrupted me and said, “this guy’s name isn’t ‘Harry’, is it?” I said, “well, yes, it is Harry… wow… you know him?” She went on to say that she had had a first date with “Harry” months and months ago, had been interested and attracted to him, but had never heard from him again, then figuring that he had no further interest in her. She asked me to find out from him if she had done “something wrong” that had subsequently “turned him off.” I agreed to ping him to conjure up any intel I could.

I turned around and reached out to “Harry” and asked if he remembered “Sally,” explaining that apparently they already knew each other. “Harry” immediately remembered their date, described “Sally” to a tee, and said he had been interested in her, but had not followed up because he thought that she had no romantic interest in him. I couldn’t believe what I was reading right before my eyes!

After a few emails back and forth, both “Harry” and “Sally” were game to pick up the pieces where they left off. I proceeded then to “broker” a new meeting so that “Harry” could meet “Sally” again and now we’ll see what happens.

What lessons are here for those of you who are single and looking?

  1. COMMUNICATION, SIGNALS, AND GAMES

I live this every day through my clients. Most of you probably know that there is a whole school of dating thought out there around strategic game playing, veiled communication, pickup artist stuff, etc. At the end of the day, no one wants to be bored and find complete predictability in their romantic dating – and it can be very hard to be transparent, vulnerable or open about your feelings early on in dating because you put yourself at risk to be hurt, and you also might worry that revealing too much too soon could either scare off the other person, or make them feel it is too “easy” and not enough of a challenge.

I won’t deny that there can be truth to all of that. But you have to follow your instincts – if you are out with someone and you honestly believe that there is something there, you don’t have to let it ALL hang out, but give the other person a bone. Show them SOMETHING. Whether it’s a flirtatious comment, touch, look, or whatever… or maybe you just say something if you are comfortable. If you don’t, you run the risk of being in a situation that “Harry” and “Sally” were in. And you might never have known what could have been.   So be aware of how you are coming across, and if you are “feeling it”, don’t get too cute or play it too cool or you just might miss out on something special.

  1. THE POWER OF TRUE NETWORKS

Networking is a brutally abused term. It conjures up images of cheesy salespeople exchanging business cards over a superficial exchange of pleasantries and promises to follow up on whatever they might have been discussing.

But true networking is a long-term investment and I am reminded, on almost a daily basis, how hard anyone, whose career is based heavily on networks, has to work to expand, maintain, and nurture the network.   And I believe you have to build your network with TLC over time, with no regard as to how it might benefit you or anyone else in the future. In other words, it is often a selfless labor of love where you must enjoy the journey and know that it will bear fruit in the most unexpected ways.

The most successful real estate agents work hard over years and years to build meaningful relationships that result in repeat business and high-yield referrals. Moreover, they skillfully mine their specialized markets as arbitrageurs of even the smallest tidbits of information. And, in the process, they have hundreds of prospective deals that never happened, thousands of tidbits of advice they gave that netted them no money, and countless moments of frustration. But all of that work nets them a great reputation and plenty of wonderful deals to secure their business.

Linx Dating, in many ways, is no different. Had I not spend the last 12 years building my network this way, I would never have been in the position to allow my brain and my database to lead me to (unknowingly) reconnect “Harry” and “Sally.”

Everything else aside, it is the power of the Linx Network, that sets us apart in the matchmaking world.