How to Get the girl

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.

Sex(y) Ed…

Written by: Linx staff member Michael Norman iStock_000042703430Small

I often get asked about what women should wear on first dates, and I really have just two words to say about that:

Be Sexy.

That’s it. Be Sexy. Despite blog posts and magazine articles to the contrary, there is no uniform for first dates. In fact, sexiness is different for every woman based on her age, her confidence, and her body type. But at any number – whether you’re counting years, reporting your dress size, or looking down at a scale – your first (and really, only goal) when dressing for a date should be achieving some degree of sexiness.

I know some of you are clenching your jaws (and possibly your pearls) when you read this. I can actually hear more than a few silent diatribes about objectification, being liked for who you are, the appeal of intelligence, self-respect, dignity, modesty, propriety, being true to yourself, and leaving something to the imagination. Those points can all be valid depending on the day, but note that I didn’t ask you to wear Lucite heels and a bandage dress borrowed from a Vegas cocktail waitress; I simply asked you to be sexy.

I know it can be harder for some of us than it is for others, so let’s examine some of the feedback clients often give me when they bristle at this suggestion. If you don’t think sexiness is appropriate for a first date, there’s a chance that one or more of these points might apply to you:

I don’t like being objectified. This isn’t about sex.

Hold up. This isn’t about sex? Are you kidding me? So you just want to make a new friend, is that it? Is that what we should tell your date? That you’re just looking for something platonic? Is that why he called you, asked you out, made dinner plans, and is going to pick up the check? Just to make a new friend? You’re right that a first date isn’t about sex, but it is about sexual attraction; that’s really the point of differentiation between a date and every other interaction in your life. If you don’t invite your date to be attracted to you, he won’t be. But hey, maybe you two can just be friends!

I don’t like dressing “that way.” I like to leave something to the imagination.

Again, I’m not telling you how to dress, but I am telling you how to feel. And so much of your mood – in all aspects of your life – can be dictated by clothing choices. Would you wear yoga pants to an important business meeting? Are you going to wear a skirt to SoulCycle? A bathing suit to a doctor’s appointment? (Actually, I did see a woman do that once. Please don’t.) If you want to be kissed, wooed, desired, wanted, you have to dress the part. Even the most conservative among you can spice things up a bit by undoing a button, letting your hair down, or adjusting a hem length. Invite the attention you want; if you don’t want a man to think about you sexually, I’m not sure why you’re going on dates in the first place.

I don’t like my body. You’re asking too much of me.

It can sometimes seem hard to accept, but we all have issues with our bodies. (Personally, I have about 56 inches of scars from 20 different surgeries, so I know of what I speak.) But if you don’t let yourself like your own body, how can you expect someone else to love it? Whether you realize it or not, you do love some parts of your physical self. If you have trouble starting at the top with a list of parts you like, go ahead and start at the bottom. List the things you dislike most and work in reverse. When you get to the top, you’ll know exactly where to focus with your clothing choices; draw attention to the parts of you that you like most (or dislike least), but always be sure to draw attention to yourself. If you don’t, you’re signaling to your date that some other woman in the room is more worthy of his gaze than you are.

I’m only interested in a guy who’s into more than just the superficial.

Yeah. We all are. Note the “more” in that statement. I get that you want him to be into your brain, but you also want him to be into your body. At least, I hope you do. It’s really enlightening to know that our clients who most often stress the importance of a physical connection are among the eldest. People who’ve had forty or fifty years of relationship experience know a lot more than the rest of us do. One of my favorite clients has often said, “There’s absolutely nothing more important than the way a man looks at me.” She’s right. So learn from your elders. (She, by the way, could teach all of us many, many things about the benefits of great tailoring and wearing slightly tight sweaters that have the perfect neckline. She’s also a successful retired attorney who can talk about almost any subject with a twinkle in her eye, a light laugh, and a smile.)

It’s 2014. The idea that guys are visual creatures seems really unevolved to me.

You’re right. It is unevolved. Because men are not particularly evolved when it comes to matter of the, uh, heart. How many generations do you think it takes to change the hardwiring of attraction? And what, exactly, would be the impetus? If anything, the practices of society – and the human body itself – adapt to feed our visually stimulated sexual appetites. You do, realize, right, that makeup is just a way to mimic the physiological signs of arousal? That every time you put on lipstick or blush or eyeliner you’re telling the men around you that you’re… interested? And your body… if you don’t want to attract the male gaze, your body is the biggest traitor of them all. More than one school of evolutionary thought proposes that enlarged female breasts (practically unheard of elsewhere in the animal kingdom) developed as a response to learning to walk upright; apparently human males need some form of cleavage to be not too far from eye level, and we don’t really care if it’s on the back or the front.

So let yourself be sexy. Admit that you’re looking for a connection that’s both physical and cerebral. Embrace the opportunity to advertise your interests. (Please, please don’t wear something that your friends called “cute.”) Learn to love the parts of your body that you already like, and to like the parts of your physique that you think you’ll never love. It’s ok to show some skin, to wear bright colors, to make choices that make it hard for a man to not look at you. It’s ok to want to be the center of attention on your date. In fact, it’s human nature. 😉 iStock_000039223286Small

Putting the CON in Confidence… Part II

Amy often points out that the skills of dating are themselves like a muscle, and unless regularly exercised, they tend to atrophy. This is true of people both in and out of relationships, and though it is a huge mistake to think that your “dating life” is over just because you’ve found a boyfriend or girlfriend (happy long term couples actively “date” each other throughout their marriage) this can be a particularly hard problem for those of us who are single; if the dating muscles have atrophied and a new date is on the horizon, how can we pretend to have any dating strengths?Happy couple in the city

Given that we charge our male clients with the responsibility of planning, arranging, and paying for a date, it makes sense to offer the more skittish guys some advice on how to make sure everything at the restaurant goes smoothly. Assuming you survived Part I of this series, and successfully navigated a phone call that has led to a first date, here are some things to keep in mind that can help provide the boost of confidence you might need to convert a first date into a second.

1. Scout the location.

As a guy, it’s really important to have some sense of mastery of your surroundings, especially if you’ve invited a woman to a place she’s never been. While we certainly recommend picking somewhere totally new to both of you if you’re a more practiced or adventuresome dater, go with someplace familiar if first dates are generally hard or stressful for you; we want you to be excited about this, not anxious.

So show up a little bit early, especially if you haven’t been there in awhile. Make sure you check in with the hostess, and maybe try to request a booth or corner table that has low lighting. Or ask to sit outside if the weather is right and you don’t think it will get too cool too quickly (women love dining al fresco, even if they’re rarely properly dressed for it). Make sure you know the answer to the inevitable “Do you know where they hide the ladies’ room?” query that you’ll get at some point during dinner. And even take some time to study the menu while you’re alone and form a couple of questions or opinions about the dishes; if decisions are hard for you, deciding what to eat will be even harder when you’re being distracted by a pretty face.

2. Admit ignorance.

If you aren’t particularly well-versed in any specific food or cuisine, the really great thing about a restaurant is that it’s full of experts who can help you out. Don’t know where the best table is for a first date? Ask the hostess. Not sure what to order? Ask the waiter. Not comfortable ordering a bottle of wine? Ask the sommelier. Some guys might see this as weakness, but admitting what you don’t know is actually a strength; it also gets you off the hook. If the wine is bad, you didn’t pick it. If the table is lousy, you didn’t ask to be seated there. If the dish is awful, blame the waiter. And send it back. All of us like someone who knows a lot about a few things, but no one likes the guy who thinks that he knows a lot about everything. It’s really ok to be ignorant; admitting ignorance in front of your date can allow both of you to learn something. Together. It also lets your date know that you aren’t the kind of guy who always has to have an opinion, which means she’ll likely care a lot more about the opinions that you do have. Confident guys are curious, because they admit they have a lot to learn. Most women will tell you that being a lifelong learner is very, very sexy.

3. Be gentlemanly.

This one should really go without saying, but be sure to open doors for your date, to not sit down until she’s seated, and if you really want to make an impression, stand up if she needs to leave the table in the middle of your date. You should also encourage her to feel comfortable ordering what she’d like (after all, you picked the restaurant) so be sure to signal that you’re feeling both generous and hungry. In other words, saying things like “We’re doing three courses, right” (You’re hungry) and “I’m sort of stuck… not really sure if I want the halibut or the duck” (Your pockets are deep… enough) provides reassurance for her that she should order as she pleases, and she should expect to enjoy the evening.

4. Be clear.

As your meal winds down, don’t be afraid to let her know you’ve had a great time. If you truly mean it, a woman loves hearing “I’ve had a great night” and “I’d like to do this again.” Too often, we hedge our bets and make conditional statements like “If you’re interested, I’d like to go out again” or “I’d like to do this again if you would.” Do not do that. Be direct. It conveys a lot of confidence when you use a declarative statement. After all, no matter how you word them, questions always involves a degree of uncertainty. Yes? No? Yes?

5. Be… the bodyguard.

Whether you had the best date of your life or the worst night you can remember, always offer to walk a woman to her car/hail a cab for her/escort her to a bus or BART stop/stay with her while she waits for an Uber. It might waste a few minutes of your life and you may have hated each other, but it’s still a sign that you’re a good person. And a thoughtful man. On the other hand – with a date you really liked – it could be that extra minute or two alone that builds enough sexual tension and spark to lead to a great first kiss. And if you think the time is right for a great first kiss to happen, be sure to kiss her with confidence.

The third and final part of this series will involve some general tips for building and maintaining confidence in a lot of different situations. If you’re a guy who’s lacking confidence and self esteem, that can change. You really can learn to be more confident. And your entire life will change positively as a result. So stay tuned for more…. 😉

Putting the CON in Confidence… Part I

I love my coffee

When Amy and I are asked to name the one quality that women find most attractive in a man, the answer is easy: CONFIDENCE. We hear it every day, and while it’s true that some guys can seem a little bit too confident, confidence is a lot like money; it’s hard to tell when you have too much of it, but it’s very, very obvious when you don’t have enough.

Confidence is absolutely essential for converting a first date into something more, and eventually ending up in a relationship; after all, if you don’t believe that a particular woman should be interested in dating you, then why should she be? And how are you ever going to convince her that you’re the right guy if you can’t even convince yourself? Given that we aren’t all 6’5” with a cleft chin, a full head of hair, and huge biceps, it can be easy to doubt yourself or be anxious on a first date. Thankfully, a little bit of confidence is something a guy can fake pretty easily (Do you hear that, ladies? You aren’t the only ones who can fake things.). And for a guy who’s low on self-esteem, even faking just a little bit of confidence can go a long way.

1. Before you pick up the phone, have a plan.

Under no circumstances should you ever call a woman for a first date and say “What would you like to do?” As a man who has spent most of his life dealing with “complicated” women, I can tell you that this is a huge mistake. To get the upper hand (and earn some respect at the very beginning of your relationship) only present her with a series of Yes or No questions. And do them in order of Day, Time, Place, and Transportation. For example:

“Are you Free on Saturday?” No? “How about Sunday?” No? “Can you be free for dinner on Friday?” Once you get a yes, IMMEDIATELY move on to times. “Does 6:30 work for you?” No? “How is 7:30?” No? “Great, I’ll make a reservation for 8pm.” Then move on to “Do you like Indian?” or “I was thinking of this Burmese place” or “I thought we could go to a bistro I like in Saratoga.” Be sure to have three or four different options picked out in advance, and once you get a Yes, MOVE ON. “May I pick you up?” No? “I’ll see you there. I’m looking forward to it. Feel free to text me if anything changes.” And then HANG UP THE PHONE.

Do not ask “What times works for you?” DO NOT do that. If you do, she will likely spend several minutes telling you why all of the other times do not work. You will feel beaten by this. You will be tired. We do not want that. And do not ask “What kind of food do you like?” Do not do that. Because most women will tell you what they don’t like instead of what they do. Even if she started with something like “I love Thai” you will end up hearing a story about food poisoning or a bad date or a cockroach that she encountered at a Vietnamese place with bad lighting on the outskirts of Boston that she mistakenly frequented during her first year of grad school. Ten years ago. And you will forget where you are in the entire date planning process. See? You probably forgot where we were in this lesson, and I only distracted you from the path for just one sentence.

It is really key that you do not open any windows into her past in this initial phone call. Remember that this woman is interested in dating a gentleman – and you might be that gentleman – so take a firm hold of the conversation, and make sure that you only open the door that leads to her future.

If you’re new to the area (or new to dating) or really want to make a great impression, Amy and I will happily give you recommendations if you ask. And we can certainly make you aware of any dietary restrictions or allergies you should consider. Make a checklist if you need to, but go into the call with clear goals and objectives, namely a day and time that work for you, a place you want to eat, and clarity on how she’ll get there. You’ll be off to a good start. And believe it or not, she’ll be glad you took the lead.

Next time, more tips on how to fake it… for when you’re actually on the date.

Pace Yourself….

Happy couple laughing
In the past few weeks, Amy and I have seen so many examples of dating foibles and relationship failures that probably could have been avoided with the right kind of pacing. In one instance, a couple had about fifteen dates, a break up, a reunion, and another break up all in the span of roughly three weeks. In a totally opposite situation, one couple never managed to meet at all because they started to play phone tag like increasingly adversarial business associates. And several other relationships just got off track as a result of two people moving at completely different speeds. We all know the importance of pacing ourselves with work, with exercise, with food, and even with family; if you binge you make yourself sick. And if you don’t pay attention to your needs, you can starve in all sorts of ways. Here are some of the ways in which the team at Linx thinks pacing is absolutely key:

When Planning Dates:

Start small. We know plenty of guys who are very eager to prove how serious they are about being in a relationship, so they book first dates at restaurants with tasting menus, show up in suits and order Krug, and on the following morning, they send a huge bouquet of roses. In theory, it seems like a great idea (and a romantic one) but here’s the problem… if you set the bar that high initially, how do you go up from there? If your first date is at Meadowood, where do you have your second? Or your third? Or your fifteenth? How do you signal an increasing level of interest and investment when you start with such a strong opening move? A relationship should build gradually, and your date choices should reflect that; it lets a woman see that you’re not just serious about being in a relationship, but that you’re serious about being in a relationship with her. You can certainly still be a romantic (and we encourage that) but start with someplace like Chapeau! or South Park Café instead of Coi, wear a good pair of jeans and a loafer with a great blazer, and if you must send her roses the next day, send her just one. Imagine how much more meaningful it will be when you can finally send her a dozen. 😉


When Having a Conversation:

We know; this is a hard one. There are few things more nerve-wracking that talking to a complete stranger for the first time… especially when you throw in some hope, excitement, and attraction. We really do get it. It’s hard. But when opening up for the first time in a conversation, you need to go slowly. If you have a tendency to bulldoze your way through a first meeting (ask a good friend if you do this) then feel free to say to say something to your date like “I sometimes get a little bit nervous around handsome men and start talking too much. Feel free to tell me if I start doing that.” With that statement you do three really useful things: you stop worrying about the problem because you’ve admitted it, you pay your date a very nice compliment, and you allow him to be partly responsible for making sure that it doesn’t happen!

If your problem is more one of divulging too much rather than saying too much (i.e. talking about your last bad relationship vs. blabbering about your dog) simply ask yourself “Would I want to know this about another person on a first date?” and “Do I know this person well enough to feel comfortable with them having this knowledge about me?” Some of us have had some really rough experiences – whether it’s a hard surgery or illness, a difficult divorce, or a rocky employment history, for example. And we sometimes get really worried about being rejected for this part of our past. Here’s a tip to keep that in check: if you’re on a date with the right person, they’re really only interested in connecting with you in the present to see if the two of you might have a future. We all have a past, so leave it behind you unless and until a discussion of that topic becomes absolutely necessary.

When Moving Ahead:

As adults who are serious about relationships, we can sometimes let the idea of ending up with someone become more powerful than the reality of dating them. It can be so easy to project and plan, to anticipate and forecast. We are so anxious about finding the missing pieces to the puzzles of our lives that we sometimes try to force a fit that should never happen. Lots of people look good on paper and great in person, but that doesn’t mean they look right when cast in the movies of our lives. We don’t get to script our relationships. We don’t get to decide what other people should feel and when they should feel it. All we can do is focus on ourselves; we can listen with our hearts, but hear with our heads. And we should never let the way we feel about someone and the way we think about them become too discordant. You can’t really have a healthy relationship with someone you don’t respect. You can’t respect someone you don’t trust. And whether we like to admit it or not, learning to truly trust someone takes time.

Too often, we hear clients say that they can’t wait to be done with dating and “get to the good stuff.” Guess what? Dating IS the good stuff. So start small and aim high, but tread slowly at first. Take bigger steps as your connection deepens, but pace yourself; in the best relationships, the happiest married couples continue to actively date each other for the rest of their lives!

If you are interested in our private date coaching sessions, we would be delighted to hear from you. amy@linxdating.com

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

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.