Bay Area Dating expert

Something Old, Something New…

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The end of the year is just a month away, which means that we’ll soon be celebrating the beginning of 2015!  Like many of you, I’ll be entering the New Year with a number of hopes and expectations.  I’ll also be armed with a handful of resolutions that I’ve decided are critical to making the most of the 2015, and the bulk of those resolutions are related to self-improvement and finding a healthy relationship.  For those of us who are single and don’t want to be, the promise of a new relationship in the New Year is really powerful; we tend to like the idea of starting off with a clean slate, and – ideally – forgetting whatever wasn’t right about the years and relationships that came before.

Instead of hoping for a new relationship, it might actually make more sense to focus on finding a better relationship.  It can be really easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a different relationship will be better by default, but that’s really not the case.  In fact, it’s important to remember that your “new” girlfriend or boyfriend is probably someone else’s old girlfriend or boyfriend, which means that he or she has been trained and programmed by the habits, expectations, and communication style of someone else.  Unless your new beau was just dumped by your identical twin – and the two of you have identical tastes and preferences – the new significant presence in your life is going to require some adjustments (for both of you) in order to make your relationship work just right.  Otherwise, we’re all stuck in a sort of “Goldilocks paradox” where we’re waiting for a complete stranger to behave and communicate in a way that’s tailor made just for us, even if we didn’t do any of the work to make that happen.  If you’re ever had clothing made to measure, you know the satisfaction of having just the right fit; you also know that getting the right fit takes time, effort, and a lot of patience.

It’s really important to keep this in mind, especially in the early stages of dating.  Amy and I often hear complaints like “he kisses me too aggressively,” or “she calls me too often,” or “he picks restaurants that don’t have anything on the menu that I like to eat.”  And people seem to think these complaints are truly valid reasons to end a relationship (or to keep one from getting off the ground).  The truth is that each of these is an opportunity for change and communication; none of these root behaviors is problematic (you want a guy to kiss you, a woman to call you, and a man to pick restaurants) but you have to communicate what does (and doesn’t) work for you.  You have to give people information if you want them to change.  If you want them to change AND stick around, then you also need to give them incentive.

A really common mistake people make when communicating their wants and wishes is to tell their dates that they’re doing something wrong.  The truth is that no adult likes being scolded, and very few behaviors are actually “wrong,” but that doesn’t stop women from saying “you kiss me the wrong way,” or “you grope me like a teenager.”  And men have no qualms about telling women they aren’t appreciative enough, that they send mixed signals, or expect too much communication too early.

When we don’t like someone’s behavior, we try to make it their problem, even if the problem is really ours.  If you want a positive outcome, you need to communicate positively by saying things like “I like it when you…” or “I’d love it if we could….”  People are generally happy to make changes that incite enthusiasm, but they’re unwilling to make those same changes when those requests are worded as criticisms or demands.  Words of encouragement and guidance lead to growth; words of criticism lead to resistance and avoidance.  If you want to establish something full of respect and love and potential, make sure you’re delivering the message you intend in the most positive and considerate way.

In fact, we just casually date coached a 55+ year old client who felt frustrated by the lack of consistent communication coming from the leading man in her life. We told her to express to him encouraging words about how much she adores his company and with that comes a desire to want to hear from him more regularly. Instead of chastising him, she used this very subtle technique that worked wonders. We spoke to her yesterday and she said “It worked! He now checks in with me more regularly and when he’s out of town, he calls me which is great!” We love seeing something like this be so very simple yet so completely effective.

With a bit of luck, the New Year will indeed bring with it a new (and better) relationship.  And as you focus on communicating with someone new, you might also want to try out a bit of that strategy with someone old – yourself.  Try not to focus on what you see as flaws and failures, and put the emphasis instead on where you can grow and improve.  We can never undo the mistakes and missteps of our past, but we can work to avoid them in the future.  And we can be more positive people as a result.  Your relationships can only be as healthy as you are, so if you’re hoping to see big changes in your life (and your love life), don’t be afraid to ask yourself how much of that change should come from within; maybe the “better relationship” you’re looking for is simply a better relationship with yourself!

Tell me a story…

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One of the questions Amy and I often get at Linx is that of when – and how – to bring up certain sensitive long-term relationship topics with someone you’re seeing.  If you’ve met someone through Linx, it’s likely we can provide you with those answers directly.  For example, we actually know how our members feel about having (more) children, how they feel about potentially relocating from the Bay area, what their ideal timelines for marriage and parenthood could look like, etc.  But if you’ve met someone on your own, found someone online or at work, or got set up by friends, the likelihood that you can get answers to any (or even one) of those questions is actually pretty slim.

When looking for dates, some of our clients tend to really focus on the timelines they have in mind for these milestones in their own lives, and are only interested in pursuing matches whose personal forecasts align with theirs.  While I can see how that might make sense initially, it can actually work against you in the end.  You can lose a lot of time looking for a man or woman who wants to share the same schedule you do; personal schedules can actually shift quite a bit as people get into relationships, learn what is important to their significant other, and realize what it might be like to be engaged, married, or even a parent with this particular person in their lives.  We can be deeply affected – and motivated – by the hopes and desires of the people we love.  We can change.

The lives we plan for ourselves as single people are the lives that make the most sense to us given the information we have at hand, but when the guy or girl of our dreams gets replaced by the man or woman who shares our vision for the future, sometimes our plans change radically.  Just this week, I met with a 31-year-old woman who said she wasn’t sure about having children.  But as we talked more, it became clear that really, what she didn’t want to do was make plans for her future that she thought should be made with someone else.  After all, whose kids would she be having?  Where and how would they be raised?  And what would they look like?  As a single woman, she could only have half of the answers, and so she was waiting until she had more information before making a decision; her Mr. Right can come in lots of different forms, so when she meets a man with whom she has incredible chemistry and the right kind of connection, the two of them can work out the answers together.

But what if you really do want a very specific kind of future?  And you really are only looking for a man or woman who shares certain values and goals?  How do you find out if a stranger is on the same page… or at least reading from the same chapter?  How do you ask those questions without seeming crazy, presumptive, or rude?

Believe it or not, one of the worst things you can do in this situation is be direct.  Asking someone a very specific question like “Do you want to be engaged in the next year?” or “Do you see yourself having kids with me before you’re 40?” can be a really excellent way to kill an otherwise budding romance.  Amy recommends that people try to suss out someone else’s views on big picture issues in the first 4-6 dates; you definitely want to make sure there’s a shared sense of chemistry before you start talking about bigger issues, but you also want to make sure you have common goals before you make a big investment, so get clarity after you establish a connection but before you discuss exclusivity.  After all, why take yourself off the market if the potential isn’t there for this relationship to make a significant run?

It turns out the best way to find out if the man or woman you’re dating shares your goals and values is by giving examples and sharing stories.  So if you’re checking for long term compatibility, here are some easy steps to draw him or her out in conversation, and get a real feel for how they think about relationships, and what they might want their next great one to look like.

1.     Start at home.  Hopefully, your parents or siblings have healthy relationships you can discuss with your date.  Talk about the things that you find enviable and admirable in those relationships.   Be positive and focus on what you’d like to emulate in your own future and household.  Stay away from timelines in this conversation, and even avoid talking about kids.  You really just want to get a sense of whether or not the two of you understand love and commitment in a similar way.  Parental relationships give you a sense of someone’s long view of relationships, and will also give you insight into what they fear.  Pay attention to words like “boredom, frustration, isolation, monotony,” and “codependence.”  Some people really do mean it as a joke.  Some people really do not.  You can usually tell the difference.

2.     Talk about your friends and colleagues.  If you want to discuss timelines for relationships and engagements, you hopefully have a set of friends and colleagues who provide models for this.  Sometimes those models will be ideal.  And sometimes they will not, which can be just as useful.  Don’t be afraid to talk about a relationship that you find flawed or even unappealing. (We all know that couple who’s dated for more than ten years but still isn’t engaged, right?)  Your date might not agree, and that’s good for you to know early.  The great thing is that you’ll be talking about big issues, but you’ll also be talking about other people, so you can take in all of his or her thoughts and judgments, but you don’t have to take all of it personally.  Don’t be afraid to suggest alternatives you think could work.  Don’t be shy asking about why he or she might feel a certain way, and if anything could make him or her feel differently about an issue, and be sure to get your date talking about the relationships of the people in his or her life, too.

3.     Talk about the kids in your life.  These may be nieces and nephews.  These may be the kids of co-workers.  These could even be much younger siblings, in theory.  But feel free to talk about the kids in your world, and how you connect with them.  If there is a childcare model represented in that set of children that makes the most sense to you – and you want to be a parent – focus on it and see if your date gives you any thoughts or feedback on what he or she might one day want.  And ask about the kids in his or her life.  This is a really important thing to do even if you do not want children; either way, make it clear to your date that you have thought about this issue, you do have exposure and experience with kids, and you do have clarity on what role they could play in your future.  Hopefully he or she will be able to let you know what role kids might (or might not) play in theirs.

Staggered over a couple of dates, these conversations will tell you a lot about what someone else wants out of life.  Schedules change all the time in relationships, but goals and values tend to be static, so make sure that you and your match align in the ways that are truly important.  So often, we think that we can get people to change over time; the real truth is that time changes us, and it doesn’t give us a lot of choice in how that happens.

In a perfect world, we’d all find someone who’s in exactly the same life stage that we are – ready for all of the same things to come to us at the same speed.  But that could be awfully boring. 😉  We don’t really need someone ready to follow our timetable.  We don’t really need someone who’s on the same page, reading from the same script, expecting the same fairytale.   What we really need is someone who’s looking in the same direction, who’ll hold our hand through every unexpected twist and turn, and who’s determined that – in the end – we’ll both end up side by side, and in the same place. In remembering this, we are confident you will get closer and closer to finding the right match.

Crushing the Fall at Linx

October has been tremendously busy for us with clients and a lot of great happenings. We’ve been crushin’ it at Linx with a lot of great momentum and good things happenings all the way around.

Today we found out that Linx has received the Palo Alto Best Businesses Award for 2014 in the category of matchmakers.

Each year, in and around the Palo Alto area, the Palo Alto Best Businesses Award Program chooses only the best local businesses. They focus on companies that have demonstrated their ability to use various marketing methods to grow their business in spite of difficult economic times. The companies chosen exemplify the best of small business; often leading through customer service and community involvement. For most companies, this recognition is a result of dedication and efforts as well as the work of others in the organization that have helped build the business. The Linx team is excited to now a part of an exclusive group of small businesses that have achieved this selection!

Onto other news, this week, we’ve had multiple couple announce their love for one another. We are so very pleased to announce a wedding that took place over last weekend in Manhattan and the happy couple even got featured in the New York Times wedding section!  They are currently honeymooning overseas and probably will never want to return back to reality!  He was her very first match and she was his 4th Linx match. The courtship was short…neither wanted to date for the sake of just dating. There was real purpose, intention, and determination to get engaged from both sides.

Although this newly wedded couple are on the younger side, we’ve seen quite a few 45+ year old clients find excellent connections from Linx. When it feels right, it feels like something to focus on 100%. One beautiful VIP client wrote to me today sharing “With your help, I have finally found the truest love I have ever experienced. This was the best investment I ever made…an investment into my heart.” My heart just gushes with such happiness when we successfully bring two people together that would have most likely never met otherwise.

Another client just sent in a great testimonial about his experience with Linx. He’s late 30’s in tech and shares “Linx might seem expensive at first, but the feedback alone makes it worth it.  Can you imagine how different your entire dating history would be if someone had given you honest feedback after every unsuccessful first date?  Amy puts real thought and work into making exceptional matches from an engaged and well-filtered group.  And then she explains what’s great about you to your dates before you even meet them; you’re already off to an excellent start before you’ve even said “hello!”  It’s hard to put a price tag on that kind of introduction.”

We’ll be blogging more frequently (I hope) in the next couple of weeks once we hit November. All of this joy calls for none other than a little Pavarotti singing “Nessun Dorma.” I consider him to be the best tenor in history. Such a gorgeous song and with the most spectacular voice to match.

Are You… Available?

It goes without saying that everyone who choses to meet with the Linx team has expressed interest in finding a relationship, but that doesn’t mean everyone is actually prepared to be in one.  In fact, figuring out whether or not someone is ready for a relationship can be quite complicated.  And it’s interesting to see the ways in which we all get stuck in places and patterns that keep us from moving forward with our lives.

We often talk about helping people break free from their current dating inertia; for some clients, that involves helping them learn how to date for the very first time; for others, it involves reintroducing them to the dating world after divorce; and for an unfortunate few, it can mean helping them meet incredibly trustworthy, loyal individuals after an experience with infidelity.  These are all, obviously, very big stumbling blocks when it comes to getting into a relationship and they take a lot of work to overcome.  But smaller obstacles can be just as detrimental when it comes to letting another person into your life, and we it comes to find love, many of us are more guilty of standing in our own way than we realize.

Lately, Amy and I have seen a pattern of more and more first(!) dates not even happening because of poor communication and scheduling conflicts.  This is incredibly disheartening for us because we put so much work into each match behind the scenes.  But beyond that, it’s a huge missed opportunity for everyone involved.  And it’s often the result of unreasonable expectations, inflexibility, or not being honest about the amount of time you have to pursue a relationship.

It’s sometimes the case that people honestly do not realize how busy and overcommitted they are until presented with the option of an introduction.  If these are temporary social or charitable engagements that will clear from your schedule in some reasonable amount of time as you get to know someone, don’t sweat it; most of us actually find it attractive when some has a full and active life, and even look forward to eventually being part of it.  Be upfront about your commitments – give your date a roadmap to let him or her know how quickly those obligations might clear, and dating should pretty easily fall into place from there.

If, on the other hand, you find that you really can’t plan to get together because you constantly work late, are always traveling, are on call, or don’t know your schedule, this may not be the time for you to be dating.  And you should admit that.  If work is controlling your life, don’t expect a potential date to let it control his or her life, too.  This may not be your fault, but it’s also not fair to the person attempting to date you.  Let them go for now.  With some luck, he or she will circle back when timing is better on both sides.  But if you press forward when you really don’t have the availability to build a relationship, you’ll just end up engendering hard feelings and frustration.  No one wants that.

If, however, you can’t seem to find the time to meet because you’ll only have a first date on weekends (but don’t have any free time for the next three of them), can’t go out on Thursdays (because you have your fav yoga class on Friday mornings), don’t like Monday dates (because you’re too tired after work), refuse to have a weekend breakfast date because they aren’t romantic (even though you’ll only meet on weekends and don’t have any free weekend evening for the next month) then you may be standing in your own way.  And that is your fault.
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It is really, really important to be open and honest about what you need when you start dating someone.  But it is equally important to not be totally rigid and difficult when it comes to the things you want.  You need to be home by 10pm if it’s a weeknight?  Fine.  You need to meet in the city or in Silicon Valley because you don’t have a car or don’t have a ton or time?  Perfectly understandable.  You only want Saturday night first dates scheduled six weeks in advance with regular phone calls and texts beforehand, and you expect your date to be patient, excited, and agreeable because this is what works best for your social/exercise/shopping/travel calendar?  Absolutely not.  When you’re that limiting and specific with your date, you’re not just telling him or her that you’re busy – you’re telling your date that you expect to dictate all of the terms of your relationship, and no one wants to be on the receiving end of that message.  Ever.

Being flexible isn’t just about dating someone who doesn’t look like the actor you fantasize about or the crush you had in college; it’s about stepping out of the box of your life and realizing that your future is going to look exactly like your present unless you start to make different choices.  Amy hates asking the question “Are you single?” because it’s both too vague and too specific at the same time.  She always prefers to ask people “Are you available?” because it’s important to know if they’re unattached, interested in finding commitment, and willing to do the work it takes to get there.  It’s like asking “Are you single? Are you looking for love?” and “Are you willing to invest in another person in order to find it?” all at the same time.  It’s important to be flexible in a lot of ways when you start dating someone, and that includes being flexible with your time, your attitude, your tastes, and your expectations.  In fact, flexibility is the difference between being single and being available — it’s a measure of how open you are to being surprised, and how willing you are to take a chance on trying to make something work.  It also happens to be attractive. 😉

So what about you?  Are you flexible or are you rigid?  Are you open or are you closed?  Are you just single and expecting a stranger to walk into your life, compliantly play by your rules, and make sure that you live happily ever after?  Or are you available – ready, willing, and able to meet someone else in the middle, prepared to no longer be the obstacle that stands in the way of your own success, and open to finding out what it’s like to let someone else co-star in your personal pursuit of happiness?  The question is yours to answer, but don’t forget that it’s an answer you’re constantly sharing with the world.

Autumn is just around the corner…. are you ready to Fall in love?

September and October always usher in a very active season at Linx, and this time of year is actually great for dating in general. With summer travel over, the holidays not quite in sight, and evenings still warm, this is the perfect time to focus on your personal life! In order to reap the rewards use deserve this time of year (it is, after all, harvest season) it’s important that you do two things; be positive, and look forward. And here is a plan for doing just that.Autumn-Love

Before your next date, I’d like you to do 2 things.

1.) Make a list of all of your positive qualities. And ONLY your positive qualities. Make it a list of all of the reasons you think someone should want to date you. Yes, all of them. And write them as “I AM…” statements rather than “People think I am…” or a “Someone should like me because….”

This should just be a list of ALL of your positive qualities and attributes, even if they seem really minor or trivial to you. For example, here are a few of mine:

I am compassionate

I listen well

I make an outstanding chocolate chip cookie

I’m naturally affectionate

I have nice forearms (according to E. Jean Carroll)

I do not get morning breath

I am close to my family

I’m good with kids

I’m marriage-minded

I am loyal

I have a great circle of close friends

Note that this is just a small sample of MY list. Yours could (and should) be entirely different. And your list should be long, and exhaustive. It should a true inventory of the things you like about yourself, and absolutely know are the reasons someone else could value, respect, and love you. And once you’ve written the list, you need to read it. Out loud. Several times. You need to accept and embrace all of these things as facts about who you are, and you need to read it over and over again until you can say each of these facts out loud, and not let the little voice inside your head follow any of them with a “But….”

Once you start to accept these great things about yourself, it’s then time to face forward, and think about how you’d like to share these parts of yourself with someone else. Do this by making a list of things you either don’t do as much as you’d like, or don’t do at all, but would want to do in a relationship. For those of us who telecommute or consider ourselves homebodies, it’s really important that this be a list of things meant to take place OUTSIDE of your home. Again, here’s part of my list as an example:

I would like to hike more.

I would like to take weekend trips to Carmel.

I would like to spend more time at Ocean Beach

I would like to go to more romantic restaurants

I would like to see more concerts

I would like to have dinner with other couples

I would like to spend a few weekends in Tahoe and Palm Springs

I would like to plan some international travel

I would like to start cycling

I would like to take a couples’ massage class

I would like to go kayaking

I would like to let someone else get to know me.

This list is just as important as the first; the former is catalog of what/who we are, while the second is roadmap for what we want our lives to look like. When you make this list, you are, in many ways, describing what you want in your relationship. You are giving it shape. You are allowing yourself to visualize it. And once you can visualize it, so can the person with whom you’re on a date.

Often, people go on dates and simply describe their lives just as they are. They tell each other all about how they live as single people, they don’t talk about what they might want to be different, and they don’t allow their dates to see how he or she might fit into the picture. If you want someone in your life, you have to invite them in. You have to let them know what role they might take. And you have to give them the opportunity to be part of a negotiation around shaping a future together. So be sure to work on building self-esteem around all of your positive qualities, and invite someone you like into your life by telling him or her all about what you hope to see happen in your short- and mid-term future; if you believe in the quality of your offering and extend the invitation, how else will your date be able to R.S.V.P. for love?

If you’re ready to find your match, email us today amy@linxdating.com

Most Eligible Bachelors in Silicon Valley

Linx is featured in Entrepreneur.com today and we thought it would be fun to share on the blog this must read bachelor list!

By: Tanya Benedicto Klich

It may be the epicenter of innovation, but Silicon Valley is also teeming with smart, wealthy bachelors. As her Menlo Park, Calif.-based matchmaking service Linx Dating has grown over the last decade, Amy Andersen says she has gained unprecedented access to the “finest caliber of singles… in an area that is already a bubble of the best and the brightest.”

While she wouldn’t reveal Linx’s hottest clients for confidentiality reasons, she tapped her deep local network and social circles to round up the most eligible bachelors in the tech metro. Read the embedded dating expert’s commentary on why these dashing men are the most sought-after suitors of Silicon Valley:

JEREMY STOPPELMAN1402088230-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-jeremy-stoppelman Image credit: jdlasica via Flickr

Andersen: “This Yelp co-founder and Harvard Business School graduate is a five-star catch as far as I’m concerned. Given his love for reading non-fiction, I think this guy might be ready for a bit of true romance.”

DYLAN SMITH1402088214-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-dylan-smith Image credit: box.com


Andersen
: “This Box CFO might be a former Duke Blue Devil, but he looks like a complete sweetheart. I also spot him fairly often in my neighborhood, and he literally is the cute ‘boy next door.”

JOE LONSDALE1402088205-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-joe-lonsdale Image credit: TechCrunch via Flickr

Andersen: “A local Bay Area native and Stanford grad, Joe certainly made good as the co-founder of Palantir. These days, he appears to be more interested in media than in finance and defense, but surely this former chess champion knows that every King is vulnerable without the love of a strong Queen.”

BEN RATTRAY1402088193-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-ben-rattray Image credit: personaldemocracy via Flickr

Andersen: “The handsome CEO of Change.org is definitely empowering all of us to be the change we want to see in the world, but I hear that he claims to not have the time to invest in a relationship. Where do I start a petition to change that?”

MATT MULLENWEG1402088177-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-matt-mullenweg Image credit: Silicon Prairie News via Flickr

Andersen: “I hear this Texas-born bachelor and founder of WordPress claims to be married to his work, but it’s hard to believe that this soulful saxophonist isn’t looking to jazz up his personal life. My comment for this famous blogger? Find a lady love to occupy those lips of yours, and make your work your mistress.”

SERGEY BRIN1402088167-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-sergey-brin Image credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Andersen: “My sources tell me that this brilliant billionaire is back on the market. I’d like to see him find happiness, but when it comes to dating he needs to leave his infamous tech specs at home; a woman wants to look into a man’s eyes on a date, not into the transparent screen of his wearable computer Google Glass.”

TIM COOK1402088158-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-tim-cook Image credit: igrec via Flickr

Andersen: “It’s hard to think of a job more high profile than being the CEO of Apple, and yet Tim Cook is one of the most private men I can think of. I’d like to see him step away from work just a little bit, and find a partner to call his own.”

VIVEK & ANEEL RANADIVE1402088143-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-vivek-aneel-ranadive Image credit: Aneel Ranadive via Twitter

Andersen: “Between the two of them, this father and son duo has degrees from Columbia, Harvard, and MIT. They also hold a significant stake in the Sacramento Kings, so we know these tech magnates understand the importance of being more than ‘all work and no play.’ Good looks and great minds definitely run in the family, so I think finding love for these two should be a slam dunk.”

JACK DORSEY1402088134-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-jack-dorsey Image credit: jdlasica via Flickr

Andersen: “The St. Louis-born, NYU-educated founder of Twitter has kept his Midwestern charm and Manhattan style, but I’d love to see him settle down and grow some real West Coast roots. I just hope his love letters include more than 140 characters.”

8 Outdoor Dates for June in the Bay Area

Even San Francisco fog can’t fully disguise the extended daylight hours of the next several weeks, so do yourself a favor and get outside for a date or two as Summer displaces Spring. From a Japantown food tour to ultimate Frisbee to a nighttime walkabout through important parts of SF history, the month of June promises to let the intrepid among us sample a little bit of everything.iStock_000026905060Small

Two Valleys for the Price of One…

Daily during the summer – If you want to cross Yosemite off of your bucket list but don’t like to drive, hop on a tour bus that takes you from San Francisco all the way to Yosemite Valley and back, with a stop in the agriculturally vital Central Valley along the way. Be sure to take your camera. And sunscreen. And bug spray.

East Meets West…

June 6-8th – Head to AT&T Park this coming weekend to see the SF Giants take on the NY Mets. If watching the national pastime in a stadium with ocean views isn’t enough for you, Saturday tickets include free Sergio Romo Superhero Socks, and Sunday tickets entitle you to your very own Hello Kitty Giants Plush. Peanuts and Cracker Jacks are available for purchase.

Ready Oar Not…

June 9-13th, Daily – See how well your date can bond with your fur-covered best friend as all of you set out on a Russian River paddle-canoe raft! Canine (and human, of course) children are welcome on these relaxed and refreshing outdoor adventures where you can see if your pet really knows how to doggy paddle.

Tune in, Tokyo…

June 13th — If you like your seafood raw and your furniture small and colorful, this Japantown walking tour of outstanding eateries might be just right for you. Stops change regularly, but the focus is neighborly rather than culinary, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself in DOSA Fillmore or Crown & Crumpet. Sushi aside, it might help to know exactly how you like to take your tea.

Who You Gonna Call…?

June 14th – If you manage to survive Friday the 13th, step out the next night for a viewing of Ghostbusters with thousands of other SF locals. There’s no better excuse for spooning in public than watching an outdoor movie at night, but you might want to bring a couple of blankets and pack a picnic as well; just breathing the air in Dolores Park has been known to conjure all sorts of appetites.

A Little Bit of History Repeating…

June 18th – If you’ve ever been curious about the seedier side of San Francisco’s history, try a walking tour of the old Barbary Coast. A local crime expert and noted historian will guide you out of the present and into the past as you visit the birthplace of the gold rush, explore the sites of some notorious brothels, and (probably) find out how the City by the Bay came to be famous for booms, busts, and bourbon-based cocktails.

Join a Biker Gang…

June 20-22nd – Arrange a double date or invite some friends to meet the minimum requirement of four riders in order to form a personal peleton for crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on motorized bicycles. Cruise into foggy Sausalito for lunch, and then take the ferry back to urbanity. No one needs to know you had a little help maintaining your cruising speed; just tell your friends that the entire experience was… electric.

Duck, Duck… Oops!

June 28th – Revisit your college days (and try to avoid getting hit) as you watch perfectly nice guys with great educations chase flying saucers across a grassy field by taking in a game of Professional Ultimate Disc! The SF FlameThrowers are a franchise team in this fledging sport, and – just like in college – these guys are still trying very hard to get attention.

The Sound….of Silence

Blog written by: Linx staff member, Michael Norman

Getting to know one anotherOccasionally we get questions from Linx members about dating experiences and anxieties that are all too common, and we decided that it makes sense to answer those as part of a semi-regular column that addresses the real questions and concerns of Linx readers and members like you. This week we’re tackling the issue of “icebreakers” on a first date. Next week, who knows? Don’t be shy about submitting your own questions, dilemmas, and experiences; this blog has thousands of readers, so if you’re having a particular problem, the odds are good that someone else is, too.

This week, anonymous Linx member SayAnything? sent us the following question:

“Dear Amy,

I had been researching first date questions to start conversations and found article after article (and even books) with questions I would never ask anyone on a first date:

-“What is your earliest memory of feeling wonder?”

-“What do you think of the space program?”

-“If you had to write a limerick about this date, how would it go?”

Seriously? I wondered if the people that were writing these articles had ever heard the deafening silence bound to follow after asking such questions. It goes without saying that one would read as much topical news as possible before a date to be able to talk about innocuous things like Oscars, sports, etc. But can you really start a date conversation with, “How do you lose a 777?” without sounding callus? I weeded out work related questions, politics, dating past, and questions that had a negative connotation (i.e. what is your pet peeves?) but my list gets really small. What should I do?

Do you have any conversation starter suggestions? What question is best to ask when there is a lull? I wondered if you had written an article about this from your perspective (or someone on your staff)? Have you ever polled people from your Twitter as to their favorite question to start a date conversation?”

Answer:

Actually, we haven’t polled people on Twitter about their favorite first date questions, but what a great idea! Send us yours now (@linxdating) and we’ll update this later with results. In the meantime, here are some thoughts about the Do’s and Don’ts of good first date conversation.

It is really important to remember that while your first date is an opportunity to learn about another person, it is also an incredible opportunity to let your date learn things about you. That brings us to Rule #1:

Rule #1: Do not ask a question that you would not want to (or cannot) answer!

A good first date question is one that can be flipped. In other words, your date should be able to end his/her answer by saying “and what about you?” or “what are your picks?” or “where would you go?” If there are stories or things about yourself that you’d like to share, or topics with which you know you’re really comfortable, this is a great way to make sure you reveal those sides of yourself. If there are things about your life or past that you don’t really want to discuss, this also helps you stay out of that territory. You don’t need to have a script, but you should be prepared to have an answer to any question you would ask. I once spent twenty minutes describing my favorite books at the request of a date who then stonewalled me with “I don’t really read,” when I asked him his own question. Do not be that person.

Rule #2: Try to keep your questions in the present, and facing forward.

It is inevitable that two strangers will go through the standard questions about hometowns, colleges, family, and jobs, but make sure that you don’t dwell in the past. Remember that this is not an interview; it’s okay if there are a few gaps in someone’s CV or personal history. You do not need a complete timeline on the first date; what you do need is a sense of what his or her life looks like in the present, and what they enjoy and value now. Ask questions that give a sense of how well your date’s interests and outlooks might mesh with your own. Here’s a good example: if you love travel, instead of asking “Where did you last travel?” ask something like “If you could go anywhere next weekend where would you go, and why?” With that one question, you might find out that you’re with someone who prefers roadtrips to airlines, values family time more than adventure, or thinks one day in Paris is worth two days on a plane. What someone wants to do is almost always more telling than what they’ve done, which brings us to:

Rule #3: Be more concerned with thoughts and feelings than with facts.

Just as you don’t want to conduct an interview on a date, you also don’t want to play therapist (stay away from too many questions about someone’s childhood). You do, however, want to know what gets them excited and passionate, and keeps them engaged. Asking “what’s your favorite book?” might get you a very brief answer or the useless “it’s hard to pick a favorite,” but asking “What are three of your favorite books, and why?” can reveal an unexpected interest or hobby. It’s also great to ask about favorite experiences like “What happened on your favorite family vacation?” or “Can you remember the first thing that you cooked for yourself that you actually liked eating?” It’s more than okay to have periods of silence in a conversation, especially if they take place while one of you is composing a thoughtful answer. There is a difference between an occasional awkward silence and actual dead air. In fact, this brings us to:He always makes  her smile

Rule #4: It’s ok to be awkward.

No, it’s not ok to be intentionally awkward, and it’s definitely not ok if you feel like your date is purposely trying to make you uncomfortable. But it is really important to keep in mind that you are two strangers who just met; something is bound to be less than ideal. And actually, that’s great; you get the opportunity to see how your date responds in a less than ideal situation where the stakes are low, and no one is too invested. Don’t stress yourself out about asking all of the right questions. Just make sure that you have the right approach and the right attitude; be optimistic, be open, be compassionate, and listen. It turns out that the actual questions are a lot less important than the spirit in which you answer them. So, finally:

Rule #5: Be genuine.

The worst thing you can do on a date is misrepresent yourself. Don’t pretend to be interested in things that truly bore you. Don’t bring up topics you don’t want to discuss. Don’t be silent about your own likes and dislikes because you don’t want to be judged. Remember that, at heart, all Linx members are looking for the same thing – real and lasting human connections. So if you find yourself sitting across from a first date and neither of you knows what to say, start with the question that most single people would like to be asked more often; smile, take a deep breath, and open with “How was your day?”New love knows no boundries

Style in Silicon Valley …

Linx is featured in Business Insider today: Silicon Valley’s Top Matchmaker Tells Us What Techies Should Wear On A Date by Madeline Stone.

Silicon Valley professionals get a bad rap for being uncreative when it comes to personal style. The common stereotype is that engineers live in hoodies, jeans, and flip flops, while venture capitalists constantly rock fleece vests and v-neck sweaters.

Menlo Park-based matchmaker Amy Andersen has seen her fair share of young professionals sporting these uniforms. She founded Linx Dating in 2000 when she saw that a surprising number of professionals were having trouble navigating the Silicon Valley dating scene. Since then, she’s coached a wide network of people in the tech, financial, and health care industries to better position themselves for success in dating.startups-ep2-silicon-valley-map-652x300

Andersen shared her take on style in Silicon Valley as well as some tips for what young professionals should be wearing to impress their dates.

Q: Business Insider: Do you think there’s a Silicon Valley dress code?

A: Amy Andersen: There is a definite Silicon Valley aesthetic and culture. The mentality is you want to fit in here and you don’t want to stand out. Employees want to blend into their company culture. I have heard stories about people taking jobs at Facebook, as an example and, before the job started, dying her hair to be a mousy brunette so as not to stand out too much as a platinum blonde. theinternship02

With the kinds of perks that Google or Facebook or Palantir, for example, offer to employees, it is easy to see why an employee on the margin might stay at work rather than venture out and would certainly not focus on fashion. The goal is to work and stay on the company campus, while having some fun too. If you think about it, the culture at these companies for 20- and even early 30-somethings is not unlike the dorm experience at a top university — project teams bond over what they do all day. It’s more about living to work than it is about working to live, and so you do everything together. The movie “The Internship” might have been fiction and was probably a bit exaggerated but it was pretty much on target.

In Silicon Valley, in the fields of tech and engineering, there’s no focus on outward appearance unless you have a client-facing role, like in leadership or sales. In that case, you are expected to be polished and dress the part.

Expression outside of the campus environment is totally different — techies and those in those circles express themselves through a variety of ways to their inner sanctum of friends. This could be through the new Italian wheels in their garage at home, artwork displayed on their walls, recently purchased memberships at private social clubs like The Battery in San Francisco, or epic new multimillion dollar pied-a-terres in San Francisco. 2ade3ba83f46ef67_Justin-Timberlake

BI: Is the clichéd hoodie a reality in the tech community?

AA: For many, hoodies are a way of life in the tech community, as fleece vests are a way of life in the venture capital and hedge fund community. I see a ton of guys (and girls) walking around town in their respective company hoodies. Let’s not just focus on hoodies though! Tons of guys wear frog feet shoes “5 finger footwear.” They say it is good for posture. I think they’re completely hideous and a huge fashion offense! blog+-day2+063

The Adidas black and white sneakers are very popular, and backpacks are a way of life here as well. The ironic thing is most all of the major fashion houses for women are using backpacks for Spring 2014 as part of their look for women — not a Jansport backpack but more Chanel, Louis Vuitton, or Chloe. gerard-butler-adidas-originals-samba-vulc-ii-white-black-wheat This pic of Gerard Butler shows off his Adidas kicks but actually is a good example of the type of cute long sleeve shirt and cargo pants that look great on guys for casual day sorts of dates or a super chill/lax pm date (i.e., if you are seeing a flick, dive bar drinks….that sort of environment).

BI: How often are wardrobe consultations part of your coaching?

AA: A few times a month. Some clients hire me to do this for them and other times I match the client to the right stylist according to their budget and personality. I have a roster of great stylists for every type of person that contacts me.

BI: What kinds of things do you tell your clients as far as dressing better?

AA: First impressions are so important. If you are coming from work, do what it takes to put your best foot forward and freshen up. No one likes a sweaty, frazzled date! Women will often put a lot of time and thought into their first date outfit. It is not uncommon for her to get a manicure, maybe even buy a new dress. A woman doesn’t need a guy to look impeccable, but she does want him to look presentable … “Nice” could be a pressed dress shirt and nice pair of dark denim, brown belt, nice brown loafers or dress shirt and pair of Banana Republic khakis. This is not hard to achieve and will send a signal that a man is taking the early stages of dating seriously.

BI: What should guys wear out on a date?

AA: This is all situational and depends on the context of the date. It also depends on the person largely. If going for sushi and cocktails, throw on dark denim, a cool t-shirt, and unstructured blazer for a little bit of an edgy look. If you are reading this and saying, “Huh?” then do dark denim and a Rag & Bone basic long-sleeve t-shirt with the right shoes. That is definitely more Silicon Valley code for casual, yet on the right guy and body could look totally hot. If it’s a more dressy date, I would suggest a nice pair of slacks and dress shirt or fantastic blazer paired with dark denim, gorgeous loafers (or drivers), and a dress shirt with cuff links. Totally polished, put together, and making a stand-out impression.

BI: What should women be wearing out on a date?

AA:
Like advice I would give to men, let’s start with being confident. Once you are there, rock it out and have fun with your clothing. What men tell me they find appealing is a woman who is confident and sexy in her own skin.

At Linx I get a lot of demands for a woman who is classic, ladylike, stylish, not trying too hard, not showing too much skin, but perfectly presentable. For better or for worse, men are impossibly visual creatures. A universal message is that men like a woman who accentuates her figure.OL Olivia Palermo and fashion stylist, event designer, and style writer, Lucas Somoza

What does that mean from a style perspective? Think more Olivia Palermo than Pamela Anderson. For a casual to more dressy date, do a pair of skinny pants, a great silk tank style top, an edgy leather jacket (so hot for Spring 2014), the right costume jewelry, and some nude pumps. If it’s a fancy sort of restaurant and you want to seal the deal, do a body hugging Herve Leger bandage dress paired with a great blazer, hair in a loose bun atop the head or at the nape of the neck, and statement heels.

BI: Why is style important to dating more effectively?

AA: I would say style and first impressions are important considering people generally make up their mind in the first 60 seconds if they are interested in getting to know you better romantically or not. Why not do everything you can to substantially increase your odds of success from the start?

Wanna Increase Your Odds of Falling In Love? Here’s How!

I am continually reminded that it is about the basics when it comes to dating. My clients tell me so much information and I soak it all up like a sponge. Here are my top 16 tidbits (I tried for 10 but there were too many good ones.)

1. If you are frazzled from a crazy work day, take 5 minutes before your date to do some deep breathing, reset yourself, and shake off the work stress. First impressions are everything. Try to do everything you can to enter the date with a fresh outlook, a kick in your step, confidence, and a vibrancy about you. If deep breathing doesn’t work for you, figure out what your quickest “reset button” is and learn to use it.

2. On your date try the simple act of listening more than you speak. Ask questions and show a keen, genuine interest in getting to know whom you are out with.

3. Even if you know that your date is not ultimately for you, always remember that the world is a small place. In other words, reputation is everything, so be kind, considerate, and respectful. Although you might have quickly made up your mind, spending an hour with your date won’t hurt you. In actually might pay large dividends in your personal life. You never know who your date is friends with. Keep it on the up and up and perhaps he/she will introduce you to one of their friends.

4. Don’t ever, ever stand anyone up. Your name goes in an infamous little coveted black book. See #3, above, if you are still considering standing someone up.

5. Stop trying so hard. Just be yourself. Let the proverbial hair down. Stop bragging or peacocking. Do you want to come across as self-absorbed? I didn’t think so.

6. Show some vulnerability, be human, be wise. Share something personal. Watch how your date reacts verbally and non-verbally. If anything, it will be telling and a good dating “data point.”

7. Remember that your date is in the same boat as you and probably has the same, if not more, nerves than you. He/she is human too. It’s ok to have butterflies – you’re not a robot are you?

8. Brush up on world affairs and current events. Try to be in the know and be prepared to engage in a wide range of interesting topics.

9. If you are dieting, don’t tell your date you need to drop 10. Order some sashimi and a salad, skip the booze, and a diet coke. No one wants to hear about how you struggle with weight. It just isn’t sexy.

10. If you talk about your ex for more than 10 minutes, then maybe you aren’t over your ex. Dating too soon after a break-up or divorce can be disastrous.

11. Watch your alcohol intake. 2 glasses is fine, 5 is not. Slurring isn’t attractive, neither is driving under the influence. Be responsible and take an uber if you’re going to drink. You know what happens when you lose judgment. You might do something you’ll later regret.

12. SLOW DOWN. Stop dating in such high volume that you lose focus on the end goal of finding true love. Think with an intelligent approach of quality over quantity.

13. Even if you are unsure as to how you feel about your date (but think he/she is worth continuing getting to know over the course of more date(s)), express yourself and communicate. Let your date know that you are having fun, enjoying the evening, and that it would be fun to do it again. Your date is not a mind reader. Furthermore your date might be wondering how you feel about him/her. Give your date a verbal roadmap.

14. FLIRT. What? Are we in a business meeting and about to fall asleep on a conference call? Do the dance and reveal the sassy, fun, flirty, side of you. Do you want to fall into the friendship zone?

15.
If you’re a cerebral type, try to get out of your head and work on tapping into feeling. Over-analyzing everything on the date (and after) can be exhausting.

16.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Never been into the bohemian, coffee shop drinking guy who lives in a loft in the Mission? Or the preppy Cow Hollow girl? You just never know who will end up surprising you. Whoever figures out the secret sauce for what chemistry really is, will retire on a very large private island with a lifetime of mai tais and foot massages.