Michael Norman

Putting the CON in Confidence… Part III

March_4_10_Couple_LaughsIt’s great to have a toolkit for getting through a first date with a veneer of healthy self-esteem, but what happens after that? If you’re lucky, a first date leads to a second. And a second leads to a third. But if you aren’t feeling good about yourself, you probably won’t make it very far beyond a couple of dates. That’s fine if you never really had an initial spark, or it’s becoming clear that that two of you are very different people who might not easily connect, but it’s not so fine if the fire fizzles simply because you’re too trapped in your own head to focus on the person right in front of you.

In order to capitalize on early chemistry and attraction, it’s important that you a) actually believe that you deserve to be dating this particular person, and b) let your date see and appreciate that. Try to remember that in order for any healthy relationship to survive, both parties have to be invested, and both of you actually have to think that it’s a good idea. So let’s assume you really did feel sparks, and that the early interest in mutual… if you aren’t the world’s most confident person, what can you do to bolster your ego just a little bit? After all, there has to be more to successful dating than just asking a waiter for suggestions and walking a woman to her car, right?

Here are a few ways you can develop some dating confidence. And if you don’t think you need additional confidence when it comes to dating, try to keep in mind that having added confidence can be useful in almost every aspect of our lives.


Make a list, and check it twice…

I recently spoke with a client who was nervous about an upcoming first date. She was concerned that her date might not like her for a dozen different reasons, and had already started rationalizing a case for rejection from a man she hadn’t even met. While it’s healthy to be prepared for any possible outcome, she was really only focused on one. If you find yourself doing this – particularly when it comes to anticipating rejection, you need to slow down, and make a list of all of your positive qualities and attributes. Yes, all of them. Go ahead and start now; it might take awhile. Be as detailed as possible. Oh, you like your earlobes and pinky toes? Turns out you’re one of those rare people who never has morning breath? You rarely move while sleeping? You can make a gourmet meal out of almost anything? You’re incredibly good at your job, and your patients/clients/colleagues love you? You never forget a birthday? You actually have the time and desire to invest in a relationship? Your most recent ex said that you had “incredibly good hands”?

Take some time to really study this list. These are all of the things about you that are great. These are all of the reasons someone should want to date you. These are all of the reasons that would make someone LUCKY to be your significant other. Some of it, of course, is going to seem very silly. But the rest of this should feel very true and very real. Don’t focus on the possible perceived negatives. Don’t highlight your weaknesses; showcase your strengths. You may still not end up on a second date, but it will be because your date doesn’t appreciate your positive qualities, which is his or her loss. If you go into an evening expecting that your date is going to reject you based on your own insecurities, you’re creating a situation in which one of the worst possible outcomes simply lives up to your expectations. No one wants to experience that.

Dress the part…

I’m sure you’re getting tired of hearing that you need to dress up for a date, but I really can’t stress this enough. What you wear and how you present yourself really does matter. After all, you wouldn’t wear a bathrobe to a job interview, and yet you’re probably not hoping that you and your next job are going to have a relationship that involves the phrase “’til death do us part.” We get confidence from our clothing choices; color tends to make us feel more youthful and alive, flattering cuts make us feel better about our bodies, and high quality garments are often an indicator that we see value in investing in ourselves.

You want to signal that you believe yourself to be desirable, attractive, and worthy of investment. And you want your date to agree. When you really dress for a date, you’re telling the man or woman across the table that he or she matters, that you respect their time and value their attention, and that you value yourself. Highly. If you’ve ever had the experience of overdressing on a day that you feel awful in the hope that you’ll get some sort of compliment, you already understand the role that attire can play in dictating your mood. Putting some effort into your wardrobe pays dividends at all times. It also gives you practice being comfortable attracting attention and accepting compliments. If you have one of “those jobs” where you’ll actually be frowned upon for wearing anything more than a t-shirt and jeans, start making an effort on just one day of every weekend. Your friends will tell you that you look great, and you’ll start to feel even better.

Talk to Strangers…

One of the hardest things about building dating confidence can be overcoming stranger anxiety… you know, the stuff that sets in when we’re about 18 months old, and (for most of us) never really goes away? There is a lot of inherent risk in approaching someone you don’t know, and we spend the first part of our lives being told to never do it. As we age, involvements with strangers tend to be managed through classroom, professional, or social environments where an instructor/boss/friend provides a framework and context for initial interactions. Relationships of all forms tend to blossom from these meetings, but early expectations (and hopes) are typically low. This, of course, doesn’t provide much of a foundation for creating a relationship with someone you meet online or through Linx; we might say that the two of you should meet each other, but it’s still up to you to do the heavy lifting.

There is a way to get better at managing stranger anxiety, and that’s to actually approach strangers. Yes, do exactly what your parents told you to never do. Your goal should only be to have small, simple interactions… asking for the time, making chitchat while waiting in a grocery store line, etc. Do this initially with people you simply don’t find attractive. Start with people of the same sex, or with men and women who are significantly older or younger. Once you get comfortable striking up conversations with strangers you don’t find attractive, then start doing it with people you DO find attractive, but who aren’t available. In other words, look for wedding rings. This allows you to get over the anxiety of approaching someone you find desirable while keeping the stakes very low. And finally, when that becomes easy, you can start talking to strangers who appear to be attractive AND available. It will give you the confidence you need to approach people when dating in the wild. It will also provide a nice boast to your self-esteem when you meet someone exceptional through Linx.

Find a Coach…

Increasingly, people are more and more willing to turn to coaches to help them gain or develop missing and weak skills; we do it with fitness and nutrition, with sports, with job interviews, with grad school applications, and even with childbirth. So it shouldn’t seem odd to think that when it comes to dating and confidence, it might be a good idea to have a coach. Much like you might with a gym routine, see if one of your close friends can help you develop some skills and confidence. Give each other positive feedback, encourage more outgoing behavior, and remind each other of your positive qualities. Sharing your goals with other people in your life is usually a great first step to making them happen.

If you’re doing this on your own, consider using a book like Ten Days to Self-Esteem by David Burns. The noted Stanford psychiatrist walks you through several steps that help in gaining confidence, improving your sense of self-worth, and developing a positive outlook. The skills are applied broadly, but can definitely have romantic benefits. If your goal is really to just focus on skills that are dating specific, however, and to do so in person, you may want to consider working with Linx. We provide private, customized coaching sessions for clients on a regular basis, and would be happy to work with you in whatever way you might need.

Regardless of how you choose to do it, your entire life can benefit when you decide to work on your confidence and self-esteem. Even if you think you’re “doing fine” on issues of self worth, there isn’t much of a downside to developing more confidence, and learning that it’s ok to feel truly good about yourself. We all have things about our bodies, our lives, and our personalities that we’d probably like to change, but we want the people in our lives to accept us for the qualities and attributes that won’t. You can’t have what you don’t ask for, and you’ll never convincingly ask for a great relationship if it’s not something you believe you deserve. So learn to like yourself just as you are; learning to appreciate all that you have to offer is a key first step in finding a relationship that is real, deep, and everlasting.

America wants to hear from you!

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I wanted to get a post up as soon as possible to announce some creative media projects we are currently working on both domestically and internationally right now.

These are all high-end TV related projects and documentaries about the Silicon Valley ecosystem and what makes this a mecca for some of the sharpest minds in the world, a breeding ground for multi-billion dollar ideas, and a hot spot for dating!

I am looking for a handful of professional men and women who are somehow involved with Linx (i.e., a client, a prospect, attends Link & Drink events, general fan, etc). and who would be willing to share their story about navigating the dating scene in the Silicon Valley and beyond. Your input would be extremely valuable and help make a very compelling story.

One of these is a local story on how toxic and unhealthy loneliness can be, the other is a national story (extremely high-end) on the SV ecosystem, and the other is an international news piece on the valley and the movers/shakers that make up this vibrant community.

For entrepreneurs, business owners, etc this could be incredible exposure for you on a professional level! On a personal level, you never know “who” will watch and email us at Linx wanting to meet YOU! Everyone has something to share on some level. In fact, pretty much everyone I have ever sat down with has joked “Amy I could write a book at this point about dating!” So please don’t be shy, email me to inquire more…

Please send me an email to: amy@linxdating.com

Thank you Linx readers! XO

The Great Love Debate

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Hello Linx Line Lovers!

Team Linx has been invited to participate as panelists and local experts on the San Jose stop of The Great Love Debate, a national tour discussing societal shifts in courtship, the dynamics of sexual politics, and the future of romance in a lively and spirited discussion titled “Why is Everyone Still Single?”

100 Silicon Valley bachelors and 100 local single ladies will come at us (and each other) with questions about dating, mating, and more in this Town Hall-style event on Friday, June 27th at 8:00pm at the Tabard Theatre in downtown San Jose.

The tour has been described as “groundbreaking,” “brilliant,” and “hilarious,” and we would love for you to be part of it!

The producers in parnership with Match.com have provided Linx with a special code of “LINX10” which is good for a $10 discount on admission. The event is expected to sell out quickly, and each ticket includes admission to the post-show “Meet, Greet, Mix, Mingle, & Match” party, where you’ll have the chance to get to know all of the other attendees as well as the panelists. With 200 eligible singles and 6 relationship experts all in the same room, we can almost guarantee that lightning will strike. You definitely do not want to miss out on this incredibly entertaining (and promise-filled) evening!

Tickets may be purchased here (don’t forget LINX10 for your discount at checkout)

More information about the tour is provided here

And check it out on Facebook to see who else might be going, and to get a head start on the debate. 1395855019000-great-love-debate

We hope you decide to be part of the fun, and would love to see you there in person!

XO,

Amy & Michael

Ten Bay Area Date Ideas for May…

Blog written by: Linx staff member, Michael Norman

Even though summer has yet to officially start, the Bay area social scene is already hot with options for shaking up the status quo. Whether you want to step out with someone special or just grab a friend and step out of your comfort zone, the month of May is ripe with opportunities for making new memories. Check out ten of our favorites below: iStock_000038766014Small

Save the Bay… and Save Room for Dessert

Oysters have long been thought an aphrodisiac, so taking your date to the Bubbles and Bivalves benefit on Thursday, May 8th could make you seem sexier in more ways than one. Enjoy offerings from Epic Roasthouse, Domaine Chandon, Lusk 25, Speakeasy Brewery and others while you support the Watershed Project and its Living Shoreline program.

Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away…

If your preferred Friday night activities involve a DJ and a dance floor, but you’re still looking for a bit of variety, consider a Midnight Cruise from SF Nightlife on May 9th. Depart from Pier 40, boogie the night away on a luxury yacht with a crowd of strangers dressed in their Friday night finest, and spend Saturday reliving the dream (and recovering).

Hurray for Bollywood!

Take advantage of the Bay area’s multicultural flavor by spending May 10th at the Nonstop Bhangra dance party at Public Works. After months of headliners and big name talent, this month is a “Back to Basics” event, with lessons and instruction that make it perfect for beginners and Bollywood buffs alike.

Get Over Hump Day with… a Blunt?

On Wednesday, May 14th, recording artist James Blunt will be performing live at the legendary Fillmore in SF. The British recording artist and heartbreaker will be singing songs from his latest international smash album, Moon Landing, as well as other highlights from the past decade of his career.

Get to Know a Gallerina…

Slated for May 15-18 at the Fort Mason Center, this year’s ArtMarketSF promises to deliver the best of the contemporary Bay area art scene in the confines of one historic building. Along with local standouts, galleries from London, New York, Idaho (yes, Idaho) and even Tel Aviv will be present. With so many options in one place, something (or someone) is bound to get your attention.

Dress for Excess…

Surprisingly, Bay to Breakers is actually the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world, and the 102nd edition will take place on the morning of May 18th. Participants have been known to dress up (and down) in all sorts of ways for this 12k race, so while we can’t guarantee that your date will only have eyes for you, we can safely say that the dress code for this is event is No Jacket Required.

Exercise Your Eye for Fashion…

On the evening of May 18th, check out Midnight Metropolis at Ruby Skye where students from the Fashion Department of City College of SF showcase their creations while competing for a scholarship to attend the Academy of Art. This year’s inspirations include Braveheart and Burning Man, among others, so consider this a glimpse of life on the Playa.

Set Some GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLS!

From May 23-25, take part in Carnaval, the largest multi-cultural celebration held on the West coast. This year’s theme is a celebration of the World Cup, so be part of the fun as the spirits of soccer and samba take over eight full blocks of Harrison St. in San Francisco. More than 400,000 visitors are expected; you may want to bring your own ball.

Look Out For Giants…

On May 24th and 25th (and most weekends over the coming months) take a ride aboard the Salty Lady to the Farallon Islands where you can participate in hunger, seasickness, and whale watching! Warning: the hunger and seasickness are actually optional(plan ahead for both cases) but the seafaring and tight quarters are not.

Spin the Bottle at Bottle Rock…

A great fit for the culinarily curious and the culturally omnivorous, the annual BottleRock festival in Napa takes places May 30-June 1. More than sixty acts (from Smash Mouth to Howie Day, Outkast to LL Cool J) provide the entertainment while restaurants and wineries like Morimoto, Il Posto, Rombauer, and Clos Du Val provide nearly everything else. Pick a day of preferred entertainment, take a date, and make a toast to bon appetit… for two!

A Note to The Guys (from the new guy at the office)

Blog written by: Linx staff member, Michael Norman

For those of you who don’t know, there has actually been a guy hanging out at the Linx offices for the past few months (and that guy happens to be me). For most of the members I’ve met, I seem to be a very welcome addition; as a gay man, I know how men think, and I know what women find attractive. And as a Stanford graduate(twice over, with engineering degrees, no less) who has heteronormative values, I know how difficult it is to be a single person with high standards who is hoping to find someone passionate, compassionate, and compatible who is willing to put in the work required to nurture the kind of relationship that leads to lasting love. beautiful girl looking out the balcony of a farmhouse

Unlike a lot of gay men I know, I also grew up with (and still have) very close straight male friends, so I really do understand what straight guys find sexy. And that’s why I have to tell you that Amy and I spent last Wednesday interviewing six incredibly different women (ages 24-50), who all really had their act together, and were all – consistently but uniquely – very hot.

In no particular order, we had:

-A petite 50-year-old brunette with a voice for radio but a face for film. A Bay area native, she now spends her time helping people focus their energies on positive outcomes, improved health, and personal growth, and she’s looking to focus her own energy on building a future with one great guy. If you like beautiful women with tight bodies, sultry voices, very little baggage, and a great sense of style, you might want to ask Amy for an introduction.

-A tall 24-year-old blonde with great legs and a surprising maturity. Some people really do have old souls, but hers was certainly still young at heart. She’s not looking to settle, but she would like to settle down, and if you think sweet, 5’9”, fit and easy-going is out of your league, then you should have seen the way that her face lit up when we asked how she’d feel about dating a thirty-something geek. Match_Feb_2010_Anna

-An extremely polished 39-year-old mother of three with a gorgeous foreign accent and dangerous curves. Professionally, she is at the top of her game, but she still needs someone to help her celebrate life’s victories. For her, being sexy is about being emotionally aware and present; she doesn’t need your money, but she might like a piece of your heart. In case you’re wondering, this standout blonde has no height requirement, and thinks true love is colorblind.

-A smart and sensual 35-year-old chef and author with an Ivy League education who is deeply curious about the motivations of people, the roots of cultures, and the ties that bind us all together. She had long brown hair, a natural femininity that was complemented by a love of the outdoors, and some considerable… assets. She needs a smart and sensual man with a playful sense of humor who will happily eat her food; granola has never looked so delicious.Sasha_Match_Running

-A 27-year-old blonde with Colorado roots but a touch of Southern charm who is as mature as she is feminine. California seems to suit her well, and the ideal suitor for this avid tennis player and occasional marathoner with the face of a one-time supermodel is tall, dark, and handsome, with a good heart, great character, and conservative values that mirror her own. If you don’t already go to church, she’ll gladly take you; she’d be a very good reason to give thanks.

-A stunning 31-year-old scientist with green eyes, a smattering of freckles, and light brown hair whose recent move to the Bay area must have left a void of hotness in at least one part of LA. Tall, shapely, smart, and grounded, this woman was genuinely down to earth, and she’s an exceptional catch for any masculine but emotionally open guy who can appreciate the texture of her blue collar roots and ivory tower education. Secure and confident, she doesn’t need a man to be happy, but we suspect that the one with whom she falls in love will be one very happy (and lucky) guy.

Don’t forget that there are truly thousands of women in the Linx database, so don’t fret if you didn’t find yourself drooling over one of these. In fact, these were just the women that we met in ONE DAY and the office. In just ONE day.

Amy and I conduct interviews all the time, and we are flattered, amazed, and excited by the quality of the people we regularly see at Linx. As the days get longer and the weather continues to heat up, we expect to see more and more exceptional men and women come through the door. For those of you who read the blog but have never actually walked through the door, I have one simple question for you: If we know hundreds of women like these at Linx, what, exactly, have you been waiting for? young man in grass

We encourage you to reach out to Amy today to learn more about how Linx can match you to the girl of your dreams. These women want to meet you! Most all of these women we interviewed (per the description above) are NOT ONLINE as they are private and place their trust in Linx Dating to match them to good, genuine guys. We are your conduit to a new pool of carefully vetted single women in the Bay Area and beyond. Why wait? Email amy@linxdating.com

Are You Open to the Possibility of Real Love?

Blog written by: Linx staff member, Michael NormaniStock_000023385179Small

If you’re a Linx member, you know that finding true love can be difficult under any circumstance, and especially challenging when trying to navigate work schedules, family obligations, travel commitments, and, of course, personal preferences. At Linx, we always encourage seeing someone at least two times if you feel even a hint of a spark, and to be as open as possible when thinking about the details of what you expect your match to be/do/look like.

While it’s true that our physical type is often something we cannot control (or even influence) it’s also equally true that you can be surprised — and extremely satisfied — by a relationship with someone who doesn’t look like every one of your exes. (Those relationships didn’t work out for a reason, you know.)

Make sure you know the difference between what you need and what you want; you may want tall, dark, and handsome, but do you need all three? You may like natural blondes with small waists and high arches, but is the character of a woman ever really linked to the size of her waist or the shape of her feet?

In my circle of friends, many of the deepest and most fulfilling relationships actually started with a connection that was barely on the warm side of ambivalence. And believe it or not, that can be a good thing. When someone doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of what makes an ideal mate, it’s easier to relax, throw out your expectations and projections, and get to know them. You can find yourself drawn to their inner qualities instead of being mesmerized by their outer attributes. You give them a chance without realizing it, and you can find yourself comfortable and and connected in a way you couldn’t anticipate.

At Linx, we do out best to bring you a match who is ideal on all fronts. But occasionally, we ask that members stretch themselves, and be open to someone younger or older, darker or lighter, shorter or taller than they requested. We do that because we know our members very well, and we often see opportunities where two people make sense together, even if it’s unlikely to be a case of love at first sight.

We also ask people to be open because it’s practical. We have thousands of people in our database of all shapes and colors and sizes, but we don’t always have the match you want in the package you expect. The more narrow you are about your physical type and restrictions, the harder it is to meet someone — and that’s true whether you’re a client of Linx, or not.

Here is a video that breaks down the odds of love for one single 25-year-old woman in New York City. The numbers might surprise you, and when you watch, keep in mind that hair color, eye color, height, body type, shoe size, graduate degrees, minimum salaries, past relationships, and favorite sports team are NOT part of this equation. 😉 We don’t know the odds for the Bay Area, but maybe a quant-minded Linx member would like to provide the answer for us?

Are you really open to the possibility of true love? Or are focusing on a lot of tiny details that stand in the way of having your emotional needs met?

A Dozen Easy Date Ideas for April…

Blog written by: Linx staff member, Michael NormanHer feelings for him are true

Now that days are getting longer and the clocks have sprung ahead, the Bay area is teeming with cheap and creative options for you and your next date. We’ve tried to find something to please every palate and every budget (actually, these are all free) so don’t be afraid to try something new; in fact, sharing new experiences is an important part of any healthy relationship. Even if you are without a date, head to these cool events and you never know who you will end up meeting! In fact, grab a friend and try all of these out, keeping an open mind and a fun attitude. Keep in mind that most of these are monthly (and sometimes weekly) events, so if April doesn’t work, May might be an option.

Tuesday, April 1st, hours vary: Be a Voyeur(or at least take in an exhibit or two)

Going to a museum is pretty standard early date fare; you can go at your own pace, find out things that interest each other, and follow it up with drinks/dinner/coffee… or even more. Thankfully, San Francisco is full of museums, and admission to some of the best happens to be free on the first Tuesday of every month. Check out the de Young , the SFMOMA, the Legion of Honor, the YBCA, and even the Conservatory of Flowers on the first day of April in 2014. And no, the free admission is not an April Fool’s joke.

Thursday, April 3rd, 6-10pm: Feed a Starving Artist (or just yourselves)

The Upper Polk/Tenderloin Art Walk takes place on the first Thursday evening of every month. More than a dozen galleries stay open late to participate in this mini-festival, and there are plenty of special events and food trucks to round out the experience.

Sunday, April 6th, 2pm: Visit the Gates of Hell (while keeping good company)

On the first Sunday of every month, you can take a free and guided tour of the Stanford University Outdoor Sculpture Collection. Artists include Claes Oldenburg, Richard Serra, and of course, Auguste Rodin.

Tuesday, April 8th, 6-9pm: War of the Words (Get ready for prattle)

Take part in the Radar Reading series at the Main Branch of the SF Public Library. The series focuses on upcoming and emerging local authors who write in a variety of styles. Hearing a piece in the author’s own voice can put any work in an entirely new perspective.

Saturday, April 12th, 10:30am: Expose Yourself to Some Art-chitecture

Have you ever wondered why Treasure Island looks so unlike the rest of San Francisco? Learn more about the lasting impact of architect Timothy Pflueger, and the his ideas behind the Art Deco structures that were the celebrated backbone of the Golden Gate Internation Exposition of 1939-40. We also have him to thank for some very outstanding local works by Diego Rivera.

Saturday, April 12th, 12-4pm: Get Your Hands Dirty (while doing a good deed)

Join the monthly volunteer work party at the ECO SF school farm, where the two of you can learn more about farming, ecology, sustainability while developing your green thumbs. All skill levels (and refreshments) are more than welcome.

Saturday, April 12th, 1-4pm: Get All Decked Out (but don’t go overboard)

Join the Cal Sailing Club for their monthly Open House, where you can get a free introductory sailing lesson. Quarterly memberships and lessons are cheap and available if you find yourself bitten by the sailing bug, but it all starts with getting (your feet) wet.


Wednesday, April 1th, 7:30-11pm: Spend a Night with the Gintelligentsia

This event isn’t actually free (it’s $8 per person), but Nerd Night at Rickshaw might be just your thing if you like hearing really smart people talk about their passions while consuming large amounts of ethanol. Recent topics included microbes, private space exploration, and what books to include in a library meant to survive beyond the end of civilization. Think and drink at the same time!

Thursday, April 17th, 5-8pm: A Different Take on Men’s Furnishings

The third Thursday of every month brings late hours at the SF Design Center, where you can shop for the furniture of your (or her) dreams while sipping on local wines and delectable edibles. You may want to stick with white wine, just in case you have to buy the couch if you stain it.

Thursday, April 17th, 7-10pm: Rate the Game, Date the Player

Every month, the Go Game Headquarters hosts an open “Sandbox” for developers of real world, real time games to test their newest logic and strategy creations on anyone willing to show up and play. Set up a friendly wager with your date, and help a fellow entrepreneur create their own kind of magic.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 7-9pm, Strive for Work-Life Balance (by walking a tightrope)

The Circus Center in San Francisco offers free monthly classes that give you the opportunity to ride a unicycle, learn to juggle, walk a tightrope, and practice myriad other circus skills. If you’ve ever been told you need more balance in your life, this might be the place for you. Clowning around may or may not be encouraged.

Saturday, April 26th, 11am-4pm: My Baby is a 10. We Dressing to the (Ca)nines

If the two of you need a double date with your dogs, or simply have one canine companion who’s tired of being a third wheel, the annual Dogfest in Duboce Park should be right up your alley. This is the biggest SF dog event of the year, so hang out with other dog owners while your own canine kid competes for Best Coat, Best Costume, and plenty of other high honors. Dogfest is also a great date opportunity for those of you who also have (human) children; there is face painting, a bouncy house, and plenty of other kid-friendly diversions. Beware: You might be tempted to add another member to your family, and volunteers in the Dog Rescue zone will be there to help you do just that.

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

Five Great Ways to Feed a (Spring) Fever…

Blog written by: Linx staff member, Michael Norman

Winter didn’t spend much time in the Bay Area this year, which means that Spring Fever has set in early, and with a vengeance. With summer wedding season ahead and spring BBQs and baseball games just around the corner, we have our hands full at Linx with eligible singles looking for their own “plus one” to attend all of life’s big (and small) events. At Linx, we believe that setting the tone for a good first date is one of the most important steps in developing a great relationship. Along with being open, positive, and confident when meeting someone for the first time, it can also be useful to step outside of your comfort zone, even if just a little bit.

We all have the tendency to want to impress others with things we already know and places we’ve already been, but diving into a new experience together can be very rewarding… and revealing. Not only does it put the two of you on equal footing, but it also removes the need to worry about how he or she responds to your favorite places and favorite foods. Building a relationship is about finding things that work for both of you, not just trying to fit another person into the already-existing patterns of your life. So for your next first date, try a new neighborhood, a new restaurant, a new cuisine… or get really crazy and try all three!

To give you some ideas, here are five great places in five different peninsula towns where you can get Linxed with good food and great company!

Iberia, Menlo Park
Step out of the Bay Area and into Barcelona with a trip to Iberia in Menlo Park. We recommend the coziness of the bar, where the tall and intimate booths make it easy to focus on getting to know your date. No matter what sort of mood you’re in, the extensive tapas menu is almost guaranteed to have something that suits your appetite. Amy loves sending people into the bar area near the fireplace to sit in the comfy club chairs and get into relaxation mode with a pitcher of Iberia’s delicious sangria and bite-size tapas.

Iberia also offers some fabulous sounding Spring cooking classes such as learning how to make paella while enjoying tapas, sangria, cooking, eating, and lively discussions with your fellow students. These classes really sound great! Sign up…educate yourself, break away from the daily grind, and mingle with the attendees. You just never know who you’ll meet while cooking hands-on and embracing everything about Andalucia Spanish cuisine (Andalucia is the southernmost region of Spain and where Iberia Chef Jose Luis was born.)

1026 Alma St, Menlo Park, CA 94025 Tel. (650) 325-8981sangria-and-tapas-1

La Bodeguita del Medio, Palo Alto
Take a break from University and visit California Avenue to spice up your dining options in Palo Alto. While new establishments are popping up all over the place on this street, La Bodeguita has been a mainstay for many years, serving Cuban inspired cuisine since 1997. It may also be the only restaurant in town that actually encourages you to finish off your evening with a cigar.

463 S. California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306 Tel. (650) 326-7762 home_image2


Los Altos Grill
, Los Altos
You may be a little bit shocked the first time you walk into this suburban staple; it’s all log cabin from the outside, but the inside includes live music, an even livelier bar scene, and a 30+ crowd that’s typically dressed for a good time. The raised seating and spacious booths make it easy to focus on your date, but the crowd will give the two of you plenty to talk about.

We recommend kicking the night off with their delicious “dip duo” which is a great appetizer for two (a generous scoop of guacamole, side of cheese dip with pimentos sandwiched between warm torilla chips), the macho salad (warm roasted chicken mixed with goat cheese, homemade cornbread croutons, dates, avocado, with a tangy vinaigrette) and “the best” homemade Oreo cookie ice cream dessert- frankly the banana pie is amazing- ok everything is really good. Hungry yet? 😉 For those who don’t have a date- no worries at Los Altos Grill. This place is packed with an attractive set of eligible men and women eating and drinking solo at the bar. Find a bar stool and wedge yourself into a hoppin’ and friendly bar scene.

233 Third St, Los Altos, CA 94022 Tel. (650) 948-3524losaltosgrill

Rangoon Ruby, San Carlos
You may already be familiar with their Palo Alto location, but get adventurous and take a drive to San Carlos for a night of Burmese food at Rangoon Ruby. If you haven’t been, downtown San Carlos is a delightful surprise on spring and summer evenings, with plenty of restaurants offering seating on the extra wide sidewalks, and a Thursday night farmers’ market that holds its own on the local scene.

680 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070 Tel. (650) 592-1852628x471 Palata appetizer at Rangoon Ruby

Vesta, Redwood City
Redwood City continues to develop as a destination for good restaurants and solid ambiance, and remains the only local downtown to support a (national) movie theater chain. With sleek decor, a healthy wine list, and a collection of small plates and inventive wood-fired pizzas, it’s a great place to raise a toast and break the ice on a first date.

2022 Broadway, Redwood City, CA 94063 Tel. (650) 362-5052vesta Handcrafted wood-fired Vesta pizza…delicious!